8/27/11

The Great Recess Duty Debacle

Hey there, everybody!  I took care of business on Saturday . . . laundry AND homework folders.  My first parent helper is coming this Friday and I will NOT be taking care of homework folders NEXT WEEKEND.  Thank goodness.   I watched a big ole marathon of New Jersey Housewives during the process.  I think Theresa is being really hard on Melissa, don't you?  Also, I don't care, I'm just going to say it --- I watch The Jersey Shore (stop judging me!) and can you believe what is going to happen to The Situation????  This week's episode is going to be CUH- RAZY!

Any-who --- now I have to work on the Duty Schedule.  And I would really love to know how everyone else out there in blogland handles Recess Duty.  I remember reading a blog (can't remember where it was but if this is YOU, please leave me a comment) and the author had a recess duty chair with supplies!  Like visors, radio, sunscreen, whistle, etc.  A CHAIR!  I would love a chair.  But I have to bring my hall monitor badge circa Bobby Brady clipboard and whistle and WALK AROUND on the playground.  This is quite dangerous.  I have been hit in the head, leg, butt, arm, and back with a ball or two.  Plus, other teachers are constantly saying that they can't find me on the playground when I am on duty (the teeny tiny thing).  I just blend right in.  I am of the mind that I should have to be a certain height in order to patrol the playground.  Just saying.

This Duty Schedule is a pain in my butt (maybe it's from that ball that slammed into me).  I joined the committee at the last minute because we only had upper grade teachers on it for this coming year and I wanted us primary teachers to have some representation.  Obviously.  So we started talking about it right before school started because we needed to have it ready for Day One.

Let me set this up for you.  Two primary teachers (my partner and me) and two upper grade teachers talking via Facebook (private messaging, not on the wall or anything like that!) and going back and forth, and back and forth.  I am telling you, it was STRESSFUL.  Negotiations were breaking down and both sides needed lawyers.  I hate conflict - it was killing me.  All I kept thinking was that these girls were going to hate me!  I started every sentence with "I'm sorry but . . ."

Here's the kit and caboodle of the whole situation.  Our school has almost 1200 kids.  At one time.  We are no longer year round (WAAAH!!!!  I am still so bummed over it) and we are all there ALL. THE. TIME.  We have to have so many teachers cover so many kids, etc.  We have 5 teachers cover recess before school (which is not really recess but grades 1 - 6 go to the playground and play with pretend balls.  Seriously.  It's hilarious to watch.  Now THERE'S a sport I can play!), 5 teachers at primary morning recess, 5 teachers at upper grade morning recess, and 5 teachers after school for bus and carpool.  The biggest problem (not for me) is that primary ALSO gets an afternoon recess which is mandated by our district.  But upper grades do not get this afternoon recess.  I don't know why. Is it because upper grade students can sit still longer?  Is it because upper graders rarely have accidents (as in pee their pants)?  Honestly, I don't know the real reason but I thank God for it every day.  And the best part is that my principal pays our noon supervisors (the brave ladies who cover our lunch recess) to stay 15 minutes longer to cover our afternoon recess.  (Basically, after the upper graders finish their lunch and recess, it's time for our afternoon recess so the noon supervisors just stay)  So we never have that duty.  Ever.  Opera singing going on in my head now (Haaaaaalllllllleluuuuuuuujah!!).  By the way, after writing all of that, it looks like my kids are at recess all day.  I wonder how I even have two and a half hours for Language Arts.  I am going to have to get the calculator out and see what's up.  :)

SO --- when the committee got together, upper grade (as a whole) basically said they were tired of getting the shaft and that things HAD to change.  They said that our afternoon primary recess is 15 minutes a day times 5 days a week which equals 100 minutes of free time that they do not get.  I know, my math is off.  I forgot to tell you that primary gets a 45 minute lunch and upper grade gets 40 minutes.  Honestly, why anyone would even accept an upper grade position is beyond me.  So that was their point.  We get 20 minutes of free time every day.  FREE TIME.  Yep.  I don't know about you but I am just kicking it during those minutes.  Not a care in the world.  I tend to take my nap during that time.



Are you still with me?  Is this boring???  Because to tell you the truth, I was all fired up about it.  I kept trying to tell the husband about it and he just kept telling me to call my partner to vent.  He said he didn't understand it.  Aren't I making myself clear???  I do NOT want to have recess duty EVER.

Wellllllll, this compromise meant that upper grade teachers were off the schedule every other two week period (our duties last for two weeks).  And primary teachers were only off the schedule ONE TIME before Christmas.

Our primary teachers are very strong.  They speak up.  They went ballistic.  The principal got involved.  One of the committee members took herself off.  The other almost cried.  It was awful.  I seriously thought we were going to have a rumble between upper and primary on the handball courts at 3:30.  It was bad.  One teacher called it "a hostile environment".  YIKES.  I mean, I may kid and all, but I try to keep things in perspective.  If I'm on duty, I try to remember to thank God for a job that allows me to be outside watching children play.  I'm not stuck at a desk or serving customers or what have you.

My principal told all of us at a meeting that duty has to be equitable and that the primary afternoon recess  couldn't count against us.  She said she was taking it over  . . . and then I got that special email.  She needs my help.  Can I fix it?   Can I send her a new one by the end of the week?

Would you say no???  I already did the first one before school started and now I have to start all over.  Granted, I am going to have more time off, but it is complicated to make it equitable and fair.  My brain hurts.

So what happens at your school?  Do you have duty?  Is it equitable?  Do you get hit with balls?  Is there a height requirement for patrolling the playground where you teach???  PLEASE comment.  I am really dying to see what other schools do.  I have actually heard that some teachers NEVER have duty.  Where is this school???  Are they hiring????

Okay, Big Bro Fans!  Let's see what happens tonight.  I need Shelly outta there!!!!!!!

31 comments:

  1. We have a duty free lunch. We have a kindergarten recess mid-morning which is covered by our assistant. We walk our own kids to the buses. That's it. No duties. I live in Maryland, by the way.

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  2. HAHAHHA! I am completely in love with this post! Read the whole thing! "I am going to have to get the calculator out and see what's up." LOL!! cracked me up! I am so sorry this is so stressful, I wish I could help. My district is one of those districts who hires aides to do recess and lunch duty (but we still do morning and after school duty). And trust me, I'm trying, they're not hiring!!! hahah

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  3. Well, first things first: Yes, Teresa is being way too critical of Melissa. The jealousy is tangible this season!

    I teach at a small private school, as in, there is one teacher for each grade. The third gr. teacher does morning recess, K-3. The first gr. teacher and I trade lunch/afternoon recess every week. Have I mentioned that I also teach art to K-1, while the first gr. teacher does PE for them? I am grateful for the planning time I have once per week when the children are in Spanish and the 2x per week when they go to music (if the principal doesn't need to cancel).

    There isn't much drama or debate about our duties. They just ARE. The problem lies in this in-between place where we have grown in numbers (enough to make one teacher on duty seem sketchy), but not enough to merit the hiring of a teacher's aide. So, RECESS! I have a whistle, a keycard for the magic eye on the front door, and my cell phone. There is also a small bag with tissues, bandaids, etc. I tie shoes, mediate offenses, and keep children away from the ant hills for 25 minutes. We have playground rules that are written in rock--no climbing backwards up the curly slide, wait for the whistle to switch swings, run on the grass, K-1 may not use the monkey bars (too many broken arms!).

    You may need to wear a neon baseball cap during your duty! Or, perhaps a crown. :-)
    ReadWriteSing

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  4. This all cracks me up... us country bumpkins in Kentucky keep it simple- if your kids are at recess, so are you. We have recess spread out throughout the day. Hope you get it figured out!

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  5. How many playgrounds do you have? At our school (K-5, about 500 students), we have 2....a primary playground for grades K-2 and another playground for grades 3-5. We are allowed 20 minutes total of recess throughout the day. Kdg chooses to split it up into 2 shorter 10 minute recesses so we can have one in the morning and one in the afternoon. We are required to have 3 teachers on duty. When Kdg goes out, 3 of us (which is 2 teachers and one assistant) go out and 2 teachers do not have duty. We have a rotating schedule so everyone gets to be duty free at some point. In the afternoon, there are only 3 teachers and our assistants are busy, so all 3 of us go out every afternoon for duty. The other grade levels take turns, too. When their grade goes out, they make sure 3 teachers are outside on duty (most grades have 4 teachers).

    We never have lunch duty (ick!) or before/after school duties with car riders or anything else. When we go out for duty, we take our whistle and a walkie talkie. We used to take an "emergency bag" that had basic first aide stuff like bandages, but that has disappeared over the years.

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  6. I've gotta say that you lost me about halfway through - HAHA! For my last 2 years, we (kindergarten teachers) were SO lucky. We stayed in the cafeteria while our kids ate lunch (and served food, helped them open milk cartons, clean up spills, etc). Then, our assistants took the kids out to recess while we had a nice quiet lunch break (and didn't have to go outside for 30 minutes in whatever kind of weather we may be having!). We also got a 40 minute break during specials for "planning." THIS YEAR, though, we are not going to stay in the cafeteria while our kids are there, and this will be our duty free lunch time. Then, WE have to take the kids out to recess and get all hot and sweaty and icky. We still have planning time during specials. Anyway, as you can tell, I do NOT like to be hot (or cold) so I'm not looking forward to it.

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  7. I'm teaching 1st this year at a new school, so not sure exactly how it will work out. We have duty free lunch, and then each class gets a 15 minute recess. Two classes go together, and the teachers supervise their own class.

    My last school did that as well, 15 minute recess and teachers supervise their own class.

    And yes I agree, Shelly needs to go this week!!

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  8. Ohhh Kristin, all I can say is I am sorry! Things haven't changed in 7 years...has it really been that long since I worked with you? Hope it goes okay!

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  9. I'm with Katie King. We keep it simple. We have lunch aides so we don't have to be with the kids at lunch but we are responsible for watching our class at recess and taking them to buses and what-not. No "free time" here.

    On another note.... Theresa is TOTALLY snippy with Melissa and she is going to loose me as a fan as a result :(. As far as Jersey Shore is concerned... Don't forget the special episode tonight at 7! Can't wait!


    ❤ Karen
    Flamingo Fabulous in Second Grade

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  10. Wow, I have to say I am impressed with the amount of time y'all get for lunch! 40 or 45 minutes! We get 20 and we do NOT have a duty free lunch! So, I am jealous of you in that respect! We have to take our students out to recess on our own and we are expected to be actively supervising our kids. That means no sitting. If another teacher is out there with her class, it is expected that you're not socializing with each other. I teach 3rd grade, but K-5 has the same expectations...both the teacher and assistant eat lunch with the kids and take them out for recess. Assistants have morning duty, teachers are only required to be ready when students are dismissed (20 minutes before school starts mind you). This year is different for afternoon dismissal. Last year we just had to dismiss students from our room and walk our walkers to the gates. This year however we walk all of our kids, drop them off in their areas, and wait for our car riders to get picked up. I'm not sure if this will help, but I like the idea of wearing a neon hat Chrissy suggested!

    Bonnie
    Living A Wonderful Life

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  11. Wish I could help...but at my school each teacher covers their own class during recess. We have duty free lunch that is covered by kindergarten and first grade paraprofessionals. Good luck!

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  12. We do recess with the kids, Ed Techs do lunch with the kids. End of story. But, our school is K-5 and only 195 kids. The K-2 kids have recess first, the 3-5 have it second.

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  13. Our school lets each grade level pick a 20 minute time slot to have recess in the afternoon. We have an upper playground, for grades 3-5 and a lower playground for grades k-2. But we have NO aids... so the teachers all have a recess duty for our class. I actually don't mind it b/c it lets me get some sun and fresh air, after being cooped up all day, and I can see and talk to other adults (my kdg team since we all have the same recess time!) I look forward to recess just as much as the kids do! =)

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  14. I also teach at a large school 1100 kids are so in grades Prek-5th. This is the first year our school has implemented recess and us teachers have DUTY! Teachers are paired up with a partner teacher and we alternate weeks to watch kids during recess or lunch duty. For example, this week I had lunch duty so my partner teacher went to her duty free lunch for 30 minutes. Then, she came and met me and our 2 classes and took them to recess while I went to lunch for 30 minutes. The students go to recess for 15 minutes and then to the restroom and water break for the remaining 15 minutes. Keep in mind they also have PE 5 days as week. I am not a fan of recess 5 days a week, because I am losing out on instructional time. Hope this helps!

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  15. I can't believe you have that long of a lunch! I have a 20 minute lunch! Everyone does a staggered recess 15-20 mins depending on primary or upper and each teacher watches their own kids. We get a actually break at our specials time. I hope you can figure this out! So frustrating to have a "hostile environment"!

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  16. Wow! It's so interesting to see how things vary across the country! In my school each teacher has before and after school duty (about 20 minutes for before and 10 minutes for after) 2 weeks out of the school year. We have lunch aides during lunch (30 minutes) but we must supervise recess. The other first grade teacher and I split morning recess (10 minutes each so we both get a short break in the morning - diet coke run!) and we alternate lunch recess duty every other day (about 10 minutes). It works well for us!

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  17. I always find it so interesting to see how schools around the country do things. We have 25 minutes for lunch and I'm there with my kids every day. My school has close to 700 students, K-3. We sign up for recess time at the beginning of the school year. We have 2 playgrounds and generally 4 classes go at a time. I schedule 25 minutes for recess and go with my class every day. I like it because it's a few minutes in the day to enjoy a little adult conversation. Sure it's 97 degrees with 95% humidity right now in Alabama, but at least it's a little fresh air.
    Not sure about your school, but all classes at my school go to PE everyday and Specials 4 days a week (one day I go with them to the Computer Lab- the other days are a break). So, recess duty doesn't bother me because I have other planning time each day.
    I hope you get the schedule all worked out. It's hard to be in the middle of conflict.
    Lauren
    Just Add Clipart

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  18. Oh you poor thing!!! I loved reading this long post. I feel the same way about recess duty. My school has almost 700 kiddies K-5. We split recess. So from 9:30-9:45 1st grade has recess. We are on a rotation and there are 2 teachers out there each morning. From 9:45-10:00 it's 2nd/3rd grade and again they are on a rotation so there are 2 teachers out there. From 10:00-10:20 it's 4th/5th grade and teachers are on a rotation. For all lunch recesses, we get paid extra for recess duty and it's volunteer basis. The afternoon recess is just for 1st/2nd from 1:45-2:00 and we are on a rotation. Kindergarten goes out on their own schedule and they each take their own class out.

    Hope this helps!!! Sorry for your dilemma darlin'!!!

    Marcy @ http://busybeesandcupcakes.blogspot.com

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  19. Hey girl- Duty sucks no doubt. At our school we don't have a morning recess. We all have to be in our classes by 7:30. Students can come to class at 7:35. Class doesn't start until 7:45- but lets be realistic. It's really 8:00 before I do calendar or anything else. We have a very large school as well. Aides have morning duty along with the principal, assistant principal, and two PE teachers. Their duty begins at 7:00. It's at the crosswalks, parking lots, bus drop off, etc. ALL regular teachers have duty after school: buses, car riders, walkers, etc. It's all hands on deck.

    As far as recess duty goes we all have ONE recess. This includes upper grades. Our recesses are 30 minutes. Years ago we had two 15 minute recesses but it was taking away from instructional time with all the transitioning. My team has six teachers and we rotate with one teacher "off." We leave four teachers covering the playground. One teacher has study hall and the last teacher actually gets a break. Really study hall feels like an off week as well because you can actually get things done in class.

    If you need a copy of our master schedule that shows recess time, etc I would be happy to email that to you!

    Rowdy in First Grade

    rowdyinfirstgrade@yahoo.com

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  20. Totally forgot to tell you about lunch duty- Our principal, assistant principal, and all special are teachers take thirty minutes each to monitor the lunch area. By law in Texas teachers are required a 30 minute duty free lunch.

    Rowdy in First Grade

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  21. Hahaha you crack me up! I have recess duty every day because if I didn't my kids wouldn't get to go outside at all. I buy all of the supplies they play with and they have to run around on cement. We're supposed to get a real playground this year but I'm not about to hold my breath. Wow, my job sounds terrible. I actually look forward to recess because I get to go outside and talk to the kids in a laid-back way and just sort of hang out...until the fighting starts. =(

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  22. You are quickly becoming my favorite blog! :) You. Are. HILARIOUS! Are you that little voice in my brain all the time... because you sound just like her. lol

    Ok, so as for my school... my principal KNOWS we all hate duty, so she and the SSC voted to hire more cafeteria/recess aides this year. WOOHOO! We NEVER have morning or lunch duty. Primary and intermediate have separate recesses so we all just rotate on our own recess times (Kinder, 1-3, then 4-5). The way the rotation works for primary is we have duty every other week all year long either on morning or afternoon recess. Eh... kinda sucks, but at least we have a week off??? Idk... I hate duty. I feel like I can't get anything done on the weeks I do have duty... but I can't do anything about it.

    Good luck!!!

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  23. Sorry, I know it's completely stressing you out, but you're cracking me up! I would so come do your recess duty just for the smile you gave me! Anyway, at our school, you watch your kids while they are at recess. Yes, we're supposed to walk around, but our school has these great 'teacher' swings that we sit on. They are like porch swings, but with a cover on them. I mean, if they really wanted us to walk around, they wouldn't have put them out there, right? The swings are spread out at each corner of the playground, so we just make sure there are one or two teachers at each one so we can see all of the playground. We don't have any after/before school duty. They tried that last year and no one really showed up. Our aides and specials teachers do before/after school duties.

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  24. I didn't even realize there was a such thing as recess duty. I thought that every teacher ALWAYS went with her kids to recess. We get lunch duty free and specials (art, music, library, etc.) as our planning time. So we have a 45 minute planning period, while the kids are in specials and a 20 minute recess which we are at. It sounds like your pretty lucky to have recess as a free planning time.

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  26. Ok so after reading both of the duty posts you might want to come work at my school. We never have lunch or recess duty and we have specials times... We have the para professionals cover lunch and recess duty. We always get a 30 minute duty free lunch time and 3 times a week we have a 50 minute planning time (while our kids are at certain specials and 30 minutes while they are at others-4 planning times a week). Just so you know I think we will be hiring next year :) It rains A LOT here though.

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  27. We have a thirty minute duty time once per week (at lunch recess), but we are supposed to spread out and not talk to other teachers.

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  28. Sometimes we have to cover lunch recess, I HATE it. We do lunch duty regularly - as in the cafeteria. I have always felt that the upper grade teachers had it a bit easier. After all, they can sit down! For ex. anytime there is a test, they aren't reading it to the kids and walking around making sure the kids are staying on the correct item. They can sit and time the test! I think the extra minutes is a moot point.

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  29. We just started a new schedule this year. We now have a 30 min duty free lunch and then need to supervise our recess( 15 mins) It is the only recess for the entire day( way too long for young children to not have a break). we get a 45 min common planning time that is taken 4-5 times a month for meetings. When I began 24 years ago we had 2 recesses each for 20 minutes. Only one did the teachers cover. Now the curriculum is heavier with material and expectations yet we give the students less time to unwind!

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  30. LOL! you are seriously cracking me UP. but yeah, teachers be gettin' fired UP, huh?? we have issues with scheduling, too. with SPECIALS. lol. in TEXAS. (seriously? you teach all those extra subjects? i can barely get science and social studies in every day!)

    but yeah, i'm gonna need you to tell me more about this whole "playing with pretend balls" thing. THAT sounds like a debacle in itself! HA!

    i am SO following you now! loves me some funny teachers.

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  31. My district, here in AZ, is a duty-free district. We get 40 minutes for lunch and 40 minutes for our prep (the students go to specials) everyday. If we are on "rainy day or too hot to go outside schedule", we have 30 minutes for lunch and the normal 40 minute prep! We have over 700 kiddos in our K-3 school so the aides are always busy!

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