Saturday, June 16, 2018

Co-Teachers, Good and Bad

 by guest blogger Frustrated Co-Teacher

A few days ago I wrote about co-teaching. I asked for responses and this was the most interesting. I thought I'd heard everything, but I never heard anything  quite like this before.

Over the years I have taught with many co-teachers. I was always the lead content teacher and I’ve had the pleasure or displeasure of teaching with the greatest, the mediocre, and the worst.

The greatest is a wonderful woman I’ll call “Christine.” Christine modified every single one of my lessons into Spanish. Christine is a devoted mother and during the school year her daughter fell extremely ill and had to undergo a kidney transplant. Christine took two weeks off and came back and never complained, never slacked off, even though she had every excuse to. She and I became close outside the classroom as well. We share extremely similar views about politics, life, and whatnot. Christine is wonderful. Alas, Christine is departing for better pastures the next school year. 

There were some mediocre co-teachers. One was a first year teacher. He didn’t know what he was supposed to do because he’d never taught before. Finally we set up a parallel teaching system where he took one group of students, I took another, and it mostly worked. I was never close to him, but having a functional working relationship was enough.

But unfortunately sometimes you run into the nightmare teacher. And I ran into one. I’ll call her “Jasmine.” Jasmine started out seeming like she’d be great. She was young, energetic, jumped right into the job in the middle of the year when my other co-teacher took a maternity leave. She also had an earthy sense of humor. I liked her … for the first week or so.

But one day I was running a bit late because I had to deal with a student issue and walked in on her sitting on a desk with a group of girls around her. A girl was telling her that she was proud of getting a job as a saleswoman at T-Mobile. “F__k T-Mobile I’ll tell you where you can really get bread,” she said. She then described how she used to work at a strip club, and made “1 grand, easily, on a good night.” She then proceeded to tell the girl the name of the club, the phone number, who to refer to, and wrapped up this College and Career Readiness talk with “You have the right body, you just need to lose maybe 15 pounds.” 

I was horrified, but tried to teach my lesson. I didn’t realize this was just the beginning of Advice from Jasmine. She told kids that she’d be celebrating Friday in a park, and where they could meet her. She said she had the “good s__t” and showed them. I reported this to the principal before someone else did and blamed me for it. There was a meeting. She proceeded to cry hysterically and say that I didn’t understand her “culturally.” The principal gave her a stern warning and made her sign some document. 

From then on it was warfare. She put her feet on the desks, and was in the back of the room and she would point and laugh at me when I was trying to teach. Another meeting called. More hysterical tears on her part. One day I was out and she had students write “confessionals” about how they felt about me. She gave them to me when I returned. 

This got to the point where a student I was very close to got angry and wanted to fight her. Fight her, as in deck her. I had to stop her. But truth be told, I didn’t really want to. 

Nevertheless this student and a few other students were constantly fighting with her from thereon out. More meetings, in which she’d turn on her headphones and dance on top of tables in defiance to the admin. Finally they said “You just have to deal with it for the rest of the year.” It was hell. Every day felt like a war zone. I looked up numerous diagnoses online. Borderline personality disorder? Sociopathy? Psychopathy? But mostly I think she was just a nasty, unpleasant person.

I used to love jasmine rice. I can’t even watch Aladdin anymore. Anything “Jasmine” is ruined for me forever.
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