Wednesday, November 12, 2014

An open dialogue where we sit silently and get blamed

Our principal asked to meet with each of our departments so we could have a “dialogue” about what’s going on at our school.  (If you need some background, check out my previous posts.) I don’t know exactly what she expected to happen.  Maybe we’d all pour out our hearts and come to a deeper understanding of how at fault we, as teachers, are for the problems the school is facing?

Our first meeting got canceled, because she had to go to another meeting.  I can’t imagine why the other meeting would be more important.  If I was told I had to go to an emergency meeting, I might say, “My staff is mutinous, and unless I want more of them to walk and cause me to spend the entire second semester scrambling to fill teaching slots, I need to calm them down.”  Instead, she blew us off because she had a "highly important meeting" with the superintendent.  I guess I can assume our meeting wasn't "highly important."

Our department meeting was combined with two other departments.  The  mood was not a joyous one, as school was just over.  Most of us had to pee, some had students waiting on them, and everyone had grading to do. 

Is it a bad sign if your leader sits down and says, “Okay, we’re all here.  Let’s talk.  What’s on your mind?  Anyone have something to say?”  Maybe it’s just a personal issue, but I’m always looking for that meeting agenda first, then donuts.  Neither one of those were there.

I don’t want to seem critical, but in case you couldn't tell, I am.  Who the hell is going to air their grievances in front of 40 other teachers?  Why would you want to?  Nothing gets fixed, and you’re automatically seen as a whiner, or singled out as a potential problem. 

That was especially true for us.  Our principal is a genius.  Rather than stroke and praise her staff to win them over to her side, since we obviously DON’T trust her and are tense, she managed to turn everything back onto us.  We don’t understand how much the administration has to do.  Our expectations of action are too high, given that there are only nine of them.  It takes a village to run this school, and how many of us are volunteering to help out?  Teachers are afraid of the kids?  That’s ridiculous!  WE are causing the problems by being rude to the kids!

I think I speak for all of us present when I say I left with a renewed commitment to try harder, volunteer more of my free time and take every opportunity to show the kids how much I care about them.

But first I went to the bathroom, where I carved, “this school sucks” into the stall door.