I started the week with a 7 AM meeting except I didn’t. I stopped to open a door for a new colleague, a music teacher. I opened with the typical, superficial chit-chat: “How are you doing?” I asked.
She started to cry. Crying coworkers trump meetings. A bad hangnail would trump a meeting if I could figure out how to get away with it, but coworkers always get my time. This pressure-cooker of a site led another brand-new hire to walk out on us today.
The music teacher must have had a hideous week-end. The Friday before, one of the “specials” teachers was absent. Specials are classes like Spanish, music and art. Due to the lack of subs, this teacher had been forced to double her class, putting 60 students in a room meant for thirty. Her room has hidey-holes with instruments in them, hiding places, and a corner beside a now-damaged keyboard that’s out of view. Instruments are difficult to protect. On Friday, sixty kids had refused to listen to this woman while throwing crayons at each other. She’s taught elementary and she came in feeling like an accomplished teacher. She has lost that feeling.
“I feel like a bad teacher,” she sobbed.
She’s not. That room’s an ambush, a series of accidents waiting to happen. The whole situation on Friday was an ambush. You can’t put sixty 11 – 13 year-old kids in a small space without an extremely well-defined plan. That classroom’s tiny for thirty kids. If she had any possible win, I believe it would have been showing a movie like Frozen or The Avengers. She had no way to use the DVDs she had made for her music lessons: Some kid stole them. She had made the DVDs herself so replacement won’t be too onerous.
I listened for awhile. I reassured her. I hugged her. Since then, I have popped in to wish this woman and other specials teachers a good day.
Eduhonesty: The lack of subs is killing some of us. Teachers rarely walk away from contracts, but four have left us so far this year and it’s only October. We’ve managed to hire one new replacement besides the one who walked away today. I hope this latest hire stays the distance for the kids’ sake.