A reader writes:
I am a teacher. I have a specific job description with specific duties outlined. Two years ago I got a new boss and she began adding duties to that list. The list includes:
- Visiting students' home prior to the start of school and the beginning of the contract. I have to call families to set up the appointment and drive my own car to the visit while finding childcare for my kids.
- Working a 4-hour Saturday event once a year.
- Additional monthly meetings. Previously, there was one monthly staff meeting, one monthly committee meeting and one monthly study group meeting. She has added an additional staff meeting, weekly team meetings and monthly assessment meetings. This equals many extra before and after school hours.
- Recruitment in which teachers walk around the neighborhood, knock on doors and tell people about our school. We are expected to help do this over the summer.
During that two years, I have not gotten any additional compensation. Some of these additional duties cost me money, yet the school does not reimburse me because they don't have funds. Am I wrong to expect some sort of compensation for this?
Working a four-hour Saturday event once per year and having additional monthly meetings: No, not outrageous. At least not in my opinion. The occasional weekend event and extra meetings aren't generally the type of thing you can make a big fuss about in salaried positions.
Visiting students' homes before the start of the school year: Probably not too outrageous either. Some schools do this as a matter of course. It sounds like your new boss is trying to increase teachers' effectiveness, and whether she's going about it rightly or wrongly, that's her prerogative. (Now, I'm not a lawyer and maybe there's something in your contract that expressly prohibits work outside of the school year. So obviously, you'd want to read your contract. But speaking in general terms, this doesn't sound over the line.)
Door-to-door recruitment: Here's where you're going to get some sympathy from me. This is so wildly outside the scope of what your job is -- you're a teacher, not a salesman -- and it taps such a different set of skills and interests that I think it's reasonable to be rubbed the wrong way by it. This is where I'd focus, if I were going to tackle it. On the other hand, it sounds like you're working for a private or charter school, and they can have a very different ethos, one that expects everyone will pull together on matters like this.
Two pieces of advice for you:
1. If you want to change these new policies, you're going to have far better luck if you have other teachers on your side, dealing with it as a group, not individually. (No teachers' union, I'm assuming?)
2. If you decide to deal with it on your own, I'd say that you're likely to get better results if you explain to your new boss that some of the new duties conflict with other commitments you have and ask her to work with you on finding a resolution. I do not think you'll get great results if you just ask for additional compensation. And no matter what, leave the small things, like one four-hour Saturday meeting per year, out of it, since including that will detract from your case.
But ultimately it's your boss' prerogative to make these changes ... and yours to decide if you're still interested in working there under the new conditions.
By the way, of course it's not "right," in a larger societal sense, that the school doesn't reimburse you for expenses because they have no funds. That's common among teachers, and it sucks. I'm not endorsing it, by any means. But it does seem to be typical, and since you're asking me for career advice, I doubt you'll help your career any by refusing to play along with those practices.