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Daily School Journal Day 108- Houston we’ve got some problems

by admin on February 19th, 2004

There’s a general lack of love going around this campus. Apathy is running amuck. I know I’m not the only one here working, who doesn’t care anymore. I know of about 4 other teachers here with the same condition. I was discussing it a little yesterday, and I tried to think of why it happens, and how to remedy it.

WHY IT HAPPENS
1) A lack of understanding on the work conditions by the administration. I don’t think they really have any idea what it’s like here, in our classrooms. Our principal, while a nice guy, hasn’t been in a classroom for a long time. When he WAS in a classroom, he was in one o the size of our current classes. The other Principal is also a inicei guy, but he’s way too concerned with keeping numbers up, so he constantly enrolls new students, and reenrolls students who we’ve kicked out before. Things like that don’t make teachers happy. If a kid was booted out because we, the teachers thought he was not performing well, they should stay out of our school. They keep letting these kids return to our school, who were kicked out last year. Then the Vice Principal comes in to the staff room and jokes about iguess who’s backi. MAN it’s your damn fault they’re back. You KNOW we don’t WANT them back, don’t come rub it in our faces. It’s things like this that makes people angry and start not caring.
2) I mentioned awhile back a kid who was 6 credits short of graduation, and basically thumbed his nose at the teachers, and the school. He tried to wait until the last minute to get his credits, after he’d sat around and been a disturbance for the whole year. I mentioned previously that he came into my room and wanted more work to take home. I basically gave him some, LAST year, near the end of the last session, against my will. He never did it. He came back THIS year and I refused to give him anything new. Our VP gave him different, easier work to do. Finally he did it, after 2/3 of a year. I have problems with this in that he basically is getting away with making ME look bad. He went around doing my work all last year, and all this year, and then our own Vice Principal allowed him to keep on doing it by giving him different work. Now the kid is a graduate. If he is allowed to walk in the graduation ceremony this year. I will boycott the ceremony. I would have last year, and I STILL feel the same way. I don’t feel like he has done anything to change. If he’s going to be a graduate, give him his damn diploma and make sure he never comes back.
3) We’re asked to teach class after class of subject matter that we don’t like. On some occasions we’ll get 1 or 2 classes we want, thrown in the mix. Overall we’re overloaded with classes, we’re not interested or qualified to teach. HOW FUN! We’re forced to go to trainings and workshops to become qualified to teach these subjects we don’t like, AND we get nothing in return, except a job, doing the same miserable things we’ve always done.
4) I wrote an idea for a new class 3 years ago. It is my film class. I thought up the idea proposed it, and it got approved. A fellow teacher saw it, liked it, and swears she was about to do the same thing. (She’d been at this school 6 years longer than me, why she didn’t do it before I don’t know) So they give her the class as well, so instead of having it be a staple on my schedule, something I enjoy, I have to let her have it 3 times a year. They should have told her sorry; it’s not your deal. This makes me not really even happy about having this class.
5) We’re never really made to feel like what we do matters. It stems back for 4 years now. I mean it’s so far gone that even a little; eHEY NICE JOB’ doesn’t even do it. Our principal, it seems, doesn’t even really think about that kind of thing. We don’t do anything here to keep morale high. We work at what could best be described as the toughest teaching situation around, and yet nothing happens to make us feel like we belong here, or should want to stay
6) The Administration is in a constant state of trying to make this school more like a normal, comprehensive high school. I’ve written at length about this, and it’s totally wrong. All it does is frustrate the teachers more, cause us to really hate being here. In short. If a traditional style of education worked for these kids, they’d still be at that style of school. This place needs to be so different and innovative that it can’t help but change kids attitudes. Are we trying to make college grads or good people? I go with the latter.
7) We don’t DO anything fun with the kids. The Administration talked and talked and talked about how we were going to do MORE fun stuff with the kids, like the softball game. That first game was where it ended. We played a little volleyball with them, but it wasn’t anything like that softball game.
8) The Administration talked about how they were really going to lay the smack down on kids who were troublemakers, and not getting it done. They were going to drop some of them, send some to independent study, and some to community day school. That never happened to anywhere near the degree they made it sound like it was going to. This kind of stuff PISSES teachers off. Makes you feel like you have no power of discipline in your classroom.
9) The fact we have lame duck kids here. We have kids who are 18, causing discipline problems, and going on independent study in 3 weeks, just wasting time in classrooms. It doesn’t affect the ADA our administrators are so worried about. These kids will be in independent study when P2 happens (P1 and P2 are days where the ADA average for the year is taken, based on attendance for those days) So, basically, they just sit here, KNOWING they’re going to independent study. They talk all class long, waste time, do NO work, and wait for the session to end so they can go to independent study.
10) Our Principal has so many other jobs he does that he really doesn’t know what goes on here on a daily basis. He’s sort of out of the loop. We’re in a situation where we basically we have teachers who don’t like other teachers. Teachers and janitors fighting. Teachers who are sick of the administrators. All of this is happening currently, and it’s like it doesn’t’ exist. We also have an elderly man who pees on the floor. This is too much
11) I have mentioned it before BUT we have 4 teachers here on medication for stress, or anxiety. You have to know that SOME of this is related to the work environment. How do we fix this?

FIXING THE PROBLEMS

1) Show the teachers that they matter. I don’t know how you do this, because I never feel like I matter. I always feel like a cog in a wheel. Like whatever I do is just expected. I don’t need a financial reward or anything. I would take some positive feedback to start with, but it needed to start happening 4 years ago. We need events other than lunchtime potlucks to build morale as a team. We’re dealing with teachers who don’t even eat together anymore, because we’re getting sick of this place, which makes us get sick of one another. I’ve heard of businesses that go on cruises, climb mountains, have BBQ’s go out for happy hour, things like that to build morale, and a team feeling. I think you have to like your fellow teachers in order to want to help them succeed, and want your school to succeed.
2) Burn out. I would say 75% of the staff here reached their burnout point about 12 weeks ago. We need a way to fix that.
3) We need some sort of incentives to work for. Trying to be more like the other high school isn’t a good one. That feeling inside when you watch another kid NOT going to college isn’t it. We don’t get any of those warm fuzzy feeling teachers at other schools get to make the hard work worth it.
4) We need a place where we can speak our minds, and get these types of issues dealt with, instead of ignored and swept under the carpet.
5) We have teachers here who are looking to move out of this school, myself included. These are the young teachers here. The ones that technically should have the most energy, and enthusiasm for teaching. They just want to quit.
6) We need to make this school someplace different, and something that caters to our student’s specific problems, and needs. Someplace special.

I guess I really don’t know how to fix it. If I did, I’d start to try and get things moving in a positive direction. I do know our current administration is losing their staff’s support. It won’t be too much longer before every teacher here is looking to retire, or relocate. The real problem I guess IS apathy, and it’s sort of apparent it lies with the administration as well as the teachers, and students. It’s sort of sad really. I want to like my job. It’s at the point where I don’t know if I could EVER like my job here.

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