Goods and Bads (Ok, only Bads)

It’s been a really shitty week and I’m feeling pretty down right now. But I also recognize that some good has happened, and I don’t want to overlook that. So in the spirit of “Goods and Bads” (what we call Highs and Lows at our house, because my daughter kept getting confused on which was the good thing to share, the high or the low) here is a look at the past week. I’ll start with the bads, because I always want to hear bad news first. (It turns out there were a lot of bads, so the goods will have to wait for tomorrow, but I promise I’ll post them).

BADS:

  • This week was really busy, and almost all of the events were obligations that I dreaded. I hate having a calendar full of cringe-worthy shit that I must attend.
  • One of those cringe-worthy events was Open House at my school, which is by far my least favorite night of the school year. I hate schmoozing with parents who want to turn a two minute handshake into a mini end-of-year conference. I also wasn’t at school that day, so I had to go early to make sure my room didn’t look like a bunch middle schoolers with only a sub to keep tabs on them had occupied it all day. I was also super nervous that the mom who has been writing shitty emails about me to my principal was going to be there (because she said in one of her emails that she would be), but luckily she never showed, or at least I never saw her. Still, I spent the whole night nervously scanning the room, anticipating her arrival. It was exhausting. (But my room was in surprisingly good shape, so that was nice).
  • My mom wanted to get my daughter a trampoline for our backyard for her birthday and it was on sale so we had to give her an answer pretty quick. We said yes and she ordered it, but then we did some research and realized that trampolines are incredibly unsafe for children under 6, and while we knew there was some risk involved in jumping on a trampoline (and had created a list of rules to mitigate that risk), we were not at all comfortable with how dangerous simple jumping on a netted trampoline is for smaller kids. So after much agonizing, we told my parents to return it. Of course by then my daughter had figured out it was coming (long story) and she was upset, and my mom was annoyed (rightfully so) that we hand’t done the research before she bought it, and I was disappointed because I know my daughter would love it and she really needs good ways to burn off her seemingly limitless energy. Sometimes being a responsible adult is such a bummer.
  • My son wakes up, ready to greet the day, every morning between 5:30am and 6am. I doubt further elaboration is necessary.
  • My son also remains decidedly two-and-a-half. That compounds the exhaustion of waking up with him at the butt crack of dawn.
  • My daughter’s birthday party is in two weeks and I’m not at all ready. In fact I’m not even close to ready. It’s totally stressing me out. I HATE that her birthday is at the very end of my school year. It creates all kinds of stress.
  • There are four more weeks of school left. This is the critical tipping point, where there are not nearly enough days to get everything done but too many days to be excited about summer’s imminent arrival. There are also TONS of assignments and projects and tests to grade. And the kids are fucking maniacs. (Truthfully, I’m not doing much better.)
  • Our Blu.Ray player mysteriously stopped working over a year ago. Suddenly we started getting a “No Input Signal” line on our TV when we tried to use it. We haven’t replaced it because we mostly just watch Net.flix and we could hook our computers up to the TV when we really wanted to watch a movie (ahem Disney) that wasn’t free through one of our services. Except that sometimes we only have the Blu.Ray of a movie (not sure where the accompanying DVDs are going, because we always buy the set with both) and even when we do have the DVD, our computers are so old and slow that hooking them up to the TV is a pain in the ass. So I finally bought a new Blu.Ray player at Cost.co and my husband finally set it up and we’re still getting the “No Input Signal,” even with a new cord, and trying all the inputs (including the cord and input port that allows us to successfully use the Ro.ku). It just doesn’t work. So clearly something is wrong with our TV, but WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH IT THAT IT JUST DOESN’T REGISTER BLU.RAY PLAYERS?! That makes no fucking sense! Especially since they were two totally different kinds of players. Anyway, it’s not so much that the TV doesn’t work, it’s that it works in such a annoying and frustrating way that defies the laws of electronics. And now we can never watch a fucking Blu.Ray (or even a DVD again without using our computer), until we get a new TV. So fucking annoying.
  • My house is a fucking shit show and it’s stressing me out.
  • And the BIG ONE (to be written in regular paragraphs because it’s that big):

My VP–who is actually leaving for a high school position next year (I think I forgot to mention that here)– pulled me into her office on Friday and dropped a pretty significant bomb on me. She told me that our incoming principal and the will-be-principal for the other middle school in our district want me to teach two classes at the other middle school and three at mine. They also want me to teach zero and 1st period at the other middle school and 4rd, 5th and 6th at mine. That means they want me to be teaching at 7:45am when I wanted to have my same schedule as this year to start teaching at 9am, so I can be home in the mornings and take my daughter to school. When I mentioned wanting my same schedule, my VP said the new principal wouldn’t go for it regardless, that evidently he’s not about making accommodations like that. So best case scenario I can stay at my school all day but still have to be there at 8am (which will be a massive burden for my family) and worst case scenario I will be teaching on two campuses, lose all sense of community at my work place, and gain the considerable stress of reconciling scheduling differences between the schools on certain days, and commuting between them (they are about 7-10 minutes away from each other, depending on how you hit the lights).

Oh, and the school board decided that we will be trashing our Spanish 6 classes so that all 6th graders take the same “World Languages” class, which allows them to pick between five languages on a computer program. This decision was made in the name of “equity” because they want the course offerings at both campuses to be as similar as possible, and they have had a historically hard time finding and keeping a quality Spanish teacher (hence, the desire for me to teach 7th/8th grade Spanish over there for part of the day). I created our 6th grade Spanish curriculum almost from scratch, and it’s a damn good program. It’s also VERY POPULAR. The fact that they decided to throw it away, without even speaking to me about it, feels incredibly disrespectful. I don’t necessarily love teaching 6th graders, but I’m really proud of what, and how, I teach them, and I’m really disappointed to see it thrown away for some bullshit computer program in the name of equity.

The most frustrating part of all of this is that I’ve been trying to get a meeting with our incoming principal for over a month and he keeps avoiding me. And I also told him that I hoped to keep my current schedule in one of those emails, so he knew that working at 7:45am was going to be incredibly disappointing for me. (I would assume he’s also realized that no one wants to teach at two different campuses during the day, and broaching that possibility needed to be treated with a certain amount of sensitivity, but who knows.) Either way, the fact that he didn’t make a meeting to talk about all this with me himself, but instead sent someone who doesn’t give a shit (and can’t even answers my questions if she did) because she won’t be here next year, feels really fucking disrespectful. One of the reasons I decided not to look for a new job is because I’ve had positive experiences with this man and had heard he was a respectful and effective principal at the other middle school. I had considerable hopes that he would make positive changes next year. Now all that goodwill is gone, and I’m left with the prospect of working with a principal who has already treated me poorly.

I’m so angry at myself for not looking for a job during the prime months of the school year. I can still look, and obviously will, but there are not many positions posted in the summer, at least not many desirable ones. Of course, it wouldn’t have to be that great to be more desirable than what I’m probably going to end up with. (And no, I’m not sure yet if they can MAKE me work on two different campuses. My guess is they can’t, but that they’ll offer me something so shitty at my own school that teaching 7th/8th grade Spanish at the other middle school is preferable.)

The union rep at our school is also a good friend, and a fellow language teacher. She has already assured me that they can’t make me teach zero period and 6th period because zero period is outside of the contractually obligated day. So I guess that is one good thing. Even if I didn’t want to be with my family in the mornings, teaching from 7:45am to 3pm would fucking suck.

Can’t you tell how stoked I am that it’s Monday?

23 Comments

  1. It sucks when employers have a mindset that they can just move people around, ask them to do whatever, and employees should just go with it. I’d worry about what else this new principal has in store. 🙁
    I’m sorry.

  2. So, ugh and grrr. Seriously. We’re also going through the 5:15 am-5:30 am wake-up (has been going on for almost 6 months). It’s fucking hard. We bought He-Beat a clock to help (which it does), but there are still many moments of struggle.

    Now the job. The fact your incoming principle is avoiding you is a bad sign. For Grey, it signaled a layoff (and many layoffs at his old company since) as they refused to meet with him. His current manage meets with him weekly (if not more). So the lack of communication is a major red flag. I think it’s great that you’re contacting your union rep and working with her, but shitty management always leads to bad things. So know they are being assess and push back where you can. Don’t let them bully you if you have control (serious on this one) and start talking with your co-workers. It sucks you will likely be job hunting, but it can lead to good things. Hang onto that.

    1. So my union rep talked to the incoming principal and he swears he has just been really busy (which I can believe because he’s still the principal at the other school and he has to get everything in order over there before he can move to our school, which is in shambles). He also said that scheduling is the VP’s job and he honestly didn’t know anything about this request (which I could also believe, because it was always the VP’s job at my school and our principal never knew much about it). So I’m hoping it’s not as bad as I think, but I will operate under the assumption that it is and make decisions accordingly. The good news is I can’t just be let go, but they can make my life so miserable that I want to leave. So I will be looking for another job. I doubt I’ll find something for next year, but I will be full on looking for something next year so I can be out of here the year after.

      1. You mentioned before your VP is passive aggressive and pulls maneuvers like this. The best way to handle people like this is exactly how you are: opening the lines of communication via your union rep with your principal and looking for other work. Because what happens if you leave? I can’t imagine it won’t leave them scrambling and the last thing this new principal needs is staff leaving because of the actions of one person in the administration. So as frustrating as this is, keep on the pressure. And don’t apologize for doing so. May it all work out.

        1. They will be totally fucked if I leave. They must know that. I do hope we can come together and have a conversation and reach an agreement. That might be very possible, it will just require getting us all in the same room at the same time.

  3. I normally don’t advocate drinking so early in the morning and week but dang!! Your employer situation and the lack of disrespect, communication and overall professionalism, is worrisome. The fact that you’re documenting all these attempts to meet with the new Boss, is good. Shows their lack of interest. Just knowing that the Union rep has assured you they can’t ask you do that awful schedule, makes me feel better. Hang in there and yes, keep looking for a better environment for you!

    And yep, we were totally on the, “let’s get a trampoline!!” until one of our good friends and neighbors asked us if we’ve looked into our home owner’s policy and what it would do to our rates. Good Lord did it raise our rates. That put a kibosh on everything. Who knew?!

    Hoping the week gets better.

    1. We were one step away from seeing if our homeowners insurance would cover the trampoline and if not, what a rider would cost. I’m sure if we had found out, that would have been a deal breaker as well!

      1. Ha, it never even occurred to me to think about adding it to our homeowners insurance policy. Our kids love ours (it’s one of the small ones with the net around it). I’d be curious to see the research you found on it. We grew up with a big one without a net, so in comparison this one seemed pretty harmless. Ha!

        1. Honestly, it was this piece that convinced me not to get one, but the AAP’s recommendation was also persuasive. The fact that a toddler can break his leg just jumping, with no one around to bump him, is kind of terrifying to me. And the story of the girl who was just jumping and suffered a fracture through her growth plate. I know how bad those can be. I babysat a ton of kids who had trampolines without nets and I only knew of a few kids that got hurt on them, but they all got hurt getting bounced off, so I thought a net would resolve that danger. But it seems that, for smaller kids with weaker bones, the simple act of jumping on a trampoline can be dangerous. We may revisit the idea when our son is older, we have to see.
          http://www.wthr.com/story/31170636/trampoline-trauma-toddlers-at-higher-risk-for-bounce-injuries

          http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/130/4/774

          1. Hm. Interesting info and definitely more injuries than I was ever aware of. I feel like if I’d have read this a couple years ago I’d have told the Nanny to not get it (she got it for the kids as a Christmas/Birthday gift from her)…but now? Ugh. I dunno. They love it, and I love that they love it and burn off some energy. Ha! I have such fond childhood memories on them too. We do so many “dangerous” activities around here (rafting, skiing, hiking, etc)… just lots of out there and living life kind of stuff… that I suppose my tolerance for activities is higher than some.

  4. The scariest thing is the introduction of language lessons from computer programs for ‘equity reasons’. It is the camel’s nose inside the tent for reducing fully credentialed teachers. Be VERY WARY.
    I need tomorrow’s post about good things. Wish I thought it was gong to be longer and bigger and overwhelming. Had figured the school year end was beating you up, sorry it is true. Glad you found out about trampoline issues. They are dangerous.

    1. I honestly don’t think they could get away with not having a fully credentialed teacher in there, though I’m sure they’d love to do that. I think it’s more that it’s really hard to find qualified foreign language teachers, especially when kids (and their parents) want access to a lot of different languages. But Spanish is very popular in this community, so I think people are going to be pissed when they hear about this change. If they are, that is good, because our superintendent is all about kowtowing to parents.

  5. ooh, i was worrying about the trampoline for a minute! Glad you changed your minds.
    I agree with Cristy’s “ugh and grrr”. I hope the “Good things” list starts growing soon.

    1. In four weeks the Goods list will have one massive bullet point, I just need to get to mid-June.

  6. That is a lot of Bads. I’m so sorry that it’s all happening, and all happening this week. I have my fingers crossed that there will be an easy resolution to the teaching schedule they want you to teach.

    1. I hope their is an easy resolution too. I’m just worried it will take them all summer to reach it.

      1. It may, but I think as long as you continue to attempt to have open communication and keep in touch with your union rep, it will hopefully work out. Then work your butt off to get out of there 🙂

  7. Wow. What a lot going on! I echo what others have said, that the principal avoiding you isn’t a good thing. Not sure what you can do about it, but sending you lots of patience and love.

    As for everything else…breathe. This too shall pass!! But, it sucks in the meantime!

    1. I keep reminding myself that this too shall pass. Looking back it seems like May 1st was a minute ago, and now May is almost over. That means mid-June will eventually get here too.

  8. Wow that sucks sorry about the work thing. Yes they can most likely pretty much assign you to whatever they want but the 0th period thing–that seem sketchy.

    As to trampolines–ha. We took a parenting class a few months ago and one of the issues I wanted help with was my three-year-old constantly jumping up and down on the couch and I don’t mean a light bouncing–I mean catapulting. People were like “get a trampoline”. I sat there with clenched teeth muttereing “but they’re unsafe”

    1. I think people really have no idea how unsafe they are, especially with the rise of those giant trampoline gyms, which host Tot-Times! WTF?! Their waivers must be air tight, either that or they pay up the wazoo for insurance.

  9. That’s so shitty about them cutting the 6th grade language class. We need MORE of those options, not less. *sigh* Way to keep dumbing down our population and making us not even attempt to understand other cultures, America. Fingers crossed you can get this scheduling resolved in a way that works well for you.

  10. As someone who lives learning languages, and has taught myself several views books and tales, and in the last ten years, computer programs (I’m working on my Spanish now – needed to do something when I was immobile for six weeks), I am gobsmacked that they would replace a good teacher with computer programs for school kids! It’s no substitute. It’s one thing being a motivated adult who knows how to learn languages, but I would think an 11-12-13 year old (is that right?) is unlikely to be self-motivated to learn a language.

    Also – what Cristy said about the VP.

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