Friday, October 10, 2008

Here's What I'm Doing Right Now. . . (updated!)

...Sitting in an empty classroom. I kind of like sitting in an empty room. It's really quiet. But I'm supposed to be sitting in a room of 22 students. I'm not sure the students know that, though.

I took last Friday and this Monday off to go visit my family in Arkansas. I won't get to travel for much longer, and I wanted to see everyone again before my new baby boy arrives (he's due in January). So we finally found a decent fare and off we went. We had a fantastic time.

I get back to work on Tuesday, having no idea what wonders were awaiting me. I will have to give you some background.

At the end of last school year, the English Department at my school was short three teachers. One teacher retired, one found a much better job, and one is on long-term leave after a car accident.

Our enrollment for this school year is up, so we have a lot of students sitting in empty classrooms. CPS won't hire more teachers until it has determined that the numbers of enrolled students justifies it. So for the past six weeks, teachers have been covering classes without pay. And if no teacher volunteered (and I use the word "volunteered" sarcastically) to cover a class, there was no teacher in the classroom at all. Just a few kids sitting by themselves.

CPS conducted an attendance audit a couple of weeks ago -- meaning someone from downtown came to our school and helped count each student. This gave us the impression that we would be hiring more teachers.

But apparently Arne Duncan (CPS's Chief Educational Officer) is mad at my school. Someone anonymously emailed him to complain that there were not enough teachers, and that teachers were being forced to cover classes during their lunch periods without pay. The emailer then asked why Arne didn't care about the teachers or students at my school.

My principal was notified of the email, and she is now saying that we were given permission to hire more teachers, but as a result of this email, Arne is mad and has pulled those positions.

Which makes absolutely no sense. I think it is much safer to assume that she is mad and wants to know who sent the email. Since she doesn't know, she is going to take care of things her own way.

I got to work on Tuesday to find out that all of my classes have been dissolved. I was teaching freshmen reading, which is not required for graduation. It was just a supplemental class to help those students who needed extra work in reading and writing.

In each class on Tuesday, all day long, the programmer's assistant came into my classes and gave the kids their new schedules. Which resulted in their being crazier than ever. I kept asking the assistant when I would get my new schedule, but he said he didn't know.

At the end of the day, I went to the programmer and asked if I had a new schedule. He gave

As we can't hire more teachers, I have to be moved into classes that are required for graduation. I'm now teaching one section of freshmen English and four sections of junior English.

The freshmen class I now have has been covered by a Spanish teacher. Three of my junior classes were being covered by other teachers, but my 8th period class has never had a teacher. Or a sub. Just kids sitting by themselves for six weeks. I thought they would be excited to have a teacher, but they are not. Apparently they enjoyed having nothing to do for six weeks.

Yesterday I took my new 5th period class to the auditorium to have their school pictures taken. A kid came in and said that a teacher told him that she was his teacher and not me. I went to investigate and found out that that was no longer my class. They had a sub again.

After school I asked the programmer to please give me that class again, since they were actually happy to have a teacher and I could tell they were a good class. He said he fixed the mistake, and that class is now on my roster in the computer system we use for grades and attendance.

But none of the kids (any of my new students from any of the five classes) has been given a new schedule. So I'm assuming my students are in the other teacher's classroom (the teacher who is a sub).

Of course, today is Homecoming at my school, so it could just be that my entire class is in the hall getting ready for the parade. It's hard to say.

Doesn't that seem ridiculous?

There's the bell -- now we shall see if I have any students in my 6th period class. No one so far. I'm not holding my breath.

I forgot to mention one somewhat funny part of this narrative. When the programming assistant came into my classes to give the kids their new schedules, they all freaked out. So he told them that they had gotten so much smarter in the last five weeks that they no longer needed that extra reading class. That they were all smart now. Swear to God he told all my kids that. Which means I must be an amazing teacher to foment such improvement so quickly! Maybe I'll get a raise.

1 comment:

Butternugget said...

I am shocked that it is okay to have classes sitting with no teacher for weeks. Amazing.

I remember a handful of times when I was in school, back in the 80's and in a much smaller town, the principal would sit and watch us have a "study hall" if there wasn't a sub or free teacher available. We were never left unattended.