Opinions expressed on this blog are my own and do not represent any other organization or affiliation I may have.

Sunday 22 April 2012

Preferential Call-Out

Coquitlam is among many districts in BC that uses preferential call-out. While it is an ongoing debate as to if this method of call-out for teachers-on-call is fair or not, I can see both sides of the arguement.

I feel that new TTOCs who had their practicum int he district may have an advantage with preferential call-out (or requests) because their school associate and teacher's in the school they were at may call them in. Additionally, TOCs in the district a while may have an advantage because their name is well known and they get requested often. On the flip side, however, if a TOC is not known they may not work as often, making it unfair that a classroom teacher decides when a TOC works.

Surrey TOC Glynis Cawdell summarized both sides well when she wrote:
The debate continues in Surrey and across the province. To request, or not to request? I’ve spoken to many TOCs and contract teachers on this issue and yet I still struggle to know what’s right.

The truth is, there are some good things about preferential call out. When you’re one of the 800 plus TOCs in Surrey, and you can be dispatched to any of our 120 school sites (at 5:30 AM no less) it’s no wonder TOCs love to get requested. Being called back to the a school allows you to make connections and feel like a member of the staff. The students already know your expectations so less time is spent on behaviour issues. For special needs students, who require more consistency, this is especially true. As job requests often come in days or even weeks in advance TOCs know where they’re going ahead of time and can communicate with the classroom teacher beforehand. You feel prepared. You feel confident.

That’s not to say requesting is without its dark side. Should teachers really be acting as the employer and choosing who gets work and who doesn’t? Is it ethical to evaluate a TOC you have never seen teach? If a teacher legitimately felt a TOC did an inadequate job they have an obligation to contact that teacher and give them feedback. Unfortunately what happens more often is that the teacher just chooses not to request that TOC back, even telling colleagues to do the same. Sometimes teacher’s request TOCs just because they chatted in the staff room at lunch and the TOC was outgoing and friendly. Is this fair?

Glynis highlights some of the main arguements on both sides and while the BCTF is working towards seniority call-out across the province, I know that there are Coquitlam teachers-on-call and teachers-on-contract who support preferential call-out and some that do not.

That being said, Coquitlam implemented a new feature in their call-out system last year which has a "consistency clause" as I call it, though the SBO calls it "call-back with a cancel"

This is how it works....

If a teacher is away within 3 days of a previous absence, the call out system (CADS) will call back the TOC that was previously in the classroom (with in those 3 days). This will over ride a request (so if classroom Teacher is away on Thursday and TOC A comes in, but then classroomTeacher is away Monday and requests TOC B, because TOC A was in within 3 days, TOC A gets the call first, before the requested TOC B gets the call.

Further to that, if TOC A already has accepted a call on that Monday, they will get a "call back with a cancel" option which essentially lets them choose their job for that day...if they want to return to that class they were in Thursday and give up current call out, or turn down the return to the Thursday Classroom and keep the already accepted call out.

This feature essentially eliminates preferential call-out to an extent because it is the first stage of call-out before requests.

Now, the other "change" I think would make things more fair, is to give teachers only ONE or TWO requests. Currently there are multiple requests, so if your first TOC request declines or is not available, it tries #2, #3 and so on.

If there were only one or two spots, then classroom teachers would keep their option to request, but teachers who are not requested would have more of a chance of getting a call since it is more likely that two requested TOCs may be unavailable than say five requested TOCs.

I have seen the benefits of requests, as I often get request call-outs and enjoy being back in the same classes and schools, but I also know that from a union stance, it is not fair to have teachers "hiring" other teachers.

I do think there is a happy medium, but it will take time to explore those options and find one that works best for all.

Until then, the debate continues and I continue to hear both sides and remain unsure of what is the best way....

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