Saturday, May 10, 2008

My Job Is Weird (very long, and with feeling)

OK. Brief run-down for the week:

First, I should explain that my two bosses, both of whom I rather like, or did like, are sometimes not the most tightly wrapped of individuals, sometimes. I should explain that they have a tendency to make and implement decisions FAST. And I should explain that they have FEELINGS.

I should explain that I am currently expected to call the parents of the twenty kids in my homeroom once a week, no matter what. I am also expected to have the week's homework up on the computer by Sunday night. I am also expected to grade all papers within a week, and put them into the computer grading program.

I should also explain that they, not too long ago, mentioned to me that they were considering withholding people's paychecks if they did not update all the above stuff. This is illegal, so I am not TOO worried about it, but the fact that they tossed the idea around gives me major misgivings about how thoroughly plugged into reality Heckle and Jeckle are.

OK. Now that we have that clear, I should explain that on Tuesday night I stayed at school until eight-thirty for a board meeting. The next day I was expected to be back at the school by eight-thirty, partly to prepare for a standardized test I was administering, and partly because Jeckle told me that he wanted to talk to me and my TA, Relaxed Dude, in the AM before class.

So I show up, check the standardized etc., and then Relaxed Dude and I are escorted to my classroom by Heckle and Jeckle, and I do mean escorted.

My classroom, not to put too fine a point on it, is messy. I have a lot of paper stacked on and around my desk, the books on the shelves have been pawed through by kids looking for stuff to read, and are messy, and the kids ran out at the end of the day without picking up their random pieces of paper, or pushing their chairs in. I just bailed on it, figuring to clean up in the AM.

Jeckle turns to me and Relaxed Dude, and says in a tone of great authority and ominous displeasure, "Who is responsible for the condition of this classroom?"

Things just got better from that point on. I and Relaxed Dude were upbraided over the messy classroom, and how the kids would not take their work seriously in such an environment. I, natch, start to get weepy, which is my classic response to this pair. I inquire, as calmly as I can, why they could not just have said "Clean up", rather than staging this confrontation. This got me a lecture on how as a professional, this is my problem, not theirs, and I cannot expect them to etc., etc.

At this point I am starting, despite the teariness, to do a slow burn. This turns into a fast burn when it emerges that Heckle has gone into my filing cabinet, and found a stack of ungraded papers from September. She has extrapolated from this that I may not be grading ANY papers, or looking at them, and may not be returning any work to the kids.

Now, as aforementioned, I have all my grades online, so this woman KNOWS I am grading work. Also, given the grief I am getting (and the endless extra work) because a third of the class is failing my class, wouldn't I be giving everyone a nice B if I were just throwing all their work out? Sure I would. Come to think of it, that is not a bad idea. /sarc/

So I pull out my nice filing cube full of alphabetized files with the kids' names that the kids can get their goddamned corrected work out of any time they are so inclined, and demonstrate how it works. They seem mildly mollified, but are still terribly. Terribly. concerned about the room. I offer to clean up the effing room. I make the mistake of explaining that I have been getting real mixed messages from day one about what use I am to put Relaxed Dude to. Not the first time I have said this.

Big mistake. I am treated to a shouted lecture about taking responsibility. H & J depart, and I kick the wall for a bit, and also learn from Relaxed Dude that apparently H & J also read his personal notebook, and had 'questions' about some things he'd written about the school.

I clean up the room. It takes fifteen minutes. It looks much nicer when I am done.

I go through the rest of the day so mad that I can hardly breathe. And then, at the end of a staff meeting that ends at six-thirty, we have 'open space for appreciations', and Jeckle turns to me and appreciates Balabusta, because he had to say some 'tough things' to me this morning, and he hopes I understand that's because he really believes in me.

My face must have been a picture.

Anyway, the next day H & J and I are supposed to sit down and talk about next year, so I prepare carefully for this. Around the appointed time, Jeckle walks into my room, and says approvingly that it 'looks much better', and proposes that we delay the meeting until next week.

OK.

So, yesterday, Jeckle shows up again, and this time he and Heckle have a new idea. They've decided, con mi permision, to take all the kids who are failing out of my English class, and have them do a more level-appropriate English class for the last five weeks of school with Relaxed Dude. I suggest a few possible book ideas for this class. Relaxed Dude, however, wants to teach Siddhartha.

These are kids who complained that The Giver was too hard and boring. I have NO #((*&#ing clue what will happen when they try Hermann Hesse. But Jeckle likes the idea. I concede, feeling as though a. I have no legs to stand on and b. do I really care? Maybe they'll like Siddhartha. Maybe they'll all become bodhisattvas. Do I know?

I think what we have here is a failure to communicate.

1 comment:

Tamara Eden said...

Holy shit (pardon me)!

I can't believe this happens. I must be totally spoiled. I can't stand to be micro managed and I definitely would have not been polite in your situation. Good on you.

Now, pulling kids the last 5 weeks of school is a crock of shit. The kids must know you already. They know how you work. They know your expectations. The last five weeks!?!. As if that teacher will know the kids well enough to give adequate grades. If those kids end up with better grades than they were getting with you, are they going to say it's YOUR fault they were failing? I truly hope this does not happen. If anything even remotely close occurs I'd get out of there and I'd also suggest universal/common rubrics. If someone is going to question why kids in your class are failing then a common grading system needs to be applied so that a true read can be done on these kids.

When I worked at a Charter School we used a common essay rubric for EVERY academic class. We also had common essay prompts that could be applied to many different texts; like questions on universal themes. Then we collegially scored these and were able to truly see how kids were doing.

Sorry I'm rambling. This just rubbed me wrong and I'm sorry you are going through this. I'm going to a new school next year and of course I wonder how micromanaging our new principal will be; though so far she's been great.

Oh, and I hope you had a reflective Pesach and a restful Shabbat.