It is time to give out the unofficial school awards here at Chez What?
Coolest student award: Inspired by Chucheria, a story about a special kid we got to get to know one year, Sylvester. Sylvester was a savant, and he was blind. I don’t know much about his learning abilities or disabilities, but I know that he was particularly fond of ladies hair. I believe that since he was blind, the touching and smelling of ladies hair was a particularly pleasant experience for him. I only know that because he liked my hair quite alot and I had to be a little careful when I greeted him, because he wasn’t shy about plunging his hands in to your hair and telling you how much he loved it as he drew near to give it a good whiff.
Sylvester looked older than a typically high schooler, I believe he fell into the “super senior” category. He grew on us all, most particularly because he would play the piano as a solo at school assemblies, apart from the band, and he played amazingly well and it was quite a feat, being blind. He could play anything. Sometimes he would play in the cafeteria while people ate if there was a piano on the stage. It was very satisfying to see the positive response he got out of this huge high school, the kids loved him. In a school of 3000 kids, unifying experiences like everyone cheering on Sylvester were unique and one of the good things about school.
Faculty that most needed to be medicated award: In my first year, I had a teacher next door to me that monitored me quite carefully, it seemed. I only knew this because if I ever let my kids out a nanosecond early, he would let me know that that was not okay (among other things I apparently did wrong). I didn’t really care, he was a little highly strung. However, when he came over to let me know it was absolutely not okay to let my instructional assistant make copies (she did this once during the school year while the kids were doing state tests and she was not allowed to help them), he officially had gone around the bend in my mind. Apparently he saw her walk past his door 2 times with copies in hand on that one day, and it was too much, he had to let me know I had crossed the line. After that it was hard to take him seriously.
Most Reprehensible leadership decision award: Goes to the principal who held a 2 day mandatory staff training after school was out. He gave us a 9 page article to read, the gist of which was how mission statements have limited utility in schools. He then passed out many of those poster sheets where we brainstormed mission statements and core values statements for our school. He paid a university professor some large amount of money to lead us through these activities. There were over 200 staff present packed into a very hot cafeteria. I am surprised rioting never ensued with the amount of suppressed frustration that the room contained. It ended up being a sort of large complaining session about everything that ticked everyone off all year but had the professionalism to let go. After closing up the classrooms, taking down the posters, turning in the grades, packing up everything, the hardest thing ever was sitting 8 hours a day for 2 days for that staff training.
Professionalism award: Goes to my senior colleague in my current school.
One of the first things I learned about her was that she had spent the last ten years working as a Kmart manager. I recollected about the level of professionalism I knew from years working retail, and multiplied times all the times I felt an urgent need to escape Kmart. Then I took that and put it to the power of menopause, and sure enough…the Professionalism award goes to V herself.
I don’t want to sound unsympathetic about menopause, I know I am unversed. I know I don’t know how that will be. Hence, a mighty “unpredictable and emotional” factor.
At the beginning of the year when she barely knew me, she decried that I was racist for giving ELD kids half credit for late work, because I was lowering expectations for them. Did I mention that she did this in front of all staff members at a meeting and nearly cried?
She apologized for this.
On another occasion she told me that she had a dream about me where every time she said something, I rolled my eyes. I apologized profusely for that nightmare, primarily because all I have ever wanted was to get along with her. I walk a very wide circle around her.
Also at the beginning of the year we were assigned to coteach a math class together. I watched her squirm with discomfort for about a month, and I did too, as I am no math teacher. We agreed to part ways. She told me point blank she had never co-taught before, fair enough, neither had I. It was only disconcerting when I later heard about a wonderful co-teaching experience she had with some other teacher.
Today she let me know that she thought it was just “mean” of me to not allow a student to come into my room at the start of my rowdiest class, third period. I was trying to calm them down when the student asked to search for her thumb drive. She herself came and stood directly outside my door while I tried to get things going, but she did not come in. She mentioned that I particularly “mean” with this student as she is shy and demure, which I agree, however, have you ever had a loud class of middle schoolers at the end of the school year? The first 15 minutes of all my classes are the only time I really need to get the ball rolling.
As I explained that the girl didn’t have the thumb drive in my room because we had wanted to use it, she walked away and waved her hand at me. A sort of “whatever”. When I spoke to the girl later and offered her to look for her thumb drive, she had no need. Huh.
V is a native speaker of Spanish, and yet at times she acts like she doesn’t know Spanish very well, and at other times she is very insistent that my Spanish is wrong, but only when others are present. I shrug. She can be right, I care not.
Days like this that the end of the year can’t come fast enough.