Wednesday, April 13, 2011

And THIS is why I teach!

Today was a very very good day. I started my poetry unit today and had the students listen to and read "The Road Not Taken" to give them an idea of how different poetry sounds when it is spoken aloud. When I asked my kids about the poem I got two just jaw-dropping interpretations. The first one was from an honors student who compared the poem to a Biblical story about the road to Hell and the road to Heaven. I've read that poem so many times I've lost count and I've NEVER made that connection. Then one of my regular kids comes up right after class and tells me that while she was listening to the poem she heard the first line and realized that her desk was both yellow and wood and then made the connection that students have two choices. They can choose to do the work, or they can choose not to do the work. Again, total jaw dropper! I love teaching poetry for just this reason, the kids come up the coolest most original ways of looking at poetry.

In addition to that, my 6th period class showed me just how much the respect me. Near the end of class there was a fight in the hallway, I saw the crowd and because of the yelling and the size I thought it was a full fledged brawl and not just a couple of kids. As I shot out of the door I told the kids to 'stay in the room'. Now most of the kids on the floor ran out to see the fight, which was just a couple of girls fighting. Most of the kids... but not mine. They stayed in my room and were back in their seats when I returned.

I simply looked and them and thanked them for doing as I asked.

And THAT is why I teach.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

You were not selected...

With those four words I now find myself without a school to call home. Oh, I'll be where I'm at until June, but I no longer consider myself a part of that family, and before you start writing about how I'm going to short change my students, relax. I plan on staying loyal to them and to teach the hell out of my poetry unit and to prepare them for the spring final. My loyalty is to them and them only. And no, I am not going to burn any bridges with the administration of the school either. If they need a sub during my prep, I'll cover for that teacher and that sort of thing.

Will I be taking many souvenirs from my school? Why the hell do I want all those reminders of my failure to measure up? How would you feel if you knew you were in the bottom 50% of the teaching staff at your school? The only things that will come with me will be a coffee mug, my BSU shirt and my rejection letter. The mug I'll take because I can put pens in it. The shirt because it was a gift from the club adviser and has no school name or logo on it, and the letter (which I'll have laminated) to remind me never to feel secure in my position again.

I'll be honest, I thought that I would be a 'One School Guy'. I'm not, nor was I ever a nomad. I don't get those teachers who constantly move from school to school. I figured that since I had gotten off probation my first year, and had received good reviews both years, I was pretty safe. After all, how many teachers actually want to teach at a Title I school? And of those, how many want to teach 9th graders, especially at a school that has had such low test scores for such a long time? The answer is not many, so you can understand that I got a bit complacent and lazy.

When the turn around was announced I had my application in as soon as I had answered all the questions and I felt comfortable in the interview, but I also had this feeling of dread that I would not be selected. That feeling was confirmed Friday afternoon when I got the letter via e-mail. That part I don't mind, at least I knew right away to start looking for another (very scarce) teaching job. In addition, I have my resume updated and Monday I'll ask a couple of people for letters of reference.

Finally, I have a rule about shirts etc., when I leave a position. If I leave on good terms, then I don't mind keeping a shirt or hat assuming that it's OK with my former employer. I still have a Xerox shirt and jacket from my 4 years working for them. I also have my shirt from a middle school where I subbed from late February through the end of the school year. But when I get fired like I did here, everything goes back to my employer, or gets donated to Goodwill. Is it immature? Probably, but that's how I roll.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Job Joys... Not

So today I had my interview with the principal to see if I am among the 50% of the staff who will stay at my school next year. A turn around school is one where the test scores have been low for so long that drastic changes needed to be made. So if the principal has been there more than three full years they are out and the new principal has to interview everyone who wants to stay (teachers, administrators and support staff) and then they can keep no more than 50% of the current staff. Our principal had not made three full years so she can stay but you could not pay me enough money to be in her shoes right now. There were three high schools that fell into that category in the valley.

I think I did pretty well but I'm not sure it matters at all. Our district is going to be $400 million short for next year and even if the deficit is much smaller than what is projected then lots of teachers are going to lose their jobs. That has already happened to one of my friends who got surplussed at her school because they lost some teaching positions. And to make it even worse for her, she is expecting another child.

Now our district happens to have one of those really cool contracts where it's LIFO. That means 'last in, first out', AKA it's all by seniority. So I busted my a$$ to get off probationary status last year and I did well on my observations and review this year and it doesn't mean spit. This is one of the reasons why public education sucks in my state. Once you get seniority all you have to do is to get decent reviews and then bump teachers who have less seniority than you when times get tough. So there are two dates I have to worry about. The first is next week when I find out if I'll be 'staying' at my school and the second in is May when I find out if I got bumped.

This really sucks...

Update #1: I will be looking for a new position next year. I was informed that I would not be coming back to my HS next fall. Now what the hell do I do?