Monday, November 11, 2013

A week in and out of hell

Here's a teacher joke.
If NYC schools were arranged geographically - I would say the superintendent told it. But alas under the reign of mayoral control NYC schools are arranged by network or cluster, or clustered network, which unfortunately has nothing to do with chocolate or nuts, which one would hope- anything that has the word cluster in it- would. I was sent out to another high school in our cluster for training.

And they all begin with the two words Children First.  
Wishful thinking.

So here's the joke already.
A teacher dies and goes to  heaven.  St. Peter takes him on a tour.  After showing him the modest sections reserved for lawyers and doctors, since they had lived lavishly on earth, he shows him the elegant section reserved for teachers since they had not had their just rewards on earth.  The teacher is impressed, but wonders why the other sections were filled with gleeful noise, but the teacher's area was strangely silent.

"Oh, " says St. Peter, "It's only quiet today, because its Election Day, professional development day- there all in hell."

It was a shortened version of hell.  They let us out at 12:30 and I walked home, stopping for a short visit at a friend's home, a retired teacher. I listened to the joys of being retired.

The restarted week began Wednesday morning with a note that three new students were being transferring into my self contained class.  Two are much lower functioning than the those already there. They came with a paraprofessional who promptly fell asleep.  Kenneth told her loudly she couldn't sleep in class, she was getting paid to be there.  I told Kenneth it was not his job to tell her that, but wished my filter was as porous as Kenneth's.  Bettina took  my attendance sheet to make sure, they were really transferred in, then told me not to worry, she was just taking attendance for me. (And then for the record, I was unable to find the attendance folders for the rest of the day, since it got stowed with the work folders,)  Owen walked out of the class for most of the period, and when I questioned him upon return, he confided,  he hated looking like he was in the retard class. I had nothing more comforting to say other than he was man enough to take it.

I told the programmer I thought the number on the register was too many for the size of the room.

He essentially responded - with "I'm woman enough to take it."

Wednesday afternoon, the assistant principal wanted to look at the folders from that class, essentially to determine if I am an effective teacher or not.  (I'm not - we've already established that effective teachers don't spend half their day looking for their attendance folder).

Thursday Elisha was working on the problem of the day when she said something that I never expected to hear from a student,  "how do you expect me to do this if I don't have my notes?"

Wow- we're using our notes!

Except of course the assistant principal had her notebook.

But wait- didn't the network maven say something about children first?

So I call up and an aide brings down the notebook - just for the class time- it must be returned immediately. She opens the door and hands it to me. Looks around then says she'll be back to post mission statement. Every classroom now must have a mission statement.

Elisha stands up, climbs over Dominic's desk, pushes Damion out the way, grabs the notebook and returns climbing over Kimberly's desk this time.

Where are those forbidden cell phone cameras when you really need them?  

Our web-based IEP program was revised over the last weekend.  Now a glitch crashes the program if you hit the save button twice.  We were given new laptops.  I'm not used to the keypad quite yet.  I crash the program repeatedly during my lunch hour.  I wonder if I smash the new laptop and retire immediately will they take the $1243 they made me agree was the price of the new laptop , from my final paycheck or will they deduct it from my pension.  But in a moment of clarity I remember they are selling chocolate in the basement.  (Surreptitiously, the mayor is against selling junk food in school).

In the basement I meet a teacher who used to be in our small learning community but opted out for lunch duty.  "Is this really better?"  I ask.  He complains that if they wouldn't keep changing their minds so much who knows maybe it wouldn't be but for the time being, he rather pick up the milk containers from the floor.

"Have I seen the knew mission statement?"  he asks.  I haven't the aide said she'd be back with it tomorrow.  

I have one mission I tell, him, to get some of the knowledge in my head, into the heads of the students.

"Transference,"  he tells me- we could make a one word mission statement.

Or maybe just - Teach

But then what would we talk about in hell on Election Day?

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