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Ask Elsie -- November 8, 2018

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ask Elsie is a column where Chief Financial Officer Elsie Schiro tackles employee queries, or in areas outside her purview, asks other District leaders to answer them.

Dear Elsie,

I am a 24-year educator with nine years in the Fort Worth district. I teach World Language, and for the first time my schedule is to teach seven periods every day. I have no time in my workday to plan with my colleagues and only a 45-minute planning time which is not enough to do the things required of me to be an effective teacher.

My class schedule is 160-plus students daily. My other colleagues at my campus do not have as many students nor do they teach more than six classes. I want to know where the equity is?

I don't understand why the District says on the webpage that an eight-period day will require teachers to teach six classes with a PLC and plan period. That's not the case at my campus in regard to all teachers.

I don't understand why the District does not give World Language teachers as much time to create and plan engaging lessons for their students as they do other teachers. Students are required to take two years of foreign language to graduate. Can you help me understand? It doesn't seem right that this is where we are.

Signed,

Concerned teacher

Dear Concerned Teacher,

Thank you for your question. I reached out to Cherie Washington, FWISD’s chief of secondary schools, regarding your question and here’s the response: “When considering scheduling for the 2018-2019 school year, a plan was developed to allow campuses to share staff, resources, course offerings and access to advanced programs for middle and high school students.

The District convened a focus group that consisted of teachers and administrators from middle and high schools as well as campus support staff and central office personnel. The plan was also presented at the DERC meeting in the Spring of 2018.

However, please know that as we progress through this school year, we are listening to concerns such as yours and others from elective teachers. The District is engaging in a process districtwide to review efficient and equitable practices. Additionally, staff have been added to identified campuses, and a fall job fair has been scheduled to support staffing campuses.”

Thanks again Concerned Teacher for your question and thank you Mrs. Washington for your response.

Elsie

Dear Elsie,

I’m fairly new to the District, so forgive me if this answer is well known, but why are teachers not asked to give input on the school supply lists?

I am drowning in manilla paper and Elmer’s glue, but I had to purchase a class set of spiral notebooks out of pocket. It seems to me that schools could at least make their own specific lists, asking teachers what they will need each student to bring based on the way they plan to run their classroom. Has the District ever tried this?

Sincerely,

Fourth-Grade Teacher

Dear Fourth-Grade Teacher,

Thank you for your question. I reached out Dr. Raul Peña, chief of elementary schools, and Cherie Washington, chief of secondary schools, regarding your question and here’s the response: “This is an excellent idea. In many districts the local stores have supply list available to parents as they are shopping. We will work with Curriculum and Instruction to develop a common list for grade levels and subjects. Campuses could also develop lists specific to campus needs as well.”

Thanks again, Fourth-Grade Teacher for your question, and thank you Dr. Peña and Mrs. Washington and for your response.

Elsie

Dear Elsie,

I come from the business world where ideas like “collaboration,” “teamwork,” and “transparency” were expected in the daily goal of excellence, but it seems that this is not the case in some areas of the education administrative field/departments.

Can you tell me if FWISD has a true Open-Door Policy? By this I mean, does an employee have access to any member of the Leadership Team at any time? Or must they “climb the ladder” in order to address concerns? I have heard both ends of the spectrum and was wondering which was true/preferred. One segment implies it is grounds for termination to not follow the “chain of command” while others indicate that they believed the Leadership to be very approachable and would always welcome communication and/or concerns.

Thanks!

Lynn Hickox

Dear Ms. Hickox,

Thank you for your question. I reached out Dr. Raul Peña, chief of elementary schools, and Cherie Washington, chief of secondary schools, regarding your question and here’s the response: “Yes. Elementary and Secondary Leadership welcomes input and feedback. Please feel free to reach out to either of our offices. We love to listen and gain insight from the District’s most valuable assets, the educators that share and instill knowledge that grow our students.”

Thanks again, Ms. Hickox for your question, and thank you Dr. Peña and Mrs. Washington and for your response.

Elsie

Direct your questions to Inside@fwisd.org and put the words "Ask Elsie" in the subject line. Please close your letter with your preferred signature as you wish it to appear in the column. When there are multiple queries on the same subject, we will select the one that is most representative of the subject. We will try to answer as many questions as possible.

Please bear with us as we have a backlog of Ask Elsie questions and are responding to questions as soon as we can.