WORKLOAD OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE
The Unit A collective bargaining agreement (for the 3-year period 2016-2019) established a committee to review information and make recommendations on issues impacting teaching and learning, which may include but not be limited to: new initiatives, paperwork and workload issues, caseload for non-classroom personnel/specialists, duty free lunch, prep time, and collaboration time. The purpose of this committee is to solve problems of workload intensification, and is governed by Massachusetts General Laws, chapter 150E section 10, as per the Unit A contract. The job of the BEU Workload Oversight Committee members is to communicate with members, identify problems, and work with the administration to finetune their proposed solutions.
The committee consists of four members appointed by the Superintendent and four appointed by the BEU. The four BEU members are: Jeremy Bloch (Devotion Math Teacher), Alisa Conner (BHS Spanish Teacher), Laura Vish (Runkle Speech and Language Pathologist) and Jessica Wender-Shubow (BEU President). The co-chairpersons are Jessica and Nicole Gittens, Deputy Superintendent for Teaching and Learning. The committee will meet about 6-8 times per year.
Core Principles and Commitments
As educators face increasing demands on their workload, driven by scheduling, caseload, testing and reporting requirements, curricular change, instructional strategy change, diverse and complex student needs, and other factors, their ability to provide excellent services to students is significantly eroded. Increasingly, overwhelming workload is degrading educators’ capacity to maintain strong face-to-face relationships with students and focus on effective improvements in instructional practice.
Educators work hard and are deeply committed to their students’ learning and well-being. When we address workload issues, we create the conditions for educators to do their best work, and we promote excellence in teaching and learning. To this end, the BEU is guided by the following principles and commitments:
- We honor the rich diversity of excellent teaching and learning that takes place in the Public Schools of Brookline, and we affirm the principle of teacher autonomy. Educators need freedom to exercise judgement and discretion in their work — to adapt curriculum, develop their own pedagogical methods, and determine how class time is used — in order to effectively teach the students in their classrooms.
- We promote and defend individual educators’ right to use unassigned periods and duty-free lunches in accordance with their professional judgement, and we will work with our fellow BEU members to ensure that our members face no penalty, overt or implied, formal or informal, for exercising this right.
- We understand that professional development is most effective when it is educator driven – when educators reflect on their needs and participate in shaping their learning. We support educators’ use of their professional discretion to access the resources that will best help them support their students.
- We appreciate the value of new programs and procedures, especially those that grow out of educator proposals. However, without thorough assessment of the impact of these initiatives, they can contribute to workload intensification that impairs educators’ abilities to serve their students well. School administrators should consult with educators before and during the implementation of new initiatives, to mitigate any negative impact on educator workload.
- We consider it imperative that comprehensive assessments of educator workload must take into account not only caseload and class size, but other significant factors including (but not limited to) the diversity and complexity of students’ needs, required data collection and reporting, and the reality that effective meetings and collaboration require additional time.
- We hope that the School Committee and members of the central administration will work with the union as partners to advocate for the elimination of state and federal mandates that undermine efforts to provide an excellent education for every student.
- We reserve the right of the union to collectively bargain over working conditions such as those described here, during contract negotiations, or at other times if conditions change.
Our challenge as a Union — What you can do
This is an important opportunity to communicate and organize around issues that are critical to our effectiveness as educators and the quality of our worklife. We need everyone to:
- Communicate with one another about challenges we face in our working lives. What are the workload issues in your job, in your building, across the district?
- Organize and/or attend BEU meetings to facilitate this dialogue and actively support organized BEU efforts to end excessive workload.
- Remember that time crunches are a structural problem of excessive work demands and expectations and not the fault of the individual educator. Honor and support your colleagues as they exercise their professional autonomy in choosing how to use their work time.
- Promote collective action and member solidarity in support of efforts by individual educators or groups of educators to limit workload to reasonable levels and maintain high quality services to students.
Send updates, give feedback, and share your thinking about this important work. Write to individual members or contact all BEU members of the Workload Oversight Committee at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The following request for information was submitted by the BEU on June 7, 2017 to Nicole Gittens, co-chair for PSB of the Workload Oversight Committee:
- Planning and Budgeting
- List of the literacy initiatives used in Brookline in the last 15 years.
- All internal PSB planning documents for K-8 literacy programming, for the current period and historically dating back to introduction of BAS, Literacy Collaborative, Fountas and Pinnell, and/or Lucy Caulkins curriculum materials.
- Copies of literacy specific written instructional models and curriculum materials related to the products above that have been provided to teachers, by building and by grade level
- All other ELA curriculum materials, separate from the products listed above, that have been introduced in this same historical period, including both those purchased and any PSB-developed materials.
- What are the FTE staffing levels by role, historically and planned, in each building?
- How are staffing needs determined? What model/calculations are used?
- All job descriptions and work products expected of staff in each literacy-related role.
- Budgeted cost per fiscal year and as budgeted for the future, by item, of the following: literacy materials (see above), educator training, consultant fees, and FTEs (by role)
2. Literacy Collaborative Training and Feedback
- How many hours are planned for teachers to be pulled from the school day for Literacy Collaborative training, and when, including the time of the day, have these taken place or will they, by school?
- Please delineate stages of the roll-out of comprehensive literacy programming and note what adjustments to other work assignments (curricular and/or in professional culture), if any, are being made any other work expectations to accommodate the new initiative.
- How and when are newly hired teachers trained at various stages of implementation of the programming?
- Has feedback has been gathered from teachers about their experience with the Literacy Collaborative training and any or all phases of implementation? If it has, in what form is this feedback gathered and how is it scheduled? Please include all records of such feedback.
- What, if any, evaluations/feedback have been gathered from teachers about their experience with implementation of new instructional models and new curriculum units?
- Describe any and all mechanisms, if there are any, for using teacher feedback to inform planning or implementation of the comprehensive literacy programming, as a whole, in a given school, or for subsequent phases where it has already been initiated. Please provide any evidence of educator feedback influencing any change in training, implementation or expectations.
3. Scheduling of Literacy Programming
- Describe the scheduling of literacy work in the day and week, including types of meetings/collaborative activity, by building, by grade (or grade cluster), and by stages of implementation.
- How many minutes/hours of collaboration are expected between a classroom teacher and a literacy coach in a routine day or week? If this is building or year specific, or varies by teacher, please describe each separately.
- How many instructional minutes are provided in the schedule for specific literacy approaches, by building and by grade level? How does this change with implementation of the Literacy Collaborative model?
- How much variation among teachers is expected as new instructional models and curricular materials are introduced? How are these expectations communicated to teachers?
- Information that been supplied to teachers about the rate of implementation of new instructional models and new units of study that have already been introduced?
4. Teaching and Learning in Other Content Areas
- How many instructional minutes are provided in the schedule for other content areas, by building and by grade level? How does this change with implementation of the Literacy Collaborative model? Supply any and all written materials on Scope and Sequence and Curriculum Mapping related to literacy programming, or that has changed as a result of its use.
- If the number of minutes for other content areas are reduced, how has implementation of standards been revised? Submit any written materials on the impact on other content area subjects of literacy programming. Specifically, please address what the impact is on the implementation of other instructional models, such as Project Based Learning (PBL)?
- What curriculum units have been developed for science and social studies that teachers may no longer have time to implement?