Classroom Sanctity, Seriously?

By Beth Premo, Membership Services Director

Do you feel like your classroom a revolving door?  Have you lost count of how many times your classroom was interrupted in a day? Do you know who is visiting your classroom? Is your instructional time with your students respected and protected?
According to the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary, sanctity is defined as “the condition of being holy or of deserving great respect.”
We continue to hear about multiple observations in one day, administrators coming in groups (sometimes with students) to classrooms to observe instruction, often times speaking to students during the lesson, administrators and district leadership stopping by the classroom to take notes or photographs of your common board configuration, notes being delivered from parents or the office, and the list goes on and on. On a number of occasions, visitors have stopped by classrooms without notification and the teacher did not know who they were.
In addition to those stopping by your classroom, your intercom or telephone in the classroom can ring throughout the day to request students be sent to take a test, meet with guidance or administration, or go to the office. Add all the interruptions up and you start to realize that it’s very difficult to go a day or two without a lesson being interrupted. 
By the number of stories I’ve heard from teachers throughout the district, sanctity of the classroom has been a casualty of the ever increasing mandates and pressure from the state and school district.
So, the question is, what can be done?  The contract language regarding classroom sanctity is clear and unambiguous. 

It is imperative that you know your rights in accordance with the contract.  Below is the contract language regarding class sanctity:
A. Except for an emergency, a teacher will not be disturbed in class, whether by visitors or communications, unless advance notification is given the teacher. The administration shall cooperate with teachers in screening visitors wishing to visit classrooms within their building. Administrative supervisory personnel may visit the classroom for professional purposes provided such visits are not so frequent as to disturb the learning environment.
B. Except for emergencies, all intercom announcements shall be made during homerooms or a specially designated period and at such other times as will not interrupt classroom instruction. Scheduled events (e.g., school pictures, hearing tests, etc.) are not considered emergencies. Emergency circumstances dictate immediate action.
C. Individual announcements shall be placed in teachers' mailboxes or presented before the instructional period begins. If an announcement affects more than one (1) person, the announcement should be given in writing to those concerned instead of orally passing this information.
D. Students should not be called from class except in an emergency or as scheduled for certain school activities as approved by the principal. These special interruptions of class instruction should be scheduled and kept to a minimum.
E. Faculty checklists, material lists, message deliveries, and routine announcements should be limited to the school bulletin, to homeroom periods, to faculty meetings, to bulletin boards, or outside the instructional day.
If your rights per the contract are being violated, what can you do?

We know you have more than enough interruptions each day without those constantly stopping by your classroom.  You and your students deserve a classroom with as few interruptions as possible.  It’s up to you to take a stand and make sure that your contractual rights are protected. 
And remember, we’re always here to help! 
In Unity,
Beth Premo