Monday, January 2, 2017

I'm trying to keep the "pro" in "professional"

Remember that promotion that I was passed over for in the spring?  Yeah, so do I – STILL.  I’ve tried to put it behind me and reassure myself that it was all for the best and that maybe there were other factors that I’m not aware of.  I tried not to be upset about who eventually got the promotion and decided that it wouldn’t change the way I worked or acted.  I’m capable of still being as professional as I was before this.

Except that the person who got the promotion is clearly not capable of those same things.

Right now this teacher, whom I’ll call Usurper because she’s way newer to the school than I am, is in a snit over something and is refusing to speak to other members of our grade level team.  Even though we are all supposed to teach the same content, give the same tests, quizzes and assignments and grade on the same scale, she’s decided she’s not going to do any of those things. 

I probably wouldn’t care, except that it undermines the integrity of the team, and leads some parents to believe that certain teachers grade harder or easier than others.  Furthermore, since I’m available to help students during their study halls, I often work with kids in her classes.  It’s pretty clear they don’t understand the material, mostly because… she doesn’t.

I’ve never met an English teacher who seemed so willfully obtuse or unable to analyze literature.  My current theory is that she has a learning disability that she’s trying to hide by changing the way she grades.  I mean, how can you misinterpret “Invictus?”  Yes, that happened.  And she’s angry that we pointed it out to her after several students repeated back what she told them, and my fellow teachers and I had to correct them – and her.  I realize that literature can be interpreted many different ways, but not the ones we’re doing.

Appealing to our department head hasn’t helped.  Susan just tells us that Usurper is “a teacher in crisis” and that we need to allow her time and space to “find her way.”  Odd, because that’s not what she told the rest of us when we were hired.  But I felt like these feel good phrases begged some questions.

“Really?  What’s her crisis?” I asked.  “Family problems?”

“No,” Susan shook her head sympathetically.  “Part of her ceiling in her living room collapsed during the renovation.”

“So… is she homeless now?” I felt it was a legitimate question.  She did say it was a crisis.

Susan glared at me.  “Surely you can understand that that’s upsetting, trying to live in that situation.”

“Yes, and I’ve lived through things like that.  I thought it might be like when Adam’s father died last year,” I said, referring to the other teacher Usurper won’t speak to, and is trashing to other members of the team.  “To me, that seems more like a crisis that would shake someone’s world, rather than a renovation inconvenience.”

She sniffed.  “Well, we all handle things differently.”

Apparently, we do.  Seems to me Usurper and Susan handle things badly.  And I guess there are many different ways to interpret the word “professionalism.”