Superintendent Robert Avossa short-circuited the ongoing dispute with teachers about how they plan by announcing Wednesday night that he was withdrawing a requirement that teachers meet to collaboratively plan 90 minutes every five to seven days.
“I’ve changed my mind on this, I’ll tell you the truth. What I’ve come to realize, you can’t mandate people do what’s not in their hearts,” Avossa told school board. To teachers: “You know what? You don’t want to be there? Don’t go.”
He said that much of the tension was stirred by misunderstandings about what these meetings actually are.
“They are not an administrative meeting,” Avossa said, explaining that professionals from lawyers to engineers collaborate and that when teachers collaborate a good teacher influences not 18 students but 100s, by working with his or her peers about how to best convey their lessons.
Avossa said he’s decided he’s not going to require the so-called PLCs because when you require people to do things they sit in a room with their arms crossed, not open to working.
He noted one teacher at Acreage Pines told him collaborative planning has actually cut the time she spends on planning because it’s a group effort.
Avossa said his intention is to restate the memo to schools to say the PLCs are “recommended.”
He said he didn’t want to continue to get mired in this argument because, “I’ve got too many other things that folks expect me to do.”
When it came time for public comment, Avossa’s words, prompted the president of the teachers union to scrap pages of her speech.
Instead, Kathi Gundlach thanked Avossa for his decision. She agreed that cooperative planning is a good practice, but it should be led by the teachers. She disagreed that the meetings aren’t administrative, when schools would require attendance and minutes be taken.
“Teachers have always worked together,” Gundlach said. “We’re having issue with teachers having to collaborate.”
Gundlach said she’d be looking for a revised memo to this effect.