Saturday, May 26, 2012

Well, It's Goodbye & Good Riddance To A Terrible School. It Now Looks Like I Will Be Back Into The ATR Pool For Next Year.

Last week I decided that the school that I am in as a provisional appointee is not a "good fit" and since the school is a likely "turnaround school" and will see an influx of clueless "newbie teachers"  along with some very outrageous teacher requirements next year (Saturday classes for one and imposed requirements for a teacher's prep and professional periods for another), all I see is even more stress and chaos then currently exists that has made my teaching at this school quite stressful and unrewarding.  Therefore, I expect that I will be rejoining the ATR ranks for the 2012-2013 school year.  I really do hope I land another teaching position either over the summer or in the beginning of the school year.  However, considering what I have going against me, it appears highly unlikely that I will be offered a position unless there is nobody else available like my last school and even them it took this school almost four months to offer me the position while the class had a substitute who had no certification in the field and as a result the students were academically behind. .

Why would a school not offer a "great teacher" a position?  Easy, when the "great teacher" is over 50, makes a high salary, and has a phony discipline flag on his file.  While, I cannot tell you the average age of ATRs are, the DOE told reporters that the average ATR salary is $82,420 annually.  Simple math tells you that the average ATR has 15+ years experience and the average age is probably in the 50s.  I meet all that criteria, unfortunately.

My decision to leave the "D" rated school ( it should be a "F" rated school as my friend the "Traveling ATR" quite actually described it) is really very easy.  First, the school student discipline policy is chaotic at best and non-existent .at its worst..  The Principal allows the students to run the school and many of them walk the halls cursing and disrespecting the teachers with no consequences for their actions.. Numerous times I heard students, even girls,  tell teachers to "suck my d-ck" with no consequences for what they said.  While the Deans try their best, the tone set by the Administration makes effective student discipline impossible. Moreover, the school allows the students to enter into the classroom whenever they feel like and teachers are reprimanded by the Administration if they lock their doors and refuse the students entry.  Second, the Administration looks the other way when students use their cell phones and ipods in school but will berate teachers for not taking action against the very same students who are observed using them in the classroom.  How can teachers enforce the rules when the Administration allows students to do as they please in the school?  Third, the teachers are required to bring their own copying paper if they are to distribute information to their students.  Even scantrons are hoarded and I had to "beg, borrow, and steal" them from other teachers who had accumulated a stash of them.  Fourth, the Administration blames the teacher when students are truant.  The Administration, time and again, would instruct teachers to repeatedly contact parents of truants as if it is our fault that the truants don't show up.  Even the guidance counselors would ask what have you done to get the truants to show up?   the real question is what have they and the Administration done to get the truants to show up and not blame the teachers.  Finally, I have a team teaching class with twelve of my thirty-two students who have an IEP, yet during my entire time at the school I never had a special education teacher, or any teacher for that matter, with me.  Yet the Administration blames me for not  providing these twelve students with the special education services that they needed.

I should also like to point out that I was never given a closet, locked or otherwise,a desk, or space to put my school and personal items in. The school never even gave me a rolling cart to move my stuff from the four different rooms and two different floors where my classes were held! The lack of simple professional curtsey by the school to my needs is disgusting.  Many days I had to truly "wing it" and had to employ my full complement of teaching skills to compensate for the lack of resources and to keep students engaged and interested.   This made teaching stressful and the classroom environment was terrible.  Do you still want to know why I am leaving?

I must admit, I love teaching and most of my students are good kids who actually thrived under my guidance and I will miss them but it is the minority of disruptive students that destroys the classroom environment that is the major problem. Yet the student behavior issue is ignored by the school Administration that is quick to blame the teacher but looks the other way when it comes to the behaviorally challenged  students in the classroom.  I can only hope that the next school that I teach in has a consistent and enforceable student discipline policy and respect their teaching staff.

"Great teachers" can only be great when the school Administration supports their teaching staff not work against them as what is happening in the school I am in now. It is "goodbye and good riddance" to a terrible school environment.

12 comments:

Invictus said...

While being untied from the moorings of a permanent position might be somewhat disappointing in the light of the accusations and the comments your supervisors made, I say it was the best outcome for you.

The worst thing you wish upon a suffering teacher it to be stuck in a badly managed building where administration blames everything that goes bad in the building, from roaches to ranting children on a teacher without "classroom management" with the wrong attitude.

What little is being heard from turnaround schools is really discouraging, especially when you hear about educators who spent their entire lives trying to eek out knowledge and dedication from students whose parents or the system has simply abandoned.

The litany of U rates is truly frightful and once these teachers are dumped to the ATR pool, unlike others whose schools have been phased out, they will have the scarlet letter of U forever emblazoned in their heads. While there might be administrations that are willing to take a gamble on these teachers who were escape goated, many will simply be passed around like expired milk.

I truly believe that you will find a decent place to work on. Veteran teachers with decent experience will be difficult to find soon and they will be clamoring for your expertise....as I have heard from a fellow teacher who has 20 years in the system and he is being called to a small school with a rookie staff with terrible regents results.

Chaz said...

Invictus:

To the best of my knowledge I will be getting a "Satisfactory". Maybe not after my post. However, you are right about the teacher morale at "turnaround schools". It is like a morgue and even the students can feel it.


Bt the way the discipline flag is the Scarlet letter.

Rod said...

Does a buyout figure in, if you have to be in the ATR pool for one year to qualify for it? If you are eligible would you consider it?

Anonymous said...

I also teach at a dead school walking, aka "turnaround" and have faced all the same experiences (except the copy paper). I do however have a place to keep my personal stuff. When the door fell off I was told it was "impossible" to fix it. Yes, that's right, we can put men on the moon and sequence DNA but it's impossible to fix a door.

I'm also close to 50 and have 18 years on the job. June 1 is almost here and I still can't decide to reapply at the hell hole I'm in, try at one of the other hell holes or take my chances in the ATR pool. I'm the bread winner in my family so the choice is even more difficult. Bloomberg, Walcot, Duncan and Obama have no idea how they have screwed decent working class people who just want to pay their bills and care very, very much for other people's kids and society in general.

Chaz said...

Rod:

I have no intention of leaving the system. Plus I do not meet the one year ATR criteria since I am in a position presently.

Anon:

I am sure you are correct about the other turnaround schools. However, I really believe the school I am in has something very wrong with it and I do not want to teach there.

Maybe the incoming freshman class will be better, I doubt it, but I teach the sophomores, juniors, and seniors and nothing is going to change their behavior.

Anonymous said...

I haven't heard the particulars of the buyout. But are you saying if an ATR took a position that was, let's say to fill a vacancy, they will NOT be eligible for the buyout??
What are the requirements??

As for the way the administration treated you, was this before or after the recent published reports? Because I wouldn't be surprised if Walcott himself directed the principal to do this. EdNotes published a story on how an ATR was observed on a Monday--20 minutes into being in a new school---and the following Monday the (ATR) principal followed her to her new school demanding she sign the U-rated observation. Thankfully she was smart enough to find the union rep who helped her face off with this bastard. (I doubt any of this would matter to Mulgrew.)

TeachmyclassMrMayor said...

WOW! Anonymous, if I didn't know I had not wrote what you said, I would have sworn I wrote it. I work in the same situation. I have not spoken to these people directly, but everyone that does speak to some of the people in the other "turnaround" schools are not nearly as miserable as those in the school I work in. I have applied to a bunch of the other turnaround schools, and will probably apply to my own school, but I will not do so until the last moment, I can. I do not trust the empty suit running the building to not spend the next two weeks trying to harass me. Not that she necessarily will, but why chance it.

And by the way, the number of kids applying to go to the school building I work in, at least according to what I was told is WAY DOWN. I do not know what will happen next year, or even if the UFT wins the law suit, but since the union allowed the city to destroy seniority transfers, but I have to admit a certain amount of uneasiness heading into the summer.

curb your education said...

Your comment that a that a teacher can only be great with a supportive administration is ridiculous! so if you have a supportive administration all teachers should be great? We all know that son the case..... When teachers start holding each other accountable the quality of teaching will improve. Worry about what YOU can control Chaz. There will always be bad administrators....

Chaz said...

Anon 12:10

If you were sent to a school to fill a position, even on a provisional basis, you will not be eligible for a buyout. Only those ATRs who have been an ATR for a full year will be eligible.

Curb your education:

I believe you misunderstood my statement about "great teachers". It is very difficult to be a "great teacher" if you do not have a supportive Administration not that supportive Administration makes great teachers.

Pissed Off said...

Chaz, you really are one of the great ones. The system doesn't appreciate or want good teachers like you. Stick with. Don't back down.

Invictus said...

The talk of buy out in itself shows a sort of desperation the rapidly ending Bloomberg administration is showing when it comes to curbing down the Union. They got rid of seniority based transfers. They supposedly are expediting investigations and have dismantled the Rubber Rooms. They have gotten Little Andy boy in Albany to pressure NYS teacher's unions through a stick and stick teacher accountability system. The UFT and Mulgrew in their infinite 'wisdom' have decided to call in arbitrators. There is massive violations of labor contracts left and right, the DoE decides to go ahead and shutter 24 schools on whim going against the constructed grading system they have used to thoroughly in order to phased out or close schools before.

And, how you called it, The Mayor's Poodle attempts to work out a miserable buy out in order to run off ATRs who have been unemployed continuously for 1 year or longer?

Obviously the buyout will be voluntary and you can bet it will be so insulting that unless you have in the threshold of retirement from the beginning, hardly anyone will take it.

So, there is goes. Bring it on. The Union is not going to sign anything in paper until a new mayor comes to power.

They might attempt to pack the ATR rolls but they might go back up to 2,000 as it was around 1900+ this time around... so, it has gone down to 800+, even if these turn around schools will attempt to expedite elimination through fabricated U ratings, they might be force to take many teachers back.

I say, good luck Bloomberg, The Poodle Walcott and all the suits in the PEP. It seems to me that your time is running out. Watch you back as you walk out.

Anonymous said...

So a teacher with 1 year left that took a position is basically being punished for taking on that tremendous responsibility???

Honestly, that's disgusting and I am surprised the UFT is not demanding those closer to retirement get first dibs whether they had a position or not. My former reading teacher is an ATR and turned down positions that our principal tried to get for her because she didn't want the pressures of having a whole class after so many years of working with small groups. Now she will be eligible for retirement.
Yet the person who really wanted a class, worked their asses off and is a year away from retirement will have to suffer another year as an ATR?? Mr. Mulgrew!!! Do something!!!!