Teachers' Society concerned by cut to teacher PD, admin days
WINNIPEG -- The Manitoba Teachers’ Society is expressing its concern after the province said there will be fewer professional development (PD) and admin days for teachers in the coming school year.
On Monday, the Manitoba government announced that schools will reopen for students on Sept. 8, and for teachers and staff on Sept. 2. Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen said in a tweet, this gives teachers time to prepare their spaces, learn about health protocols and collaborate on approaches for recovery learning.
Goertzen noted that at-home learning has been difficult for many Manitobans and recovery learning will take place throughout the school year.
“While there will be a need for supplemental learning opportunities for many students in the next school year, the desire was that it be accommodated within the school year,” he tweeted.
At a news conference on Tuesday, Premier Brian Pallister confirmed that in order to accommodate recovery learning within the school year, the province plans to reduce in-service and professional development days for teachers in order to add in more classroom time.
“That’s the intention,” said Pallister.
“But I will let the education minister answer in more detail, it’s his portfolio, he’s done a great job of handling it.”
THE TEACHERS’ SOCIETY REACTS
In a statement, the Manitoba Teachers Society said because staff have to report to schools on Sept. 2 for three mandated, non-instructional days, the number of PD days will be reduced to seven.
James Bedford, the president of the Manitoba Teachers’ Society, said they are pleased with the school start date, but worried about the loss of PD days.
“But in a year that we have faced unprecedented challenges due to a global pandemic we are very frustrated to hear that teachers will be losing out on crucial time devoted to collaborating on ways to help students succeed,” he said in the statement.
Bedford added these three non-instructional days before school begins, make it more difficult for schools to be responsive to the needs of staff and students during the school year.
He said teachers and students stand to lose under the province’s plan, because opportunities for teaching, learning and collaboration will be critical for success.
“If there ever was a year where the importance of professional development days is crucial it is this one,” Bedford said.
“And when I say PD, let me be clear, I am referring to collaborative conversations and inquiry, where teachers work together to solve problems of practice and learn new ways of managing challenges, particularly at a time when teaching and learning is requiring tremendous flexibility.”
A statement from a spokesperson for Goertzen said: “There are no lost PD/administration days. There are 10 non-instructional days in the next school year as per usual, five of which are still planned as professional development days. We have scheduled two of five PD days and one of five administration days from Sept. 2 to 4. The remaining seven administration/PD days will be distributed throughout the year.”