Teachers and staff from select campuses kicked off the spring semester by implementing a staffing pilot program, which allowed flexibility to accommodate alternative work arrangements while maintaining a focus on student success.
Campuses proposed the Alternative Work Arrangement pilot program plans to district leadership and the superintendent in December 2020. Once approved, the program launched in six campuses––Cunningham and Padrón elementary schools, Burnet and Covington middle schools, Bowie High School and Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders.
“Our Alternative Work Arrangement program provides principals with the autonomy to meet individual campus needs,” Chief of School Leadership Anthony Mays said. “The educational needs of our students and families are the priority, and the program allows principals and campus teams the flexibility to work collaboratively to reach students' demands while ensuring teachers and staff are safe.”
At Cunningham, the program revolved around trust, conversations about amplifying teachers’ voices and staying student-centered. Cunningham staff created a five-step plan that started with teachers selecting how staffing decisions are made and working through those decisions as teams. Each team has a dedicated leader defining when staff members would return to work and what those conditions looked like.
Margaret Longauer, a kindergarten teacher at Cunningham, is one of those team leaders.
“The fact that we were allowed to decide as a team helped all of us feel better about the decision,” Longauer said. “Having ownership of the decision is better than someone else directing how and why it would work.”
Cunningham’s first-grade teacher Riley Anderson said she appreciates the flexibility district leadership gives them to make decisions at a campus level.
“As first grade has the highest number of students on campus, I appreciate the flexibility and the way of being able to collaborate with our team to figure out what works best for us,” she said.
Burnet Principal Marvelia De La Rosa invited staff to join a teachers’ committee to analyze campus data on how to best serve students. Teachers had the opportunity to discuss within their departments and professional learning communities how to meet student priorities while supporting each other as staff. Teachers were given autonomy to evaluate and decide on staffing solutions.
“This gave teachers the voice and the space to work through their primary love and goal: to teach our students,” De La Rosa said. “Our staff was able to figure out how to balance taking care of their needs and supporting the needs for all of our students.”
Another school in the program found a way for teachers to provide instruction from an empty classroom. When another teacher had an overflow of students, the teacher in the empty classroom could take on some of the extra students.
The three-week pilot program demonstrated success and support among teachers and principals. District administration expanded the program to Kealing Middle School, Austin High School and Travis Early College High School during the first week of February. Other campuses are also working towards implementing the program this month.