Observing the temper tantrum

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Chairs pushed into desks, a jacket flung onto the floor, papers slammed onto a desk, the whole energetic performance punctuated by curses… I watched the tantrum unfold after school ended. I’d have called security on a student. It’s harder to figure out what to do with a colleague. I decided to hug my colleague and offer reassurances. I tried to be upbeat, as upbeat as the beaten-down can be. I threw in a bit of silliness. In the end, though, I mostly just listened because there wasn’t much to say.

“If they want fucking lessons, then they should give you time to plan fucking lessons,” my colleague (normally an extremely well-spoken person) almost shouted.

As noted earlier, testing demands along with other lengthy bureaucratic demands have eaten the time that might have gone into lesson planning. Creative lesson-planning disappears when no time remains after demands for parent calls, daily (sometimes twice-daily) meetings, mandatory tests, subsequent mandatory grading, and other job requirements. “Not optional,” admin says, and one more item such as monitoring the stairwells gets bumped to the front of the list. Administrative demands suck up time in the foreground, time in the background and sometimes time in the dead of the night.

Eduhonesty: I find it scary that so many colleagues are cutting sleep and bolting down food in working lunches without finding the minutes necessary to plan fun lessons, especially since these colleagues will be held accountable for a lack of fun lessons come evaluation time.

News flash for my administration and many other administrations in these test-driven times: No one has repealed the 24 hour day. No one has built any teacher-cyborgs that are classroom ready, either.