Friday, August 6, 2010

Oh Dear

Anyone who's been a reader of my blog knows I've been M.I.A. for a while (and not the good kind). There are lots of reasons for this, but essentially it boils down to the fact that I wasn't enjoying blogging anymore. I felt that my (former!) school was just heading in such a wrong direction, and that the echo chamber in the comments was getting more and more negative. So I stopped.

I wasn't sure that I was going to ever come back. But then I got this comment on my last post:

Anonymous: Perhaps Harry has gone the way of two of his buds, Dee Does the District and DC Teacher Chic. They've shut their doors and hit the road. Typical TFA behavior, actually, to realize that it takes a lot more than enthusiasm to change things in DCPS and decide to quit for other "opportunities".


I haven't "hit the road." I've transferred to another DCPS High School in a low income neighborhood. So scomp on you.

BUT, I'd like to address this comment on a deeper level. When I was a first year teacher, I was terrified because I had no idea what I was doing. Do you know what I wanted the most? HELP. I wanted someone with experience to take me under his/her wing and give me guidance. Instead, from most of my more experienced colleagues I got polite disinterest, and from a few I got attitudes like the above commenter's. It wasn't until my second year, when the school was zero-based and half the staff was new, that more positive collegial relationships developed (the majority of the new staff were veteran educators, just new to the building).

The reason so many TFA and DCTF and new teachers in general leave DCPS isn't the kids -- it's the adults! A lot of us move to charter schools because we feel more confident that there we'll find administrators and staff that are professional and supportive. I'm lucky enough to have found that within DCPS. But if I hadn't found that here, and I had moved on to other "opportunities," that would not make me a bad person. And if you are a teacher who has moved on to another field, and people are making you feel bad about it, just remember:

Haters Gonna Hate

Anyway, I don't know if this blog post means "I'm back," but I just wanted to update readers and stomp out rumors. Maybe I'll continue to post about what life is like in my new school. Hopefully the posts will be more positive. Enjoy the last few weeks of summer!


Fear the Fellow said...

So excited to see you post! As a new teacher (I'm starting in 17 days!), I loved reading your blog for a dose of realism and hilarity. Also, I'm loving the haters gonna hate graphic :)

Wish you best of luck at your new school!

Dee Does DC said...

Say what you want haters, but DCTC and I are remaining(!) In DCPS for our third year. (Even after I swore off DCPS, my principal had an offer too good to refuse.) We just lost the passion for blogging and thus, shuttered the blogs.

Anonymous said...

I was about to come on and defend Dee and DCTC but I see that Dee has done it for me. I can vouch for the fact that both are still working in DCPS. I can also vouch for pretty much everything else Harry says here. As a former blogger, I know blogging just got old and depressing after a while and I didn't think people wanted to read the same complaints over and over again. It was exhausting.
Personally, I did choose to leave teaching after 2 years. I'm staying in a related field, but was totally worn out by working in an autism classroom, the work environment, and the bureaucratic BS that came with working in DCPS. I didn't feel I could do a good job anymore and do right by my kids at this point; isn't it better I leave? I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I didn't go in to teaching thinking I would leave after 2 years, but it just didn't work out for me, so I'm choosing to do something where I can still help kids, but can have more autonomy, flexibility, and resources to help in the way I feel my skills are best used.
But Harry, you're right...haters gotta hate. And I'm gonna let 'em keep on hatin' on while I do what I know is best for me.

Anonymous said...

Newsflash - the reason teachers of all kinds leave DCPS isn't the kids -- it's the adults!

Mike Thomas said...

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include a link back to your blog fully crediting you for your work
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know as soon as possible.

Mike Thomas

mlbdc said...

Glad to hear you again, Harry! Good luck in your new school. Hope to hear commentary on your experiences there.

DCPS Parent said...

I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that I do hope you make somewhat of a return to blogging. I'm not asking for roses all the time, but I sure am glad to have an option to read something that's not always anti-Rhee.

Anonymous said...

Are you suggesting that veteran teachers drive TFA and DCTF out of DCPS?

I thought the plan was for just the opposite to occur.

Anonymous said...

I disagree, and think you also have to check your own attitude. I've read some posts on some DC blogs by new teachers and it left a very bad taste in my mouth. I was going to comment at the time, and then thought better of it, hoping the experience will teach them to be a little more humble, cos I could tell by the tone that they weren't open and in fact were also a "hater" but somehow it's acceptable to hate on and make snide comments and jokes about "veteran, older, experienced DCPS" teachers without looking too deeply at the issues. I'm a new teacher, coming into a new environment as a newbie you have to be somewhat humble and sensitive about the population you're working with and your fellow teachers. It works both ways guys, it really does. If you're open to others they will be open to you. I found that after IMPACT, and all the stress it placed on all teachers no one had the time for real collaboration. So check yourself first before you post that graphic. Glad to see Dee Dee is still with us, and good luck to all in your new school year.

Anonymous said...

Glad you'e back!!

Keeping it Real said...

Did DCPS provide you with effective mentors Harry? Do you think Rhee's teacher bashing and constant comments about incompetent DCPS teachers affect the morale of teachers at your school? Could this have played a role in your school's ability to work together? Has Rhee been a supporter of your non-supportive administration?

What can DCPS do differently to support new teachers and create a non-hater environment?

I agree that there is a lot of hatin' going on, but how do we change it? I think it starts at the top. Leaders need to foster an enviornment not based in fear, but in working together and team building.

This is not happening in many DCPS schools and it is not the message coming from central office.

I hope you get more support at your new school. Good luck!

meaningful change said...

Like others have said I wish you the best at your new school.

While you make some good points in your post, you also do a lot of finger pointing and grouping people with criticism of Rhee as "haters" which is not fair.

One person mistakenly accuses you of joining Dee and others of quitting DCPS and you lump this sarcastic comment as part of the Rhee's haters.

I am really getting tired of all of this blaming and that is on both sides.

But if I remember correctly this "hatin" came in full swing when Rhee started traveling the country mocking and trashing teachers with her anecdotal stories.

In speeches and countless interviews she made it sound like DCPS teachers were mostly a complete joke and full of people who pass out word searches to their students while they take naps and talk on their cell phones.

I truly believe that one of the first things that need to happen to improve DCPS is for the stereotypes to stop and that does start at the top.

Mr. Potter said...

Meaningful Change,

I didn't mention anything about Rhee in my post, or people who dislike her. I was responding to people who seem to take joy in the idea that new teachers might quit. These people could be anti-Rhee, pro-Rhee, or neutral for all I know (or care).

Anonymous said...

I'm a veteran teacher and a frequent reader of all the DC teacher blogs I can find. I'm just glad that Harry, Dee and DC teacher chic are still in DCPS. Last year was the absolute worst and hopefully this year will be better. Hope all of you out there in DCPS land have a great school year, stay positive and focus on what's important, the children. the rest doesn't matter or will fall into place.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of my first year teaching in New York City. I was not part of any program and just sold myself to schools. Three quarters of the way through the year I found myself at dinner with a veteran public school teacher and administrator. She asked me if I was using all of these different methods that I had never heard of. By the time our meal ended I felt like crap.

I had multiple moments like that when dealing with members of the public school in New York, including union members pestering me to openly defy my principal. I was so happy I eventually moved to a charter school.

I now live in DC and hope that Rhee's "teacher bashing" (which I guess means getting paid a lot more money) keeps going. If I weren't heading to grad school I may even want to be bashed.

meaningful change said...


I apologize for being mistaken in my comment. Your correct, you did not use the term "Rhee haters." I guess when you talked about 'haters' I assumed you were talking also about those critical of Rhee.

That being said, I do stand by the other parts of my post especially how the teacher bashing by Rhee has tanked staff morale.

Whether someone is brand new or been in the system for twenty years, we all need to respect and help one another. It is difficult for this to happen in the 'high stakes' blame environment that Rhee seems to be leading the charge in.

Reading the District said...

i'm also glad you're in DCPS, Harry. I went thru my own bout of "what-am-i-gonna-do"-itis, and am back at the old school i started in. i'm not so keen on it, but the year should be a good one.

here's to more blogging on the ups and downs!

Anonymous said...

Harry, I'm a big fan and I am so happy to know you're still in the system. We need you here! Have a great first day!

Anonymous said...


How are things at your new school? Please post! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Harry, post about the big fat retro check!! Something, anything!!

Anonymous said...

I retired after nearly 40 years teaching at a community college. I experienced many of the problems ths blogger has written about.

In my case at least I feel sure that the problem lies in the fact that administrators are reinforced for behaviors which CONFLICT with teachers' goals:

Admins get "points" for increasing enrollments AND graduation rates. Thus they discourage teachers from maintaining academic standards (by giving low, and perhaps failing, grades, or increasing work-loads, if students complain.

And of course the admins have the power to make teachers' working conditions (including schedules and salaries) more or less pleasant when the teachers help admins accomplish THEIR goals, so ...

Anonymous said...

If you have a math degree, why not look for a better job?
I refuse to believe that you actually LIKE your job. Teaching sucks. Teaching in an urban school suck just as much as in a suburban school. I know because I've done both for a decade.

Anonymous said...

Hello... anyone there?

DCPS Parent said...

Sorry to see that you haven't resumed posting. Would you be willing to share some teacher blogs that you are reading? Many that are listed to the left are no longer active.

makawish2day said...

Hello, I am new to your blog but a vet to the content----I have a background in afterschool program administration and I am a very hands on parent. My comment is to the positivity of the spirit of teachers like you who seek to "help". I will say on behalf of all PARENTS that education begins at home from birth and with what DCPS teachers are working with is short on those aspects of education----the statistics speak for themselves---until each individual understands the power in an informal education linking to the formality of being educated---you will stand at fault. Just know, that this PARENT understands and salutes you for taking time with children whose own parents would choose to send them to school over a home education for their own peace of mind. HATS OFF-----Sacred(Synchronized) Energy Leveraging Fulfillment. LIVE HERE

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