I was listening to the Beeb last night, as you know I am wont to do, when I heard a story about a guy who sold his company, and gave $16 million to his employees. Many of them had been there for a long time, and the man wanted to thank them for their hard work and dedication, and so, even though they didn’t get sacked under the new boss – “sacked”: that’s Britspeak for “fired”, in case you aren’t as internationally hip as I am – they got up to $31,800 deposited into their bank accounts on the sneaky sneak. Sweet.
In related news, the BSISD has decided that teachers should not get paid for their 30 minute lunch break. The school board voted – also on the sneaky sneak- to add an extra 45 minutes to the work day. The board is still debating on what exactly teachers are supposed to do in that 45 minutes, but so far, the board is not considering allowing teachers to do things like grade papers, call parents, or meet one-on-one with students, to do things like talk about pregnancies, drug addiction, gang violence, domestic abuse, parents, siblings, death, fears, hopes, dreams, the future, the past, etc.; all of those things would take more than 45 minutes, so we still have to do them on our own time, like we have always done. Instead, “The [extra] time will be used for professional development, planning, professional learning communities, and tutoring as determined by the principal and school leadership, according to information from the district.”
At my school that means more charts and graphs, word walls and foldables.
We just had a staff development day. We were asked to analyze standardized test data using a special chart template that required five separate downloads in order to complete. I didn’t understand any of it. We were supposed to analyze why our students missed specific questions on the test, so that we could figure out how we had failed them by not teaching the test that we are not supposed to teach to, but we were never allowed to see the actual questions. One of our instructions said, “If you need more help with these instructions, use the Universal Tool.” I have never heard of the Educational Universal Tool, but since my Personal Universal Tool is out of batteries, I was at a loss.
I went to the folks in the math department, on account of they’re real good with charts and graphs and data of all manner. They were filling in rows and columns and fields and color-coded addenda like nobody’s business.
“Whatthewhothe?” I asked.
“We just type in stuff like ‘see Figure 407(c) iii’,” Math Man 2 replied. (I still don’t know all of their names; mathfolk are in demand throughout the BSISD, so they usually jump off our particular sinking ship pretty quickly.)
“What’s Figure 407(c)iii?” I ask, wondering how come everybody knows stuff with numbers and letters but me.
“It’s part of the Universal Tool.” Math Man 1 has a glint in his eye. He knows something he’s not telling, that’s for sure.
“What is the Universal Tool?” I whisper conspiratorially.
“We never found it,” confesses Math Mama 4. “I think it’s hidden in the square root of pi.”
Really, I don’t get math or mathfolk at all.
We were asked for feedback on how helpful this staff development was for us. I wrote that it was Sisysphean, not because I thought that maybe someone would care about how low morale is and how this sort of ridiculous task just deepens the frustration, but because it made me happy to think that if anybody read our comments, they would have to look mine up in order to understand it. Haha!
Anyway, about the extra time; it’s not the 45 minutes. Like I believe I have made clear, I work MUCH more than 45 minutes a day without pay anyway. It’s the implication that teachers are lazy, and try to shirk their duties. It’s the disrespect and contempt for people who are, in some cultures, revered. It’s the fact that no principals, to my knowledge, stood up and said, “Hey! Our teachers are dedicated professionals who come to work every day and teach with knowledge and passion despite overwhelming challenges and ever-increasing demands! We demand the impossible of them, knowing they will fail, but expecting them to persevere with a smile on their faces and the patience of Job! Give them a break, would ya?”
That never happened. People don’t speak up or out, because everyone is afraid. Right after the board voted, a man emailed the acting superintendent to complain. He was removed from his classroom and put on administrative leave the next day for “allegations of potential misconduct.”
Really. I couldn’t make this stuff up.
Or could I?