Why are teachers absent on Mondays and Fridays? A retired school chief offers his theory and solution.

The always-thoughtful Clete Bulach has written an interesting response to the AJC investigation into teacher absences. (As I noted in my original post, this investigation was subscriber only so I cannot link to it. It appeared in the Thursday AJC.)

Dr. Bulach worked as a school superintendent from 1979 to 1990 at which point he retired. He is now an associate professor emeritus from the University of West Georgia. He has numerous publications in educational journals and is co-author of “Creating a Culture for A High Performing School: A Comprehensive Approach to School Reform, Dropout Prevention, and Bullying Behavior.”

Dr. Bulach says his purpose in life “is to change the way students and teachers are treated in their school… to help create caring learning environments in schools where teachers and school administrators give control to others without giving it up.”

Here is his response:

By Clete Bulach

The article on teacher absenteeism brought back some memories. As a school superintendent in Ohio, I tried to get it in the negotiated contract that teacher absenteeism on Mondays and Fridays would not be greater than for the other days of the week. There were days when there were so many teachers absent on a Monday or a Friday that you could not get a substitute because they had all been already hired.

The interesting part about their article is that there was a lot written about the problems caused by teacher absenteeism, but not much about the causes for it, and why it is higher on Monday and Friday. The answer is stress. The more stress teachers experience the higher the absenteeism rate. What causes stress?

There are many factors: demands from the administration, declining test scores, disagreements with other faculty members, etc. However, one of the leading causes of stress is the need to control the students. It is not uncommon for a teacher to have to correct students 150 times a day. That means that a teacher has to stop teaching and correct a student every 2-3 minutes.

Having to stop teaching, correct a student, and restart teaching is a lot of stress. This constant interruption of the learning process, whether caused by students’ misbehavior or other interruptions also reduces test scores leading to even greater stress and teacher absenteeism.

By the time Friday roles around, some teachers have had all they can take, so they are absent. Come Monday, some teachers don’t want to go back to work because they are mentally just not able so they stay home another day.

Compare that with a teacher who does not have to stop teaching to control the students because the students correct each other. Can that be done? Can you get students to control each other? Yes, you can, but not without changing the existing control culture.

Under the existing control culture, it is not okay for students to control each other. That is the responsibility of the teachers and the administrators. When a student is misbehaving, the other students often encourage the misbehavior in order to find out what the teachers and the administrators will do to correct the misbehavior.

If the existing control culture is to be changed to encourage students to control each other, a system has to be put in place where students get a reward for controlling each others’ behavior.

We have written a book on how to change this existing culture of control. One phase of the reform is to count the number of times teachers have to stop teaching to correct or redirect students’ behavior. This varies greatly from teacher to teacher. In our database, we had one teacher who had to stop teaching more that 100 times each day and others were in the 5-10 range.

Once a baseline of redirects is established, we asked the students to help with student off-task and discipline related behavior. We explained that if we could reduce the number of times teachers had to stop teaching to correct student behavior, we would give them a reward.

In research conducted on changing the existing control culture in four schools in Indiana and with 30 graduate students attending leadership courses at the University of West Georgia student discipline problems and off task behavior were reduced by as much as 86 percent

A description of how the high performing classroom concept worked in selected classrooms across the K-12 spectrum is the following:

• In a kindergarten class, there was an average of 51 redirects per day on average (pre-experiment). After implementation of the reform there was an average of 13 redirects per day. In order to make the class aware of their progress regarding the number of redirects, cubes were added to a jar for good behavior, and cubes were removed for redirects.

• In a third grade class, there was an average of 20 redirects per week (pre-experiment), and there was an average of less than 10 redirects per week (post experiment).

• At a middle school with four classes there was an average of 31 redirects per class per day and 585 per week (pre-experiment) to 13 redirects per day per class and 244 per week (post-experiment).

• In a middle school emotional disorder class, there was an average of 50-83 redirects per week (pre-experiment) to an average of 12per week (post-experiment). In commenting about what happened, the teacher wrote the following: “They were strongly motivated not to let each other down; I could not believe the improvement in their behavior.”

• In a middle school physical education class, the redirects ranged from an average of 63 per week (pre-experiment) to 25 to 10 per week (post-experiment).

• In a 10th grade English class, the average number of redirects was 35 per week and seven per day (pre-experiment and less than one per day (post-experiment).

• A science teacher teaching biology and chemistry reported an average number of redirects for science of 60 per week for chemistry and 55 per week in biology (pre-experiment) and 25 per week in chemistry and 15 per week in biology (post- experiment). This teacher commented that the students improved each week of the experiment, and by the last week, the chemistry class only had 10 redirects per week (84 percent reduction) and the biology class only had eight redirects (86 percent reduction) for the week. In summarizing the results of the experiment, the teacher wrote the following: “My students have really taken charge of their behavior; I have seen outstanding results, and many teachers have commented on the change in my class.”

In each of the above instances the students received a reward when the goal was reached. The selection of the reward is critical. It has to be something they really want. Let them choose it, but give them some examples: e.g., free time on Friday, a pizza party, get rid of a low grade, able to chew gum, recess, open book test, homework passes, etc.

If the high performing concept is implemented at the classroom level, a weekly reward works best. If it is implemented at the school level, a daily or a weekly reward can be used.

The best motivator is five extra minutes of locker time in the morning or five extra minutes prior to getting on the bus at the end of the day. Keep in mind that students can earn redirects during these extra minutes to socialize. At the elementary level, an extra five minutes for recess is a great motivator.

There are two basic reasons why this works: (1) students love the opportunity to socialize: and (2) having some control over what happens to you is a basic human need. All humans, whether students or grownups love the feeling of being in control. The opposite feeling of not being in control is an awful feeling. Imagine a time in the past when you had lost control and a time in the past when you were in complete control.

The difference in feeling is like night and day. By encouraging students to control each others’ behavior, the existing control culture has been shifted. Previously, it was not okay for students to control each other because that was the responsibility of the faculty and the administration.

In fact, if a student were to control another student, they would probably be accused of being the teachers pet of told “Who do you think you are?” or “What’s your problem jerk?” By shifting control to the students it is now okay for students to control each other. In fact, they are encouraged to do so. Teachers have more time to teach and the learning process is less interrupted leading to better test scores, less teacher stress, and less teacher absenteeism.

There is one other factor leading to teacher absenteeism and that is “caring behaviors.” How would you like to report for work believing that nobody cares about you and you are unable to control your students? The feeling is totally demoralizing, and that is why teacher absenteeism is so high. Strangely enough, students also feel this way. They are in a highly controlled environment and also believe nobody cares about them. This leads to a lack of motivation and high student absenteeism.

In my research, more than 50 percent of students and faculty report that nobody cares about them. Changing the existing control culture gives teachers more control and also creates a more caring learning environment.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

96 comments Add your comment

Beverly Fraud

March 31st, 2012
5:02 am

Sounds good in theory. Would like to know more about the experiments. But what about those students, who “Just want to see the world burn” as Alfred said to Bruce Wayne in The Black Knight?

The child who gets THEIR sense of power from sabotaging the learning process? Why have we seem to have forgotten that a swift, sure, and compelling consequence can be a VERY effective redirect?

Of course to the extent that students can control that on their own, why not try it? But will the corrosive corporate cultures that teachers work under sacrifice time from “preparing for the ALMIGHTY test” to do something that might benefit the students in the long run? Would they DARE give up some “instructional time” as a weekly reward, even IF that reward maximized instructional time for the rest of the week?

Does anyone here think these school systems are THAT forward thinking?

concerned

March 31st, 2012
5:07 am

Focusing on teachers absences, the day chosen strategy, can be analyzed many different ways. This is conjecture based on some ideas but that is all and as a highlight article to why teachers are stressed that is great. But as an analysis piece, it is pretty poor and should be retitled perhaps

Peter Smagorinsky

March 31st, 2012
6:05 am

I just checked Amazon for his book on bullying. It’s very highly rated by reviewers. But the price!

Price:$110.00
13 new from $86.85
5 used from $84.14

Beverly Fraud

March 31st, 2012
6:44 am

Would love teachers to pick up this mantra when “Waiting For Superman” is used to BASH teachers:

You want teachers to be “Superman”?

REMOVE THE KRYPTONITE!

DeborahinAthens

March 31st, 2012
7:07 am

Oh, puhleeeze! There are more teacher absences on Mondays and Fridays for the same reason there is in every profession. My dentist is closed on Fridays, for instance. If you want to go away, it’s nice to have three or four days to do it. The French have more days off than we do and they still make jokes about the extra days taken before and after weekends and holidays. Teachers are given vacation and sick days, I assume. I work in the financial services and yesterday, Friday, there were four people in the office of seventeen people present and accounted for. Teachers are human beings. Their stress is no more than a physician who is responsible for life and death. It is no more than that of a financial advisor who is responsible for the client’s well being. What a bunch of hooey.

Hey Teacher

March 31st, 2012
7:19 am

Interesting concept — I wonder if these schools kept using the reward system after the experiment was over, or if the novelty wore off after a while? I also think there are other reasons why teachers are out on Monday and Friday — I’d like to see absences broken down by type. We often have folks out for professional leave on a Monday or a Friday for various school functions (field trips, coaching activities, conferences held over the weekend) which is not the same as true “sick” leave.

Two Cents

March 31st, 2012
7:49 am

Start with home. If mine misbehaved in school there were consequences at home also. Let your kids know that in school and class that the teacher is the captain of the ship and not them. That the rules in school are the same as rules at home – obey them and follow them.

Lee

March 31st, 2012
7:55 am

I gotta agree with @Deborah, people are absent more adjacent to the weekend. Don’t have to have a mail order EdD to figure that one out.

teacher&mom

March 31st, 2012
8:03 am

Whether or not this contributes to more sick leave days on Mondays and Fridays is really not the point he is trying to make. His point is the damage caused by constant redirections and discipline issues. He offers a solution that I’d like to learn more about.

Woody

March 31st, 2012
8:23 am

Administrative failure. Need to work on: planned absences for teachers, instead of unplanned. I think most teachers enter the profession as confirmed idealists. It’s another administrative failure, that this wonderful energy is allowed to deteriorate in destructive work environments. Also, more than one responder has noted that a number of teacher ‘absences’ are actually work-related. This is a failure in recordkeeping, leading to messily coded ‘dirty data’ that is not properly understood. Another administrative failure. Surely the APS does have some good administrators in it, somewhere. They are probably punished severely.

More to the Story

March 31st, 2012
8:37 am

Teachers are absent because of the total stress of the job, not just “student redirects.”

Teachers are absent becasue they are treated like low-level servants.

When I left public school, approximately 80% of the teachers in my building were taking anti-depressants or anti-anxiety meds.

When the focus is the test, the rewards of the job are minimal, and the amount of crap you have to deal with just doesn’t balance out.

You have to make teaching a valued profession, work on getting rid of dead weight, change the focus from The Test to actual learning and engagement and let teachers teach. Teach for America is not the answer. Standardized curriculum is not the answer.

Treat teachers like they matter and their job is important, and absences will decline.

Sandra Mungin

March 31st, 2012
8:46 am

It s not just teachers who are absent on Mondays and Fridays, this is true for most occupations where there is a lot of stress. As a Labor Department Manager retiree I know this to be true in my organization also. Mondays and Fridays were extremely difficult when employees called in sick and we had NO Substitutes to come in. Those that were there caught the brunt…Stressful world, stressful environment. What to do?

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

March 31st, 2012
8:47 am

Tad Jackson

March 31st, 2012
8:53 am

WHAT GREAT TEACHERS DO ON THEIR DAZE OFF

Rumors of the upcoming duel had rapidly circulated throughout Savannah, and even at this early hour, several people had arrived to witness the event.

—It Happened in Georgia, by James A. Crutchfield

If you want to spy on a regional subculture of people in Georgia to know what quality of life issues they’re concerned about then wake up at four in the morning to the local hunting and fishing radio show. You won’t believe how wide awake lovers of the outdoors are at four in the morning when they call in to talk to the two perky hosts, a hillbilly man and a hillbilly woman.

It’s shocking … the lilt in everybody’s voices at that super spooky quiet and ungodly time of human and animal and plant existence.

This morning the topic wasn’t about how to shoot a deer or how big everybody’s bass was … it was about a growing fear of hawks who’ve been snatching up small dawgs in Cherokee County and eating the small dawgs.

A caller named Jim was concerned. He’s heard that this has been happening a lot in Cherokee County. And he’s concerned because he lives out in the country of Cherokee County and he’s got a fenced-in back yard and he lets his Chihuahua run around back there and he just knows some ol’ hawk is gonner swoop down and carry his dawg off.

I kid you not. This was Jim’s concern. At just after four o’clock in the damn morning.

The woman hillbilly host said hawks don’t see your dawg as your pet, Jim, but as food … and if that thang’s down there wigglin’ around then it’ll grab it and carry it off somewhere real private and kill it and eat it.

Jim said he couldn’t fathom a hawk eating his Chihuahua and that he would attempt to construct some protective measures like putting up some sort of net or chicken wire covering over the part where his dawg plays. Jim said he’s got a lot of property but his back yard is real small so he was pretty sure he could get this thang done right for his dawg.

Thanks for callin’.

I really thought I was still dreaming … but about a horror movie where people call a radio show about hawks swooping up Chihuahuas and eating them, but I wasn’t dreaming. This was real. And I had to deal with it: the radio is way over in the bathroom and the bed feels real good at four in the morning.

Then they started talking to another caller. I didn’t get his name. But this gentleman says he was over at a friend’s house … in dang Cherokee County … one time and they were all sitting on the back patio having a beer when a hawk swooped down and carried off their friend’s Chihuahua and their friend totally freaked out. The caller also said he’d just finished his paper route and started listening to the show, as he always does on Sunday mornin’s, and felt like he needed to call in and tell the story since he was right there and saw it. The caller said it was pretty wild.

I didn’t know what was worse. Listening to these folks at four in the morning talking about Chihuahuas or going to run a marathon. I figured since it was called the Georgia Marathon and I’m from Georgia and was supposed to know everything about Georgia then I should have been training for it … and then go run it.

Which I have been, and which I did. Very slowly.

I discovered when I got to the finish line I had not won the Georgia Marathon. Not even come close. At least those patient volunteers still had a few bagels left.

http://www.adixiediary.com

carlosgvv

March 31st, 2012
9:25 am

In my years of working for various corporations, being absent on any kind of regualr basis would get you fired. And, on those very rare days I was out, no one did my work. So, when I came back the next day, I had a double work load. And, I was expected to get caught up in one day. Teachers aren’t the only ones who have crappy jobs.

Ted

March 31st, 2012
9:34 am

what in blazes is a “redirect”? Is it the fancy way of saying that a student is not paying attention? And what’s the big issue about teachers taking off on a Friday or a Monday. That happens at most places, doesn’t it?

NWGA Teacher

March 31st, 2012
9:49 am

Teachers are absent on Monday or Friday for the same reason they’re absent any other day, for the same reasons people in ANY occupation are absent: they’re sick, their children/family members are sick, they have to take care of personal business,
etc. Teachers DO have personal days, and they CAN use them on Monday and Friday.

This isn’t a topic, this is filler. This is not an issue. Why are secretaries, dentists, engineers, food service workers, etc. etc. etc. absent on Monday or Friday?

A Conservative Voice

March 31st, 2012
9:58 am

Oh, c’mon, people, this doesn’t have anything to do with teachers or any other profession for that matter……”it’s a culture thang”. If you’re taught that if someone hires you for a job, you fulfill the requirements of the job, including being there when you’re supposed to be there unless you’re absolutely, posiltively unable to be there because of sickness or family emergency or medical reasons. Let’s quit pussy footing around the issue…….”there are just some sorry people out there that just don’t care”. And to the “stress issue”, I say “Buffalo Chips”…….

Mountain Teacher

March 31st, 2012
10:04 am

Ted, a redirect is when a student is off-task or bothering another student and the teacher intervenes and either brings the student back on-task by “redirecting” his/her attention to the subject at hand or defuses the situation with the other student and “redirects” them to another activity.

Tim buck

March 31st, 2012
10:05 am

Buckhead is not the answer for public education!

Shar

March 31st, 2012
10:13 am

I agree with Deborah. Dr. Bulach gives no evidence that teachers are absent more on Mondays and Fridays due to stress, he simply states it, and he further states that disciplinary measures are the driver of the stress. Changing the way discipline is conducted in classrooms based upon this kind of essay would be foolish.

As an aside, I think that loosing children on each other would be more likely to create a “Lord of the Flies” nightmare than a smoothly, collegially functioning environment. Plus, my daughter went through this at Inman, and the “rewards” very soon turned into group punishments if the group misbehaved. The inevitable result was that a large group of kids was denied rewards – the traditional Eighth Grade Class Trip, for example – because a small minority liked to be able to control the total.

Bad idea.

Old Teacher

March 31st, 2012
10:20 am

When I first started teaching they actually had mental health days for teachers. You had days to take a mental health break. What people don’t realize is that students play mental games with teachers every day all day long. That is why not many people can handle teaching. Nobody ever talks about the stress of teaching. Many people quit teaching forever after the first year of teaching or the first few years of teaching, because of this. This stress along with stress from political leaders, parents, and other coming down on teachers is why people cannot handle teaching anymore. It is stress all day long. It is not like a corporate stress..they are two different animals. I really think that people should be required to teach for a couple of years, then they would have way more respect for teachers. Most people cannot do it. It takes a very special person to handle the stress…which is way more difficult to handle than the actual teaching.

Old Teacher

March 31st, 2012
10:21 am

I knew a number of people that changed their major in college, once they got into the classroom to student teach.

Old Teacher

March 31st, 2012
10:23 am

Maybe we shouldn’t have class on Fridays and Mondays if teachers are taking that many breaks.

Just Sayin'

March 31st, 2012
10:46 am

OCGA § 20-2-850.(a)(1) mandates that teachers earn one and a quartrer days of “sick leave” per contract month or about 12 and 1/2 days per 190 day contract. The real reason teachers lay out is because out of 36 school weeks they can miss fully 1/3 of the Fridays or Mondays and still get paid. Sweet deal if you can get it. Reduce the number of paid sick days or just require a doctors note from the teachers, like we do from the students, in order to get paid and the number of absentees will drop correspondingly. Just Sayin’

teacher&mom

March 31st, 2012
10:59 am

@Just Sayin’:

If you reduce the number of paid sick leave days, then give teachers a paid maternity leave. When I returned to work after a 6 week maternity leave, my pay for the month of January was $200.

The Dr. note is a good idea, however, we also allow a certain number of parent excuse notes because we practice common sense. A 24-hour stomach virus should not require a visit to the doctor’s office…for a student or a teacher.

Ron C.

March 31st, 2012
11:00 am

This kind of scrutiny is petty nonsense! Why aren’t you reporting on other professions’ absences, Ms. Downey?

teachertoo

March 31st, 2012
11:03 am

Friday/Monday absences: Friday-even the laziest of subs can give a spelling test, reading test and math test. Must get to the campground early on a Friday if you want a good site.
Monday-travel day or unpack day, even the laziest of subs can pass out the week’s homework packet, introduce spelling words, and find the correct page in the Math book.

The middle of the week I have to work like hell to get the concepts planted. Oh did I mention, overcrowded classrooms, lack of administrative support, an ever decreasing salary, peer teachers who obviously are not in the profession for any of the right reasons?

before you jump on me…I have over 80 sick days accrued, only take them when I need them. Never stay home sick, that is a waste of a day! Writing sub plans is a true pain, those that are out every week, are just bad employees.

ScienceTeacher671

March 31st, 2012
11:06 am

@Old Teacher: It is stress all day long. It is not like a corporate stress..they are two different animals.

Very true…but most people don’t understand that.

Prof

March 31st, 2012
11:16 am

@ Peter Smagorinsky, March 31st, 6:05 am: “I just checked Amazon for his book on bullying. It’s very highly rated by reviewers. But the price! Price:$110.00. 13 new from $86.85. 5 used from $84.14.”

I just checked this out. Some small-run University press books on specialist subjects charge those prices nowadays, but this didn’t seem to fall in that category. Otherwise, those prices would be very typical of vanity published books; and this blog seems to attract a lot of shysters trying to get free advertising for their self-published books. But you seem to be wrong here…. fortunately, for it sounds like an interesting book.

First, the press is Rowan Littlefield, a highly respected trade press that also publishes scholarly books. And Amazon’s price is $55 for hardcover, and $26.95 for paperback. Plus lower for used versions.

Just Sayin'

March 31st, 2012
11:23 am

@ teacher&mom: Pregnancy is a personal decision and presumably done with some degree of forthought. I am a self employeed businessman and my with is a solo practicing attorney. Her salary after returning from the birth of our daughter was $0 as is the salary of either one of us if we miss work because of an illness, ours or our daughter’s. I’m not whining because we were aware of the practical consequences of our decision. Your job was protected during your absence by state law as it should have been but please understand that the expectation of being paid for work that is not being performed is somewhat dubious to the one of us paying public employees salaries and operating under a “real world” set of rules.

@Ron C.: This kind of scruitiny is because these absences cost taxpayers not only the salaries of the absentee teachers but those for substitues that must be hired to replace them. This is money that is being taken from someone else and of which the expenditure of every penny is worthy of the brightest of lights.

Just Sayin’

Anonmom

March 31st, 2012
11:38 am

It is another argument for smaller classes…. then evaluate and see if absences go down. Just a thought. There is a lot of “noise” about the problems with discipline in the classroom. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that smaller classes would have fewer discipline issues — that is unless you put all the kids who have problems (and different types of problems) together in the same room –

retired teacher

March 31st, 2012
11:39 am

I went through 25 years of teaching with many years of using not a single sick day. THEN the last 5 years I blew through a bunch of them. Not because I knew retirement was around the corner but because I was really sick. So sick there’s was no way I could drag myself in safely. My last 3 summers started off on the sofa recovering from a pinched neck nerve, a thyroid that went haywire, the flu (who gets the flu in May???)….

I can only attribute all this to stress….so much I decided my health was taking too much of a beating and retired early then intended. Now I’m at another job that’s got it’s fair share of stress. I put in plenty of 10 hour days that are exhausting but don’t even hold a candle to my last years of teaching.

btw…my husband works in the corporate world in a fairly stressful job. He can’t believe what teachers have to put up. His job has all kinds of stress reduction techniques like lunch out together once a week, leave early on Fridays, leave early on Wed for happy hour, skip meetings to focus on the more important task…..teachers have nothing like this EVER. He has quite a bit of control over the stressful stuff that we can’t even imagine.Corporate stress totally different ……and oh yea…he also gets paid about 3 times what I did with less education.

irisheyes

March 31st, 2012
12:14 pm

I am sick and tired of people complaining that teachers take six weeks for maternity leave. I guess we should go back to the days when only unmarried women could be teachers. Would that make you all happy??

teacher&mom

March 31st, 2012
12:16 pm

@Just Sayin’: I’m not whining. Let me repeat, I’m not whining. Many professions, perhaps not all, but MANY offer paid maternity leave. The teaching profession does not. Teachers use their accrued sick leave days.

You seem to think your lofty profession and status as a tax-payer allows you to dictate to me, the lowly teacher, when I can have a child, when I can attend a friend’s funeral, whether or not I can visit my father in ICU, or acquire an unfortunate illness. It does not.

For the record during any given year, I average 2-3 sick leave days a year. I have three children. They occasionally get sick. Now that they are teenagers, I leave them at home by themselves. My parents and MIL have experienced debilitating illnesses the past couple of years. I’ve pitched in with my siblings to take my turn at the hospital, cancer treatment center, etc. I don’t abuse my sick-leave days. I’ve taught 18 years. In all that time, I can count on one hand teachers who abused their leave days. All but one was replaced and/or left on their own accord.

Excuse me for not buying your nonsense.

btw: Your chosen blog name is quite appropriate…
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=just%20sayin
http://www.npr.org/2010/12/18/132160770/its-rude-its-crude-its-stupid-just-sayin

And this quote sums up your thoughts:
“Just Sayin’ is meant to be a puckish little disclaimer to convey, “I have no vested interest in what I’ve just said. The preceding thought was meant only to be informative and, in fact, I might not even believe what I just said.”
(http://gawker.com/5259560/phrases-to-be-banned-just-sayin)

Hey Teacher

March 31st, 2012
12:39 pm

@teacher&mom — hear hear! Many major companies here in Atlanta offer paid maternity leave — its insane that we treat pregnancy like an “illness”. Many districts force you to take your leave during a pre-determined time — I had to fight my district to allow me to start my leave when I had an actual baby in hand rather than to blow days when I was still pregnant and fine to continue working.

ScienceTeacher671

March 31st, 2012
12:48 pm

When I worked in industry, we had paid maternity leave, as well as paid holidays and vacations.

Active in Cherokee

March 31st, 2012
12:55 pm

The scrutiny of teacher’s absences are of a concern lately mainly because of the economic ramifications. For many jobs in the US, if an employee misses the company does not have to pay another employee to take their place. For obvious reasons, that cannot be true in the teaching profession. I would imagine an analysis of any profession would show higher absences on Friday and Monday (though I’d think Thurs. may slip in as a top choice also). This can be explained in many ways – people often have places to go during the weekends, professional development conferences are often on Fri-Sat, you’ve been fighting illness all week and finally at the end of it you can’t do it anymore, or you did fight it all week and it came back to smack you in the face and you need a day to recover. I know I miss 1-3 days of work a year for various reasons and would never call out someone else for doing the same. I’m very thankful to our Educators here in Cherokee Co. for having one of the lowest absentee rates in Georgia and on par with national averages. I think that should the dedication and hard work of the teachers here in the county despite the poor support of the legislators.

Deborah is Right

March 31st, 2012
1:26 pm

Deborah is right. Absences on Mondays and Fridays is another way to extend the weekend. If there is one thing that teachers have more than any other profession — it’s time away from work. Teachers in Atlanta work only 180 days a year….there are 365 days in a year.
Teachers work HALF the year.
GM

Second career teacher

March 31st, 2012
1:42 pm

Thursday’s article about teacher absences really brought my blood to a boil. I agree that stress in the number one factor for teacher absenteeism, however, I am in my 7th year of teaching in the public school and I have had more sinus infections, bronchitis, in the past 7 years as I have had all my life. The children come to school sick and pass it to everyone in the class, including the teacher. Schools are not the healthiest of environments. We wash our hands in cold water and we may or may not have a paper towel to dry our hands on because the county has not sent them to our school. Last year I had to ask parents to send in paper towels because we were told the county was completely out of towel. I would like to also add the cleanliness, or lack of cleanliness, of the school. Yes, we have shiny hallways, but if you looked closely at the cafeteria, you would see tables that go unwashed and children eating their lunch on them. To wash desks, tables, door handles, or use Lysol Spray in the classroom, I have to purchase the cleaners with my own money. If you walk down our hallway, you will see tile with mildew. The classrooms are too hot in the winter and too cold when the system is turned over to air conditioning.

I also agree with “Active in Cherokee.” Most of my absences take place after I have dealt with my sickness for days, maybe even weeks. When I realize that it is not going to go away on its own, I head for my doctor’s office, and usually it is a Friday because I know that I will need to rest as I begin medication. I would much rather not be sick because it is a lot of work to prepare for a substitute. Another point, what about teachers on maternity leave or those who are fighting a serious illness such as caner. Then there are teachers that have children of their own at home. What are they to do if their child is too sick to attend school? I am so disappointed with how teachers are being treated in the news. I wish Principals, Superintendents, parents, and news reporters would just walk in our shoes for a week or two. I included the school administration because most teachers would agree that administrators have been out of the classroom for too long and have forgotten what it is like to be on the front lines.

Oh, and one last thing , did I tell you most counties have not given their teachers a raise in 7 years?

Jo

March 31st, 2012
1:55 pm

Dr. Bulach’s book is so expensive because it is most likely a textbook — of the “publish or perish” genre.

As a DeKalb County School System parent, I believe that our teachers — even our really excellent, committed teachers — are demoralized from all sides by the following:
1. a lack of discipline in the home (i.e., if you are in trouble at school, there will also be consequences at home)
2. parents undermining teachers (i.e., a classroom is not a democracy, the teacher is in charge; if I disagreed with a teacher, I spoke with that teacher privately, not in front of my kids; what’s “fair” had nothing to do with anything, life is not fair)
3. the unwise DCSS policy of not allowing teacher to give zeros or failing grades — that is NOT real life
4. the unwise DCSS policy of allowing students multiple chances to do their work — that is NOT real life
5. incompetent, thuggish and corrupt “sit-up-here” administrators consistently receiving raises or being paid not to work while teachers have to take furlough days and don’t receive promised TSA (tax-sheltered annuity) payments and haven’t had a raise in 5 years
6. incompetent, thuggish and corrupt local school administrators who bully teachers and do not support effective classroom discipline

We are probably lucky that any teachers show up for work on a regular basis. With very few exceptions, DCSS is a nightmare working situation.

Hillbilly D

March 31st, 2012
2:14 pm

I’d be interested to see a comparison of Mon/Fri absences between teachers and other professions. Those are the two big absentee days in most every line of work.

Beverly Fraud

March 31st, 2012
2:25 pm

What would be interesting. Take a “top ten” list of places with a respected CORPORATE CULTURE and compare THEIR absences with that of APS and DCSS and the other high ones in Georgia schools.

It’s a LOGICAL consequence of the way teachers are treated.

catlady

March 31st, 2012
3:24 pm

Dr Bulach has likely not taught in a very, very long time, or he would know that the ante has upped a great deal. Many of his “rewards” are now mandated, with even more “rewarding” ones now required for all, not just those conforming their behaviors. I am speaking of test do-overs, no grade lower than 60, teacher-designed study guides, food eating allowed, limits on homework (in my area it is 20 minutes per night with all subjects combined), and other ways of kowtowing to the lowest common denominator.

I agree that self-policing is a good idea; however, nowadays many kids feel NO responsibility to themselves or the group. They can’t be “shamed” if they misbehave–it is a badge of honor, and so many parents demand the “right” of their child to misbehave!

Ole Guy

March 31st, 2012
3:30 pm

In past blogs, I have advocated somewhat of a return to “the ole ways” in managing a classroom of kids who may or may not be COMPLETELY on the same sheet of music as that of the teacher. I know I keep harping the same ole music, but I simply cannot understand why/how the education elite, AND our elected leaders continue to completely ignore the fact that CURRENT PRACTICES IN DEALING WITH CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT ISSUES ARE SIMPLY NOT WORKING. As the good DR indicates, teachers have been known to have to interrupt the delivery of course materiel several times…I believe the DR’s description was “up to 150 times a day”.

Tell me…given the current “can’t-do-a-damn-thing-about-it” constraints within which teachers must work, just HOW’NHELL are we s’pose to prep these damn kids for the world? A recent news article in the AJC reported an Aluminum Producing outfit in Kennesaw which, despite the unemployment figures, can’t seem to find QUALIFIED…that’s QUALIFIED applicants. HOW’NHELL are we to produce QUALIFIED people for ANYTHING when teachers’ hands are tied as to HOW to teach and HOW to manage???

How do you gain a horse’s attention when he don’t pay no ‘ttention to the stable boy? You smack ‘im on the _ ss with a stick. It worked with Ole Guy; it worked with Ole Guy’s generation, and with just about every gen up to about 20 years ago.

Do we really want to acquire 3rd world status on the global stage?

Digger

March 31st, 2012
4:04 pm

All it takes is one lawsuit, Ole Guy. It’s hopeless.

sloboffthestreet

March 31st, 2012
4:16 pm

STRESS??? That is too funny. Selfish? Greedy? Just simply don’t care? That sounds more like it. With the number of personal & sick days allowed and taken by teachers the majority should be in a hospital under 24 hour observation. Funny how a student and parent are sent a letter after 5 absences requesting a meeting with the attendance review committee but a teacher is allowed to miss work for any or no reason and nothing is said. Oh my, those no good rotten parents and their lazy kids! NNOOOOOO, It couldn’t be those no good lazy rotten teachers, Could it? Oh yeah, and West Georgia U. They really pump out some top notch teaching talent! NOT!!!

hssped

March 31st, 2012
4:42 pm

Redirection? Really??? hahahahahahaha! I want to be the ISS teacher…no IEP/SST/504/parent meetings…no working with kids before/after school…no lesson plans…no making copies….no parent contacts…..no grading…no analyzing work samples…no writing IEPS….don’t even have to teach (ISS teachers can never “do the math”…..BUT…FULL TEACHER SALARY!! Woohoo! How do I get that job? Oh that’s right…I have to be male and a coach.

Dr. John Trotter

March 31st, 2012
6:05 pm

@ Beverly Fraud: As you know, forward-thinking schools have great discipline. With great discipline in place, you don’t have a lot of teacher stress. Without a lot of disciplinary problems and teacher stress, you have much more learning taking place.

catlady

March 31st, 2012
7:52 pm

Is there a link between teacher absenses and student test scores? By that, I mean is being in a school where there is low achievement, frequently due to unaddressed student discipline issues and low parental interest, make it more likely for a teacher to be out a good bit? (Instead of teachers being out “making” the kids have lower test scores, what about the other way around?)