This blog chronicles my life as I try to balance healthy lifestyle habits with my husband's penchant for pizza rolls and my daughter's desire to watch iCarly 8 hours a day. It contains a mostly humorous, kind, and somewhat spiritual look at everyday life and the people who live it.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Dear Lord Beth, are you still working?
I like my kids. I am really connected to these kids. I wish only the best for them. I rejoice in their triumphs and grieve their defeats. I am torn, so terribly completely and totally torn by my sense of responsibility and obligation to the kids and my bone-deep conviction that I need this job to end, and soon. I don't want the kids to suffer a series of subs whilst our principal drags her feet hiring someone new. I don't want their little routine -- the routine for which I have contributed blood, sweat, and tears to create for them -- to be disrupted. I was out of school for 2/3 of a day on Thursday because my own daughter was sick and the principal never even brought in a sub, she just had a series of miscellaneous staff "stop in" throughout the day to assist my 87-year-old aide who didn't know what she was supposed to be doing with the kids and so basically just played "wheels on the bus" with them and took them to the bathroom. This is the commitment the principal has to these kids. Didn't even make sure they had a teacher. So if that's what's going to happen when I am gone for 4 hours, what's it going to be like for these kids when I am simply gone? I know that no one is ever irreplaceable but I also know that there has to be a desire to replace and right now, I'm not sure my principal has that desire.
Yet I also know that this job is not good for me, for my family, for my marriage. It's not that I have a job (although that certainly has been a shock to my family) it's this job, with these commitments, with this drama. If I were you, right about now I'd be sure that I am exaggerating: drama? You're a kindergarten teacher, Beth, not a brain surgeon. Well my friends, there's nothing like a principal who believes in dressing down her teachers in front of the students to create a little drama in your life. My Principal, who despite spelling rules to the contrary is NOT MY PAL, has, for the third time yelled at me in front of my class. This last verbal lambasting was because I had told the kids that the teacher, we'll call her Mrs. M, for whose return I had been preparing them for 6 weeks, would not be returning. my princiPAL didn't want me to say anything until she had a chance to say something. Okay, great, say something. Oh, wait, she didn't! She just expected me to smile blandly at these children when they asked "Where's Mrs. M? You said she was coming back today!" Smile. Smile. Smile. The kids would have thought I was insane. They wouldn't have stopped asking! They wouldn't have just forgotten! They have memories as accurate as a digital recorder when it comes to things that affect their lives! I waited 3 days to say anything and then when no word was coming from the office I figured I'd better prepare the kids that they next day Mrs. M wouldn't be coming in. For this I was yelled at, in front of my class, in front of another parent who happened to be in our class, and treated like dirt.
And this wasn't the first time. On the first day of school my princiPAL yelled at me over the PA system for not being in the lunch room with the kids (the 8th grade teacher was there and suggested I get some lunch while she watched the kids). I've also been reprimanded for not signing the school phone log when I made a phone call (I didn't use the school phone, I used my personal phone because I made the phone call while driving my daughter to dance class).
I have used my own personal money to buy classroom supplies, my own personal UNPAID time to set up the classroom, my own personal books to populate our classroom library, and my own personal sense of responsibility has kept me at this job way past the agreed upon time frame.
All those things, apparently, mean nothing to my princiPAL. Now to be fair, she did apologize for "coming down so hard" on me. Let's face it folks, she apologized not because she was sorry for how she spoke to me but because she remembered I am a tuition paying parent and she didn' t want to lose that tuition.
I need to end this job before I forget all the things I like about the school. I need to end this job before I forget all the things I like about the principal. I need to end this job before the twitching in my eye gets any worse. I need to end this job.
Spiritually I feel in chaos: I was presented an opportunity. I jumped. The opportunity has brought me tremendous joy and tremendous heartache as well. Now 20 little lives are affected by my decisions, not to mention Steve's life, my daughter's life, and mine as well. I am struggling just to go to work each day as I wonder if I'll get hit by another drive-by-shouting by the PrinciPAL. I feel sad that I'll miss their little Halloween party. I feel sick thinking I might still be there by Halloween. I feel sad that I'll not be the one who makes handprint turkeys with these kids. I feel tremendous stress just thinking about work tomorrow. Is this the plight of other teachers? Do they love the kids yet abhor their boss whose priority is not the children but micromanaging-spin-doctoring-and-penny-pinching to ensure that all parents are happy and the bottom line is constant while the teachers are treated like dirt?
Right now I truly believe that I am the only non-parent in the school who really cares what happens to these kindergartners. The princiPAL does not care. If she did, she would have been honest with the kids and parents about Mrs. M not returning. She would have made hiring a new teacher a priority. She would have taught the class herself if she'd been unable to find another sub. She would never have yelled at their teacher in front of them. She would treat them as children, human beings with feelings, fears, and attachments, rather than income.
And that is why I angst about leaving. Steve says, "it's not your problem, it never was." He's right, it's not my problem, but now that I have had 7 weeks with these kids, aren't they my responsibility too? Do I go behind the princiPAL's back and tell the parents to demand a teacher be hired? Do I tell them just how "forgotten" their kids are? Do I tell them to demand their almost $4,000 in tuition back because their kids certainly aren't getting what the parents are paying for?
I don't know what to do.