Standard EMeets Professional Responsibilities Faculty Meeting Minutes / Notes Letter to Parents Union Representative Interview Principal Interview Reflective Essay
February 3, 2011Dear Parents,I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce myself. My name is Diane Silveira and I am a studentteacher with Miss Chiles until mid-April. I have been in the classroom for a few weeks now and I amloving the experience! It has been a pleasure to start to get to know all of the kids. I am excited to workwith them more and more over the coming weeks.Your child is a part of Miss Chiles Reading class where I have started to take over lessons. We arecurrently working on a challenging novel, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. The novel includes alot of historical and cultural information and artifacts that represent elements of the Japanese culture.To further help the students understand cultures and artifacts, I am planning an in class project forThursday February, 10. I am asking that each student bring an item to class on that day that isrepresentative of your family’s culture. The item should be something small but should have somesignificance to your child and your family. If you are unable to help your child find something cultural, asecond option is for your child to bring in something that represents a hobby or special interest. Forexample, if your child plays baseball, he or she could bring in a lucky batting glove.The students will interview each other in class about why their items are important and will turn thoseinterviews into paragraphs. I am hoping this project will allow the students to learn something abouteach other they may not otherwise have known. I also hope the kids will be excited to share somethingimportant to them!If you have any questions about this assignment, or anything else in the future, please do not hesitate tocontact me (firstname.lastname@example.org).Thank you!Miss Silveira
Union Representative InterviewConducted on Friday March 18 with Mrs. Lorraine Liston, Braintree Education Association DirectorWhat is your role in representing the union?Mrs. Liston stated that her role in representing the Braintree Education Association (B.E.A.) is to mainlybring back information to all of the Flaherty teachers about union matters. She attends all unionmeetings to stay current on what is happening.Do all teachers at Flaherty have to be members of the union?About 99% of the teachers are union members. Mrs. Liston added that as a member of the B.E.A.teachers also automatically become members of the Massachusetts Teachers Association and theNational Education Association. If a teacher chooses not to be in the union, he or she would pay anagency fee instead of union dues.What are the benefits to teachers from being in a union?Mrs. Liston feels the most important benefit of the union is protection. She explained that the unionprotects against baseless firings. She also explained that the union has the power to negotiate toprovide benefits such as sick banks, predictable pay raises and a secure pension.What do you say to the people who claim teachers get too many benefits because of the union?Mrs. Liston stressed that the teachers are never asking for anything unfair. The pension is comparable toany private company because teachers pay in just as a private employee would pay in to a 401K. Shealso said the largest recent increase in pay has been 2.5%, which she believes is not too much to ask.Why should a teacher who is slacking off be protected just because he or she has tenure or seniority?Mrs. Liston was adamant that the union does not want bad teachers to continue to teach. She stressedthere are procedures in place to fire incompetent teachers that override tenure. She stressed theimportance of following all the necessary processes to remove these types of teachers.
What are your feelings on the atmosphere around the country today regarding teachers’ unions andthe attempt to end collective bargaining and break some union strength?Mrs. Liston’s immediate reaction was to say, scary. She wonders why the attack is focused only onteachers’ unions and not other unions as well. She explained that breaking the union and endingcollective bargaining will give teachers no leg to stand on. She is scared of the day when a teacher whohas thirty years of service will get fired just because the principal does not like her personality and thenher pension gets taken away because there is no strength in the union to guarantee it. She is concernedthat benefits will be taken away piece by piece and more and more will be asked of teachers withoutbeing compensated for it. For example, without the union, there could be a mandate for longer schooldays and a longer year without teachers having a say.What’s wrong with longer school days and a longer year?Mrs. Liston’s concern about a longer school day is that what will happen to extracurricular activities suchas sports, music and drama. If the day is longer there will be no time for these extremely importantactivities that enrich students and provide motivation for some to do well academically. Mrs. Liston didnot have a strong answer about a longer school year but discussed the need for students to take a breakto rejuvenate.Just this morning, I saw a news report about the push to tie teacher evaluations to MCAS. What is theunion’s response to this?This question sparked an emphatic NO. Mrs. Liston explained the union and she think this is a terribleidea because you cannot compare classes. Testing should follow the students to monitor individualprogress over the years. She also emphasized how teachers cannot be in the homes of studentsmonitoring what is happening there which clearly has a great impact on school performance.How do you feel being in a union helps the students?The union allows teachers to not have to worry about the “nitty gritty” of sick days, personal days,health insurance and retirement accounts. Mrs. Liston feels this helps take some issues off the teachers’shoulders so they can focus on the students and the important work of planning and teaching.What are your thoughts on the current rise in the number of charter schools and their lack of unions?This question sparked a lot of discussion. Mrs. Liston started by saying she feels that charter schools canbe excellent places of education. However, she finds it hard to compare the students enrolled in charter
schools with those enrolled in regular public education. She feels that all charter school students aremotivated and driven and have great support from parents. Even though students are admitted from alottery system, the parents have to care enough to put their students in that lottery. Also, if a student isnot performing to expectations that student can easily be kicked out, unlike regular public education. Interms of the lack of a union, Mrs. Liston feels charter school teachers are not getting as good of pay asregular public schools and they are not protected. They can get fired for any number of reasons thatshould not be grounds for dismissal. She does not think the lack of a union makes them more effectiveteachers.Mrs. Liston ended our interview with a very important thought. She said, “We are preparing kids for jobsthat haven’t even been invented. We can’t go backwards. We need the unions to help teachers andeducation keep moving forward.”
Principal Interview Conducted on Friday, April 8 with Mary Struzziero, Principal at FlahertyWhat are your major responsibilities as Principal? What are some of the most challenging aspects ofthe role?Ms. Struzziero summed up her role as Principal as having to keep everything afloat. She described herjob as overseeing the school to create the best possible learning environment for students and teachers.One of her major responsibilities is to ensure that the curriculum is being taught properly at all gradelevels. She spoke of the responsibilities and challenges of meeting the expectations of MCAS testing andAYP. She takes student achievement very seriously. Ensuring that the students are learning in a safeenvironment is also part of being a Principal. Ms. Struzziero spoke of the new bullying guidelines thatshe has had to enforce as mandated by law. Another of her unique roles as Flaherty Principal is to be theadministrator of the ASD Program for the District. Flaherty is the only elementary school in Braintreethat has an ASD program. Because of this, Ms. Struzziero has a deep knowledge and interest in specialeducation. Another major role Ms. Struzziero spoke of was staffing the building. She spoke about howthis is one of the more challenging tasks. The teachers and other staff members of a building create theenvironment. Bringing in good teachers that work well together and have a passion for teaching is whatMs. Struzziero strives to do to.What are some of the most rewarding aspects of your role as Principal?Ms. Struzziero quickly responded that the most rewarding aspect of being a Principal is witnessingchildren being happy and safe in the school. She told me a story of how she always sees a student in awheelchair speeding towards school in the morning with a parent jogging to catch up. The parent toldMs. Struzziero that her child speeds into school every morning because he likes being at Flaherty andhe’s happy, which also made the parent happy. Ms. Struzziero said that it is mornings like those thatmake being a Principal worth it. She also spoke about how working in an achieving school is rewarding.Flaherty does well on MCAS testing and other performance measures. Ms. Struzziero takes the data asconfirmation that everyone at Flaherty is working hard towards a goal of success.How long have you been a principal? Did you teach prior to your role in administration?Ms. Struzziero started her administrative career in 1995 as an Assistant Principal in Brockton. Then, from1997 – 2001 she was a Principal in Scituate. She then began her career in Braintree as the Director ofElementary Education from 2001 – 2003. She moved back into the role of Principal in 2003 until thepresent. Before Ms. Struzziero began a career in administration, she was a classroom teacher in first,second and third grades.
Did you prefer working in an urban or suburban setting?Ms. Struzziero spoke of how both settings have unique challenges and benefits. She said when shebegan her career in education she had a focus on urban education, but as her career progressed she justhappened to move into more suburban settings. She said she does not have a preference for either, butis very happy in Braintree because it is a bit of a middle ground.You spoke of staffing the building as one of your major roles as Principal, what do you look for whenhiring new teachers? What kinds of questions should I expect when I go into an interview?Ms. Struzziero said she looks for teachers who can demonstrate they understand the connectionbetween tying instruction to curriculum standards. She said I should expect questions that deal withcurriculum such as vocabulary or phonics for early education and whole literature versus an anthologyapproach for upper elementary. She also said to expect questions about what my classroom would looklike. She looks for teachers who mix direct instruction with small group, partner and collaborative work.A major consideration in hiring a new teacher is how she feels that individual will fit within theenvironment. At Flaherty, teachers work as teams. She does not want to hire someone who she feelswould not be willing or able to find a place on the team. She stressed the importance of putting togethera staff that gets along and works well together.
Reflective Essay: Standard E The teaching profession is a rewarding, challenging and exciting field. Over the course ofmy practicum, I learned that teaching does not happen just between the time the students enterthe classroom and when they leave. Every day, there is planning to do, student work to reviewand meetings to attend. I learned that teachers have to always stay informed and up to date onwhat is happening with education across the district, state and nation. I also learned that asuccessful teacher needs constant flexibility, patience and compassion. I was well prepared for the challenges of entering the teaching profession. I knew it wasgoing to take commitment, time and effort to succeed in the practicum. I was well prepared toplan lessons and units because of my work throughout the graduate program. I was well preparedto dedicate whatever time necessary to maximize my learning experience and that of thestudents. One aspect that I was surprised about and unprepared for was having to consider budgetissues. I knew that school budgets are now especially at the forefront of education, but I assumedit was a topic reserved more for administration. However, as I sat with Miss Chiles and the otherfourth grade teachers trying to request novels for the remainder of the year and next, I saw howbudget plays a major role in planning. The teachers had to decide which books they would share,which they would only get partial sets for and which they would cut out of the curriculumentirely. I was surprised, but glad to see that teachers do play a large role in curriculum decisionssurrounding budgetary issues. Through attendance at faculty meetings, I learned how teachers need to stay at theforefront of innovations in education. Across the Braintree District, the third grade was pilotingnew Reading curriculums this year. Teachers had to work with a particular series and evaluate itsusefulness, benefits and downfalls. Each teacher then presented her ideas for a new curriculum tobe decided on. Teachers had to understand what was new and different about each program andunderstand the pedagogy behind them. Teachers have to also be at the forefront of changes intechnology. At the same faculty meeting, the possibility of bringing in Kurzweil technology(reads text aloud) was discussed. Because of the current high stakes testing atmosphere in Massachusetts and across thecountry, teachers need to understand the implications of the MCAS assessments. They also needto be steadfast record keepers and data analyzers to track and understand student progress.
School culture is also something I learned a lot about. Before the practicum, I fearedbecoming a new teacher and being put into a classroom to figure it all out for myself. The schoolculture at Flaherty curbed this fear for me. The teachers and staff all work together towards acommon goal of maximizing student success. I was impressed by how in fourth grade all threeteachers met at least once a week to discuss planning and progress with individual students.Beyond formal meetings, there were always informal chats on what was happening in eachclassroom, what was working and what was a bad idea. The school culture of Flaherty is a team.I always felt supported by whatever I wanted to try in the classroom and there was alwayssomeone to answer a question I had. One of the most rewarding aspects of being in the role of teacher was working with thestudents. Being able to teach the students something new and watch them learn and grow withnew topics was incredibly rewarding. I felt such a sense of pride when the students showedimprovement or did well on a test with something I know I helped them learn. Getting to knowthe students and interacting with them was also so rewarding. By the end of the practicum, I wassad to have to leave them. Being able to work with a talented, skilled teacher was also incrediblyrewarding. Watching and learning from Miss Chiles was an invaluable experience. Towards theend of the experience, I felt like we were co-teachers that had been working together for years.