Welcome To Boss-Underling Relations The World Over

, , , , | Working | July 30, 2020

I’m an elementary school teacher. Our building is very old and has stairs going to the front door with no wheelchair ramp. Disabled students have to be dropped off in the back, as do deliveries that require carts.

I research grants and find a place that will provide the materials for a ramp for free. I contact the high school’s vocational prep teacher who says his students can build the ramp free of charge. But when I submit the grant to my principal for approval, she denies it, saying a ramp would interfere with pedestrian traffic when parents drop off their kids. Our students in wheelchairs continue to have to use the back door.

Several years later, the school was renovated. The board’s plan included a new ramp at the front door. Since it was built by a construction company, I’m sure it was quite pricey. 

I guess some things are bad ideas when an underling suggests them but great ideas when they come from your bosses.

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Teacher-Parent-Principal Relations Are Hardly Elementary

, , , , , , | Learning | June 17, 2020

At one point in my career, my family and I were moved to an oil town in west Texas. There were lots of non-natives constantly moving into and out of the city; we contrasted with the locals who’d been there for years. At first, it seemed there were no issues, but I turned out to be wrong.

We lived in a higher-income part of town primarily for the elementary school. We moved in the summer and our daughter entered second grade on time. There were three second-grade teachers of about equal and above-average ability so we would have been happy with any of them. My daughter had a great year.

Third grade was a different story. As with second grade, there were three teachers. One was roughly equivalent of the ones we’d had before and she’d be fine. One of them was God’s gift to education. Her classes did enormously creative things, homework was both practical and fun, and people would kill to get in her class.

The third teacher, though, was the antithesis of the great one. Her classes were dull, kids learned little, and she tended to belittle her students. She was colloquially known as “The Blonde-Haired Witch” and we wanted to avoid her like the plague.

My wife had spent our daughter’s second-grade year volunteering at the school and got to be friendly with the office staff. Knowing what she knew, she tried to ensure that our daughter got into the great teacher’s class, or at least avoided the BHW. Alas, the principal got wind of what she was trying to do and called her into his office.

The principal was a weaselly piece of work. He had a Ph.D. in education from one of the lesser universities in the state and insisted upon being referred to as “Doctor [Principal],” which gives you an idea of the pomposity of the man. He laid into my wife, informing her in no uncertain terms that the class lists would be put together in late July and she wasn’t to ask about it again.

My wife was humiliated and angry, and got even more so when one of the office staff took her aside and told her in confidence that the super teacher’s class for the next year was already set; all the students were children of the local movers and shakers, with no one with our transient status allowed.

To make things worse, our daughter ended up with the BHW. We ended up pulling her out and homeschooling her for a year before moving again.

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Everyone Can Do The Math But The Administration

, , , , , | Learning | June 16, 2020

When I was in ninth grade, nearly thirty years ago, I went to orientation for high school, having come from middle school. I was handed a schedule without math for the first trimester. Everyone was told that these were not final schedules and ours would arrive on our first day. Having been told for the last eight years how the school knew what they were doing, I didn’t question it. Now, I’d have spoken up.

The first day of school, my schedule was the same: no math. Having had to take a test to set which class I was to go into, I wasn’t concerned. My advisor, having twenty kids asking questions and only fifteen minutes in which to answer them, spoke to us all. “We can not add a class, only take one away. Any changes will be made in the next week.”

I didn’t need to remove one, so I waited. Nope, no change.

Second trimester, I now had math. I asked my teacher for a book. “Where’s yours from last trimester?” No math, no book. So I was sent right off to the counselor’s office. I explained my predicament. “Not possible. You skipped class.” I showed all three schedules. I was asked why I didn’t speak up. I restated that I thought and had been told that the school knew the best. I was told that I’d have to take it in the fall. So, I’d be a tenth grader in ninth grade math. I asked about when I’d take twelfth-grade math. “Not the time to worry about it,” I was told.

Once I got home, I had to reexplain the situation. My parents did the same, pardon the pun, math. My father decided he needed to speak to someone. As he was waiting, the principal came by. They addressed each other by name. The principal asked why he was there. Dad explained. The principal said, “Keep me in the loop.”

Five minutes later, my father left and I was called in. I’d get a special math class by myself. I now had eleven weeks to do twenty-five weeks of math. I got the impression I was expected to fail. But there was a kicker. In three weeks, I’d be going in for major surgery. I’d be out of school for two weeks. So now, I’d have nine weeks. But the teacher they picked? My childhood babysitter’s best friend, someone I knew well. I finished eight days early. There was a new counselor in the fall… who’s now the principal.

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Teachers Deserve To Be Millionaires

, , , , , , , | Learning | June 14, 2020

Here are some of the reasons I had to quit teaching. I was a pre-K teacher in an urban school. Kudos to those who are still sticking it out!

Parent: “I don’t discipline my child.”

Her child constantly attacked his classmates and would not follow directions. He ended up head-butting me in the face. I legit celebrated when I got back from sick leave to hear he had been pulled.

Another incident:

After writing out a child’s name on my welcome board, a parent screams at me that the M in the middle of the name should be capitalized.

The name was given to me in all caps.

Another incident:

Principal: “You need to get all of your kids to [end of kindergarten assessment level] by the end of the year!”

Me: “Uh, they are coming to me at a deficit and I only expect half of them to be testing at a kindergarten-ready level.”

I explain the rest of the assessment tool.

Principal: “All of them should be at the highest level of the assessment;why else would they include it?”

The principal repeated this idiocy for months and didn’t seem to understand rubrics. Then, she proceeded to give my team the least amount of planning time, refused to alter her own weekly training schedule, refused to give us substitutes to assess our kids, and still insisted the kids should test at end-of-kindergarten levels.

Another incident:

I have to chase one child who has run away from me on the playground and drag him back before he runs into the street. A white lady dragging a screaming African-American kid is NOT A GOOD LOOK.

Another incident:

One of my student’s personalities flips in January; he destroys my room once a week and I have to teach in the hallway while other teachers have to calm him down.

He later proceeds to trip my paraeducator, who falls and cracks her pelvis. That is the only time I’ve ever seen a pre-kindergartener suspended.

In the last week of school, I told his dad he might need some father-son time. Dad got the hint and didn’t bring him back.

Another incident:

I taught twenty-one four-year-olds by myself for a year since my paraeducator had to teach third grade, because teachers kept quitting.

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It’s Never Too Late To Quit

, , , , , | Learning | January 22, 2020

I work as a substitute teacher before finding a full-time teaching job. One day, I get my first subbing job at a school I have never subbed at. The instructions in the confirmation email say to arrive at school at 8:00 am to sign in.

As it’s my first day at this school, I make sure to leave plenty of time to get to school, and I end up arriving at about 7:50 am. I sit in my car for ten minutes playing on my phone to kill time, and I walk into the building and up to the reception desk at 8:00.

When I tell the receptionist my name, she starts yelling at me for being late and tells me that the principal is supervising the class until I show up.

Apparently, the school starts class at 8:00 am, and actually expected subs to arrive at 7:45. I point out that the confirmation email I received when I accepted this subbing job clearly instructed me to arrive at school at 8:00, but the receptionist will hear none of my attempts to point out this false logic. I finally give up trying to reason with her, go up to the classroom, and take over the class from the principal.

During the teacher’s free period, I am sitting in the classroom on my phone as I have no other tasks. The principal comed up to the classroom and asks why I was late, so I tell him about the misleading instructions in the confirmation email. He tells me that even though that’s what the email said, I still should have gotten to school before 8:00 am because “that’s what smart people do.”

I never took another job from that school again.

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