Saturday, December 11, 2004

Mid-December Storms

A lot of people at school are really stressed out.

I was, too, for a while: I had to write the final report for the huge grant that bought us our laptops. Then I realized that the final report itself was very easy to write, and the reason I was so miserable and anxious about it is that we have not fulfilled several of our goals for the grant, and in general, there are a bunch of technology problems that are not getting resolved, and I am the one people come to with tech problems even though I have a full-time teaching position that does not include ANY periods dedicated to technology; so, whenever I am forced to deal with something like this grant, I feel like a failure. It was so liberating to realize the true source of my anxiety, and then to remember that I can't be expected to do any more than I am already doing. If we haven't fulfilled all the stuff we said we'd do, that's not MY failure, and anyway, the most important parts of the grant are definitely happening: teachers are using the laptops in their classrooms as a part of regular instruction.

The other reasons people are stressed out:

Ms. Dean burst into tears yesterday afternoon when I asked her how she was doing and if I could help in anyway. She has an infant, is in school full-time, and has tons of responsibility at our school. Another teacher threw a temper tantrum and dumped a bunch of his duties on her shoulders - test coordinator, etc. On Thursday, she overheard our school aide talking about her to another staff member. And yesterday, that same school aide yelled at her over a stupid misunderstanding. The two are currently at war, bad and unprofessional, and even worse because they share office space.

A lot of people are stressed out because it is pretty clear that one of our teachers is not going to make it - although everyone is trying to help him, he has absolutely no control, the classroom is chaos, his lessons are disorganized, parents are starting to complain, and he is sucking up time & energy from our administration as they try to help him. He listens to the advice they give him, but shows NO signs of improvement. Apparently, when I was at the science test training last week, there was a fumbled attempt to remove him from classroom duties and give him some of the (many) support jobs that need to be done. I don't know why this was handled so poorly, but he threatened to go to the union, and so he ended up keeping his classroom position. Now he's under a lot of stress, Ms. Principal and Ms. Dean are trying to back up and go through the proper sequence of steps to fire him, and everyone else is trying to figure out exactly how we are going to absorb the extra work that will fall on our shoulders if he is fired - or how we are going to find a really good teacher to replace him in the middle of the year. And we are all worried about the effect his poor teaching and the instability of the situation are having on the kids.

Although all of this is wearing on me, I feel lucky to not be in the middle of any of it. I offer help and support to people, and I definitely worry and try to come up with solutions if I can think of any, but if I start feeling overwhelmed, I can step back from it all. That's a nice position to be in!


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