Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Feeling Much Better

Okay, so despite the amount of regular complaining I do on here (even going so far as to suggest quitting my job in January - which I'm still considering), I have felt much healthier physically, emotionally, and psychologically in the past few weeks. It all started at the end of October when our small learning community had a team-building training. Ironically it was helpful to hear the rest of the staff bitch about all of the ridiculous hoops our school makes us jump through. It made me realize I was not alone.

Then, last week, I had my administrative evaluation. I realized that even though the administrators hold us to ridiculously high expectations, they can't even do their jobs right. If my administrator really wanted to legitimately evaluate me and give me quality feedback that I could use for growth, she wouldn't have showed up twenty minutes late to the meeting, entered scores without even looking at my portfolio, and given me enough time to finish my reflection for her. Instead, it was rushed, during my planning time, and every time she asked for evidence that I was helping my students improve, she would just enter the score of a 3 for me midway through an explanation as to what data I was keeping and acting on. I can tell she thinks I'm a good teacher, so it's clear this whole process is a joke for me. Maybe if she thought I was bad she would spend more time scoring me lower so she could fire me, but she didn't. Instead I scored very highly, which is also nice.

My administrators are not the super humans they expect us to be. This is nice to know (but also still kind of annoying that they put up that front).

Another example of my administrators not being super human happened today. Another administrator made many of our lives tough by not following through on something I probably shouldn't mention on a blog.

Anyway, some of this would have made me lose my mind and break down in September. Today, I laugh at it and continue working. Everyday I see more and more what a joke so many of the things we pretend to hold on such a high pedestal really are. So I close my classroom door and forget everything they tell me when I teach, and I guarantee you that's best for my kids.

Those things don't matter. It would be nice if I had time to do those things, but I'm a human. I don't have time. I stick to the things that matter.

Despite, or because of, all the stress, I've learned a ton of new lessons at this school. I'm a much better teacher and I've learned how INCREDIBLY RIDICULOUS so-called professionals can act in a school. Things I would never have imagined in other districts are common place here.

(Teachers and administrators getting in physical altercations with students, being bribed by counselors to pass students who deserve to fail, being told to hold students in your classroom after the bell has rung to end the day, having my planning period taken from me every day of the week for a meeting that is of no real use to me, having staff meetings that are actually pitches from insurance companies, not being able to get into your room for four weeks because your lock broke and all maintenance requests have to go through DCPS's main office, having my third period change courses and students from history to english to nothing to senior capstone in a matter of four weeks.)

So I guess I'm feeling better because I realize what a disgusting joke much of it is. This is a sad reason to feel better, but I'll take whatever I can get. On the plus side, I do feel like I'm making a difference for some of the kids. I'm doing my best at teaching them stuff, and a lot of them are starting to come around and buy into it. This is what keeps me doing this job. If I can only keep my focus on them, I might stick around in this place for a little while longer.


  1. "I'm doing my best at teaching them stuff, and a lot of them are starting to come around and buy into it. This is what keeps me doing this job. If I can only keep my focus on them, I might stick around in this place for a little while longer."

    Right - and that's all very commendable, but I want to encourage you to get out, because I think that's where you can do the most good for kids - you in particular for several reasons:

    1. You're young and therefore have more credibility (for better or worse) than other teachers.

    2. You have experience in a system other than DC

    3. By virtue of your IMPACT scores, You are perceived as a good teacher by DC standards - thus adding more credibility.

    4. You can write - and have written - and thus can get the message out about the DC teachers' plight more effectively.

    5. You can always return to teaching. Leaving now doesn't mean leaving forever. But leaving now could help improve teaching for all teachers. More importantly, it could improve learning for all students - and that's what you want, right?

  2. I know for a fact that your principal does not like veteran teachers. I have a friend who is an experienced ELL teacher, speaks several languages including Spanish, with excellent references from former supervisors. The principal of that school wouldn't hire my friend when she applied to teach there. She even told someone we know that she really prefers new teachers, not veterans who she can mold. Any school with a high turn-over has a problem, and people don't want to work there for a reason. I told my friend when she wasn't picked up by that school that it was really a blessing.