I hope everyone had an enjoyable, restful July and August. As we return to school, I am receiving emails from new Absent Teacher Reserves about what to expect in this new chapter in their careers. The start of the school year is as good a time as any to give an ATR primer.
Teachers and other professionals in NYC schools who have been excessed due to school closing or program downsizing and could not find a permanent position, usually because we cost too much, are now ATRs. Some of us find temporary positions replacing teachers who are on leave or to fill a vacancy provisionally. Others are placed in rotation.
(For teachers coming from a downsizing school that would like an opportunity to return to that school should a position open up in your license area, you should write a contractual Article 17 B, Rule 8 letter requesting to be placed immediately in a position should one open up in your license in the next year. Email us for a sample.)
For the first six weeks rotating ATRs will be sent to a school in the district they worked in to cover classes or do other work related to their field (guidance, social worker, psychologist). However, there is something called a mandatory interview that cannot be ignored. If an ATR misses two mandated interviews, we have officially resigned our employment. Tenure means nothing.
ATRS PLEASE CHECK DOE EMAIL DAILY TO SEE IF THERE ARE ANY MANDATORY INTERVIEWS.
These interviews must be in the ATR's license and in the borough the ATR is assigned to. Contact the UFT immediately if an interview is not in license and within your borough. According to the DOE, "This year, mandatory interviews can be scheduled on September 17th or 18th, September 25th and every Tuesday through Friday thereafter.
If an ATR is offered a position, the ATR is required to take it so if you are sent to interview at a school that would not be a good fit, speak up at the interview but be professional.
On October 19, ATR rotation starts. ATRS can be assigned to a different school on a weekly, monthly or some other basis. There is no rhyme or reason to the rotation other than it seems to be designed to demoralize ATRs so resigning becomes a viable option.
As for life in the classroom, ATRs on rotation are really substitutes even though many of us have decades of classroom experience. As such, teaching the lesson the regular teacher leaves is required. I kept a generic social studies lesson in a folder just in case nobody left me a lesson plan when I was a rotating ATR.
Since certain students in many schools have little or no respect for subs, some kids will not listen to the ATR's instructions. Try to avoid confrontations. They aren't worth it. This includes battles with staff too. Familiarize yourself with the schools you are sent to as best as possible. Ask for a bathroom key. ATR's are entitled to one. Seek out the UFT Chapter Leader if he/she does not look for you.
In a later post we can discuss in detail the roving supervisors and the absurd ATR observations. ATRs are observed with students the ATR doesn't know and will not be grading.
I only led the ATR rotation life for three months and I was in two good schools and another that was not bad before being lucky enough to be hired for the rest of last year at Middle College High School. I was rehired for this year at MCHS. I was personally treated very well in all three schools I rotated to but still felt the ATR experience was humbling after 28 years as a teacher.
Don't expect much help from UFT leadership either. The union refuses to give us elected representatives at the Chapter level. Many ATRs have been trying to fight this. Call the UFT immediately if you feel your ATR placement is improper.
Above all, be professional even though our employer and union both treat us as if we aren't professionals.
ATRs and anyone else can also email here at firstname.lastname@example.org for support. There are groups such as the ATR Chapter and the ATR Alliance that are helpful too.
My colleagues at Middle College HS elected me as their UFT Delegate this past May even though I was a Leave Replacement ATR who at the time had no position at MCHS for the 2015-16 school year. While I am not in rotation currently, I will do the best I can to represent ATR interests in addition of course to advocating for MCHS and UFT members everywhere.
(My ATR rotation experience was limited so please feel free to add anything to what was said here.)