ICEA NEWSLETTER -- September 2014

School climate,Updates,Run for the Schools,Rights

Letter from the President

School Climate

Successful schools, like any effective relationship, require a high degree of collaboration and communication between teachers, administrators, and support staff. We all play important roles in providing students a high quality education.

Unfortunately, sometime there are times when these relationships are not all they can be. In this September ICEA Newsletter, Dawn Zacek, Rights Co-Chair, details how to handle two common areas of conflict. . In my role as President, I often talk to members who are in conflict with a peer or administrator, but who are anxious to speak up due to fear of retaliation. While this fear may be well-founded, I always encourage people to open the lines of communication. We teachers are highly trained in dealing with bullying in our classrooms; however, we sometimes are reluctant to follow our own advice when it comes to ourselves or our peers. We tell our kids to speak up for themselves and others, to tell others who can help, and to stand up together for people they see in crisis. In our own profession, we too often stay silent, fearing reprisal. I would argue we need to walk the walk.

If we want to improve our schools and our profession, we need to be able to constructively open the lines of communication with those around us, talk honestly about difficulties we are facing, and work with others to find solutions. The ICEA is here to help. Your ICEA Building Representative is available for support and guidance. We have excellent Rights Co-Chairs in Dawn Zacek and Jennifer Jeffries, and we are able to use the expertise of our East Central UniServ Unit Director Coy Marquardt when needed.

In my conversations with Superintendent Murley, it is clear he is committed to schools founded on healthy collaboration between staff and administration where input can be given and solutions can be found without fear. This is a message he continues to communicate to his administrative team. The ICEA is committed to creating an open, healthy and effective environment by supporting its members.

Updates on Initiatives:

The Teacher Leadership Compensation committee continues to refine the grant proposal for our district. Staff input, through both the survey that went out and the group of teachers who have volunteered to review the proposal in draft form, has been very insightful and has helped us narrow our focus to programs that will most positively impact teacher and student growth. The process has also helped us identify a number of questions that need to be answered in order for the program to successfully roll out. The grant is due at the end of October, and we should be able to share more specifically what it will look like at that time.

School board President Chris Lynch is using the board’s second meeting of each month as a work session to lead the board through the Iowa Association of School Board’s module on Leadership for Student Learning. The goal of this work is to make the board more effective at impacting student learning and teacher effectiveness. We have two representatives on this committee, and we will be updating you as the work continues. We see this as another opportunity for the ICEA to help ensure that district initiatives align with the needs of our students and staff.

Run For The Schools: A Great Opportunity

This year’s Run for the Schools will take place on the morning of Sunday, October 19. By long-standing tradition, volunteers from the ICEA have always stepped up to the plate to make this event a success. Volunteers hand out ribbons to all the children who participate in the half-mile and mile events. YOU could be one of those volunteers. The kids love seeing their teachers at the finish line! It’s a great way to get involved with Run for the Schools – without too great a time commitment (it’s just those first two events and then you are free to go – unless you want to stay and help with medals for the half-marathon finishers). So, if you’re looking for a way to be a part of Run for the Schools, but you just aren’t a runner – OR if you plan to participate in one of the later events (5K, 10K, or half-marathon) and don’t mind getting there just a little early and being inspired by the younger participants, this is the volunteer opportunity for you. Send an email to me and let me know you want to be part of the team. Thanks for your consideration.

Stephanie McLaughlin

Ben’s note: I did this last year before running the 5k and it was an absolute blast! It was so great seeing the faces of all the kids and their parents as they crossed the finish line. It’s a fantastic (and easy) way to connect in another way with kids and families in our community – I highly recommend it. Thank you to Stephanie for coordinating this event again.

Update from Dawn Zacek, Rights Co-Chair

ICEA Rights

Happy September Everyone! Two concerns that commonly arise from our members are questions about evaluations and what to do if you have conflict/concern. Here is a bit of information about each of those as we start our school year.

Evaluation---Important Dates

  • Administrator/Supervisor must have an “orientation” meeting before any formal evaluations may take place. This meeting must happen before the end of September.

  • Important Deadlines:

    • Probationary Employees

      • December 15th (first observation & conference)

      • March 1st (final observation & conference)

      • May 1st (summative evaluation report)

      • May 31st (final meeting re: progress toward Iowa Teaching Standards competency)

  • Non-probationary Employees

    • December 15th (observation & first conference)

    • January 20th (Career Teacher Assessment concluded)

    • May 1st (Career Development Plan due)

    • May 31st (meeting during 2nd and 3rd year of CDP to discuss progress)

Please refer to your Negotiated Agreement for more detailed information regarding evaluation.

Who Can I Turn To for Support?

  • Always try to meet with your administrator/supervisor first and as soon as possible if that’s where the conflict is happening. If the conflict is with a co-worker, try to meet with them privately as soon as you feel the conflict has reached a point of concern. We are professionals and should address concerns in a professional manner.

  • If you feel unable to meet alone with your administrator/supervisor or your co-worker then ask for suggestions and/or support from your ICEA Building Representative. He/She can give ideas on how to solve the conflict or how to approach the other person. They can also be there with you in person if you feel that is necessary.

  • If you need further support or assistance contact your ICEA Rights Co-Chairs: Jennifer Jeffrey or Dawn Zacek.

Thank you

Thank you to all ICEA members who serve in our schools. We make a difference by supporting and promoting a quality education.