Tuesday, September 4, 2007

UNcanny beginnings

Today I taught my first classes of the 2007-2008 school year. I have to admit, it went very well. Surprisingly well. UNcannily well.

Last year I was assigned to teach seventh grade science , and I had to travel from room to room pushing my science equipment on a cart. At the end of last year, when they asked for my preferences for this year, I asked to follow the same students to eighth grade. I have always been an eighth grade teacher, and I am used to preparing my students for the 8th grade science exam which covers the entire sixth, seventh, and eighth grade curriculums. My problem was that I was given only 4 periods a week to get it done. Last year I had the luxury of teaching each class 5 periods a week. If I followed my students to the eighth grade, I would have another year of 5 period weeks to prepare the students for the test.

I wasn’t surprised when I saw at the end of the year that I had been assigned the same program: seventh grade and “traveling”. UNsatisfactory teachers don’t get their preferences.

When I walked into the building last Thursday, I tried to be prepared for anything—including being reassigned to some UNcomfortable place in Bloombergland. Instead, to my great surprise, I learned that I would be teaching most of my students from last year—just what I had requested. But I was still traveling. And they didn’t have the schedules ready. This meant that I could get a really horrendous traveling schedule (Basement one period, 4th floor the next, basement the next, etc) and still have to prepare the kids for the test—not to mention the 8th grade exit project.

Today, I walked into the building, and found that I was assigned to a science lab—for every period. Now I had the best of all worlds—eighth grade; same kids as last year; and no traveling.

Then I hear over the loudspeaker, “Ms. UNTAMED, please report to the main office; Mr. UFTREP, please report to the main office.”

Great. Now what?

I went into the Principal’s office. Mr. UFTREP was already there. Principal S.T. sweetly asked me if I was content with my program. I hesitated. Was this a trick question? I answered that this was the program I had requested on my preference sheet , and I was happy to get my preference. She asked if I would rather teach 7th grade and travel. I replied, that Noooooo. I preferred not to travel. Then she said that I had traveled last year, and they tried to be fair, so one of the other science teachers would travel this year.

Uncanny-- Too strange or unlikely to seem merely natural or human.

I taught the rest of the day, and then found out that I was assigned to teach an after school Enrichment Program. Under the contract, we must teach an additional 37.5 minutes on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. However, as of Friday, only a Chosen Few had been assigned to the Enrichment Program. I was not surprised that I was not one of the Chosen Few—being seen as UNsastisfactory in quite a few areas. But today, I was suddenly assigned to this program. I was asked if I had an area of talent or special interest that I might like to teach to a small group of kids. I like to shoot and edit videos. So now I’m going to design an afterschool program for ten students in which we will make movies.

It just gets better and better. And weirder and weirder.

What happened? I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth…but there is a scientific principle that we teach in Earth Science:

IF IT HAPPENED BEFORE IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN—meaning earthquakes, hurricanes, etc. But I apply it to human behavior with a certain degree of accuracy. This is not the treatment I’m used to. What happened to make things change?

Moriah Untamed


proofoflife said...

Wow I am so happy for you! You deserve it with all the B.S. you were put through last year! I always thought that U rated teachers couldn't make presession until they got a S , but I guess I was misinformed? Good luck, maybe your boss has seen the light!

JUSTICE not "just us" said...

Don't let your guard down!!
This is the savage world of boxing--oops tteaching I mean.

Now that you have been "punished" with your first U they could take one of two actions, leave you alone for the year or come in for the kill.

I am in the same position. Think strategically, defensively and offensivelly. THIS IS A WAR!! NO DOUBT ABOUT IT.

moriah said...

Thank you for your good wishes. To Proofoflife, you might be right about persession and U ratings. This is not a persession assignment. I don't get paid extra. It is part of the new contract. We have to work an extra 37.5 minutes after the regular school day. In my school they have two kinds of programs to raise reading scores. One is a scripted program targeting ones and twos. The other is an enrichment program--I guess its for the threes. The goal is to bring ones up to twos, twos up to threes, etc.

To justice: I agree about this being a war. That is why I'm so wierded out. However, it is hard to think strategically when the terrain is so new. That is why I started this blog. I am sure that many Bloomberg principals are thinking and acting according to established guidelines. I might step on a landmine or two before the end of the year, but at least others can learn from my mistakes.

ed notes online said...

Wonder if your blog somehow got noticed? Good luck and enjoy while you can.

JUSTICE not "just us" said...

As teachers we make mistakes and learn from them--just as we expect our students to do. Look I don't envy adminstrators. The good ones are in an impossible position to do things that go against their personal ethics and the bad ones are just stupid thugs who if you have the stamina and you keep your wits(as Randi told me) about you --you can defeat!!!!

Don't be afraid. Give them nothing-absences, latenesess,insurbordination etc etc.

and document document document.