For other topics this month in these meetings, see the postings here and here.
When you break down what the UFT's official representative says to us: your mission comes to this: your duty over all else is to be ready for demo lessons. The other tricky thing is that she is telling us that we have to do the UFT's and the DOE's work in correcting local administration misdeeds.
We are supposed to have demo lessons ready for use in case our field supervisor appears. All UFT instructions to us are shaped around the eventuality that a field supervisor appears.
(Of course, this conflicts with the nominal purpose of our work: substituting for absent teachers in the absent teacher's subject. See this blog posting about how this naturally sets up a conflict with the students.)
Reflecting the steady theme that our main mission is to prepare for field supervisors is Amy Arundell's statement to one member that asked, how is it fair that we are judged on a lesson out of our subject, that another teacher has left, and how are we to be responsible for sub lessons that are imperfect? Her answer was that in the event that the students are distracted and off-task, then we should switch subjects and assignments and bring in our own sub lesson.
What is highly problematic is that we are judged on following certain guidelines given to ATRs. Yet, these guidelines are only distributed at the ATR meetings. And many ATRs were unaware of these meetings or the high value information disseminated at these meetings. These guidelines are not sent to all ATRs from the UFT or the DOE via email or US mail. They are not posted on the DOE or UFT websites. Wouldn't this call the absurdity and offensiveness for all to see if they were posted this way?
Thus, the DOE & the UFT treat these stipulations as the real contract. But only a fraction of the ATRs are at these ATR meetings. So, we are subject to what the DOE/UFT treat as the official contract, a contract that most ATRs are not informed of. Never mind that these stipulations of supplanting nominal class topics with our own lesson agendas or the overriding mission that we make all of our attention for the likelihood of being observed by the roving field supervisor are not in the general DOE-UFT contract or in the (between official contracts) periodically renegotiated DOE-UFT side agreements on ATRs.
Adding to the contradictory messages is the DOE/UFT line that the field supervisors are helping us find positions (which is why they ask us for our resumes). This is a highly doubtful mission of the field supervisors, because as all parties know, it is extremely rare for teachers to get placed, due to Fair School Funding, which Unity Caucus-UFT agreed to in 2007. See this blogpost explaining how post-2018 contractual conditions drive principals to be risk-aversive and avoid hiring ATRs. With all of the observations happening it is more likely a Russian Roulette.
These are all serious concerns as the DOE has issued U ratings to ATRs based on sub setting observations.
As always comes up in these meetings the local (school) DOE administrators --usually at new, small schools-- violate the agreements. One of the most common violations is assigning ATRs to duties outside the contractual agreement, or duties such as standing hall duty if there is no sub assignment. The UFT rep at the meetings tells us that we must challenge the local administrators. This puts us in an awkward position. We could be brought up on insubordination charges or at least labeled as having a bad attitude.
Members will be relieved to know that two particular field supervisors have been removed, but the UFT cannot inform us who they are.
One major detail is that not all ATRs get field supervisors. A common thread among those getting them is that they are upper ranges of years with the DOE. It has been revealed by some retired principals that the DOE has certain spreadsheets flagging staff by salary, and that targeting is concentrated on higher salary staff. Another factor in play as to whether teachers get targeted by field supervisors is whether teachers have taken many sick days. This is problematic because this creates an inducement to not stay home and shield staff and students from one's illness. Also, it intimidates teachers and other excessed staff from giving attention to ailing children or parents. The latter is particularly a problem for the middle aged ATRs who are tending to rising needs of aging parents. What an awful thing to do- pressure people to keep a distance from parents in their parents' last years.
Basically, the UFT is telling us that we have to be our own advocate. In fact our appointed advocate has said so much: "You have to stand up for yourselves!" This is problematic. The UFT must have high-level meetings with the DOE to enforce these. When the DOE wants something done it makes sure all principals comply, such as training in security procedures. (By the way, parents would be interested in knowing that ATRs are routinely denied keys. In emergencies teachers are supposed to lock rooms. But this is not an option for ATRs, since they are usually denied keys.)
Besides, ATRs have enough stress, preparing for lessons for kids we don't know and trying to fit in, in alien territory, to have the added job of advocating for ourselves.
Hey, UFT, do your job and advocate for us. Don't expect us to do it.