I probably shouldn’t put this in print, but I need to get it out, and it’s something I should probably record in case I need it later to support my case.
I have been trying to go back to work. First it was 3hr days, then 4, now 5. Now that I am at 5, I can teach all of my classes. I lose my planning period and study hall to do that. Next week, I am jumping to 8, because if I don’t, the school board has told my principal to hire a year-long sub, making it to where I can’t go back until August. I understand their position for the students’ sake, but my doctors are not happy with me going back this soon.
With my current situation, my doctors have helped me to come up with strategies to help me through. One of them is being honest with students in hope for grace and patience in moments of stuckness. Another is to find true rest during my lunch. The list goes on, but these two apply to the story I am about to tell.
Two days ago was the first of my 5hr days. I was into the last class before lunch. Precalculus. We were reviewing for a test that was to take place the next day. Sometime during this period I mentioned having a headache. I taught two lessons out of this chapter, and my sub taught the rest. With just a few minutes left of class, a student asked a question about a problem I had not seen in a year. It involved conversions and formulas I had not used in a long time. It was also just a few minutes until lunch, where I’d get my mental break. My brain had spent all period helping them work out some very cognitively challenging problems. I tried to think my way through this problem and could not figure out what mistake I was making. So here is how I proceeded just 3 minutes before the bell would ring:
When a different student from who asked the question suggested we not have the test (a test I absolutely must give this week as the quarter is ending), I told students they were taught this lesson. They should review their notes, review the text, review the homework they did on the lesson, and search youtube for similar problems. I also told them I would work on the problem when I was home with a fresh brain and that I would bring them a full explanation “tomorrow” before the test.
After the bell rang and the room emptied, I turned off my lights and laid on the floor in Shavasana, deep breathing for 20 minutes until my next class. This helped me gain back some brain power for my two remaining classes, but it was still a struggle.
So, yesterday morning, I woke up remembering I was supposed to do this problem. My home copy of this text book was actually next to my bed, because I had been using it for homework from my speech therapist before going back to work. I grabbed the book and worked out the problem. I snapped a quick photo of my work and texted it to the dad of the student who originally asked the question. (This student’s dad is a colleague of mine.) The dad expressed gratitude and sent it to his son.
I drank caffeine yesterday morning so I could skip my lunch nap and offer review to students in this particular class, as their class happens after lunch on Wednesdays. I actually did get a little planning time yesterday morning due to chapel being held on Wednesdays and the schedule being a bit different. I saw a note from my principal wanting to talk about how we do quarter grades. I called her and told her I had 15 minutes, and she came right down.
Please know, my principal is very gifted at handling difficult circumstances, and she works hard to support teachers, parents, students, and the board. I would not want to be her. The main objective to this meeting was to discuss how we might not issue report cards for math first quarter to prevent anyone from being denied honor roll, participation in athletics, etc. due to first quarter performance because of the having a sub all quarter and the transition and all that. I was completely fine with this objective and the outcome we came up with. However, the conversation started with something that is still eating at me this morning.
My principal shared with me she received word from two families that I could not answer a question yesterday due to a headache and that it wasn’t fair students would have to take a test today. Now, it is completely normal for a teenager to twist the reality of the entire situation (remember the 3minutes to bell part of thing? remember the advice I gave them and the promise I was following through on thing?) when talking to their parents, especially when feeling stress studying for a test. Over the years I have witnessed all kinds of teenage versions of reality coming back to me to paint a broader picture on for parents. However, these two particular families never ask me to clarify a situation. They never give me benefit of the doubt. They always go straight to the principal with their child’s version of things as gold despite our school policy of going to the teacher first. By the way, neither of these two families are related to the student who actually asked the question.
One of these families involves the mom as an elementary teacher at my school in the other building. This mom didn’t talk to me nor my principal. She went to the vice-principal. At our school, the vice-principal has zero to do with the high school. She is 100% elementary. If our principal is away, the vice-principal can help with issues needing immediate attention (almost never happens), but that’s it. So this mom, my coworker, went to somebody who has nothing to do with anything to vent that I had a headache and wouldn’t answer student questions and am still giving a test on it!!!!
Anyway, I proceeded through the day as planned. I drank my caffeine. I offered a study session during lunch for those who wanted to take advantage of it. I gave the test and graded it right away. Guess what? The distribution of scores on that test were exactly as I would have expected from them had I taught the entire quarter myself! The two students who complained to their parents last night each scored 98% on it! One student who has not performed well on math tests in the past and who did not take me up on the lunch session scored a 96.5%! There were a couple of lower scores, but those did not surprise me. Keep in mind, I had these exact students for Algebra 2 last year. The only score out of all of them that surprised me at all was that 96.5. Thus, just as expected, students stressed over a test as they always do, and they performed the same as they always do, despite any circumstances they think may have created disadvantages for them. None of the drama was necessary!
I felt pretty satisfied by the results I had been vindicated by the distribution of scores. But of course, when it was time to go to bed last night, all I could think about is those parents going to my boss (or not my boss, which borders on gossip…Oh! and these families are close, so you KNOW they were gossiping with each other about it!) never having asked me for the whole story and completely getting it wrong, and I couldn’t sleep. I had wild dreams all night, and here I am still thinking about it the next morning.
Why am I working so freaking hard to go back to work sooner than the doctors are saying I should just so I can be unfairly gossiped about, underappreciated, and disrespected in such ways? I mean, a lot of this is what teachers have to put up with on a daily basis, but why? Why can’t parents appreciate what teachers go through to try to help their children? How hard would it have been to call me or send me an email to find out what really happened and to not gossip about it but figure out how to help? I just want to tell everyone to take a flying leap! (Feel free to insert more colorful words into that last sentence.)
This is not the kind of support I expected upon my return from a very difficult recovery that I am not even fully recovered from. I am discouraged. I feel defeated. I am lying here in bed when I should have hit the shower half an hour ago, and I feel anchored to it like I might just not show up to school at all today and let them figure out what the heck to do without me.
I know my brain isn’t working properly yet, and if I give into these feelings, I will likely regret it. I need to pull up my big girl pants and get to that school with a smile on my face for all the students who deserve it.
Oh, and last night when I couldn’t sleep? I sent my boss a note asking her to please better implement the Matthew 18 principle our school says is required. Long story short on that principle: Go to the teacher before the principal! So we’ll see how that is received. I really should keep the work software closed when I am feeling anger. I hope it came off less angry than I was.
SO yeah. I’m not going back to fix grammar or spelling or anything on this one, because I need to make myself go get ready for a job I am mad at right now. Please forgive that. I hope to blog something a bit more positive next time…