Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Options

Green grass and clear skies and just not seeing them brings clarity.
This is not how people work and learn and live.
On the Friday before break my para was knocked down, hitting her head on a desk and twisting her ankle. My para is a solid, prison-guard-like lady. One of my students was on top of her. Accidentally, on his way to charge another student, but still, she was injured just the same.
No one came to my room.
They need to be separated. Their parents have been saying it for years.
They are not safe together.
They are not learning what they need to learn together.
I am not able to be a sane person with them...together.
If I wanted to break up fights all day, every day, I would not have been a teacher.
We were at a meeting for IEPs and they were talking about how decisions about students should be made by a team and I wanted to laugh. TEAM? Security doesn't come to my room. Parents don't show up for IEP meetings. Half of the time administrators don't show up for IEP meetings.
There is no team. It is me, my para, and the kids that nobody wants, and it is too much.
But they are my kids, and how do you just leave them?
But it is my life, and my career, and I could be teaching kids that listen instead of fight, working with a team of people instead of struggling, all the time, on my own.
This isn't how schools are supposed to be.
This isn't how jobs are supposed to be.
This isn't how lives are supposed to be.
So the smart thing to do is to transfer at the end of the year. I could be so much more effective somewhere else.
But how do you leave them?
Maybe you don't.
Here are my options, at least as I see them now, for next year.
1: Stay at my school and teach another class. (This would never happen because none of the other special ed teachers would take my kids)
2: Stay at my school and demand that my class is split. The 3rd graders stay with me, the 4th graders move to a different class. This would stop some of the fighting but also open up a lot of spots and who knows what kind of kids we would get in.
3: Request a transfer. TFA doesn't normally do this, and I'm not sure it's what I want, but I cannot teach in an unsafe environment for another year, nor can I bear to place my kids in an unsafe environment for another year.
Between a rock and a hard place. Do you stick it out and see if it gets better? This is my career. This wasn't just a 2 year thing for me. I can't imagine staying at this school for another year and having the spirit to ever teach again.

5 comments:

Ms. M said...

It's not as impossible to switch schools with TFA as you think. The hardest part will be leaving your kids because I know how much you love them. You might have to do it for your own sanity though.

Adjunct said...

I can't imagine what I might say that could be of much practical help, but I do hope you can find a way forward.

Aimless Amy said...

Um - sounded like you answered your own question pretty firmly.

It may seem coldhearted, but staying there enables your school to treat your students like crap. Not that they would be "learning a lesson" from your departure, but in the long run I think this just continues to let the system take advantage. Your kids will of course suffer from your loss, if you decide to leave, but if you still want to make systematic change it's not going to happen with you being a one person team, drowning.

This may sound even crazier, but now that you've seen the worst maybe it's time to see success. Think how balancing of a perspective that will be for you if you decide to go into another position other than teaching? You'll be grounded in knowing reality in its rawness yet know what success looks like.

Ultimately, you need to be safe. If you don't feel safe, than everything else in your world won't make sense. It's possible to teach in a situation with remarkable odds against your success, still feel safe, and make a difference.

Just another thought.

ms. v. said...

Go, go, go. Ask TFA for a transfer, show them all this stuff you've written, and if they don't give it to you, find another job on your own. And before you go, please, please, please consider starting some kind of process of legal or union action against this school.

Cavetoad said...

I vote for go. I think that by staying you risk early teaching burnout, bitterness, and dismay.
Sure there's still going to be those kids that make some bright spots but the school environment you've been describing here is a big part of your issue. Go elsewhere, see what you feel when you're in a more balanced environment.
But if you're still on the fence, how about this: Promise yourself that you'll come back when you've got some more years under your belt. Come back when you can work the system as much as it works you, come back when you know just what to do in an instant without a second thought how to respond to things written in the closet.
Keep us posted!