Monday, September 14, 2009

All this drama (and that's just the teachers!)

As the special education inclusion teacher, I'm supposed to push in to classes and only pull kids out rarely, so I share an office (really a small classroom) with a few other specialists. One of them told me last Thursday about how a few of the teachers were using our office as a teacher's lounge, and "one of them was putting make-up on at your desk!"

I looked at my desk. It was clean -- so, honestly, someone putting on make-up at my desk is really the least of my concerns. Some teachers float and don't have their own rooms, and because the building was under construction over the summer we don't even really have a conference room set up, so if they want to use our room, I don't begrudge them that. Really, don't the kids bring us enough drama without us adding to it??

This woman definitely has a thing for "everyone and everything in its place." She carefully taped labels with our room number on every item in the room, for example -- even the garbage can. I'm afraid to borrow so much as a pen from her for five minutes out of fear she'll accuse me of stealing. Then yesterday I e-mailed notes from the special ed kids' IEPs to the general ed teachers -- things like if they need extra time on tests, preferential seating, etc. I almost didn't include this teacher on it, since she's a specialist who does pull-out instruction, not a core teacher, but I CCd her and the other specialist on it anyway.

Well, that was a mistake. When I came in this morning, she didn't even say hello, just gave me the stinkeye and said, "Who told you to e-mail all that information out? Did that come from the special ed director?"

"No, I just did it because I thought it was good information for the teachers to know," I said. "I wasn't even sure if you needed it, but figured I'd CC you just in case."

"It's just with confidentiality, I wasn't sure if you were supposed to, so I was wondering where it came from."

"Oh," I said. "I don't know. I didn't ask. I just did it." I had thought of confidentiality, too, but we share each kid's annual goals and short-term objectives on Google docs, so I assumed if that was all right to share electronically, why wouldn't information about whether they need extra time on tests be all right to share? And you know if I *HADN'T* CC'd her on it, she would've found out about it and said, "Why didn't you give me the same information you gave the classroom teachers!?" You can't win with some people.

The kids do bring us plently of drama. Last Friday, one class of eighth graders was so bad with the foreign language teacher -- yelling, throwing things, etc. -- that the vice principal marched them into their homeroom and made them sit there silently with their heads on their desks during their entire recess period. At one point he whispered to me, "I'm amazed they're able to be this quiet!" But they are afraid of him, which is a great quality for a vice principal to evoke.

Today the math teacher lost her cool with one class of seventh graders while I was in there. "Shut your fat mouths!" she said. "Shut up!" she said. And, "if you're not paying attention, that's your choice, I get paid the same either way." And she's been teaching for 14 years! :O I've done some things I regretted when I was a classroom teacher, but I never told a kid to shut up, or to shut his fat mouth. My rule of thumb is, don't say anything to a student that you wouldn't want to hear them say back to you.

On the other hand, they did finally settle down after that and get some work done.

There's this sixth grader, Tre, who really intrigues me. When the history teacher asked them last week to respond to the question, "If someone asked you to define who you really are, what would you say?" Tre immediately raised his hand and asked me, "Can we write ANYthing?"

"Sure, if you think it's who you really are," I said.

He promptly wrote, "I am an alien trapped in a human body." Ah, kids....

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