Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Hi, I'm your new teacher, Mrs. Manson-Hitler

Okay I might as well call myself Manson-Hitler as that's what many educators would want to call me if I expressed my true feelings. so here one of my students would say, "bring it on haters!"

1. unions...ok I'm part of CTEN- California Teacher's Empowerment Network but that's more a support group than what a current union is..and its free. You have to pay dues in my state and those without knowledge i.e. me in my first year as a teacher, don't know you can say no to the union....they make it seem you must join or no job for you. But if you have to pay regardless so you may as well join. But see they don't represent you the first two years (since you're not tenured and considered a temp employee) so you're wasting money towards protecting worse teachers than you, ones that kept their job- you pay for them to keep their job as you lose yours in a layoff. Oh and how you have no say where your dues go politically...what if you're diabolically opposed (ok a bit extreme of a term there...) to what you're funding? Too freakin' up! So I've paid two years of dues to fund politics that I feel actually harm people but I digress...

2. collective bargaining....hours and layoffs...I work at a non-union school (egads) and it's a charter (double egads....see told you I'm evil) so no colletive bargaining. I took a personnel course for my MA (which was all about unions and nothing much about personnel, go figure) and had to review contracts etc and wowza... it explains why in high school I recall one of my teachers there from 6:45-2:00 daily on the exact hours were 7:00-1:45, teachers had to be there 15 min before and after. She NEVER took home one single piece of work and would only help students during school hours. She was the union rep for the school and knew her contractual hours and obligations and let me tell you, the students suffered because her teaching wasn't stellar and papers were graded eons after they were turned in because, well, contractually speaking she was not to work on lesson planning or grading "after hours". At my school we have teachers there 2-3 hours after school quite often. Yeah it "sucks" but at the same time we have very passionate teachers doing amazing things in the classroom, where they can actually begin to fill the many roles society piles upon us- staying after school that long allows them to not just have great lessons (individualized!) but make the classroom cute and cozy, buy snacks for hungry students, tutor after hours, have sports and art clubs, collaborate with staff, help families, you name it.
Oh and layoffs.... so I was in that personnel course and the state as you know is in the hole and there are layoffs like mad. Most 1st-2nd year "temps" are fired...errr....laid off, let go, RIF'ed. Some tenured teachers with the least seniority are even "let go" in the harder hit districts. This has to happen due to budget cuts, yes, but is it fair? Some "crappy" teachers with ten years tenure stay while that great 2nd year teacher is let go. And certainly whoever is let go loses income and may not be able to support their family which is quite sad. So in our class the teachers said their district had proposed letting go of staff and yadda yadda, everyone was tenured so they just hoped class size would not increase and budget cuts would end soon. But they wanted some solution to ending it and I said, keep good non-tenured teachers and do a 5% salary cut across the board. Oh Lordy I seriously thought I'd get jumped, as the looks of disdain, disgust, hatred in their eyes was something to be seen. They said they could NEVER survive off such a salary, they EARNED it through education and years of service and teachers NEVER make enough. (Ok yes GOOD teachers are grossly underpaid...but that's another story). I said, hello, I make less than your district's beginning teacher salary, after 5 years experience in my charter and I'd like more money but I survive. I cut back our cable service, mow my own lawn, etc. And I said, if you do the 5% cut NO ONE loses their jobs, NO ONE is out on the streets....thought I'd appeal to their emotion as no one wants to see a co-worker homeless right? WRONG. They actually had the audacity to say, essentially, better them than me. They said they would rather non-tenured staff lose their jobs than they lose 5% of pay. They had seniority and deserved it and someone has to make sacrifices (just not them.) They actually supported the notion of watching fellow co-workers lose their jobs, homes, whatever, instead of a mil pay cut for themselves. I was livid. And these "caring" people work with our children? As role models? Wow.

3. Experience, education, seniority..... Years of experience and education does not make the teacher. Then again a lay man doesn't either. husband has taught some classes at church and done training in his career and if he were my teacher, I'd be amazed. I'd want to come to school and I'm not saying this because he is my husband. He has passion, charisma, knowledge, "fire" in his teaching. He gets people motivated, interested, thinking... I think I'm a good teacher but actually, he might be better, You need some pedagogy, history, psychology of learning to teach, and some practice etc that the education programs offer as I've seen knowledgeable people in non-public school environment try and teach and they can't handle a classroom and they seem clueless as to their clientele, so everyone needs to know how to teach. But knowing how to teach isn't all. That piece of paper called a credential really means nothing. I think of a principal I knew....she had a teaching and admin credential and MA degree so really qualified right? She gave K-3 kids bazookas (the instruments not the weapon) in an assembly. At the beginning. On a snowy no-recess outside day (on the third day of no recess.) Right before the holidays. Total mayhem and she tried to gain control but hello, 300 little kids, pent up, ready for Santa, with bazookas? Come'd think a MA degree would afford the common sense to say hmm let's give the bazookas out at the end of the day.
And seniority....just because you've been there forever doesn't mean you're a great teacher. I've known teachers there for eons that read newspapers in class and let the class run wild. Meanwhile the amazing teacher next door, in her second year of teaching, is on the chopping block. Ok I've also known some horrible new teachers that also throw in the towel and let the class run wild (and I've been a part of suggesting to the admin that they go elsewhere) and great senior teachers. But seniority is ludicrous. We tell kids not to "hold place in line" but seniority is kind of like that, first come first serve. I have been "let go" twice due to lack of seniority. This makes my resume sub-par and usually tossed aside as who would want to hire someone who only lasted at a school for one year..twice? Yet I know I'm not alone.

Oh there's more evil ideas in my head but that's for another time.

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