Fourth year – first semester – I try to escape

I TRY TO ESCAPE, BUT ….

 

That summer I dreamed of not teaching. I even looked into other options but the other jobs seemed worse – less money, more work hours and less time to see my son.  So, I came back. That was a mistake.  But one of the only reasons I did come back was I did have a lot more free time now that most of my lessons were already prepared. So I had time to write on the computer and I knew I’d have time to do applications to grad school – which I did. I applied to five grad schools, to get out of teaching, forever. 

Being a first year teacher is tough but working under a first year principal is worse.  It makes me so mad that amazing teachers become principals. I assume for the extra pay and respect that come with being an administrator. This teacher had even won teacher of the year (which I was disappointed to find out is not much more than a popularity vote by the teachers and then you write something up for the state), but even so, she really was a good teacher and a lot of kids did well under her, and I even learned hard computer concepts whenever she lead a workshop.  But “managing” a school is very different than classroom management. We are not kids, and adult teachers don’t like being treated as one. 

She went after the new teachers and others who still hadn’t earned tenure with a vengeance.  She always pointed us out and made us meet with her every week, plus turn in all our lesson plans. I never felt that type of “discrimination” before.

She also happened to be a workaholic and a micro manager and that drove me nuts.  For example, she told the lunch lady how to organize her monthly menus, like the way she wrote them up wasn’t good enough before and somehow the principal has the time and interest to do that.  She literally never left and, lucky for her, her husband worked out of town and her mom still made meals for her so she didn’t have a life outside of work (no kids, of course, either). It made me miserable, and the other non-tenure teachers (only a handful of us) at least we banded and commiserated together.

Instead of direct communication, she’d send me nitpicking emails.  My drama class was moved to first semester, last hour, and filled with a bunch of guys who could be kinda wild but they did participate without a fight (unlike the girls the year previously) and they even sang show tunes. We played a lot of charades and they were up and out of their chairs a lot.  That’s part of the class. She’d send me emails saying she had walked by and some students weren’t in their seats with their feet on the floor like the handbook stressed they should be at all tines. This was a crime to her. I just blew her off, but all her nitpicking got to me. I felt nervous, and watched. Like what living under a dictatorship must feel like.

It didn’t help that she had a group of students that loved her as a teacher and she kept them close to her now in her new power position.  That spelled dome for me later when some of these kids would be, gasp, caught cheating. They would make me pay dearly with their power trips – and she fell right into it. 

I taught Spanish One again and this group was awesome. They loved the stories and TPR commands and learned a ton of Spanish. They were an awesome class. Maybe they were so great because they had energy – right after lunch. 

I also had Spanish Three all year instead of one semester. I didn’t complain at all because it was at the time of study hall. I was glad to be done babysitting the slackers at the so called “study” hall. Instead we met every day after lunch and read the novels for second and third level as part of the TPRS program. It was a small class again – five students, so we could talk in Spanish and do fun activities.  They also all happened to be girls.

The last hour of the day was almost all boys in drama class.  Yet they did their monologues, scenes, and even sang Broadway tunes.  When they were done rehearsing or performing for the day we played charades. We played that a lot just to keep them somewhat contained. We also watched some movies like Roxanne after reading the Cyrano play.  I let them watch the live action “Scooby Doo” as a reward for being good.

They didn’t want me to have two prep periods so since they had moved both my Media and World Cultures class to second semester; I had to teach over at the elementary school wing. They had me sit in the computer lab and teach typing to fourth graders and watch the second graders as they played reading and math games on the computers. It was easy and nice to work with sweet kids who still actually like the teacher.  The innocence of children!

August 17th

I think I’ll drive over to that university town and see what jobs there are. Eventually I’ll be a professor – no more evil high school students.

August 20th

I can’t believe how little money I would make and still have the same cost of living. Forget it, I’ll just teach. Luckily I never told the school that  I wanted to leave. I can survive and apply for a grad school. Then I’ll leave with a real plan.

August 29th

I don’t know how to survive this fall.  They don’t want me to have two preps so instead I have three classes – Spanish One, Drama and Spanish Three (which is forty minutes every day). And thirty minutes working with elementary kids who need help, thirty minutes with the 2nd grade computer class and thirty minutes with the 4th grade computer class and only one-hour prep. Yipes!  My only hope is I’ll get things done in Drama while the kids rehearse and such.

September 4th

I made the wrong decision. I should’ve tried to live in the city I checked out this summer.  It’s only been two days and I can’t stand work already. I don’t know how I’m going to survive it. If only my life didn’t cost so much. I have to get out soon!  Maybe in the fall the teacher that knows Spanish could teach Spanish Two and just screw the other stupid classes out of that field. Maybe I can get into grad school (in something besides Education) by the fall.

September 5th

I just don’t want to go work. I really hate teaching Spanish 1. I don’t know why. Probably because they know so little Spanish at the beginning of class and I have to do everything. I’m so burnt out. I don’t know how our public schools function at all. I know I’m not functioning.

September 6th

To add stress the new principal is on my back about everything. Not only does she waste our time with meetings and more paper work but also she sends emails about every infraction. This is not the kind of job I wanted – I took it because I thought there wouldn’t be a boss – just me in the classroom.

September 9th

Today work went smooth, more relaxed now that I’m not as rushed and overloaded. I even slowed down and enjoyed TPR commands (stand up, sit down, turn around, etc) and the kid’s story telling in Spanish One.  Spanish Three is gonna be tough.  At best we get twenty minutes of real quality time. Whatever. I guess it’s the school’s problem. I’m really amazed how much disrespect there is in schools – move you around, share classrooms, no quality time or classes, giving teachers classes out of their fields, and subs with no qualifications doing long term assignments.

September 12th

Yesterday I watched and listened to hours of remembering Sept 11th. I even went to a small memorial at the park during my prep since the teacher I share a room with brought her class and the school’s choir sang there.  It made me cry and feel bad again but at least most of the fear is gone. The other teacher even left the classroom to cry a minute, and I took over her class for a second.

I read an article about travel since September 11th. It said more women are traveling because they realize we only have now to live and travel. That goes along with my thought that the only thing that really has ever made me happy is traveling. I got a travel brochure and talked to my Spanish Three class and we decided we want to go on the educational cruise they offer to the Caribbean this winter. Sounds like fun to me and I get the trip for free. They’re a good bunch of students, all girls, so it’ll be nice. Gotta go, time for school, daycare, work, etc.

September 22nd

I hate my job.  How am I going to survive 8 ½ more months? All my escape plans are falling apart! The committee vetoed the Spanish cruise.  I hate this town and the small town B.S. A parent called asking why there was a fundraiser when it hadn’t been approved yet. The superintendent wants us to go on a 3-4 day trip instead of a 10 day long cruise. What a waste of money – a few days, ha! I forgot how ridiculous it is to try to do anything in this bass ackwards town. The play last year was ridiculous and now this. I don’t like dealing with idiots and asking permission. I’m the type of person who likes to just get things done. In this part of the world most people don’t do anything. I guess the only way I’ll survive all year is by writing a lot in my anti teaching book.

The girls were so excited about the cruise that they immediately set up a car washing fundraiser. I didn’t think it’d be a problem. I was wrong.  They did the fundraiser that very weekend, planning and advertising it all on their own.

September 23rd  (this official letter was placed in my box, written on school letterhead,)

I have a few concerns with students and activities you have planned. I hope these items can be cleared up and prevent future problems.

One concern is that you need to clear all fundraisers through the office before they are publicized.  The announcements in the town bulletin and the newspaper were premature. You must follow the proper channels when proposing fundraisers. We have this plan so that it does not interfere with other fundraisers and they do not overlap. This cannot happen again.

As I have been walking down the hallway, I have observed students sitting on the desks several times. I have sent you reminders regarding students sitting on desks, yet I have seen a few students continue this practice. According to the handbook, students are not allowed to sit on desks, heaters, tables, etc. Please enforce this rule.

Finally, you will need to fill out an absence from September 11th when you went to the ceremony at the park. Anytime a person leaves the school grounds during the school day, a form must be completed.

I hope that all of these items can be prevented in the future and any misunderstanding about policies can be cleared up.  If you have further questions, please feel free to ask me. The rules and procedures are in place for the benefit of all the students and staff. Therefore, we must work as a team to enforce all the policies.

 

Thank you,

Her signature

Her name

 

I think her wording in the letter make me look like I intentionally broke all rules and I already told her it was an innocent mistake – I had no idea I had to curb the student’s enthusiasm about the fundraising. The only money I had ever dealt with was in collecting the fees to go on the fieldtrip to the Bilingual charter school and amusement park the previous year.

Second, the hallway thing got me. I looked over and over in the handbook and it never says a student can’t sit on “desks, heaters, etc” The only passage I found was they need to sit properly in their seats with feet on the floor, but this class was drama where they are up to act out their scenes. Plus it was one kid who always was difficult and didn’t listen to any of the teachers anyhow- he was the one she kept spying who sat on a desk instead of the chair.

The September 11th thing was just mean. I had prep, actually even my lunch, and the class that was in there went up to hear the choir sing so I just walked on up with them.  In the past two years, I’d go to the post office or the bank during lunch, now this!

She would’ve never known I went to the ceremony except for the fact that  a reporter took a picture of me and it was in the local news paper so that’s when she found out. We argued over this to the end since it meant taking my personal time off and deducting my pay for twenty minutes.  She was such a huge pain.  I feel sorry for the teachers who still work under her. 

October 1st

All the eggshells I walk on at work and I’m getting paid peanuts.  I gotta be gone by next semester. It’s less Spanish so they won’t need me. The principal is driving me and other staff insane. If I don’t do something about work and home I will go insane, that’s for sure.

October 25th

 

At work today I was talking to a student who was asking about a trip and I said the administration vetoed my idea. He said, “The principal said it had nothing to do with Spanish”.  I was so mad. Not only is the school and town stupid to reject us now she’s rubbing it in and making me look ridiculous. I can’t stand her. She’s a moron. She shouldn’t tell kids things like that.  Not professional.  But she’s also a hypocrite. Like going to Europe had anything to do with math last year.  She’s a goody goody and only thinks things are worthy if they’re done her way.

Okay, red flags all over the place here!  First off, administrators should not talk to students about stuff – that undermines the roll and discipline of the teacher.  Next, she was a huge egotist. Anything she did was fine. She even tutored kids in math, in all her free time as an administrator, because she told them the math teacher was teaching them all wrong.  He had only been teaching for more years than she had been alive!

She was a goody goody – home body type of student and always studying and never learning many social skills in her rural, sheltered upbringing.  Her mom still cooked for her and they lived on the same property she had grown up on. She told students that her husband was her first lover – which I think is inappropriate to tell students that info but whatever, and he always traveled with his work and seemed like a jerk to me, the one time I met him.  But that’s me being petty. I was very social in high school and lived and traveled all over the world so we were very different people. 

October 31st

I hate work. I keep getting caught being bad because of their ridiculous system. The principal came into the computer lab while I was sitting reading a newspaper and now says I have to read books with some of the elementary students I “babysit” during their typing computer time. Ugh!  Such morons.

 

That bore me to death, sitting there, listening to kids decipher Dr. Seuss books. But I did it, and now that I’ve studied reading methods more, I still think it was pointless and they all preferred to be on the computer anyways. But I did like the young kids, they listen, they still like school, and they are nice, unlike the teens in a school setting.

November 24th

Last night was the premiere of my first play –  I wrote it especially for this school – trying to get an innocent production done with a few kids. I’m still nervous about it. The kids lost a few lines and props.  Well, that always happens. Some kids were hard to hear. The audience laughed some but not at all the jokes.  But that’s a play at a small school. I think most people liked it and it served its purpose – made the parents happy to see their kids in a play.  And last year I wasn’t expecting laughs and this year I was so that’s maybe why they didn’t seem to laugh as much. But the cast was a good bunch of kids and I liked working with them and told them. We’ll perform it for the school and at the One Act competition (I hope). I was disappointed that the Wicked Witch of a principal wasn’t there but I guess the principal didn’t go last year either. This one just doesn’t want to see what I do for the play, only what I don’t do correctly in this school system. She hasn’t bothered me in awhile but we barely even say hello. Maybe someone told her to lay off because I’m close to quitting!  The stress at home is the same. I’m trying to have a better attitude and am laughing more at school and at home with my son.

 

November 26th

Email I wrote to the principal:

 

Thank goodness you’ve chilled out with the evil emails but now I just

fear when the next one will come.

 

But I am very disappointed in you. You didn’t come to the play.  My

husband put it nicely, you want to see what I don’t do, not what I do.  We worked hard on the play and you didn’t even come to see it.  I work hard in my class teaching Spanish and Drama and you never notice that.  You only notice rules and when they are not enforced how you want. My Spanish students can talk circles around Spanish students from other schools, but you would never take notice of that. I know the Drama kids are a wild bunch but it’s also a class for creativity and movement and they have to walk around. Last year’s class had six girls and two boys. Now we have 15 boys and some of those kids hate authority figures. But they can still out act any scene from last year. They are awesome.  And the thing you haven’t noticed at all is what the kids, and the parents have reiterated, they love my class. I have kids all the time ask if they can join my classes.

Anyways I wanted to let off steam. I can see now how students give up because they think the teacher makes them feel like they are never good enough. I also see how hard it is to deal with someone who only catches you being bad and doesn’t notice the bigger more important things.

One more thing, you’ve made a division between non-tenured and tenured teachers, from making only us non-tenured go to the Wednesday meetings, turning in our class lessons and your attitude toward us. It seems like non-tenured are getting emails and reprimanded from you all the time and I see the tenured teachers doing the same stuff but they are left alone. I’ve seen teachers leave the room for trivia stuff, not like the meeting I had to set up that day and you got mad at me for leaving the room even though the other teacher who shares the room was there, and I watched someone else’s class when they went to get food for their class (also forbidden for some reason even though we used to be able to have food in our classrooms).  Are you going to reprimand the teacher who left the room to cry on September 11th and I took over her class, or not, because she’s tenured?

If you expect to have a career as an administrator and to have a full staff, you have to learn to be nicer to us. Then you can ease into the changes you want made.

I said my peace for today,

I never sent it but I wonder what would’ve happened if I had.

About CJ

I was a Spanish teacher for 5 years in the Public School system in 3 different states. I homeschooled and taught at a democratic free school. I heard about cohousing in 2010 and wanted to move in right away. I met a group building one in 2018 and got to move in the summer of 2019. It only took a year to want out.
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