Help! Our District Slashed Our Days Off by Half  

The decision was made “in response to the sub shortage.” 🙄

Illustration of teachers finding out they have no sick days

Dear WeAreTeachers,
We have four sick days per year and two personal days from the state. Every year that I’ve been in the district (which is now 10), the board has always voted to give us additional days so that we have eight sick and four personal total. But this year, as a “solution” to the sub and teacher shortage in our area, the board approved removing the district days altogether, leaving us with only the state days. Do you think this is a temporary thing worth sticking out, or should I join everyone else in leaving now? —Make It Go Away

Dear M.I.G.A.,

I had a baby the summer before my last year of teaching. That school year, my son had to stay home 12 days throughout the year due to illness and (obviously) needed care. I was sick twice and had to stay home five school days.

That’s for one healthy child and one healthy adult. If I worked in your district, I would have owed thousands of dollars in docked hours.

I do think this is a temporary solution. But to me, a district who, during a teacher shortage, expects a teacher to fit the bill for anything over four days of illnesses is a district that:

  • Is aggressively anti-family, which is a weird stance for people in a position directly related to families and children.
  • Is so out of touch with the reality of being a teacher that they expect teachers to actually tolerate this policy.
  • Has absolutely no teacher voices in their decision-making process (or just ignores any teacher voices at the table).

That said, going to a new school or district is a big transition. Before making the decision to leave, I would find out how my district supervisor and principal feel about this district decision. It’s way easier to ride out silly decisions from up top when your immediate supervisors are willing to work around it.

Dear WeAreTeachers,
I’ve been given some money by admin to buy back-to-school gifts for the new teachers we’re getting in the fall, around $30 per teacher. They’ll be getting the essentials from our school and PTO, but what are some nice “extras” to have in the classroom a new middle school teacher might not think of? —Mother Hen

Dear M.H.,

I love this question! While there are so many fun ideas for decorations or cute supplies, the subjectivity for what is “cute” and “fun” spans a pretty wide range from person to person. Here are some things off the top of my head that would be useful to any new teacher:

Another random item: Ask your local beauty retailer for sample sizes of perfume or cologne. Perfume is the only thing I’ve seen remove permanent marker from walls, desks, tile, etc. It serves the added purpose of somewhat masking teenage funk!

Dear WeAreTeachers,
I’m resigning at the end of the year to move to a new district. In my exit interview, I was told that I cannot take any instructional materials I created during my time working for the district because it is considered their intellectual property. I was shocked—so I’m supposed to just start from scratch at my new job? What would you do? —I Remember When You Were Mine

Dear I.R.W.Y.W.M.,

Sometimes I think people in central offices of a district have forgotten what schools and teachers do.

It’s one thing to ask for copies of lessons and materials you created while on contract so the next teacher can use them. It’s another to say you can’t use them in another educational setting.

Those are absolutely your materials. Put copies of everything on a USB as soon as possible since your school email and access to any shared folders will likely disappear the second you’re off contract. What are they going to do, track it?

I’m not done ranting. So, when they get new teachers in the district, do they tell them they’re forbidden from using any materials they’ve created while in other districts? Then it’s not about intellectual property; it’s about them viewing education as a competition and other districts’ children as less deserving.

OK. I’m done now.

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Dear WeAreTeachers,
I’ve wanted to be a teacher my whole life, even the past few years when I know so many teachers have left the classroom. But recently I watched a bunch of TikToks where teachers talk about how brutal their experiences are, either because of parents, in-classroom violence, or not being able to take care of themselves. Now I’m completely freaking out that I’m putting myself in an inevitably toxic situation. Please tell me it’s still possible to love teaching! —Am I About To Make a Rookie Mistake?

This week on Ask WeAreTeachers, we cover a district slashing PTO days, ideas for a new teacher gift, and a weird exit interview request.