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Value, cost of 'prep time'

Letter to the editor

Posted: Friday, October 03, 2003

I am a primary teacher and I love my work. I love the children and their families. I love the interaction with other educators. However, I would like to be a part of a district where teachers' work is valued.

"Prep time" for me, as a primary teacher, is the time allotted in my contract in which to fully prepare for educating the 25 6- to 8-year-old children in my class for the eight subjects that I am held accountable to teach.

Just today that "preparation work" began 30 minutes before my contract time. I was part of a team, meeting for 45-minutes on the needs of three specific children. That "preparation work" was followed by the 15 minutes it took me to clean up vomit off the chairs, table, notebooks and floor shared by an ailing child. (This time period is the infamous "recess" break we get.) It took 20 more minutes of "preparation work" to make a calendar with important events and reminders to be shared with families. (This time period is known as "lunch time." I also took two parent phone calls during this time.) I still have an hour of math papers to correct sitting waiting for me as I didn't get them completed during my actual contract-given prep time while the children were in p.e. There are eight children who will benefit greatly if I can find 20 more minutes to create jobs adapted specifically for their reading and writing needs. This doesn't touch on the work it took to have reading, spelling, writing, math, computer, science, social studies and art lessons prepared. This doesn't touch on the time spent on the computer for the electronic report card, inputting assessments, creating useful mid-term reports, etc. This doesn't touch on the time spent on the phone with parents or social service agencies. I could go on.

My point is, "prep time" is an extremely important and valuable part of my day and my contract. It is frustrating that Mr. Cohen has not negotiated this item humanely. Although the negotiation team came up with a creative way to give elementary teachers 50 minutes a day AT NO COST increase to the district, Mr. Cohen rejected the idea.

Please join me in voting for new school board members who find value in the work it takes to educate the children of Juneau.

AmyJo Meiners



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