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Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Education is Serious Work: Mandated Trainings

I spent the greater part of the afternoon completing the long list of mandated trainings for the school year ahead. The online modules, in my opinion, are far better than the old-time State trainings we'd have to sit through in times past. Though long and very detailed, these trainings can be done in the comfort of your own own home at a time that works best for you.

The trainings today included the following topics:
  • Conflict of Interest & Ethics
  • State Ethics Reform Law
  • System-wide Standards of Contact
  • Collective Bargaining Contract
  • Faculty Handbook
  • Harassment and Non-Discrimination
  • Physical Restraint Training
  • Bullying and Cyber-Bullying
  • Employee Digital Use Policy
  • Concussion in Sports
  • 51A Reporting
Each training was well done including lots of detail and multiple ways to teach and care for colleagues and students. 

I suggest that educators complete the trainings at their leisure during the summer months as once the school year starts, it will be difficult to find the time to do this thoughtful work. I also suggest that educators pay careful attention to the following areas of work:

Public School Teacher Ethics and Behavior
The ethics training was written for all municipal employees, and there were areas that were somewhat difficult to understand, but most of those areas had to do with specific private-public enterprise and effort. As far as the day-to-day efforts of educators, I found this link related to gifts to be helpful since students and family members at times want to honor teachers with gifts. I also found this other link related to tutoring and other matters to be helpful. 

Teacher Contract
It pays to read your teacher contract. I realized after reading it carefully that I may have been able to receive reimbursement for two teaching/learning events including money spent for fees, meals, lodging, and transportation. I attended the conferences last year and the events cost me a lot of money. I thought the fund was for courses only, and didn't apply for the reimbursement therefore losing out on more than $1,000. The teacher contract includes lots of important information and available support with regard to time and money that will help teachers if they're aware that the support is there. 

Also with negotiations scheduled again in the not-too-distant future, as you read the contract, you may want to list ideas for positive change. The contract lists financial information and also work conditions information. It could be that greater lead time in some areas and financial incentives in others could make the contract even better.

Further, don't forget to deduct your union dues from your taxes like I did last year. 

Conduct
Our system-wide standards of conduct are mainly standards of respectful, courteous, safe, and legal behavior. The one area that I think educators need to think about is information share and collection. First, it's not legal to share confidential information, so know when information is confidential, and also most school documents are public so as you take and share notes, write in a way that you're comfortable sharing with anyone that might read the notes.

Concussions 
This information was very interesting, and while I'm not a coach, I am on playground duty almost daily, and we sometimes have to deal with falls, bumps, and injuries that could result in concussions. I'm also a parent of athletes, so the information was helpful in that way too. This Concussion Training and Materials are available to any interested party. I think it may be a good idea to show fifth graders part of the concussion film to educate them about the brain's fragility with regard to injury.

Mandated Reporting
As educators, we're mandated reporters. We do children and families in distress a service when we report suspicious behavior or concern. This training put together by the State of Massachusetts was very helpful.

The mandated trainings equaled well over 100 pages of facts and information to remember and apply, and that's a lot of information. It's important that we help each other as colleagues to remember and utilize the information to practice teaching well and access helpful financial and other supports and resources. Also, because the information is online, we can readily refer back to the details if needed.

The bottom line is that our work as educators is joyful, playful work, but it's also serious work. And ethics matter in this regard.

Since there's been an increased, formal emphasis on ethics in the last many years, I looked up the definition of ethical behavior. This is what I found:

Ethical behavior is characterized by honesty, fairness and equity in interpersonal, professional and academic relationships and in research and scholarly activities. Ethical behavior respects the dignity, diversity and rights of individuals and groups of people.

We can check our actions with regard to ethics using the following questions:
  • Am I honest in my actions and speak?
  • Am I fair to those I serve and interact with?
  • Am I equitable in the service and work I do?
  • Do I represent information in ways that represent my best ability and understanding?
  • Do I demonstrate and use respect for the dignity, diversity and rights of others?
The landscape of teaching and learning is always changing. New laws and expectations are continually added to the attributes of what it means to teach and learn well. As stated before, it's important that we work with one another to help each other do our best work in this regard. It's also important that we question when we don't understand, and it's best if we put those questions in writing so you have a record of your queries.

It may be that some of the mandated trainings will be updated between now and the official start of school a month away. If that happens, I'll view the new and/or updated trainings, but in the meantime, I'm glad I completed that task prior to the busy, busy first days of school.

Note:
If you teach in the same system as me, the mandated trainings can be found by going to the administrative link on the public schools main page, and moving down to the technology page. On the technology page, you'll find the link for mandated trainings.