Tuesday, September 04, 2018

The Crappiest Rooms in the Building

It's discouraging to wake up and learn that's what you have. But alas, I checked my program online before and that's what I have. It's funny, because I literally spent years working in the trailers specifically to preclude this. The first time I got dumped into the trailers it was because someone complained louder than I did, I think, so my class and I got bounced. That was before I found my voice.

I was pretty upset. At that time, I was in a room that had a whiteboard. No, not some electronic thing, but rather a blackboard that was covered with white tape stuff. You could use dry erase markers on it. For the first time ever, my handwriting was borderline legible. I mean, the kids still laughed at it, but I found it a lot easier to manipulate. It was a miracle, and I was lucky. My luck lasted less than a month, though.

It was a tough change being placed in the trailers. First of all, they were all the way in back of the building. On cold days, you got cold, on wet days you got wet, and so on and so forth. Sometimes you'd open a trailer to find a sheet of ice on the floor. Sometimes someone would leave the AC at 50, all night, and every desk in the room would be covered in some kind of AC mist. (I'm not sure why so few people understand how thermostats work.) Sometimes a rail would fall off a stairway, and you'd see something that resembled a medieval weapon lying on the ground.

Since I've been chapter leader, I've been bringing UFT health inspectors every year. They come, they find mold, and the DOE does a big song and dance about removing it. The thing is, the geniuses who installed them there placed them on the lowest point on our campus, so there is always water under the trailers. They remove the mold, and it grows back as sure as the sun rises.

Despite all my complaints about the trailers, they're a whole lot better than the crappy half classrooms in our building. It's funny, because there's all that Danielson talk about students being in groups, yet they'll squeeze 30 desks into a space that can barely fit twenty and let the rest of the kids stand, or sit on a windowsill, or take the teacher desk or whatever. Then they come in and complain that the kids aren't in groups.

We also had several rooms that ended up shaped like bowling lanes. I taught in all of them, too. A former principal converted them into computer labs, so that there's a wall of computers on each side of the room. In an overcrowded school like ours, though, a lot of teachers get assigned regular classes in the computer labs. Sometimes when teachers get bad ratings, Boy Wonder supervisors will assign the poorly rated teachers to the computer labs and observe them only in that room.

It's funny though. If I were a supervisor, and if I thought you were a terrible teacher, I'd put you in the very best room in the building. I would figure that, if I were making a case against you, that this would make me look like much less of an asshole. I'd also hope that perhaps this would help you. I'd hope to see something better, because I would get no pleasure out of giving a teacher a bad rating. I get no pleasure in giving students bad grades, so why would that make me happy?

Of course I'm not a supervisor. I've never been drawn to that. However, I am UFT chapter leader of our school. It's a pretty big job. I'm not complaining. I chose this job, and I'm finding in my old age that I am drawn to impossible jobs. I thrive on them.

I was in the trailers for maybe twelve years. I probably got a lot of mileage complaining about them. The rooms I'm in now are worse. When the geniuses from the DOE get up on their high horses about how they love our children, and put them first, I'll ask why they dump them in places like these. It's particularly galling that they do this to ELLs.  It's kind of like what I said about placing troubled teachers in bad rooms. If the students are already hindered by not knowing English, why do you further hurt them by putting them in crap classrooms?

If you run into the mayor or chancellor, ask them. I know if I see them I will.
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