Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Morale Hits New Low

The Principal lurks outside doors, clocking the time students arrive and the time teachers let them out.  He watches to make sure the teacher never sits down, that the teacher never lectures and asks questions in the exact right way.  Anyone who steps over the line, even if it is only a toe over worries he will lose his job.  The atmosphere is tense.  Big brother is everywhere, watching every move.

The AP wants to protect his newbies, the ones he parties with all the time.  He worries about how their stats might affect their tenure so he gives them the top classes.  He gives them classes that do not culminate in a regents.  He makes sure the older teachers have the hardest kids to teach.  He wants their stats to be low so he has an excuse to berate them and can get one step closer to getting rid of them.  The AP wants to know why everyone can't have 100% passing, like his little friends have.  He conveniently forgets about the incorrigible students he removed from their classes.  He insists his methods are the only methods that work and that not following them is the reason teachers don't have 100% passing.  He insists left hand, right hand is the only way to know if the kids in the class understand.  He never wants the teacher to ask the class if they understand.  And, if they can't solve an equation, it must be because the teacher did not teach transposing.

And then there is the "teenage" AP with 5 minutes teaching experience who refuses to make any decisions, afraid anything she says will end up making her look bad.  Of course she has no trouble taking credit for the decisions of others that work out well.  Her best qualities are sarcasm, dead eye stares and nastiness.

Morale is lower than it has ever been.  Teachers who loved the job and thought they would die with chalk in their hands are now running out the door as fast as they can, or are making plans to exit as soon as possible. They are too busy worrying about their jobs and the gotcha mentality of the administration to worry about their students.  Even the young teachers are not secure.  They worry about all the money they spent on their educations being thrown out on the whim of an unhappy, impossible to please administrator. 

I'm gone from the toxic atmosphere but I feel for those left behind.  Mostly I feel for the kids.  My generation of teachers was observed 3 times a semester, 6 times a year by people who knew their subject matter and knew how to teach.   We had plenty to worry about, but, we never worried about losing jobs and because of this.  Our efforts went into teaching and caring and we had lots of give back to our students.

(Picture--Public Art 63rd and Park)

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