Thursday, October 20, 2011

Conversation with an ATR

We had an ATR teacher in our school for the first month, and I liked him. I chatted with him in the teachers' room and thought that he would be a a good fit for our school in the long run, and I hoped that the administration was considering him for something permanent. That was before the so-called "deal" with the ATRs that allowed them to be shuffled around on a daily basis. So now we have a revolving door of ATR teachers. I talked to this week's ATR on Tuesday.

As it turns out, this gentleman taught at my school a number of years ago and was displaced, I think, somewhere along the break-down-a-large-troubled-school-into-small-schools thing that was a thing a few years ago. He was frank in admitting that it was hard for him to walk the halls of his old school, see someone else teaching in his old classroom, and know that he'd be kicked out again Monday morning to be sent off somewhere else. So on one level, the new ATR system is painful and inconvenient for the teachers themselves, and disruptive to individual schools.

On a more global level, the ATRs' situation is complicated, and I don't mean to pretend that I know how I'd solve it, but there's got to be a better solution than this. I'm skeptical of the idea that wide swaths of the ATRs were mediocre teachers who got pushed out for bright-eyed young superstars from TfA and the Teaching Fellows; after all, there are very few brand-new teachers who are good enough right out of the gate to be better than a veteran teacher. That leaves us with the other explanation: the ATRs got to be too expensive and are being pushed out, the DOE knowing there's no case to fire them, to make room for younger and cheaper teachers.

Which brings me to my last point about this: Many of the younger teachers like myself are merrily accumulating their 30+ credits and funding their TDAs and buying homes. In a few years that aren't that far away in the grand scheme of things, we will be just as expensive as the ATRs are now. Soon we might be painted as mediocre and burned-out. And then what?

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