Saturday, October 27, 2007

Soul searching

Everyone gets to a point where they have to do some hard thinking about whether or not they're doing the right thing with their life, whether their talents are being exercised, whether their relationships with colleagues and friends are fulfilling, and whether or not they need to make a change.

I'm at that point again, and I didn't think I'd get her this quickly.

I'm not sure I spent much time describing the group of students I have now, but the short version is that this 6th grade class makes the juniors I had last year look like saints. All the tools I have to get these kids on track make minor and incremental changes in their behavior, so getting the class to act the way they should is going to be a long, long process, one I'm not sure we can complete in the 10 weeks or so before I expect to leave the charter school.

But that's a fight I think is worth fighting and one I think we can fight successfully. The 6th grade teachers are a good team of dedicated and talented people who I like working with. The problem is with the administration.

The begining of the end came last Monday. I came into work to find an email from the principal, saying that said she wanted two of us teachers to change classrooms. It was simply three sentences, ending with "Make the change by Friday."

She's concerned about the behavior of the classes and getting them back in line because they simply aren't learning much. So are we.

Instead of sitting all down and talking about the problem and at least talking about possible solutions and what we need to do differently as teachers, she just assumed that changing the classrooms would make the change and said "do it."

She even invited us to talk about it, but when we talked about it she said it was not at all negotiable, even after we expressed our concerns.

This came after a week and a half of me waking up every morning and really feeling like I didn't want to go to work, most of it because of apprehension about the administrators not backing us up very well when stuggling with a kid.

I really had to think hard about it, but in the end I decided that the writing is on the wall and it was time for me to bail out before I ride this one down in flames. Two teachers have left in the last three weeks, and I think that only one or two of the remaining teachers are at all happy.

In the end, it came down to money. See, I'm only making about $15 or $20 a day more than I would as a normal sub, and I'm putting in about 14 hours of work every day. I started asking myself "Would you trade that $20 every day for less stress, and shorter hours?" The answer is unequivocally yes. YES. Emphatically YES!

If I thought that I was fighting the good fight and had a chance of winning the fight and that we were all part of a team working together I'd probably stay. To be honest, I desperately want the sense of achievement that comes with overcoming such a huge challenge, particularly since I wasn't fully successful last year. With the disconnect between teachers and administration, I don't see that happening here, not before my contract is up.

I resigned Thursday. It was only my respect for my colleagues (and a healthy dose of guilt) that made me decide to complete next week too.

So I'm looking again. If anyone knows of a job in a good school, or a cute blonde with good hands, send them my way. I need a job and I still need a good back rub.

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