WVEA has long advocated for teachers' planning periods to be protected and strengthened. While teacher salary issues normally make the five o’clock news, planning time is often just as precious to teachers. Yet, in many places, planning time has become micromanaged or attempts have been made to reduce it entirely.
Educators use planning time to research and prepare lessons, to meet with students and to collaborate with colleagues in what is known as professional learning communities. They collaborate with grade-level teams, special education teachers and administrators to discuss about her students’ progress.
WVEA's Legislative Agenda includes this priority: "Planning periods for all full-time classroom teachers should consist of no less than 60 continuous minutes of uninterrupted and duty-free time to be used at the discretion of the individual teacher."
The initial planning period statute was created in 1982. The current statute reads: “Every teacher … shall be provided at least one planning period within each school day to be used to complete necessary preparations for the instruction of pupils. ... No teacher may be assigned any responsibilities during this period.” The statute also stipulates that planning periods are to be no less than 40 minutes. The state board recently redefined the "school day" as the full employment day for the employee.
The intent of this statute is clear. The intended use of the planning period is not so a teacher can cover someone’s class when a sub is not called out or be required to help answer phones in the office. The intent is not to have half of it taken each day for a last minute administrative meeting. Planning periods are not for county training. Specific days are built into the calendar for those purposes.
WVEA members who feel their planning periods are not being honored or are being taken for reasons other than planning should contact their local Organizational Development Specialist (ODS).