Monday, September 29, 2008

Rubber Room--I'm Ready

Not really, but after a few more days like today, I am sure I would need my bags packed and my ticket paid for. It really is a good thing that I can walk any minute I want, because I don't think I can survive two of my classes this term.

I'm teaching MG 21 R classes. These are the kids that barely made it out of Math A or Integrated Algebra. A good percentage of them only passed by retaking the course in summer school and many failed but Principal Suit reversed their grades to passing. These are not special education classes but they are classes full of kids who cannot sit in their seats and work an entire period. They cannot start unless I am standing over them and they cannot keep their mouths shut for more than thirty seconds at a time.

Mr. AP paid us a visit today, period 9. The group was more rambunctious than usual. Ditsy was angry because I called his mother about his constant "game boy playing" during class. Trevor was just transferred into the class. I can only imagine why he was taken out of the one he was in. Abe was put in the class special by the AP guidance because she felt I could deal with his nonsense. Rita came back to school two weeks after the term started because the attendance teacher called her home. I could go on and on about the problems in this class, but you get the idea.

Usually kids get nervous when Mr. AP enters the room. They don't like him, don't want to deal with him and just do the right thing so he will leave them alone. Not today, not this group. Today it was business as usual. I chastised them for talking. I stopped teaching and told them I would not continue until they were quiet. Nothing worked. After ten minutes he left.

I'm sure he is going to have some good words to say. It is only a matter of whether he will make the comments to my face or type them in a wonderful memo to share with the department. If the kids have no fear of him and are not be respectful enough to do the right thing while he is in the room, what hope do I have?

Mr. AP is starting to harass us old teachers again. This morning Ms. Timid got a letter from him chastising her for being three minutes late to her period 1 class. Ms. Timid lives an hour from the school and is never late or absent. If she wasn't in her room that day, there probably was a very good reason. Instead of asking, he harasses. He waits three weeks after the event occurs to say something so she cannot even defend herself. She even second guesses herself and she thinks she might have been late that day. A few years ago, Ms Pet of Mr. AP came late every day. Mr. AP excused her, saying that period 1 is early and hard to get to. She only lived ten minutes from the school. Ms. Timid has five more years in the school, she is worried.

Things are getting worse and worse by the day. I really feel for the teachers not in the same position I am in.


17 (really 15) more years said...

PO'd- I most certainly feel your pain. In your position, I would finish out the semester and walk away- but I know you won't, because you'll want to get those kids through the AP exam.

If it's any consolation, the kids were really off today, probably because they had a "today is Friday" attitude.

L'shanah tovah!

Mrs. T said...

Why are they trying to get rid of people when they can't fill positions as it is?

Pissed Off said...

They want to get rid of everyone over
40. We cost too much and we don't jump high enough or fast enough. We also ask "why", a question administrators don't like to answer.

The Bus Driver said...

wow... messed up... our schools are just struggling to make adequate yearly progress... although they're failing miserably...

Miss Profe said...

Unless a teacher is truly incompetent, or a child molester, schools cannot afford to get rid of anyone. Or, are the reports of teacher shortages nationwide simply false press for the newspapers?

As my Dear Brother said some years ago, 95% of people in management shouldn't be there.

Such foolishness.

CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

"...they cannot keep their mouths shut for more than thirty seconds at a time."

Sounds just like one of my classes, so I know pretty much what you're going through--and it's tough!

JUSTICE not "just us" said...

Hey we will welcome you in da rubber room. Some of the best people people in Education I have met are in da rubber room. Think about it. You put in your last year with no stress and not having to deal with a moron of a suit who can not go to the bathroom and needs a memo on how to sit on the toilet bowel from the head suit.

I think you are missing a great opportunity here. Da rubber room is a great place!

Happy Holidays.

Fidgety said...

It sounds to me like you are handling it well. Under the circumstances, you are doing the best you can. Everyday is a struggle not to take the abuse personally. It is universal now.

Saddleshoe's article on ATR's is a must read...(she is an ATR- so this is the inside scoop)

Anonymous said...

Is ANY class of kids quiet and productive at the end of the day? My class certainly isn't. It is a daily struggle to keep them on-task and working the entire time. I definitely feel your pain.

Floraine Kay said...

First, thanks for your concern about me. I wrote you back on my blog and wrote an entry which should quell your fears. Voicing anxieties helps me. I'm still that frightened and I am now taking strong meds to sleep, but I know WHY now.

You'll make it through, but you can't realistically let the class go. I only have worked with urban kids, so I only know things which work for them. You've called parents and that's good. Go back to square one with them. Put them in assigned seats. Separate as many of the troublemakers as you can. Create a point system for behavior -- like you might for Special Ed kids. 10 behavior points = 2 test points (or something like that). Then do "differentiated instruction" -- put together packets for the slower kids to work on that have math at their level and so on. Have all the kids work from folders you give them like this -- create three levels or so. Do a very short lesson at the top of class once they have settled in -- get everyone to learn how to sit quietly before you start. Don't start until they are mostly settled in. Give them something IN THEIR HANDS every day -- even a worksheet. They can't handle boardwork without something in front of them. Maybe use a projector which matches the worksheet so you can show them what you are doing on it.

I know this is A LOT of work. And you don't have to do it and you may already be doing it and more.

The trouble is that, as you know, they CAN get you if you can't control the class. Try to catch the worst kids in the hall or hold them after class and talk to them. Create a behavior contract with them which they sign -- you can write it out as you agree to it.

If you can, get other teachers to help -- find out if someone else has a key in to these kids.

Send letters home, also, in addition to calls. It's important documentation. You can make a form letter.

YOU DON'T WANT TO GO TO THE RUBBER ROOM. Believe me. I KNOW of what I speak. It will take EVERYTHING out of you. It takes a while to recover and you can never trust anybody again the same way when you have been there. It breaks you down horribly. Some people think they like it, but those are people who can retire or who have a strength that I don't. The longer you are there, the more you feel like an outcast. You think being a teacher is hard? When you are in the RR you feel like the very most liminal person in society. NO ONE can understand what you are going through except another person in your position. You don't know where you fit in. You make fewer and fewer conversations with strangers. Then friends. You stop going out. You stop "touching base" with people. What can you say? What did you do today? Sat and reflected on meaningless or even if you read a book or did work for a class you are taking -- explaining where you were when you did this becomes difficult. People resent that you have "time off". But you don't. You are in a temporary prison every day. If you're lucky, you make friends. But, they leave. Then what? And you keep hearing that you can't trust ANYBODY so you are continually re-thinking your friendships.
And your friends get depressed and so do you. So you cycle downward together. Even when you help each other up, it's hard to sustain anything because NOTHING CHANGES. The waiting is interminable.

Then you meet a lawyer who may or may not be sympathetic to your case. You may or may not get an arbitrator who is decent. So, when your hearings start, your sanity is further questioned, sometimes both by your own lawyer and the opposition.

And, no matter what TAG recommends, you end up HAVING TO SETTLE because you can either see that they are going to fire you or make the process continually impossible...and then not pronounce you completely innocent anyway. Some people are exonerated, but not most. Certainly, if there is proof that you really couldn't perform, you won't be -- NO ONE cares about the level of the kids, etc. If you're not fired, you get a fine and you are made an ATR. Most people end up with the latter. And the truth is always grey -- there's always a way to make someone look somewhat guilty. The recent lawsuit victory by the teachers at Graphic is great, but unusual. I hope it starts a trend. But, the folks in the RR will have to wait out the one or two years to have their cases heard, go through the whole process and then SUE to possibly get that kind of justice. I don't have that kind of time or money. I especially don't have the money.

Good luck. Don't give up on the class. You're a great teacher. Harness what you know, look them in the eye and work it out with them. I'm sure you've had to do this before. They're kids. They don't want to destroy you. They are just being used. They actually want something to make sense to them. You can do that for them.

Keep me posted. You know how to reach me.

Chaz said...

pissed off:

I know how you feel. I have had classes like that but usually they behave when the AP or principal came into the classroom. However, I never had a class like that at the end of the day. Are you sure they are not setting you up?

You don't want to end your teaching history in the "rubber room". Why give them the satisfaction, even if many teachers take it as a well-deserved sabbatical for up to three years!

Hmmm. On the other hand it doesn't sound so bad. No lesson planes, disrespectful students, or idiotic administrators to deal with. let me think about my "rubber room" comment so more.

Floraine Kay said...

Oh, Happy New Year! I forgot. I actually used to go to synagogue once in a while.

Fidgety said...

Here's to you Floraine, you couldn't have said it better. And thanks everyone for following the link...I think it helped us all. Happy New year.