I don’t get angry easily. People tell me I am laid back almost to the point of napping. But my family can tell you that when I get quiet, you might want to back off. I try not to write when I am angry. There is almost no way to keep the anger out of the text and thereby say something in anger that cooler heads might’ve looked past.
That having been said, I am angry. There are things you just don’t do to people you work with and hope to continue working with. One thing you do not do is put them in a position to compromise them as a professional. At least you don’t do that if you value them as a professional. If you don’t care about them one way or the other, I suppose some people might dismiss their core principles as being unimportant, though I would hope that in my career I have never been guilty of having done that to a colleague.
Since I have been in TUSD I have focused much of my energies on what I see as our worst problem: lack of communication. I get in trouble all the time for sending emails that go out like the blast of a shotgun — everyone I think should be hit with the email gets a copy. I try to make sure that I have left no one out of the loop. I apologize if I bother people but I am adamant that communication within TUSD must improve.
One form of communication endemic to all teachers is the infamous lesson plan. Now I will readily attest that what I write as a lesson plan does not resemble the pages long product that I used to turn out in my younger days. But I try to write on a need-to-know basis and I would no more send a substitute into my class without a lesson plan than I would go outdoors without pants and believe me when I say, I never go outdoors without pants!
If my lesson plans are Spartan in their occurrence my wife’s are the polar opposite. Over the years she has felt compelled to reproduce all of her vast knowledge about children and ther educational development into voluminous lesson plans that outline not only the what, but the why and wherefore of each individual lesson. I can only watch in wonder as she fashions exhaustive daily guidelines that leave little or nothing to chance.
With a teacher like that there is one cardinal principle you do not ignore: Never leave them without enough time to prepare. The other less well known but nearly as equally to be avoided principle is don’t call a teacher on the day before they return to work from a much deserved break and tell them that they won’t be in class for the next week.
My wife was on the verge of tears this morning at the news that she needed to prepare for a sub tomorrow. I said to her, “Honey, you left plans. “I know I did,” she responded, “But I wasn’t planning on having a substitute.” Besides which, she continued, much of the work she was planning for her kids to do was here at home, she had, of course, been working on getting it to get it ready over the break (what else do teachers do when faced with free time?). Should she take it to school? Should she rewrite her plans (not a simple task) to make them more substitute friendly? Who was her sub? When my wife knows she is to be absent she usually tries to get someone she knows who understands how she works.
I could only watch in mute frustration as she agonized over these decisions knowing there was little or nothing I could do to alleviate her anxiety. Meanwhile I have to spend my last day of break in frustration over yet one more example of the total ineptitude of the people in my district when it comes to communicating effectively with each other.