Saturday, September 8, 2007

UNceasing Fire

I got this letter on Friday morning:

September 6,2007


The “No Show and Roster Correction” form for class 8A was not returned to the main office with the ATS sheet this morning as required. This memo was attached with a paper clip to your ATS sheet.

Accordiing to Chancellor’s Regulations, a clearance of register process has been established to investigate the status of all students on the school roster. The fact that a student who is on register has not appeared at the beginning of school is extremely serious and must be investigated as soon as possible. This form is an instrumental part of this process and therefore must be completed and returned to the office in a timely manner when requested.

Distribution of these forms will continue for several days as identification, outreach and processing of nonattending students continues during the opening weeks of the school year. During this time, it is essential that priority is given to the completion and return of these forms.


Assistant Principal Z

Approved by Principal S.T.

Translation: A student was placed in my homeroom, but didn’t appear on the roster. I personally went to the Paraprofessional who handles the attendance and told her about it. She asked for the student’s name, but I wasn’t sure of the spelling, so I contacted the student, got the name, and then sent down a note. The form that was attached with a paper clip probably got unattached, because I didn't get it. I sent down the note with a student--it probably got in the wrong box—or they pretended it didn’t get there. But since the note wasn’t on the correct form, they took the opportunity to send me this letter.

I informed Assistant Principal Z that I would be visiting Ms Attendance Paraprofessional every single day the first free period I have after homeroom.. After all, everything that comes from me is sent down with a thirteen- year- old child. (Not to dis the 13 year olds—they are usually extremely dependable).

Today I went to Ms. Attendance, and showed her the letter I had received from A.P. Z. I told her to put aside everything from 8A, because I would be checking with her personally everyday to make sure that everything got down to her Ok.

So of course you know, this means war.

Moriah Untamed

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