Have You Ever Thought About What Makes You Crazy?
Here’s a fun list for you: Mrs. Mimi’s Top Five List of Events That Make Me Want To Poke Myself In The Eye and Run Screaming From the Building
5. When “special” teachers (phys ed, art, music, etc) are absent yet, despite the fact that said teacher has called in or requested the day in advance and therefore said teacher’s absence is known to everyone in the front office, you don’t find out until you are standing in front of their door with a line full of disappointed 7 year olds. How is this bit of information so difficult to communicate clearly and in a timely fashion? How easy would it be to remedy this problem that happens FAR TOO OFTEN?
4. When you have to submit a formal “request” for photocopies that includes the date, the number of copies, the reason for the request and a blood sample. Because, even though you have several advanced degrees and a general interest in the maintenance and well-being of the photocopier, you are not qualified to press it’s glorious buttons yourself? Or because budgets are tight and schools are forced to ration paper and you are not to be trusted in your paper consumption?
3. When push in/pull out support acts as if their schedule is optional or merely a suggestion despite the fact that I am busting my own balls to get everything in and plan around their ‘schedule’? Then they stand in your doorway with this far off look on their face and you are, you know, teaching and therefore unable to have a little chat about what to do now. (Note: Similar to the girl with a curl in the middle of her forehead, when pull out / push in services are good, they are very very good and when they are bad, they are horrid.)
2. When other adults in the school building are just outright nasty to children and hold them to an expectation that they themselves can not live up to? For example, those individuals who SCREAM at children to BE QUIET during a fire drill and then GO BACK TO THEIR OWN CONVERSATION?! Very do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do because I probably don’t do anything productive?
Drumroll, please, because we are ready for the number one event that makes me want to poke my eyes out and run screaming for the building! Can you stand the anticipation? What is she going to complain about next?!
1. When your moments of brilliance are thoughtlessly interrupted by a knock at the door, a ringing classroom phone, an unnecessary announcement over the intercom or someone ballsily (Can I petition to have “ballsily” added to the dictionary? I kind of love it.) walking into your room with some minor question/request/thought that could absolutely have been handled by a note in a mailbox or an email? You have no idea how many times I have wanted to simply punt Interrupters right back into the hallway without blinking an eye!
Some of you may know that I’ve started a Nerd Out book club in which, just about once a month, we choose an inspirational or practical book to read and reflect on in an effort to inspire ourselves (since no one else seems to want to do any inspiring around here these days…). This month we are reading Donalyn Miller’s book The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child. She writes,
“The greater issue of limiting classroom interruptions is a systemic one, but how to recoup lost time with students is within a teacher’s reach.”
And I began to wonder, how many other professional people are asked to regularly find way to recoup time lost to constant, thoughtless interruptions? How many times does someone walk brazenly into a board meeting at Businessy Business Headquarters and say, “Hey – I know you’re in the middle of something but did you get me that paper I asked you for? I haven’t checked my mailbox or email yet, in fact I have done nothing pro-active or thoughtful to deal with this, so I thought I’d just stick my head in here and interrupt you.” I’d venture that the answer is never. Or you do and your ass is fired.
How many other professionals are given a specific and fleeting amount of time to accomplish a gigantic goal and then have to deal with that time being treated disrespectfully?
How many other professionals are given just a few hours to solve the world’s problems (you know, because the world’s problems are the fault of teachers) and then told to solve those problems in a highly prescriptive way that comes with hours of additional paperwork that must be done outside of all those original hours?
Is the problem that people inside education but outside classrooms don’t understand how precious our time is or that they don’t see us as professionals?
Preach on! I totally agree about the copy thing. We can push the magic button, but you have to log in first, so Big Brother can monitor you. I hate the interruption of pull out. I am in the middle of a great lesson, and it's 1:20, so 1/3 of my students just walk out. Seriously annoying!
I guess it's that old addage: "Enjoy the time you have, for it is fleeting.
I want to try to provide some perspective on the pullout/inclusion schedule. It might still make you crazy, but maybe it will help you gain compassion and understanding for fellow teachers, who teach IEP or ELL students.
This year I provide inclusion and pullout services across 8 different classrooms, and 3 grade levels. Other years at has been more grade levels, and fewer classes, but it always means working with many teachers.
At the beginning of the year, I ask all teachers for their class schedules, and I workout draft schedules that reflect what is going on in the general education classes as much as I possibly can. For example, I pull a small group of 5th graders for math at 2:00, and that is also when I have scheduled the instructional assistant to provide inclusion support for math for those IEP students, who need modifications instead of replacement curriculum. Anyhow, I ask for feedback on draft schedules, and do my best to come up with something workable, and I maintain the schedule for the entire year. Sometimes unexpected events occur, which may cause disruptions to the schedule (kids having meltdowns,e.g.), or I need to talk with another service provider, who comes once a week. Those may make me a little later than my usual times, but they can't be helped.
If a g.e. teacher decides to teach math in the morning instead of the afternoon, I can't suddenly switch my schedule, because it effects 7 other classrooms. I can be flexible as far as special events, but I can't come back later because I am with another group. Nor is it reasonable to expect me to stand around waiting while a teacher finishes a lesson, because that is the time I am serving kids and I also need to get kids from other rooms.
I think it's not treating teachers like professionals that these interruptions are more, not less frequent in an age where so much non-essential stuff can be handled by email. It's less intrusive to require teachers to check email before and after school to the flow of a classroom. Even emergencies at some schools, details can be communicated by email to allow teachers to keep teaching while some ruckus is going on near campus. But some people don't think of their interruptions as interrupting the train of thought of 31 students + 1 teacher, or they think while students have pencils in hand, teachers "check out" and don't have to pay attention to them if they are behaving while they work.
Mrs E (in Texas)
I am so sorry your specials teachers are so inconsiderate. As an Art Teacher who only gets to see each of her students 6 times every 6 weeks I work very had to not miss a class. I missed two days last year(for State Art Educator conference), snd this year I missed one day for an out of town family wedding. I hope that will it be it for the year.
Why are they not held to the same level as a regular class room teacher in your district? Please know not all specials teachers are so flighty.
I experienced number 2 twice this week… an irritated librarian in the resource center who screamed at the kids the whole time they were there (not for anything they had actually done yet) and the super-strict lunch/recess supervisors who are hired for an hour a day and spend the entire hour snapping at children for dragging their jump ropes on the ground or sitting the wrong way at the lunch table. Ugh!
Love it. You always make me laugh because you SO get it.
Amen sister!!! The interruptions make me absolutely crazy.
I spent several years in the business world before becoming a teacher. It was the same there. "Important people" (aka, the boss, the principal, school board president, chairman of the board, superintendent, department head, etc) were not to be disturbed during meetings, lunch, phone calls, etc. Those lower down on the power structure were not so lucky.
It's not so much "they don't see us as professionals" as "they don't see us as important as they are." That's why, when you get a principal, or superintendent who understands your schedule and accommodates you, it's such an exciting occasion.
Second, I have never worked at any job (from retail sales to factory work, to selling peanuts at Wrigley Field) where schedules were defined more closely than in education. Our schedules for planning, bathrooming, lunching, teaching…are all timed to the minute (sometimes the second). If you're late to pick your kids up from Music you throw everyone else in the building off…if you go to lunch too early there's a chaotic logjam in the cafeteria. That's because, with a couple-three dozen children tagging along behind where ever you go, there's no opportunity for variation. You can't stop what you're doing with your kindergarten class just because the Superintendent wants to ask you where you got your cool sweater. Well…you can, but the results aren't usually conducive to good education. (Have we all had the parent who, as a busy, business executive, calls in the middle of your guided reading groups and expects you to be able to discuss why his child's homework took 20 minutes instead of 15?)
Finally, when you're working 11 hours a day just to keep your head above water, an interruption can mean the difference between getting to sleep at 11 and continuing to stress over all the work you have to get done till you fall asleep with your face on your plan book at 1.
They don't get it…
btw, I was a pull out teacher (reading specialist, Reading Recovery) for the last 19 of my 35 years. Hopefully I wasn't "horrid." As a matter of fact, that's what I do now as a volunteer…go to the classrooms, get kids, teach, bring them back. I'll make sure that I keep the classroom teachers apprised of the students' progress through email instead of just walking in and expecting an audience 🙂
Oh, you are so right! The interrupting thing used to drive me absolutely nutso! Drag me away from 25 kids just about to hit the roof with their craziness, and ask me for a report, right now, right at the crux of my lesson? And wonder why I don't get whatever you need right this minute, NOW?