Friday, June 10, 2011

All Work and Little Play

I hate to get on here and just whinge (love that word--thanks, Bonbon!), but I just have to for a few self-indulgent moments. If I can't tell random strangers in cyberspace my problems, who can I tell them to?

My job. I work for one of the most backward school districts in the country. They are laying off and displacing people left and right. The position I held this year (testing coordinator) was officially cut from the budget, but my school was offering to keep it around half time. That's just too much work for me to teach three classes and coordinate all those tests. So, I had considered applying for the magnet school coordinator job. This is like a prinicipal of a smaller school within the larger comprehensive high school. We had a really great coordinator who left because the district said they were cutting all magnet coordinators. A week ago, they decided to bring the positions back, but our coordinator had taken another job.

So, many people came to me and suggested I would be a good coordinator. The principal had even asked me fill in this vacated spot for the rest of the year (for no extra pay, mind you). But the politics of the job, the fact that one of my friends also wanted to apply for the position, and the fact that the job could be cut again next year made me decide to return to the classroom full time.

So, for the 2011-2012 school year, I will teach English full time again. Good news--I get to teach AP Language and have been invited to be part of a media academy. This will give me higher level students, which is always nice. I will get to hang out with teenagers again. (For some people, this would be a nightmare, but I actually love them). I can go in my classroom and do my thing without having to get as involved in the nitpicky school politics. Bad news: I could have nearly 50 students in each of my five classes. I will have enormous amounts of papers to grade. My best school friend and nextdoor classroom neighbor is getting displaced, and the admin is partially blaming me--even though it's not really my fault.

And now, after I've decided not to apply for the magnet coordinator, magnet teachers keep approaching me with the same "Oh, that's too bad! You would've been so good!" This doesn't help, as it makes me wonder if I made the right decision. After looking around, I don't know if upper school management is the place I want to be. My friends are all teachers--I want to be with them. I would've had to do supervision before and after school, and at lunch and nutrition. I would have to deal with demanding parents. I can do all this, but I've noticed that people treat you like you're a failure if you return to the classroom. Five years ago, there's no way in hell I would've even considered being a principal. Then, I got tired of the classroom and wanted out. I did a year of out-of-the-classroom work as testing coordinator, and I didn't like it. Sure, I think I'd be a good magnet coordinator, too, but with all the uncertainty in the school and district, I wanted something safe and familiar again. And I've started questioning my true interests (or lack of interest) in being an administrator.

So, have I failed if I go back to the classroom? I don't think so. I missed it when I was gone. Last night, my former students who are now seniors gave me hugs, thanked me, wanted to take pictures with me. No one does that with the testing coordinator. Testing coordinators don't change lives. I'm not even sure principals do. Teaching is hard but meaningful work, and if people want to look down on me for going back to the classroom, so be it. Did I make the right decision to go back? I don't know. But, I do know that in a year, I'll probably still have a job as a teacher. As magnet coordinator? Well, that's unclear. I guess I'll find out.

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