Thursday, December 06, 2018

Do That Thing? Or Don't?

I had an experience the other day that I may or may not blog here one of these days, but it reminded  me of something that happened a few years back. The thing that happened the other day was not my fault at all, but this thing was kind of in the middle.

An assistant principal I knew handed me a copy of a letter written to a French teacher. It criticized the teacher for omitting an "s" somewhere or other. I'm not at all good in French, so I neither understood why it was wrong nor recall exactly what it was.

As it happened, the AP handed me the letter as I was returning from a funeral service for the parent of a member. I was not in the best of moods. I read the letter and found it kind of petty. I make mistakes on the board all the time. I misspell words that I know how to spell because I write very quickly. Students correct me sometimes.

Whenever I write tests I'm in kind of a mad rush. Oh my gosh I have to finish, because the test is tomorrow and I need to make copies. Will the copy machine work? Will I have to sneak into another department and surreptitiously use their copy machine? Will the other copy machines work? You really have to juggle a lot of thoughts to get your work done as a teacher. Anyway, I make mistakes on tests too. When students catch them, I give them extra credit.

Oddly, the letter the AP wrote must've been written a whole lot faster than most of the stuff I write. It was full of errors. I was a little tired of this teacher getting letters over nitpicking nonsense, and the funeral service had not improved my mood even a little bit. I got myself a red pen and began correcting the AP's letter.

There were subject-verb agreement errors. That really bothers me. I don't recall what else there was, but I decided to be a total jerk about it and correct absolutely everything. I even corrected a cc, taking the point it should just say c, as it was not a carbon copy. I ended up giving the letter a D.

The AP was very upset, asking what had ever been done to me from that office. In truth, nothing. The AP was always very kind to me. I guess, though, that I was responding to the barrage of petty nonsense befalling my colleague. In a way, it was appropriate. In another, it wasn't. It kind of fit the situation, but it was all too personal in the end.

I regretted it, but in retrospect I'm not sure making a speech about how one of my colleagues was being targeted would have been quite so effective. You can never really be sure whether APs are taking these actions on their own or as agents of the principal. In this case, I think it was the latter. I remember I apologized to the AP.

Also, I remember the barrage of letters slowed to a trickle.
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