Dear Secret Blogiary,
It turns out, I do secretly care. I care about my stupid job that makes me miserable. I care what I accomplish in my classroom. I care about making sure that the students get the most from me that I can give during the year. I care about the connection I make with my kids. I care about doing a good job despite the fact that I hate it.
So it came as a major blow to see my final yearly evaluation on Friday. It had two categories that were dinged.
One I knew about: professional behavior. Apparently it is unprofessional to miss work when your children are puking their guts out. Every single teacher there that has kids was dinged as “Needs Improvement” in this category. In clear, yet tiny perfect italics it read: needs to improve attendance. Like I was a student. Shit! That comment is one that I can check on my student’s report cards.
Fine. I knew I was going to get dinged. It was the only thing that had been discussed with me at my post-observation. Honestly, and I am all about conspiracy theories, I think it had more to do with getting people out of the “High Performing” category. If we get “High Performing” we can also earn merit pay (although with the new law that was just passed, this will be the last year for this type of merit pay).
It was the second category that was marked “Unsatisfactory” that had my eyeballs about to burst from my head! I was marked down for not having classroom management. I was shocked, hurt, and quite honestly pissed off.
Now overall, this year’s group of students were a nightmare in 6th grade and wretched in 7th – this by the admission of the 6th and 7th grade teachers and the administrators. Every single teacher on the hall has the same problems with the same students I do. I refuse to yell and scream a student or hover over them until they do what I ask. I also refuse to continue to call the parents if after the first call made no difference. This group of kids does not care about consequences. Phone calls to parents do nothing. Time outs do nothing. Referrals do nothing. Nothing fazes them.
As 8th graders they are fully responsible for their actions. I shouldn’t have to call parents.
As a parent of an 8th grader, I refuse to make excuses for my child. She knows how to behave and what is expected from her, so why should I accept anything less from my students? All I hear from the higher ups is that standards and expectations need to be higher for our students. So why should I lower my expectations?
I have a single class that sheer unadulterated Hell. One. Not a single teacher on my team can “control” this class and as they travel together (the same students share all the same classes) they wreak havoc all day long. I only wish I was exaggerating. Ethically, I will not discuss them individually, but I will leave it at this: many of the students in there are certifiably crazy – it is in their IEP – and most are labeled as EH (Emotionally Handicapped – which essentially means they have severe anger management problems and will likely fly into a rage at the drop of a hat).
And I have a theory about that. They know that first of all, the 8th grade administrator, no matter what the offense, will take the student’s word over the teacher’s in just about every case. Secondly, they know that even if they get in trouble, the punishment will not be a punishment; instead it will be a “conference” with the student where the admin will read them the riot act, slap them on the wrist verbally, and send them back to class.
The teachers get no support to back up our management plan. So how am I supposed to have effective classroom management? Beats me. In my two minute read-this-and-sign-here evaluation conference, I got no feedback and it didn’t occur to me to demand any because I was so blindsided.
And unfortunately, I care about it. I care because this is the only time I have been dinged for anything in an evaluation. Not even in my first year as a teacher did I have problems. And as I have been mulling the evaluation over for the past few days it occurred to me why.
I had the support of administrators who backed me up no matter what. Since Mr. MoHOLU took the reins, the school has gone downhill and I wish that was me just being angry and disgruntled. But after talking to other teachers and watching the number of teachers transferring out each year increase, it can’t just be me.