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Friday, April 17, 2009

To Be or Not to Be...Sad

In answer to Mom's comment, I'm sad to be leaving my kids but throwing an internal party that I no longer have to deal with the horrid people I work with. This was my first year in a public school and let me tell you... NEVER AGAIN! I wish I had known it was going to be this bad when I was hired because I would have run screaming in the other direction.

Let me tell you the whole story.

Since I have rarely, if ever, blogged about my current job you all know very little about it. Last summer I was working at a residential for kids with severe mental retardation. Now, I usually work with kids with mental illness which is a whole other ballgame. I found with the MR kids that I spent more time calming freak outs than I did actually teaching. And when I did teach, it was simply handing out worksheets that they could churn out, one after the other. I lost it. I left there in late July and started searching for a new job which is when I happened upon this public school posting for a 6th grade inclusion teacher. Basically what that means is that I'm the Special Education teacher who handles all the requisite paperwork, but I'm also a "valued" member of the 6th grade "team". In a dream world, this model means that I get to coteach with the regular education teachers, I get a chance to help plan curriculum, and I'm allowed to seamlessly modify work for my special ed kiddos.

I should have known better when I was asked, point blank, in the interview, "How would you handle a team member who didn't want you in their classroom?" That's the point in the horror film where the entire audience is screaming, "DON'T GO IN THERE!"

But I went. They offered me a generous salary and hired me pretty much on the spot. They were impressed with how strong a personality I was and how well I interviewed. Too bad no one warned me that I was entering the lion's den without a chair.

The first day the whole team was together we were meant to discuss the curriculum for the year. The reg ed teachers sat and bitched about how much they hated the text books and the lunch schedule. No one even asked me my name.

It started almost immediately. "Can you run and copy this for me?" "Can you email So and So and ask them for a box of tissue?" "Once you get the tissue, can you wipe my nose for me?"

Then it became a game of tattle tale. One teacher in particular would get upset at me for something. Usually it was disturbing her class by helping the SPED kids. I would know she was mad because she would stomp over to the science teacher's room, then drag him to the math teacher's room, where they would have a closed door pow wow. Which was great because I'm right across the hall and could see but not hear the meeting. Then they'd all march out and downstairs to complain to the principal. I spent the majority of my school year being called down to the principal's office not because I wasn't doing my job, but because I sat funny in my chair while I read to the kids. Or because my desk was facing a different direction than everyone else's. It didn't matter that my kids were doing well in their classes (in fact better than they had ever done before) or that my paperwork was organized and completed on time. It only mattered that I "didn't fit in" as the principal so delicately put it.

So no Mom, I'm not upset about leaving. I allowed the kids to put their phone numbers and email addresses into my blackberry with the promise that they would indeed get a message from me over the summer. They don't know yet that when they get here on the first day next year, I won't be here and telling them that will be the hardest part of leaving. But it's a blessing in disguise because no teacher should ever wake up on a daily basis and hate going to work not because of the children she teaches, but because of the CHILDREN she works with!


  1. If you're not seeking drama in your professional life, then I think you picked the wrong career. The entire public school system is a big sloppy mess of drama.

    And it doesn't help that you actually know how to do your job. Nothing kills careers better than acquired and demonstrated knowledge. It's kind of unfortunate that people are so sensitive to being called idiots, when the cold hard facts point to the same conclusion.

    If you are as fed up as your blog entry makes you out to be, then why not become an entry level university lecturer? I know you have the gumption for it, and more than probably the degrees required as well. I'm sure plenty of community colleges or 4-year schools are hiring.

    In any event, I'm sorry to hear about your definite termination. But, try not to see this as a bad thing, look at it in a good way: You've had a year to make a positive impact on some kids' lives, and you've also learned something new about your professional self (that public schools aren't a good fit).

  2. Well, now I'm very happy that you left such a place. I can't believe any principal in this day and age would say something like that to anyone, teacher included.

    You're suppose to be yourself, not a walking drone like everyone else.

    Good luck in your new job search. I hope you find something better than your last experience.

  3. Holy crap, I can't believe that your colleagues are so near sighted and incapable of being decent human beings.
    What is the state of the teaching profession... where is the professionality? Good luck. And please realize, not all public schools can possibly be as bad..