October Slump

The last couple of weeks have been a wild ride. They say October is the worst month for teachers. I certainly hope so, because I could use some relief.

One thing that I absolutely have to write about is the mid-year shuffle going on across the district. Wednesday last week, my roommate found out that come the next day, he might be out of a job due to over-budgeting. No detailed explanation was given at the time, other than the fact that the school under its enrollment target by 33%, and all new teachers were on the chopping block. As it turns out, my roommate did get “surplussed”. I’m sure the frustration I feel is nowhere near the sentiments he probably has, but to me this symbolized everything that’s wrong with the system. Dunbar Middle, where he works, was regarded as the worst middle school in the city last year, and that’s saying something. This year, due to the tireless work of the staff, it’s a working. And I know that my roommate must have been one of the hardest working teachers in that building. He works with barely any resources or support. He’s up later than me every night and wakes earlier every morning. During his planning period, he’s been acting as a quasi-administrator. He’s the coach of the girls’ soccer team, through which he’s built relationships with some of his toughest students. And come October 31, he’s gone.

We’ve since come to learn that the budget redistribution is going exactly according to plan, and that it is a necessarily evil of the complicated process of giving parents choice in the schools their children attend. My roommate will be transferred to a high school that, up until now, has been under-budgeted. After all, those kids Dunbar expected are going somewhere. But seriously, there’s got to be a better way. Are his 7th graders going to understand the intricacies district budgeting, or are they just going to think that yet another person in their lives is walking out on them? Can Dunbar Middle continue to deliver on its promise of rebirth with 1/3 of their staff gone?

As for myself, I can’t help but feel like the hammer is falling–that soon, people are finally going to find out I’ve been failing miserably for 2 solid months, and I’m going to be summarily stoned, Old Testament-style. My principal came into our staff meeting swinging today. He’s not happy with some of us, although he won’t mention who. He keeps making these comments at meetings about how 5% of the teachers aren’t meeting the expectations, and I keep thinking he must be referring to me.

The good news is, after last week’s day off and professional development, I feel like I’ve come out of a daze. I still feel like I’m underwater, but I’m fighting again. It’s just so hard, because there aren’t enough hours in the day. There just aren’t. If I could physically get all my work done, I’d be better off certainly, but I still don’t think I’d be anywhere close to rocking it as a teacher. Maybe I don’t give people enough credit, but most of the time, when people say “just let me know if you need something”, I don’t really take them at face value. I guess I have just felt really guilty letting people know that I can’t handle my own load. But clearly, I need to suck it up and scream for help, because leaving things undone isn’t doing anyone any favors.

There is some light coming down the tunnel. There are lots of days off in November, which hopefully ought to make the month bearable. I get to see my whole family this weekend. I’ve never been so excited about that in my life. Possibly even more exciting is the fact that my school is getting rid of the extended school day. I almost thanked God aloud when my principal grudgingly announced it in our staff meeting today. Don’t get me wrong, a well-planned, well-staffed extended day could hypothetically be an awesome thing for our students, but so far, all it’s been is a massive thorn in everyone’s side. The extra hour and change (I hope) in my day is going to be HUGE.

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