Queen of the Quadratic

Saturday, September 05, 2009


We have a new principal. He started with us in the middle of last year because someone in central office decided February was a fine time to retire, and this set off a chain reaction for promotions, one of which was our previous principal, and our new one.

This one is a young man and this is his first principalship which means his leadership skills are a little unpolished. He is not abrasive in nature, is actually very likable, but is also full of ideas and theory and making changes occur.

Now, with that said, I'd like to mention that I am not opposed to trying new things. What I think is going on though is that we are being mandated to enact too many changes at once. It is causing a great deal of stress for the staff (and myself).

One of his new requirements is that we meet with our 'teams' weekly to discuss curriculum, instruction, successes/failures, how we taught this, how we're gonna teach that, etc. The 'team' consist of all individuals who teach the same course, and it sounds like a wonderful idea.

Here's the problem we're finding in my team. There are three 'levels' of the course that we teach and there are only 5 teachers who teach it. One teacher exclusively handles the lowest level, two handle the average group, and two handle the honors group (one of these two is also our department coordinator which means that she has to attend some of the other meetings occasionally too). At our last meeting, the dept. coordinator was not in attendance, which left the other honors teacher sitting as the minority while the regular and low-level teachers tried to discuss what needed to happen. It turned into a non-productive session very quickly were we started talking about how we need the freedom to make professional decisions regarding our students needs without also catering to the other teachers' students.

So, in our meeting notes, I included some snippets from this discussion and suggested that the 'team' be fragmented by level, as the courses do not mirror one another for a majority of the year. I'm not certain that anyone is reading our meeting notes, but we shall see.

Yesterday, I had a bit of an altercation with a kid as well. As he was leaving my classroom (he is enrolled in a floating teacher's class that occurs in my room daily), he was blatantly breaking one of the school policies regarding cell phone use during the school day. I took the phone out of his hands and directed him to follow me to my desk. He immediately started telling me that I had disrespected him by snatching the phone out of his hands like that. I ignored the comment and instructed him to write down his information with instruction to make it legible so they could return his phone to him in the office. He then tries to take the phone out of my hand, so I move it away from him and invite him again to write down his information. He tries to bargain with me (all the while I have a new class filing in and they have a test scheduled for this day) asking me to write him up INSTEAD of taking his phone, and I informed him that there was no option on the consequences and the phone was going to the office and I asked him yet again to write down his information. I put his phone in my desk drawer (he watched) and then he reached across me to try to get it out all the while talking and telling me that "they" can't take his phone because he bought it with his own money (precisely how this was supposed to influence me, I am unsure).

At this point, my class was filing in, a couple new students arrived, and I was tired of dealing with this guy, so I told him he needed to leave now and I would obtain his information from his teacher and turn the phone in. He wouldn't leave. I gave him at least three opportunities to leave with my blessing, and he wouldn't leave, so I told him I was going to call an escort for him and he could go to the office, and he still didn't leave. I made the call.

Another new student arrived, I got the three new people situated, the bell rang to begin class and I had to get my kids started on their tests, so I took the phone out of my desk and held it in my hand while I instructed my kids in the preparation for the exam session and handed out the test and formula chart. It took about 10 minutes total for the escort to arrive. They had sent a campus police officer to collect him, so I stepped out into the hall for a moment and briefly explained the situation to him. The kid followed me out and interrupted my sentence to say that I had "disrespected him when I just took the phone out of his hands". The officer, clearly annoyed with the kid, took the phone from me and told the kid that they could discuss it in the office, and off they went.

I am a little worried about what after-effects there might be from this altercation. The kid will be in my classroom with another teacher for the duration of the year unless he gets in enough trouble to get sent to alternative school. I fear that he might want to get me back for this.

I'm going to follow up with the officer and see what the outcome of the situation was, and then I may try to have a little conference with the kid during the only class that I know he is in (during which time I don't have a class) to talk with him about the rules and my function as an employee of the school, so he understands that my motive had nothing to do with 'getting' him, but rather maintaining the school rules, as is my job.