Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Long and Winding Road

Yes, a Beatles reference.  Get ready, there will probably be more of them.

I've been trying to write this post for over a month, and I am still struggling with it today.  I don't know why, it's just hard.  I wasn't sure if I should just "Let it Be", but I need to get this off my chest.

So, the last few weeks of school were ridiculous.  Between ALL THE DATA the school requires (ya know, since they're a data driven school), the constant unorganization from the administration, and complete chaos going on around me, I was looking forward to summer so much.  My first year of teaching was almost under my belt, and I was so excited to once again start exercising and continue loosing weight.

School was out on Thursday, June 7th.  We had to come back on Friday, the 8th for our grade level district meetings.  We were going to plan out the next year.  Usually there are 7 people in our meeting.  Two for each 3rd grade class, and our Team Leader.  However, that day, there was an extra person in the room.  A lady who had been a Teacher in Training, hoping to acquire a job for the upcoming year.  I thought it was odd that she was there, but went with it.

The next Monday we had to go back to school for our contract resigning/evaluations.  They are an "at will" employer, so you resign each year.  Administration had set the times for us, and when I saw it the week earlier, I found it fishy that I was the last person to have my evaluation.  To be honest, I had this nagging feeling that wouldn't go away.

But let me go back for a moment.  A lady that works there, we'll call her S, decided she didn't like me, and to this day I have no idea why.  Unfortunately, S is the LAST PERSON you want not liking you.  Word is that administration doesn't like her, and has been trying to fire her.  I don't understand why that is something they're TRYING to do.  If it's an "at will" employer they should be able to can her if they like.  However, they keep her because they like how she disciplines the students who cause problems.  She puts the fear of God into them, and I'm not kidding.  She scares me, and I personally don't like how she disciplines, but I never vocalized this.  She's "Mean Mrs. Mustard" to the Beatles "Mean Mr. Mustard"!

One of our after school responsibilities is to teach an extended day class.  I was given those who needed help with their reading fluency.  Probably the most difficult class to do after school because you have to help one student at a time and keep the others reading.

I struggled with this in the beginning of the year, and I went to Administration and asked for tips on how to do it successfully.  No one ever came in to demonstrate and I finally figured out a way that worked for the class and never heard that I was doing anything wrong.

There are also cameras EVERYWHERE at that school.  The only places they can't be found are in the bathrooms....and I'm not kidding.  And Administration will watch each classroom at random to make sure the teacher is doing what they should be doing.  Well, since a teacher can't be 100% AT ALL TIMES, it's inevitable that Admin will catch you at about 80-90%, which happened to me in November.  I was called in and asked the watch the video and discover what I could have done better.  I was devistated, but I watched the video at home, and they were was bad.  After talking again with Admin, I NEVER HEARD ABOUT THIS AGAIN.  We have Academic Coaches that randomly come in during Reading and Math groups to evaluate us, and my evaluations were always great.

So now we're back to Monday.  You can probably guess where this is going, but the story gets better and better.  It was time for my evaluation/resigning when I saw S walk into the office with Admin.  The moment I sat down, I knew exactly what was happening, and I couldn't believe it. 

SAY WHAT?  I couldn't speak.  I was simply trying not to cry.  I was told that after having several demonstrations on how to improve teaching reading fluency (which is an absolute one ever came in to demonstrate), I hadn't improved in that area.  I was also told that my attitude was a problem.  This was brand new to me.  After the discussion in November, no one said another word about it; leaving me to believe I was doing great.  I didn't say a word back to them, I just got up and left.

I had to go talk to the nice lady in HR and turn over my Macintosh (which was the saddest part about being fired...not re-hired, whatever!)  She took my key, and then I realized that I still had personal stuff in what was my room.  She had to follow me to the room, and I suddenly felt like a criminal the way I was being followed around.  I left a lot of teaching stuff there, and later told the other 3rd grade teacher to get her butt in there and take it all for herself! 

I left and broke down into tears.  WHAT IN THE WORLD HAD JUST HAPPENED?  I felt like I was on Survivor and had just been blindsided during a Tribal Council meeting!  Was Jeff Probst (host of Survivor) going to show up and officially take away my fire?

I went to lunch since I didn't feel like going home, and the word began to spread.  I wasn't the only stunned person.  And then I started to get mad....very mad.  Admin knew weeks ago that they weren't going to re-hire me.  Why didn't they talk to me sooner?  I could've been looking for work WEEKS ago while there were still teaching jobs open for the next year.

S SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN IN THAT MEETING....PERIOD.  I think she was there because she didn't like me and in case I decided to ask questions or get upset she would probably have butt in.  S is not an official part of administration.  Her presence there was to intimidate me, which it ALWAYS has.

I just keep thinking about what I did that made them feel that I wasn't the right fit for their school.  Like I mentioned earlier, all of my academic coach reviews had been fantastic, no one from Admin ever came to talk to me, nothing.  And this school is so big on wanting their teachers and students to succeed.  What a bunch of garbage.  They failed with me BIG TIME.  I wasn't given the opportunity to know that my job was in jeopardy, so how could I have fixed anything?  It also now made sense why there was an extra person at our district meeting; the new lady was going to take my place.  How nice of them.

And if being fired wasn't bad enough, salt was then poured on the wound.  I had called the HR department back to ask about my final check and insurance (yep, I'm no longer insured) when I was asked if I would like the Director (who wasn't the person to officially fire me) to write me a letter of recommendation.  Huh?  Sure, why not.

Then I got the letter.  Here are parts of it:

"I am delighted to write a letter of recommendation for Wendy Toale.  We have been pleased with her job performance and consider her a capable teacher and contributor to our school.........
"Wendy is an excellent classroom manager as well.  her students understand the clear expectations she outlines, and they rise to meet them.  Positive reinforcement is also used in her classroom, and its effect is that her classroom is one where learning is always taking place....
"I consider her an excellent candidate for employment."

Is your jaw hitting the floor the way mine still does when I read this?  It's a great letter, but if you liked me so much, WHY DID YOU JUST FIRE ME?!?  Is it just me, or does this seem like a very hypocritical letter?

This has really shaken me up.  I have lost all confidence in what I spent the past 12 years of my life working so hard to accomplish.  And I've even began doubting if I really want to do this.  Somedays I feel like the guy on the left, other days the guy on the right.

I know that everything happens for a reason, but come on!  The more I thought about it the more I realized that it's OK that I don't work there anymore.  This charter school is a lot of talk, and not a lot of action.  The biggest bummer is that Brandon was going to attend Kindergarten there in the fall, and I wouldn't have to pay daycare anymore because it's full day Kindergarten there.  Well, now we'll have to pay some sort of daycare again.  Oh well.

Needless to say, my summer has sucked.  I have no motivation to exercise and loose weight, and now I'm once again on the hunt for a job.  I'm considering just subbing again.  A LOT LESS STRESS, and work.  I won't have insurance, or get paid through the summer, but I can leave the crap at the school at the end of the day.

I'm also considering writing the Director a nicely written letter about how they could've handled the situation better.  I don't mind being's the way I was fired that chops my hide and makes me want to throw up.

Oh well, what do the Beatles say:   Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da, life goes on!

I get by with a little help from my friends!


Not a Beatles song, but still fun!

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