Saturday, September 13, 2008

Getting yelled at in front of the children

I almost forgot to mention a very defining moment for me, one that inspired me to stay at my school and fight for what is right. On Thursday morning I was walking downstairs to pick up my class at the beginning of the day when I see these two girls who are in my class race past me and round the corner towards my classroom. The kids are not supposed to be loose in the building like that, they are supposed to be at the pick-up spot in the gym downstairs, so I walked back after them and told them they needed to come with me and that they should wait downstairs. This set me back 1 minute which made me worried because other teachers had told me that they had been yelled at by the Assistant Principal for being one minute late. I took the opportunity to connect with the little girls a little bit since I don't have time for that when everyone in the classroom. We walked hand-in-hand and I told them how proud I was that they had made new friends this year (one of the girls was new to the school). As we approached my class in the gym, the Assistant Principal pounced. "Do you know what time it is?" she screeched. "Yes I'm sorry, I said, I had to redirect these two young ladies." "I don't care," she snapped "You better be here on time, you're wasting instructional time." "Thank you," I replied and kept walking towards my class. I had been prepared by the teachers yesterday and I felt like I had this armor on... like whatever the AP did couldn't hurt me. On my way out with my class, I warned two more teachers who were even later than me so they could prepare their armor too.

WASTING INSTRUCTIONAL TIME!!!! It's so laughable. I totally agree that punctuality is important and that we absolutely should try our best to take advantage of every minute of instruction, but the fact that she accused ME of this was so hilarious. The administration and lack of control REGULARLY wastes our instructional time. How many times has the fire bell been PULLED this year? (2 so far). I remember last year, they used to keep us in early morning committee meetings for so long my kids were waiting in the gym for over 40 minutes for me. How much time have I wasted trying to use the photocopier that will never work? How much instruction has been lost since the copier hasn't worked? (As a side note, it is currently working...hooray!) I get to school 50 minutes to an hour early every day and I stay probably an average of 2 hours extra each day and I'm being accused of wasting time. I do all that precisely NOT to waste time. I do it so that everything is ready for the children and all of the paper work is finished so I can sacrifice all of my preps to assess them and she dares accuse ME!!!. Well, I have news for her. I feel empowered. As an elected member of our schools School Leadership Team, I have decided to join the C-30 committee for the process of hiring our new principal (and I know she SOOOO wants it). She had better change her tone because I will NOT be spoken down to like that, especially not in front of the children.

A similar thing happened to me two years ago. I had forgotten to sign the attendence book for teachers one day because I had gotten to school so early that the book wasn't even out and it slipped my mind to do it before I picked up the kids. The principal asked me to start clocking in with a timecard. This was a principal with a lot of power, a very intimidating person. I was so angered that I said "No, I have NEVER been late, so there is no reason for me to clock in. I simply forgot to sign once. It won't happen again." She looked at me dumbfounded, turned around and walked back to her office. She never bothered me again about petty things. You have to stand up for yourself. You are the best advocate for all teachers, students, and parents. Even if you are not tenured (as I wasn't at the time), you have to otherwise they will walk all over you. Good hard-working teachers are a hot commodity and administration knows that. Why do you think my class and the class of my team member and favorite colleague in first grade are overpopulated this year when other first grade classes have numbers so low they are in danger of being collapsed? They tried to send some of my kids over to the other class, but the parents weren't having it. And you know what, I don't blame the parents. I will try my best to meet their expectations and they deserve it and their children deserve it.

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