Thursday, May 14, 2015

When inspiration hits, it generally leaves a big mark.

Mr. Fleet came by today, interrupting my class because that’s what good administrators do – they come into a teacher’s class in the middle of the lesson to “talk.”

My mistake was that I thought it was serious.  Why else would he come in during instruction?  He doesn’t answer emails or talk to me otherwise. 

“So,” he began, “Ms. Gibbons would like a newsletter…”

I looked at him blankly. “A newsletter?” 

“She’s thinking one that could go out each month,” he continued.

“For what?” I asked.  I couldn’t figure out how I played into this scenario.

“For the parents.”

Because…?  “Don’t we already have a parent newsletter and email and phone call that goes out?”

“But this one would be done by the students.”

I still didn’t get it.  Why was he talking to me? “Okay…”

“She’d like your students to do it.”

I get that since I teach journalism-type classes, my students are the most likely to make it happen, but what do we need another newsletter for? Aren’t the massive amounts of communiques we send out each week enough?   It’s not just the paper copy of the email, but also the email itself, and then the phone call, reading what’s in the email – this is what the parents are subjected to each week, in the name of staying informed.  Why not just skywrite it, badly, and say the students did it?

He gives me a big smile.  “So which of your classes could we assign to it?” 

For a second, I stare up, looking at his hand on the doorframe, wondering what it would be like to suddenly slam the door shut on his fingers.  Then I look over my shoulder at the students who are staring at the two of us curiously.  I can’t believe he’s trying to add to my workload after he just added more last week. 

I turn back to him.  “This class, journalism,” I say flatly.

He seems surprised.  “You wouldn’t want yearbook to do it?”

Idiot, that class has a yearbook to make.  “No,” I reply.  “This is a writing class; it’s the best one for tackling a project like that.” 

He seems pleased.  “Okay.”  He turns to go, and then says, “You sure this might not be too much for you?”

Is it?  Of course it is.  But let’s face facts – this is a boneheaded idea that the principal came up with suddenly, and since she doesn’t live in reality, she wants to push it.  The other administrators are too cowed or ignorant to point out that we don’t need another newsletter.  But the biggest problem is that no one seems to think that a TEACHER should be TEACHING HER CLASS, not running the school’s publicity campaign.  That’s what a PR person is for.  If you want her to do PR, that’s what you should have hired her to do.

But apparently, teachers have tons of free time to fill.  Since the principal is good at delegating (evidenced by Mr. Fleet’s untimely visit), she’ll dump it on the journalism teacher.  Mr. Fleet will never check back to see if it gets done.  This way, he can say to Ms. Gibbons that yes, he took care of it, which he did, just by assigning it. 

I smile at him coolly.  “If it is, I’ll certainly let you know.”  I shut the door behind him.

“What was that about?” the students ask as I walk back up to the board. 

“Nothing,” I say. 

“No, really, miss…”

“Trust me,” I say flatly, “it really was nothing.”