Tuesday, September 28, 2010

not a team player

right now our teacher teams are working on personalized education plans for each student.

we use our 2 hour PD block in the afternoon for appointments to meet with students and help them set goals for the year. however, many students aren't showing up for their appointment because there is no incentive for them to stay late.

when i threw the question out during monday's meeting as to what we can do to entice the kids to come in, a few teachers had the suggestion of holding their appointments during advisory time instead, and that the teachers who don't have an advisory would surely not mind covering each other's classes so that the appropriate teachers can hold their meetings with the students.

we're talking voluntary, unpaid coverages, every day, for about 2 weeks in a row. HAHAHAHAHA.

the teachers (mostly first and second years) were going on and on about what a great idea this was to get all our student meetings finished in a short time.

i spoke up and said: #1, we were given 2 hours every wednesday for four weeks to do this. if we don't do it during this time, our principal will just pile more work on us to do during this time. so let's figure out how to get these kids in the door and forget about using advisory time. and #2, even if i was paid for every coverage, there is honestly no way i would do it.

one teacher was stunned i said that and started to get on my case. i told him as the dean, i cannot commit to taking on another class every day. the staff members seem to think my "free" periods are for me to frolic around when in fact they are professional periods and i have a ton of work. and truthfully most days i have NO free time to myself. i am pulled into meetings left and right, have to deal with student issues, and have have a ton of paperwork.

i redirected the group towards brainstorming ideas to get the students in. that lasted for 5 minutes when the vocal teachers decided there was no way. they gave up. then one rookie insisted he was going to speak to the principal about paying us for doing it in the morning, like that is going to happen!!!

at which point, a second year teacher muttered under his breath next to me well that's not going to work anyway, as long as *some people* are not going to be team players.

hot damn so i'm not a team player!

i do everything for this job. i'm the dean and the inquiry specialist of the school. i spend every period i'm not teaching working to make everyone else's life easier. i prepare for and run meeting for the staff 2-3 times a week and no, i don't get paid any extra for this. the teachers come to me for everything they need. i'm lucky if between everything i do for the school, i get 20 minutes of downtime a day. so why in the world would i take on an extra period? it's not possible for me at this time.

secondly, the teacher who backhandedly accused me of not being a team player lives a typical brooklyn life. he's in his 30s, single, lives with a roommate, just goes home or chills after work.

my personal life looks like this: i work until 4 or 4:30pm at school. then with my kids in the car i drive my husband to work and then drive home. i get home around 5pm. then at 5:30pm twice a week i go to college. i get home about 10pm. i eat dinner. i lesson plan and grade (since i can barely use my preps for this.) i do laundry for my family and clean. i try to relax a bit. i'm lucky if i get to bed by 1am.

in the morning i need to get my kids ready and out the door. i walk in at 8:00am on the dot. if my paperwork isn't completely overwhelming from the day before, i try to use 20 minutes to get my classroom together and finish up any lesson preparations. then i start my rounds to the different advisories to check for uniform infractions, make announcements, print up necessary detentions, and then rush to my second period class. I CANNOT GIVE UP THIS TIME. the other teachers think it's just fun free time for me. this really pissed me off.

my personal life, i believe, is a lot more stressful than most of the other teachers at my school. but it never stops me from doing my job. and i hands down have more responsibilities at the school than any other teacher. some of them are purely for personal gain (think teaching credit recovery for extra $$$ and advising the music club) but everything else i do, even though i do it for $$$, has a direct benefit for every teacher and is completely a part of me working for the team.

but whatever. maybe i should level with the teacher that pissed me off. i barely have room to breath during the day. i really envy every other teacher, who i see relaxing, sitting at their desks grading, and having lunch when they want. i don't know what more they could expect of me.

oh and i did offer to stop in and help conduct some student appointments but told them i could not be tied down to covering a class. but that wasn't good enough.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

it's all about the benjamins

I thought I was insane last year with my per session activities, but this year I'm even more nutso.

I'm definitely feeling it and I'm getting home at 5pm every day as opposed to 3:15 like my first year or 4pm like last year, but I don't mind it. And even the nights I have school at 6pm, I feel just fine. I actually enjoy grad school this year!

I thought I might be burned out from working the summer, but the new freshmen are pretty great as a whole, so I'm managing.

A breakdown of my per session activities is as follows, in hours per week:

Math tutoring class: 2
Algebra credit recovery: 2
Geometry credit recovery: 3
Inquiry specialist: 2
Detention: 2 - 4
Music club supervisor: 1

That's a minimum of 24 hours per paycheck. Plus miscellaneous weekend activities come up from time to time.

Sick money, and good for my resume. But I wonder how long will I last this way...

I had to suspend a freshman today and her mother screamed at me over the phone, defending her daughter. The girl racked up 2 detentions in 2 days (stellar for a first year student) and then stole work from my desk during detention to copy the work and pass off as her own, thereby getting out of detention earlier. Uh academic dishonesty anyone? I didn't even nail her for that; I cut her slack as a first year student and only gave her a level 3 suspension.

But the mother called me worthless and basically pulled a "la la la i'm not listening to you" over the phone and tried to go over my head. i swear i thank god every day for my job and my supportive administration. they always tell me to do what i think is right and back me up on everything.

in other news, my music students learned how to play notes with their left hand today. they just love to show off when the faculty and administrators pop in to listen. and we get visitors every day! everyone who stops in is amazed that these kids, who never have read a note of music in their life, are playing songs after just a week. for the past two years the music classes were never this successful. no one even tried to teach them how to read music; they were told to play by ear. and they never got past mary had a little lamb.

i guess the other music teachers never took the time to teach them the language of music; maybe they didn't believe the kids could learn. but heck yeah they can! and they're awesome! a couple of them want to perform at the end of the year already!

whatever, i can go on and on about how proud i am of these kids. i like teaching math, but music is so interesting and so much more gratifying! for now at least, while it's still new to me:)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Breath of Fresh Air

WOW I can already tell this will be a much better year than last year.

Firstly I had to jump through some hoops and ask favors of a couple of people, but everything worked out with my college. One of my professors changed my failing grade to a B+ and I am able to retake and replace the grades for the other two courses. I feel so refreshed and motivated.

Secondly, my students seem so different this year. Of course I recognize we're still in the "honeymoon" phase, however I just can tell these students are a totally different crop than last year. They seem more intrinsically motivated and more respectful in general.

Also, I only teach two or three classes every day. I have 2 periods a day off for dean work this year. Plus, there's a second dean now, so the workload is lessened.

And best of all, I only teach two algebra classes, and one MUSIC class!!! i'm teaching the kids how to read music and play piano and they are loving it. i'm loving it, too.

i still have a lot of dean work and per session activities that add stress, but my program is so manageable and my students so wonderful this year, that i just know it's going to be much easier this time around.