• About
  • Press
  • Topics
  • Contact

Preparation Periods

Get answers about missed preps, payouts and self-directed vs. principal-directed prep periods here.

Missed Preps

The contract between CTU and the Chicago Board of Education provides teachers at all grade levels with self-directed preparation periods. The same language governs both elementary teachers, (Article 4-1) and middle school teachers (Article 5-1). That is, notwithstanding teachers’ 45-minute duty free lunch:

Each teacher’s day shall be comprised of no more than 296 minutes of instruction, 15 minutes of non-classroom supervision and 60 minutes of continuous duty-free preparation. Four days each week the teacher’s preparation time shall be self-directed; one day each week this period shall be principal-directed.

For high school teachers, Article 6-1 contains similar language about duty free lunch and instructional hours. Regarding prep time, it also provides:

Each teacher’s schedule shall include seven fifty-minute duty-free, self-directed preparation periods per week. Each teacher’s schedule shall include three principal-directed preparation periods per week, which shall be used only for staff development, teacher collaboration, advisory (one per week), department meetings, subject area team meetings and other professional preparation activities.

Making up Preps

In our contract with CPS, Article 27-5 covers makeup of missed preparation periods. It says that principals shall not have teachers take the class of an absent teacher during their self-directed prep period. In addition, it mandates that:

Whenever a teacher’s duty-free professional preparation period is canceled, the principal shall schedule a make-up duty-free professional preparation period for that teacher by the end of the next academic quarter following, or by the last day of teacher attendance that school year, whichever occurs first, to the extent practicable.

This means that in the third and fourth quarters of the school year, a missed prep must be made up by the end of the year. In the first quarter, it must happen by the end of Q2 and, in the second quarter, by end of Q3.

Missed Prep Payouts

The same Article 27-5 provides a remedy if the principal does not make up your preparation period within the given time frame.

if cancelled self-directed preparation periods are not made up in accordance with this Article, they shall be considered lost. The BOARD shall pay the teacher for the lost preparation period at his/her regular hourly rate no later than the start of the next school year.

Keep a Record

It’s important that you keep a detailed record of any missed preparation periods. To that end, the CTU provides a missed prep record keeping form on our standard forms page. You can use this form or any method that works for you. If you wind up needing to file a grievance, these records will be essential for documenting the contract violation.

Self-directed vs. Principal-directed Preps

Principals and teachers, alike, often wonder how to handle the mandated number of teacher self-directed prep periods and principal-directed preps. As indicated in the language above, four of the five prep periods provided to elementary teachers each week must be self-directed. The contract also provides that the principal can direct one prep period each week. Similarly, high school teachers are mandated to have seven self-directed preps each week. Principals may direct up to three prep periods in a week, within the areas of work mandated by Article 6-1.

In shortened weeks, principals often wonder how to establish a principal-directed prep while still providing a self-directed prep for at least four of the days that week. Principals can choose to cooperate with members to determine the best opportunity to schedule the extra, principal-directed prep if they feel the need to direct a preparation period in that shortened week.

Further questions

If you encounter any questions or need help explaining the intent of the contract language to your principal or administrator, please don’t hesitate to contact your field representative.

Find Your Field Representative

Just as knowledge must be shared, your voice must be shared. Take action. Join a committee, represent your school community.

Current Contract

Your contract defines your rights and responsibilities as agreed by the Board of Education or by charter school operator. Study the contract and you will have the knowledge to defend your rights. Union staff will help you enforce them.

Administrative Transfer Window

Teachers were able to transfer schools for Spring 2020 without principal permission between November 15, 2019 and January 2, 2020. Teachers can still transfer if released by their principal. The next administrative transfer window will be later this spring for transfers in Fall 2020.

Read more