Monday, August 30, 2010

Because Teaching is Never Just Teaching...


School is going wonderfully! The students seem to be settling into their new routines. Now if only the teachers and administration could do the same!

Today's entry has two topics that are closely intertwined. And to begin the story, let us return to the first Friday during workdays.

It was the day of the faculty meeting. Tensions ran high in expectation of doom and gloom. Administrators paced nervously, trying to prepare themselves for teacher reactions. Teachers sat in tight groups, gossiping about their summers and sharing rumors of what they heard about the meeting. This was my first clue to one of today's topics.

Despite the pre-meeting apocalyptic feelings, the meeting was surprisingly pleasant. There was far less doom and gloom than was expected, and teachers' moods were quite high at the end of the day. The only snag in the meeting was when the assistant principal assumed control over the meeting. Suddenly the teachers' guards popped back into place. The change in mood was almost tangible.

In following conversations, I would find that many teachers did not approve of the assistant principal. The rumors I heard would lead one to believe that he was a stereotypical administrator: not recalling his days as a teacher and never considering the point of view of the teachers. Yet, I held my judgement.

Fast forward to this Thursday past, the second day of school. I was going over some warm up questions with the students and my co-op was doing work at her desk. With a brief knock at the door, in comes the assistant principal. He proceeds to discuss something with my co-op, but now my students are distracted by his nearly unannounced arrival. I eventually regain control of my students' attention. The assistant principal leaves and I notice a sour expression on my co-op's face.

During planning, my co-op explains that he wanted to let us know that he wants me to go on both the 7th grade field trip and 8th grade field trip. Now, I had been warned by my co-op on my first day at the school that someone would probably ask me if I would chaperone the 7th grade trip as there is usually a lack of male adults wanting to go. I had told her at the time that I would love to, but I needed to consult with my college supervisor as I did not know if I would be allowed or not. She said that was fine and that was the end of the conversation.

Well, now my co-op and I find that the assistant principal decided to call my supervisor himself and ask. I had not gotten a chance to talk with my supervisor about it, so she didn't have any idea about the field trips at all. Now, my co-op and I both feel that I should probably only go on one of the field trips, because I need to have as much time in the classroom as possible. Also, my co-op felt that the assistant principal was just trying to use me as a free chaperone, as I'm not a teacher. This situation is still working itself out.

Fast forward again to today. The principal decided to have a meeting with all of the 7th graders this morning, so my co-op and myself took our students down to the theater where the meeting would be held. All of the teachers sat in the back, where they could see the students. During the meeting, the assistant principal comes in and asks me to come with him. We walk to the entrance to the of the theater and he asks me if I would be willing to work the concession stand at one of the sports games next week and to work the gate for one of the games next month. Of course, I didn't want to say no to someone who is very much like my boss.

Upon returning to my seat at the meeting, my co-op asks me what that was about. I told her and she was not very happy. Apparently, teachers are only required to work one game per sports season. Again, to her, this was another attempt to use me as free labor. Now, she will be speaking with him about it, with a probable follow up with the principal and my supervisor.

So, I start to form my opinions of some of the administration that I haven't had much interaction with so far. I'm thinking that I don't particularly care for the assistant principal. And those are my own instincts, not the opinions of my co-op. I will try to always give the benefit of the doubt to anyone, especially when other people don't have high opinions of a certain person.

And through this all, I couldn't help but notice how my co-op and the other teachers in the school seemed to take on the characteristics of the students they taught. The teachers seem very prone to gossip. Also, there is a certain tendency towards the dramatic. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but it is very interesting to me to see how the work environment really manifests itself within the teachers.

Despite all the drama, I continue to keep my overall goal in mind: keeping the students' best interests at heart. Past college experiences have given plenty of experience in dealing with people that I don't necessarily like, or with excessive drama. I'll take things in stride and keep moving forward!

The Tenderfoot Teacher

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