When adults are the bullies | Connected Principals.

 

I made a comment to the heartbreaking, and disappointing story which I found myself my first year teaching.  I’ve also heard the same testimonial from a few other teachers too.

Anyway, my remarks were.

 

I want to address the first few comments I read and the author of the original post.  To the author, I completely and totally know the sense of loneliness that is abject to a school community.  I’ve started to write my own testimonial (for lack of better word at the moment.)  I too dealt with the sudden departure of an advocate principal who acted as a mentor and shield from the brunt of other teachers.  An example of the excessive torture I dealt would be the destruction of the amazing Cather in the Rye projects my 9th Grade English Literature classes.  To cut the story short, I and several students hung on the wall outside my room about 20 or so of the best projects as a display of their exemplary work, and despite that it took both my prep periods, and that my classroom was a mere 14 steps away from the main offices – administrative, and all, well, I was instructed late in my 8th period class that the projects would need to be down before 3:30 pm because of an unheard regulation of taping and posting things.  After my class ended, I took a short journey around the school other floors to see if I could spot examples of the rules that I had broken.  Yes, I took the stroll partly for my own vindication; perhaps I had not done things the way others did.  I also had a hope that I would at least be able to crack a whip on a teacher or two who had alienated me.  After my stroll, I wrote a short 3 paragraph complaint to have in my file because I had to stand up for myself somehow.  The entire process took 30 minutes in total.  Yet, when I returned to my room at 2:50, I saw stark hallway walls.  The projects had been haphazardly ripped off the walls, and piled on my desk with the tape and sticking glue still on them.  Thus, the projects were a mass of inseparable constructs.  That was one of the many moments when in my classroom, all I could do was find the blind spot between of both doors, and just cry.
When you state ” I also question myself; is this all in my head?  Have I created the awkwardness, the silence, the people passing by my door rather than coming in?  Then I realize that it did happen, that the rumors were spread, those hushed conversations, those scoldings really did happen.  Perhaps I could have done more but I guess I will never know if it would have changed anything.  I know I have not been a perfect team member, I know I have made mistakes, but I have also tried to do my best.  I have been open, eager, welcoming, and ready to share.  And yet somehow all of this was not enough.” I can’t help but want to reach out and give you the kindest embrace.  I don’t know you, but I think it would be nice to sit down and commiserate over the war efforts past and present, and plan for the future.  Assuming you have long term goals, that is.
To Mr. Mitchell, perhaps there is a time when criticism constructive or otherwise just isn’t needed.  I’m not sure what type of environment that occurs in your school.  I agree with your base assessment of teaching in terms of the professional conduct and the boundaries.  However, unlike other professions, this is not merely a ‘punch-in and punch-out, make sure are you wear clothing in line the dress code’ career.  This is the shaping of lives; teachers must be able to maintain even the slightest personal relationships with each other because so many of our assessments don’t exist in a vacuum anymore- so much of our pedagogy is interdisciplinary.  Meaning, students who can’t write will certainly not fair well in parsing a DBQ in Global Studies. Or the ability of a child to mentally visualize things in Art class will make it hard to consider the craziness and care to “show your work” on a Math Assessment.  Or without Math, Music would be in disarray.
Also, our profession involves such an intimate connection with our work – our students.  Those students in themselves can be anything from the best reinforcement of a job well done, to the most painful loss, because despite calling them “my kids” and the time spent with them instructing, tutoring, disciplining, justifying, and molding – well sometimes we may never see them again after the end of June.  And by September, we have to be ready to learn a new set of names, and do it all again.  So why not seek outside counsel that it’s not all for naught.  The numbers at the end of the year do lie – they often don’t reflect what we wanted, what we’ve done, and what this has cost us.  The school is not an office made of cubicles or your bank branch.  I conjecture perhaps you find another field because you may be the exact reason why so many teachers have had to spend time dispelling the mistrust of students who feel that their teachers don’t care.
The only way I can conclude this is by saying keep on.  I used to grade papers and blast Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” and R. Kelly’s “The Worlds Greatest.”  I suppose at the end of the day ultimately we can only be responsible for our actions, but that does not mean that our lives exist in a vacuum.  (Please insert the whole “No man is an island” thing here.)  Please continue to reach out to the entire population of the school of the school, even the people you don’t see such as Substitutes, Paras, Student Teachers or Custodial- they too have eyes and are involved in the community.  There are still survivors out there like you, who, while weary, still look for the whole Brand New Day.

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