Friday, September 09, 2016

That's How They Get You

Man, I am pooped. This week has got me more tired than I thought anyone could ever be. I'm not sure why. It's like every time I say anything within the hearing of my supervisor she needs to prove me wrong. "Well, I'm gonna be in the trailers forever." Oh no you aren't, she decides, and dumps me in a real classroom for the first time in twelve years.

Of course, the real classroom has a smartboard. There it is, big as life and whiter than the North Pole. I turn it on, and nothing happens. So I decide to hang my jacket on it. After all, I haven't got those things where the shades are supposed to be, like in the trailer. So it's perfect. Then, when I get observed, I demand credit for using the technology. After all, my jacket is hanging on it every day. Two weeks later there is an LED screen there that actually works, and I have no alternative but to start using it.

The principal decides everyone should use an electronic gradebook. What a pain in the ass, I think. This time, it isn't even my supervisor, but my UFT District Rep, who says, "Hey, why don't you go to this group in Brooklyn that's studying it and making recommendations for the contract?" So I go. Our group recommends that teachers get one day off weekly from C6 to enter grades, but it doesn't make it into the contract. However, my principal likes the idea and it finds its way into our SBO.  I start using it early, figuring I'd better get used to it.

That year, I'm being observed. I'm talking about I have no idea what, and my student from Peru stands up and says, "HOW COME I ONLY GOT AN 80 FOR PARTICIPATION?" I am shocked. I say, "Wow, you looked at it?" I mean, I've only been using the thing like one day. She says, "YEAH I LOOKED AT IT AND I AM NOT HAPPY AT ALL!" The walls quake, but she is clearly expressing herself spontaneously in English. I raise her participation grade to 95.

Last year, I said I was glad I never had to work with a co-teacher. After all, though Part 154 has insane rules, I was lucky enough to have multiple certifications, so I didn't need some English teacher to help me do my job. But I think I inadvertently planted an idea with my supervisor, who is weary of hearing me say that this and that is all crap. She wonders how she can pair me with someone who disagrees. The insane requirements of Part 154 give her an idea. For no reason anyone can explain or comprehend, the geniuses who wrote Part 154 decided ESL students must be no more than one grade apart. So a ninth grader can never, ever be in the same class with an eleventh grader, as that would surely result in Armageddon. So now we're together, one of us teaching 9 and 10, the other 11 and 12.

So the first two days of school, the days in which we're supposed to get time to prepare for the arrival of the students, day one we get no time at all, and day two we get just a little. I meet with my co-teacher. She has, get this, ideas.  She wants to do this, and she wants to do that. But I want to do that, and I want to do this. So it turns out, when there are two people running the show, you have to compromise. Can you imagine that?

Anyway, I am sorely pressed for time, I am chapter leader, absolutely everyone is complaining about absolutely everything because it's  the first week, and it takes maybe five times as long to prepare because not only do I have to prepare, but I have to, you know, talk about what I want to do, and then she has to talk about what she wants to do. I mean, all summer my wife and kid have been going to work, and I've spent a great deal of time hanging out with my dog Julio. He doesn't much care for lengthy discussion. He licks your face if he's happy to see you and walks away if he isn't.

So there's my frame of mind. But we walk in first day, and in front of our ridiculously oversized classes we are calm and kind and play off one another and it is simply wonderful, even if planning takes way too long.
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