Teachers’ absences more beneficial than student’s

Taylor Gayner, Staff Reporter

When you walk into class and you see a substitute teacher sitting in the place of your regular teacher, what do you think? That the class period is going to suck because you’re not going to get anything productive done? That you should just go home now? If so, me too. We all understand the struggle of dealing with clueless subs who can’t even follow the simplest of lesson plans.

However, what we fail to think about when we have subs though is, where did our teacher go? Occasionally, our teachers leave to go on vacation or to take care of a family member, but more often than not, they are at mandatory meetings that they attend in order to become better teachers for us.

Our teachers are required to attend roughly one meetings a month at the school or district, whether they feel necessary or not. Both students and teachers find it equally frustrating to have someone else in the classroom trying to “teach” this often.

“I became a teacher so that I could teach you, and not to be gone in meetings all the time. On the other hand, though, I leave so that I can become a better teacher for you all,” English teacher Jasmine Schimek said.

The district calls for teachers to attend meetings relating to widely different issues for each school in our district; it gives teachers and staff a chance to discuss the things that aren’t working at their schools. The district requires teachers to attend these meetings for the sole purpose of enhancing their abilities.

Our teachers host and attend different meetings at Sequoia that sometimes occur during class time. For example, teachers with students with disabilities have to attend Individualized Education  Program meetings, and all teachers have to attend Student Study Teams to discuss how students are doing with the curriculum. District coaches from every school create a calendar to organize all of the meetings so that the teachers can coordinate their lesson plans and necessary sub days. Because of the frequency of this, Sequoia is now confronted with a lack of subs, which is a completely other issue.

“When teachers want to meet to plan instruction or learn about new teaching strategies, we need to find time outside of instruction,”District Coach, Jose Rosario said. “Monday colab is a good place to start, but it’s only an hour and sometimes we have other topics to cover than curriculum. Free periods could work, but you’re not always guaranteed to have the same free period as the teachers you need to meet with. You could meet after school, but teachers have other commitments, obligations, and lives after the last bell. Childcare could be more costly than staying late for meetings. ”

Smaller teacher meetings are called within the school more frequently than larger meetings with the district or departments. At least once a week, teachers have to go to prep period meetings, staff meetings or department meetings. The smaller sizes allow teachers to take time and check in with fewer teachers and talk about how just Sequoia students are doing. Sometimes, these meetings have to take place during class time because teachers do not have enough time outside of class to meet.

“The last option is to meet during the school day if sub-coverage gets approved. Say some Sequoia English teachers wanted to meet for a full day. Or maybe the Health Careers Academy. Or any other team. You could stagger this across multiple weeks. However, this coordination gets complicated because any course team at another site in our district could want to meet too.” Rosario said, “Now, you have a couple dozen teachers who need coverage across six schools. Then a couple dozen teachers the next week and so on. This doesn’t include subs for teachers who are sick, signed up for district-led professional development, conferences, or field trips.”

On top of all this, Sequoia teachers who teach IB classes are required to attend IB meetings as well. These meetings have completely different and purposes, as IB calls for a very different and specific form of teaching.

Taking into consideration the fact that these meetings are intended for teachers to be more equipped to teach us, more sympathy is needed towards their absences. The next time you walk into class with a substitute teacher waiting for you, instead of going straight into a negative head space about it, choose to think of the positive effects that it is going to have on you, your teacher, and your class overall.