What is your dream job at APS? 

I’m sorry, but the role of queen is already taken...by me (your AEA president)!

While you may adore your current assignment, is there anything else you have considered or always wanted to try? Would you be interested in a different grade level, building, or subject area? What about a job that APS needs but does not currently have? 

Or maybe you are worried that you will be moved against your will. Is there any way to fight that?

No one can read your mind, so speak up! Each year the superintendent sends an email encouraging teachers to tell her if they would like to be considered for something different. That makes some people nervous, but it is part of our AEA bargained contract, and is intended to benefit teachers, the district, and especially, students. 

Some things to keep in mind:

The district administration has the legal “right of assignment” for all its employees, as long as everyone remains employed at the same status (full vs. part time), all teachers are assigned to areas for which they are considered highly qualified, and no changes are made for punitive reasons. The principals and superintendent could legally throw darts at a board every year to make assignments; of course, that is in no one’s best interest, particularly our students.

The district is legally prohibited from making placements based on seniority or tenure unless ALL other factors are equal among two candidates.

The district can consider:

    -Teacher performance (but all levels of proficiency are considered equal)

    -Any history of extra contributions to the district beyond the minimum expectations

    -Relevant special training

The district has no interest in just creating chaos. They do have good intentions:

    -Keep everyone employed. That sometimes means moving people around rather than doing layoffs and new hires.

    -Provide highly qualified teachers in all areas. Sometimes certification requirements change and people must be moved.

    -Balance class sizes and/or focus on specific goals.

Ask yourself: what position would be your “dream come true” job? You can’t lose anything by asking. Be sure to fully explain your thinking, so that no one can make an assumption.

    -Describe specifically what you want, in a positive manner. Don’t complain about your current job; describe what would be an even better fit for you. 

    -How would this move or creation of a new position be a benefit to the district and its students?

    -If the answer is “not at this time,” is there a second option you would consider? That might be your current position, but if that’s the case, say so. A request that asks for a change but doesn’t give a second or third choice could be interpreted as “I don’t like my job; put me anywhere else.”

    -If there are any limitations to your request, say so. For example, if you want to move to a lower grade level but not Kindergarten, that is important information. If you want to change to a math position, but not in a different building, include that detail.

    -Make your request, be specific and detailed, be positive about your current posting and colleagues, and advocate for what you would really do well.

black Corona typewriter on brown wood planks
black Corona typewriter on brown wood planks

What if my working conditions are unbearable?

A man with his hands covered with mud
A man with his hands covered with mud

When Discussion is Not Enough: Should I file a grievance?

You have the right, and the AEA will help you. First, you need to follow the steps in the contract. 

Determine whether your complaint is actually a violation of the bargaining agreement. Read your contract; talk to your building representative; compare with past and current practice in the district. Unfair doesn’t always mean your rights have been violated.

Talk with your administrator to see if there can be some resolution. Express your concerns, offer other potential solutions, and ask for his/her help. 

You must present your dispute through your building representative, to your immediate supervisor, within 8 school days of the alleged grievance or eight school days of when you learned of the alleged grievance. 

Keep a written record. Print emails, save letters or memos, and write down your recollections immediately after face-to-face meetings. 

If your contract terms were not followed and the meeting with your principal did not result in an acceptable change or explanation of the situation, then you deserve a resolution.

Don’t be afraid to pursue one; remember you are also saving the next teacher who might be affected as well as the students who need all of us to be at our best.

Tell your building representative that you wish to file a grievance. You must initiate this step; your rep cannot try to influence this decision.

Your representative will contact the grievance chairman of the AEA: Emily Terres. A written grievance must be filed with the principal within 13 days of the initial incident or when you learned of it.

The building principal then has 5 school days to respond and must do so in writing.

If the response is not acceptable, the association can move up the chain of command to the superintendent, school board, and finally continue arbitration if necessary.

Teachers are not Targets! Dealing with student violence in the classroom

Meltdowns, accidents, fights, projectiles…

We are not behavioral specialists, and we deserve a safe environment. But students need an education, and have rights, too. How can we balance two goals?

First, if you witness or are the target of a violent student, please speak up, and don’t tolerate mistreatment. The way you handle the situation will make a difference for you, your other students, your colleagues, and the troubled student. Here are some things you should know:

Your AEA building representative wants to hear about it, and wants to help.

You are NEVER required to break up a fight or restrain a student. You do not need to put yourself in danger. You must tell a student to stop, move other students to safety, and call for help. You must report the incident. Use clear language to describe what you saw and what you did. Avoid any type of self-judgment, i.e. “Maybe I should have...I didn’t know if...I thought...etc.”

Try to avoid restraint or touching a violent student at all. Call in trained personnel. 

Second, work carefully toward finding the best solution for the regularly-disruptive student. This will also help you and your students. Try to use language that promotes the best possible outcome for the troubled child. Some strategies for after you have tried everything reasonable in your classroom: 

     -Document, in writing, the incidents that occur and your response, as well as your attempts to get additional support from your administrator. Be sure that your account shows an escalation of supports rather than of punishment (PBIS). Keep this documentation as a personal record (take it home daily, put it in the cloud through your personal account, etc.)

     -SNAP suspension, for “persistent, intolerable behavior” or “aggressive acts or threats.” Tell the office you are issuing a SNAP suspension, and the student may not be returned to your classroom until the next morning unless you agree to it. He/she may be allowed to attend other classes, lunch, recess, etc., at the administrator’s discretion. 

          -You must attempt to contact a parent/guardian the SAME day, and offer a meeting with you and possibly your administrator, a social worker or school psychologist, caseload teacher, etc.

          -The parent may accept, decline, or ignore your offer. 

          -If the parent accepts, ask for a couple of “best times” for a meeting.

          -Refer this information to the person in your building who normally schedules meetings.

          -Fill out the SNAP suspension form in the office before leaving for the day.

Remember, SNAP suspensions are for two purposes:

     -The district has a record of interventions and attempts to help.

     -The student will get the help he/she needs. More than 10 suspensions means a student must be re-evaluated, and that is a GOOD thing!

If repeated SNAP suspensions occur, ask your administrator what additional supports can be added for the student to be successful. 

If your administrator has no options to offer or if those options are unreasonable, tell him/her, “I respectfully decline to have this student in my classroom until additional supports are in place for his/her success.”

Request an SST for the student. Any person already listed on an IEP can call for a re-open meeting. 

Make sure your building representative knows the situation and that you have either declined a student or asked for an SST/IEP re-open.

If your SRC person or administrator is not supportive, talk with your building representative about your options.

If you are assaulted at work:

Fill out an incident report. You have the right to do so, and you are protected by law. If questioned, ask why the district would want to hide data. You have the right to request a meeting with your principal and other interested parties, within 2 school days of the incident. You may wish to consult with your building representative before attending a meeting.

If warranted, make a police and/or Protective Services report. Violence at school is sometimes a sign of violence at home.

Request needed assistance: protective equipment, first aid supplies, accommodations, vaccinations, etc. Use Workman’s Compensation and/or Disability Leave as appropriate. Your contract ensures you will be paid at your full rate if your injury occurred as the result of an assault at work.

Video from AEA President, explaining your options, here. The same information is included below, so choose your learning style!

When should a student be suspended or expelled? 

After restorative practices have been considered.

“Gross misdemeanor” or “persistent disobedience”

Any verbal or physical assault of a teacher or student (grade 6 and above require this; younger students may have some allowances made.)

Regardless of Special Education services. A new IEP meeting may be triggered by this, but that is a GOOD thing! This will result in a group of caring adults meeting to decide how best to help the student.

When should a student be referred to a different program or school?

When a student is unable to meet classroom safety demands despite a well-documented system of increasing behavioral supports and the time at each “level” to determine efficacy. That might mean that teachers need to spend a minimum number of weeks at each level of intervention supports, or specialized programs will not accept the student. Be safe; follow the behavior plan unless there is imminent danger.