Thursday, August 27, 2009

How long can this last?

This is a rough first week.

My students are beautiful and great. Of course, some of them are challenging, but that's the point of this job and I love it.

The adults, however, are slowly (or quickly, in some cases) driving me insane. Without going into too many specifics (I'm a weird combination of egotistical and paranoid enough to suspect that I have readers at my school -- spies are everywhere!) I can just say that I am tired of the power plays, illogical decisions, and general lack of spiny-ness of my administrators. This school is a ball of dysfunction, and the most dysfunctional are at the helm!

I'm growing weary, ladies and gentlemen. And it's only the third day. Either they're going to have to change, or I'm going to explode in a blaze of fury (and by that I mean be passive aggressive for the rest of the year and then transfer to some other dysfunctional DC school where I like the administration). Only time will tell.

20 comments:

Glenn Watson said...

That's the spirit champ.

Kings said...

This year I think having a high profile is safe. "They" know that if something bad happens to you, it will make news and THEY don't wnat that kind of news. They only want to make the news themselves, and as manipulatively as possible.

This is what I've observed lately. However, don't take my word for it. I may be one of THEM.


Hey - on another subject, how did your AP scores come out?

Anonymous said...

The problem with Rhee's rule by fear leadership style is that principals and other administrators clamp down and become even more rigid in their decision making.

Speaking out is not tolerated as we know with Rhee and the retribution that the most vocal critics have received over the last couple of years. Principals and others just absorb this mentality and pass it on.

There must be other teachers at your school who share your concerns. Can't you start organizing something with them?

Heather said...

You know, this week for me has actually flown by. I've been content each morning as I've headed into work. DC schools are toxic places, which is why you are miserable after three whole days. I am SO glad I'm not teaching anymore.

Anonymous said...

Luckiy, not all DC schools are alike. I know someone who figured out after a few days last year that the school they were in was toxic.

This year, they can see the new school is not -- all because of a difference in administrators.

Kat said...

It's not always admin. Don't discount the efforts of toxic teachers or other staffers, who try to undermine the best efforts of admin to detox a school, or who are so bitter/resentful/paranoid that they see everything from a "glass half empty" perspective. It's amazing how much disruption even just a couple of people like this can cause (which "they" realize...that's why "they" do it).

E.g. we have a former staff member trying to cause problems here even though s/he voluntarily left to work elsewhere! S/he is still in touch with current staffers and is trying to get them to continue his/her dirty work. Unbelievable! Get a life!!

Anonymous said...

Have you seen "The Rubber Room" by Steven Brill in this week's New Yorker? Thoughts?

Mr. Potter said...

Kat -- toxic teachers are definitely part of the problem. Especially when spineless admins refuse to stand up to them.

Kings -- thanks for asking about the AP kids! They didn't do very well, unfortunately. Mostly 2s, and no one passed. I am happy to share that we had our first passing AP Calc and AP Literature students, though. These courses last for a full year (instead of just the spring semester, like my stats class). As a result, we decided that we would offer AP stats every other year and have the course go for an entire school year instead of one semester. So hopefully in the 2010-2011 year we'll have more success. I'm optimistic that next year I'll be able to get some kids to pass -- especially with the whole year to help get them there.

Toby said...

I'm glad to hear you are feeling so positive about your students. Keep focused on them. Stay away from toxic people even if that means leaving the building for lunch, staying out of the staff lounge. I used to eat lunch in my car, parked on a shady side street with the radio on. Or I'd stay in my room planning and organizing. Anything to stay away from people who would bring me down, and it's usually not the kids.

Wyrm said...

Don't feel bad about your kids struggling on the AP Stats if you were doing it in 1 semester (I assume every day). With the AP early in the semester, you are giving up a lot of class time (or if you taught it in the fall, they have 3 months to forget).

That's not even noting how hard it is for students to retain information without time to allow it to settle. (That's why I HATE 4X4 schedules.)

Kings said...

Thanks for the AP info, Harry.

Are you saying you'll actually get more time to teach AP stats? The kids will be taking the same course, but it will be spread out more?

Nada said...

"The fish stinks at the head."

Sure there are toxic teachers in most if not all schools. The point is that inept and/or toxic principals allow the minority of toxic teachers to have undue influence on the staff and even the student body.

Rhee's top down way of doing business in addition to keeping principals in fear of losing their jobs at anytime, allows all of this dysfunction to flourish.

Toby said...

In my school, the very few toxic individuals are perpetual malcontents, conspiracy theorists, and out and out haters of the principal. He/she is in no way letting them have any have undue influence. These haters just run their mouths and have some allies, but I stay away from them. There are enough pleasant, child-centered friendly people that make my school a decent place to work, which is why I stay.

Mr. Potter said...

Kings --
I'll have more time to teach it -- more than twice as much, actually.

The other AP courses at my school run all year long and meet every day. So they have from August to May to prepare for the exam, whereas my Stats students only had from the end of January. Since the exam is in early May, that doesn't allow for much time -- I wasn't even able to get through the entire curriculum, let alone make sure that everyone mastered it. I'm excited for the extra time -- if we can get 2s in three and a half months, then hopefully we'll be able to get 4s and 5s with eight months.

Kings said...

Harry - seems odd that you would have ever been given such limited time for AP stats.

Do you know how most other schools do it?

Anonymous said...

I'm also a high school teacher in DCPS and my principal is a nightmare--disrespectful, unable to communicate, hostile, and not open to talking with ANYONE. I can say, in her favor, though, that she doesn't discriminate. She treats students, staff, and faculty (minus her favorite bullies) alike--with disdain, mistrust, and a mean iron fist.

Even though admin has given me props as a model teacher, I can't see myself going back next year. Harry--do you have room on your broomstick for a few passengers? I'd like to hop on with as many students I can gather up . . .

Mr. Potter said...

At other schools AP Stats is a whole year. At my AP Institute training that I did the summer before last (finally got reimbursed for it!!!), there were only two of us that had one semester to teach the course.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Potter,

Here is word from an ex-admin in your building. I believe all those who knew about the blog are gone so no spies are left in admin. (Many don't know what blogs are).

I was thinking about you as I was introduced to the new IMPACT evaluation system. I think you will be pleased with the way it rewards good teachers and moves poor teachers out, as long as it is used with fidelity by the administrators. The Master teachers are impressive though and should help.

Keep plugging away because you make a difference.

A Harry Potter Fan

Anonymous said...

By the way, if you are thinking about exploding, I could use a math teacher at my school and you would always be welcome to come over there.

I Believe It said...

Some of you probably don't believe it, but there are numerous DC teachers and even administrators (who one would assume are smart, ambitious and on the ball) who don't know what blogs are. To me this is just emblematic. So Harry, if you're running a blog that is critical of DCPS administration, sometimes Rhee, the union, bad teaching or whatever, rest assured that those who evaluate you don't even know what a blog is.
To one of the above anonymous posters who is an administrator and calls himself a Harry Potter fan, and knows what a blog is: what is it that you like about the new IMPACT system? How do you see it rewarding good teachers and moving out ineffective ones? I'm interested in your take on this, coming from the opposite end of things. I think I know who you are and good luck at your school.