Monday, June 6, 2016

Don't say "cheese!"

“How are we going to handle picture day?”

“Excuse me, what?”  That was my response to the above question.  How the heck should I know?  I was in the teacher’s lounge, trying to make copies without being bothered by an administrator who apparently doesn’t know how to do her job because she’s now asking me about it.

But Ms. Lear must have felt that the time was ripe to ask me this question, and to inform me, “You’re the yearbook teacher.  The yearbook teacher always handles picture day.”

This conversation occurred on the second day of school.  Students and teachers alike were already rattled by the smooth efficiency of TCS, which meant that classes ran like soccer riots.  Students were still wandering in and out of classes, trying to figure out their schedule, how to open their lockers, and find the bathrooms.  I hate to say it, but after just learning I had to take on an extra 15 students in my classes that were supposed to be capped at 20, this new nugget of information felt more like she’d just handed me a big steaming load.  Which she did.

“Okay, see, I wasn’t the yearbook teacher here LAST YEAR, so I WOULDN’T HAVE KNOWN THAT,” I responded, speaking slowly and emphasizing the important words.  “So even though I WISH SOMEONE had TOLD ME THIS A MONTH AGO, can you NOW tell me who I need to TALK TO so I can GET IT TAKEN CARE OF?”

I had to make a few phone calls, but finally, I got the day and time set up (in 3 weeks) and even worked out the order in which the classes would come in to get photographed.  I patted myself on the back for being so professional and handling it so well, despite the administration’s talent at dropping the ball.

Then picture day came.

Here’s the problem with picture day – you need an administrator to oversee it.  The problems that result will need to be handled by the big guys, not just a teacher.   But our administrators were wimps who wanted to hand off the huge tasks to a sucker. 

Yes, we did have students trying to flip off the camera, wear something inappropriate, or just refuse to sit for the shot.  We had some that took the photos as an opportunity to ditch class, as the teacher was momentarily distracted.  But luckily I had my entire yearbook class on hand to herd everyone into the line, check off names and run interference if someone was missing.  And if someone WAS missing, they were quick to point that out.   Yearbook students are generally great.

But teachers, other teachers, just suck on picture day.

I can’t tell you how many teachers I had to grab by the arm and pull down to the photo setup.  If you think students are unreasonable, grown-up teachers are even more so.

“I HATE having my photo taken!”

“I’m busy right now, and I have to get these tests graded.”

“I’ll come by later.”

“Why can’t you stay with my class instead of me hanging around?”
I grew a bit short-tempered, as you can imagine.  My requests went from, “Can you please come as soon as possible so we can get this done?” to “I really don’t care.  I’m on a deadline, with the administration breathing down my neck, so get your butt in here, because I also have other things to do than chase you down like a bratty teenager.”

That teenager line tended to do the trick. 

One teacher absolutely refused to come in, even though we needed all the staff photos for the yearbook.  I sent the principal in after him.  He stomped in with the principal, complaining, “I can’t believe you told him I wouldn’t come!  I said I was busy!”

I calmly said, “Yes, Mr. Horton, we're all busy.  Especially the principal, wouldn't you agree?  I'm sure he has better things to take care of than tracking down the one teacher who doesn't want to have his photo taken.”  The principal just stared at him silently while Mr. Horton mumbled an apology. 

On the minus side, people were less friendly to me after that.  On the plus side, I got fewer requests to “just make a few copies for me while you’re in the copy room.”  But the biggest plus was that I got to choose which staff photos would be in the book.  Sorry you had one eye closed, Mr. Horton.