Monday, October 12, 2009

I'm Not with the Program

The messages I’m getting at work are so unclear, and I have half a mind to “turn myself in” to Principal X. I would like to sit down and admit to Principal X, I am not with your program. If you didn’t know before, you know now, and I just want to know what you want me to do so I don’t get fired.

The school year is now over a month old. Maybe Principal X doesn’t know I’m not with the program—that’s one possibility. Principals have many responsibilities, and one teacher at the Morton School, particularly one who shows up and controls her class every day and has pretty bulletin boards out in the hall, may simply not command much of a principal’s attention. Then again, Principal X has my fabled curriculum map. I know this is true because, during a chat, I saw him/her looking at it. So, presumably, Principal X knows that I’m not with the program. That’s one possibility. And that has two sub-possibilities. One is that Principal X knows and doesn’t care. The other is that Principal X does know, and does care, but hasn’t done anything about it yet. And THAT has two sub-possibilities: That Principal X won’t do anything about it, ever, or that Principal X will.

It’s that very last one that has me worried. I’m pretty angsted out about work right now, in case you can’t tell, and I’m angry because I seem to be so anxiety-ridden for all the wrong reasons. The kids? Fine. Nice. Sweet. Most of them working hard. More or less as under control as thirty thirteen-year-olds are going to be. I’m teaching them stuff, I’m pretty much where I’m supposed to be. But EVERYTHING ELSE has me biting my nails. You would think that the kids really constitute the vast majority of THE JOB, and that should be the case, but it isn’t.

I’m afraid to request copies of anything because I’m afraid I’ll have tipped off Principal X to my not being with the program. I mean, Principal X reads EVERYTHING that’s submitted for copying. Reads it, I mean reads every word. Principal X won’t allow something to be copied if s/he does not like it. S/he will simply give it back to you and “suggest” another way of doing it. This means that I’m sneaking around getting copies made however I can and winging the rest.

And that’s not the least of my problems. I felt so confident and happy about my curriculum, but now I feel like I have to tear it down and start over again. Except I can’t. The ball is already rolling. I sent home the damn thing to the kids and their families on the first day of school. I’m already halfway through my second unit. And this current unit is very much NOT with the program. The next two units will more or less be with the program, but I’ve got to stay under the radar for maybe three more weeks. And really, why should I have to tear it down and start all over again? If this was not acceptable, I should have been told in June, when I submitted my curriculum map. I should have been given something else and told that I HAD to do it that way. I wasn’t.

And all this makes me angry because I am not a bad teacher and this is not bad material. These are solid, engaging, absorbing lessons with lots of real-world connections and deep thinking for the kids to do. I’m really big on challenging the kids. We had a couple of really excellent periods last week, lots of discussion and digging deep (literally…I wish I could tell you more!) into the material. But it’s not, well, “with the program,” as I keep saying. And it makes me angry that I feel like I have to hide this good work.

Well, if you want good news, read NYC Educator. I’m trying to keep my guestblogs over there light and funny. This is my deep dark corner where I can rant about what’s pissing me off. Sorry, I guess.