Thursday, April 26, 2007

I'm gonna miss this place

This is something I've been keeping to myself for the last 4 months. Schenectady City School District has elected not to invite me back for another year.

The whole review process this year has been very frustrating for me. It seems that no one is willing to tell me what their expectations were until after they thought I wasn't meeting them, and by then it was too late.

I don't want to go into too many details, mostly because I don't know if I can describe most of it without sounding like a disgruntled employee trying to lay blame elsewhere. I certainly made my share of mistakes, though I honestly don't think any of them are much worse than rookie mistakes to be expected of a first year teacher, and I don't think that any of them are things that the district couldn't reasonably expect for me to better next year.

There are a few things about the review process that really bother me, though. The biggest is that my coordinator never said anything that would indicate that she was unsatisfied with my progress until she made the final report. Her final report also included a few things that were factually incorrect, things that she wouldn't have a way of knowing even if they were. The most frustrating thing about this is that these were items that she and I talked about. She wrote them in her draft of my interim review but removed them from submitting the final draft to the district. Somehow they reappeared in the year-end evaluation.

The final bomb, though, was a statement by my principal. "Eric has not shown the level of dedication that we expected for his job." The reason this bothers me so much is that it would be hard to show any more dedication to my job. I'm after school with students nearly every day, I've given up almost all of my personal life to survive this first year, I support a bunch of student activities, I make calls to parents more often than 90% of the teachers in the school, and by the time the report was made I hadn't taken a single sick day.

So I asked the principal how she determined that I wasn't dedicated enough, and she said that she wasn't satisfied with my planning.

I will admit that I have a long way to go with my unit planning skills. I even asked my principal if she knew of any other teachers who had plan books that she liked that I could use for a model. She named a few teachers, so I went to them and asked, and every one of them told me "I haven't done those since grad school." When I told this to the principal, she simply said "That's because they're at a higher level than you."

So it's evident that the principal just doesn't like me, and no matter what I do I just won't be able to please her. There's some speculation that she didn't like the fact that they only interviewed male teachers last year, and she might have decided not to like me before I even came into the building. Who knows. None of that's really important, the bottom line is that I'm not coming back.

It's frustrating, for sure. And to be totally honest, I'm a little disappointed in myself. A district like mine is some of the toughest teaching there is, and I took more than a little bit of pride in being able to do it. Though there were a lot of days I didn't want to get up and go to school, I found the strength to do it anyway, knowing that the work I was doing is important and that there were kids there who valued my presence.

I'm gonna miss this place.

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