photo credit Uyus Sugiharto via unsplash
Due to GEA’s relationship with the District, patrons were encouraged to participate virtually in fall SEP conferences. Since the beginning of the school year, we have been hearing from many of you via email, phone calls, and social media messages with concerns regarding face-to-face meetings, but especially SEP conferences. GEA heard you loud and clear, and worked with the District via various communication methods to strongly encourage virtual conferences. Following member Lynda Davis’ comments during a teacher town hall regarding this very issue, a District letter was sent to families encouraging virtual attendance at SEP conferences. We heard from Lynda via email stating, “Thanks for being there to support all the teachers and students in Granite School District. It wonderful to know that we have you to advocate for us. I am beaming right now. After 28 years of being a GSD teacher, I finally felt heard!”
Have you ever wondered whether you should call GEA and ask for help? Your membership allows you to do so, and we are here for you to help you navigate different types of situations. For example, many years ago, a teacher was hired in Granite School District. After school had been in session for a bit, she looked at her paystub and realized she was being paid hourly instead of on the salary schedule. Thank goodness she was a GEA member and called the office! Once GEA heard what happened we were able to work with Human Resources (HR) to get her pay straightened out. She received the back pay that was due to her, and the District made her financially whole with URS.
Fast forward to summer 2021, and this same teacher met with HR to go over her retirement benefits. She was surprised to learn that .21 years of service was missing in URS from her first year of teaching. Even though she had worked her entire first year and was paid for it, she was told that she would either need to work the extra time or buy out that portion of the missing year. She made another call to GEA.
Following the call, GEA asked HR to check their records for this teacher’s misfiled paperwork from her first year of employment. It took a lot of digging around, but we are happy to let you know that HR found the documentation that indicated the teacher had indeed worked a full year her first year. HR was able to then contact URS and approve the full benefits the teacher is entitled to. We are so glad this member allowed us to advocate for her and to help navigate this situation!
Did you know that you can set reasonable deadlines for submissions and assessment retakes in your classroom? Granite School District has a Student Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. One of the responsibilities is, “honor your teachers’ deadlines for submissions and reassessments and to take advantage of reassessment opportunities." For so long it has felt that teachers should give students umpteen chances and the deadline of the end of the term to get things done.
It is reasonable to have set deadlines, and to follow them. Deadlines happen in life and students need to learn how to navigate them. Having deadlines helps students to manage their time as they work: almost like a training mechanism for the brain as they set up time lines and work flows. Self esteem can be improved with deadlines because when students manage their time well their grades will be better than if they had not. With good grades often comes specific praise for doing what is expected. Structure and praise help our students to produce more of what is necessary to be successful in class.
As educators know the mad dash at the end of a grading term can be frustrating as it seems students turn in work willy nilly to try to “bring up their grades.” Many teachers feel compelled to spend up until the last possible minute grading these assignments. Deadlines will ensure there is less scrambling at the end of the grading period in turn giving educators a more manageable workload. The work will be more meaningful to both students and teachers ensuring more learning will take place in your classrooms as deadlines become common place.
Deadlines for reassessment must be reasonable, clearly communicated, and have some way in which a student can prepare for reassessment. For example, you could let students know that after they have received feedback from you, they have x number of days to complete some relearning activities. Relearning can include, but is not limited to completing missing assignments, test corrections, redoing low scoring assignments, small group reteach, etc. Once evidence of relearning has taken place then a reassessment should be given within a certain timeframe.
Please keep in mind that your professional judgement as an educator is important in determining proficiency of a standard. Our gradebook can calculate proficiency, but grading is both art and science, so please keep this formula handy when determining proficiency under PBL: MODE + RECENCY + PROFESSIONAL JUDGEMENT. (See the District’s February 2021 PBL Points newsletter for more information).
John Steinbeck said, " I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit." These words have never been as true as they were this school year. Your hard work and dedication to teaching and the Association has helped to better the lives of so many students as well as your peers. We thank you for your commitment, membership, and willingness to change on a dime. Enjoy your retirement!
Richard A. Clawson
M. Kevin Harward
Confused by the Evaluation Process in Granite?
The following documents will help you best understand what’s to be expected. Please note that if your administrator didn’t email you a copy of your observation prior to debrief, they should have submitted it in Frontline for you to review before you meet. This submission does not take the place of your acknowledgement on Frontline or the administrator’s finalizing of the observation. Please see the document entitled “Observation and Evaluation Explanations” for more information.
The Granite Education Association
How to Avoid Post-Retirement Potholes
Everyone hopes and dreams to have a sweet ride in retirement. But there are some potential “potholes” out there, that can make for a bumpy drive. Sign up for this webinar to learn about several financial and non-financial “gotchas” to watch out for in your retirement journey!
Tuesday, April 6, 2021