Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Miss Brave and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day...2

This morning I arrived at school to find a memo informing me that I was being assigned to cover the in-school suspension room today. Problematically, an earlier memo had already assigned me to cover the kindergarten (yes, that'd be the entire kindergarten) over in the annex at the same time.

Miss Brave can do a lot of things, but she cannot be in two buildings at once, so the APs said they would find someone else to cover the in-school suspension room.

Then, the professional development session for which I was being assigned the mass prep coverage in the annex was canceled -- which is probably a good thing for me because the memo instructed me to "set up an educational video for the students" and I don't particularly know how to use all the projection equipment at the annex, and I didn't really have time to learn yesterday because I needed my lunch to prep for my first grade and my prep to prep for my new fifth grade and I am not an A/V expert and this is not my job.

So I walked back over to the main building and up four flights of stairs to discover a TESTING -- DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door to the room in which my office is located. This happens to me all the time.

So I did what I usually do: I sat in the hallway. With my coat and all the other junk I had dragged over to the annex. Then the APs came and found me in the hallway. The suspended kid had finished his testing, so off we went to the in-school suspension room. Unfortunately for me, when the period ended, no one came to relieve me until fifteen minutes into the next period. At which point I went back upstairs, retrieved my things from the hallway, and entered my office.

Did you notice how all of this went on before ten o'clock in the morning and I haven't said one word about teaching anything yet? Increasingly my days are filled with this kind of frustrating minituae that puts me in the kind of mood where I am already primed to snap at the kids from the second I enter the room. No one ever says, "Hey, Miss Brave, how about those periods those kids are putting at the end of their sentences?"; they only say, "Miss Brave, please perform some arbitrary function that is only tangentially related to the job for which you were actually hired." Especially because the first five minutes of every period are filled with the piercing agony of wondering whether or not I'm about to be observed. My kids have been working on the same stories for so long. Next week, because it's the week before vacation, I want to do a fun writing project with them for once; we'll read I Took My Frog to the Library ("I took my frog to the library, but he jumped on the checkout desk and scared the librarian") and then they'll write and illustrate their own "I took my _____ to the ______. Here is what happened next!" stories. But I'm afraid if I do this during an observation, somehow it won't jive with our school's official "No fun allowed!" policy.

The good news? My new fifth grade class went pretty well. We talked about the meaning of the words "grammar" and "punctuation" according to the dictionary and how different languages (they're all ESL) can have different rules of grammar and punctuation. Then I gave each of them a card with their name on it and the meaning of their name on the back. They thought it was neat to hear where their names came from, and they clapped after every definition as I read the names aloud. Then they wrote about whether the meaning of their name fit them. And the very best part is, no one asked me to go to the bathroom once!


ms. v. said...

Did I miss something? Why the fear of being observed? Aren't you having a pre-observation conference first? I think you're supposed to be told in advance before your observation. I'm almost sure of it, actually.

Anonymous said...

INDEED YOU ARE!!!! My school administration's idea of a "pre-observation conference" was an announcement at the first faculty meeting of the year -- in August! -- that we should expect to be observed and that the following things were expected of us: blah, blah, blah.

It IS in our contract that we are supposed to have a pre-observation conference, and we can request one, but (a) I'm almost afraid to do that because I'm afraid to be blacklisted as some kind of rabble-rouser and (b) even at the pre-observation conference, we're apparently not given any official notification of exactly when the observation is going to take place. Which, for a cluster teacher like me, makes life even more difficult because some of my classes are a heck of a lot more challenging than others.


Jessica said...

I love both of your lesson ideas in this post. I'm going to have to add them to my bag of tricks! Sorry you had a bad day. :(

Jules said...

I'm so sorry your school is taking advantage of you like that. I hope somehow that it gets better or that you can address your concerns to the admin.

And I say forget about the observation, and just do the great lessons that you do all the time. I love your "frog to the library" lesson! I might try to adapt it to my sixth grade class.

Ms. M said...

Oh, the life of an out of classroom teacher! I totally feel you. I am on my eighth consecutive day of coverages. I'm sure tomorrow will continue in the same fashion.

As for getting locked out--how strict is the sign. If that were happening in my room I would feel fine walking in quietly and working quietly at my desk while the students were testing. Would that not be ok?

Anonymous said...

That's what I'm going to start doing. If they're testing in the outer room, it's fine. But sometimes, they go in and test in my office itself (without notifying me), and then I'm not allowed in.

It also depends on what the testing is. If it's an actual state exam, we're not allowed to enter at all.