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.
The Isolation of Being an ATR
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