Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sometimes, Teaching in a Middle School Is Very Much Like Attending One

If I've said it once, I've said it a million times: the vast majority of problems at my job stem not from the children, but from the grownups.

Today I spent some time at an after-school club at my school. I don't officially teach in the after-school program, but I hang out from time to time, to be with the kids in a non-class setting and help out one of my colleagues who has his hands full.

This colleague is a very nice guy and well-beloved by his students. We will call him Mr. J. Mr. J's teaching style is pretty different from mine; he's comfortable with a much higher level of freewheeling "whatever" in his classes than I am. But he's smart and compassionate and his students really do some remarkable work, so I suppose it works for him. On this particular day, Mr. J had bought (with his own money, natch) some snacks for the kids in his after-school class.

"That was sweet of you," I commented.

He shrugged. "It's a long time between lunch and dinner for them," he says. "Anyway, Mrs. P [another colleague of ours] told me this morning that all the other teachers hate me."

"Hate you? Why?"

"Because the kids like me too much."

I believe that. I believe that there are some people at my school bitter enough to hold Mr. J's kind nature against him. And I don't believe that Mrs. P was kidding, either--or, at least, she wasn't 100% kidding. There was probably a pretty good-sized kernel of truth in it.

I wish I was making up this story, but I'm not. I also wish I was making up the fact that I recently discovered that there was a party to which everyone on the staff was invited, except for a select few. I found out because another colleague posted the pictures on Facebook. I was especially hurt because I had bought a gift for the colleague in whose honor the party was being held.

I also wish I was making up the fact that there is a union meeting tomorrow, and that the thought of attending it makes me want to vomit. We already voted against an SBO for next year, but SBOs are on the agenda. Way to make a stand, CL.

I love the children. I love the children. I love the children...