Consider; an executive without a desk, a zookeeper with animals but no habitats, an actor with no stage, a pilot with no cockpit. Instead, the executive has a suitcase, the zookeeper has a large fenced area where animals roam intermingled, the actor has his body and the pilot has a seat in the economy section.
Late last academic year I learned in a one on one conversation from the department chair that I was not going to have a classroom this school year.
I also found out that I was going to have to teach a different skill set.
I was trying to look beyond feeling slighted, tread up on, and get my zen on and just look past it.
I watched management in action happen after I packed up all my teaching gear.
That week was uniquely dreadful, not to be duplicated since and probably never again (problems at home too, big ugly hairy ones). I had just packed up and was in the classroom with the guy who was going to teach from that room the following year, telling him about windows that did not open and the afternoon sun guaranteeing temps well into the 80’s by the end of the day.
In came the administrator, a gentle man who now I know is incredibly well versed in management.
Our school is incredibly crowded. They are building 20 more classrooms right now and many teachers must teach from carts and go from room to room. Teaching from a cart brings quality of teaching to new lows. Trucking around with one’s teaching gear changes one’s expectations from winning to just not croaking (at the worst). All one can do is make the best of it. It’s the thing that makes teachers cry, quit, yell, complain and wake up in fits of anxiety or rage.
In trying to get what he wanted, administrator said this (not exact quotes)
“Now this situation is really actually potentially very good, two teachers get off carts, and one teacher moves. You know some teachers have had to move classrooms for 6 and 7 years straight. I think of MH. MH has not had the same classroom since she got here several years ago, but when I talked to her about going to a cart, she just says “J, I will do whatever you need me to do,” She has an amazing attitude. She is willing to do whatever it takes to make things work out. She really is the kind of person who simply does what needs to be done and she has an amazingly good outlook about it. So one classroom move in 8 or 9 years is actually a bargain in light of what most of the staff are up against.”
I can’t remotely approach the level of convincing he reached rambling on for 45 minutes.
At the time I thought, “I want to be like MH, she is a good person, I like her and I think she has a good attitude”
Even though I would be on a cart teaching unfamiliar material.
Considering how administrator made it seem if the person getting moved so much as dared complain, they would seem not only like an ingrate, but also selfish and clearly not interested in the success of the school. Impressive.
The challenge left me wondering if my effectiveness as a teacher was ever relevant.
He laid odds that I had a desire to make a positive impression and be a valuable contributor. He used that to deliver both terrible and good news. Together we learned that one would have a classroom, and the other one would not. The delivery buffered him from likely confrontation from a younger female.
I realized what a very clever man he is. To make people unwillingly bend without complaint is very crafty, especially when it is akin to lighting ones shorts on fire.
Moving classrooms has never taken me less than three days of unpaid work. There is no one waiting to help you, no one offering to make it a little easier, it’s usually more just the teacher hauling all their crap elsewhere alone, unpaid for three days of the summertime.
Insert violin of pity here. But truly, it is miserable after one does it a couple times.
SO! How do I get this to work in my life? Can I make my friends do what I want by talking for 45 minutes appealing to some desire deep in peoples heart to be good people to get them to go buy me a pizza? Or give me some money? Or rub my hot sweaty tired feet? Maybe I need to read a book to learn the finer points of this new technique, as I think by the time people realize what’s happened, I will have enjoyed a nice foot rub!