Thursday, August 31, 2006

That'd be greaaaat

Late last academic year I learned in the cafeteria in a one on one conversation from the department chair that I was not going to have a classroom this school year. At that time, I also found out that I was going to have to teach a different class and I wrote about mixed emotions about this news. I was trying to look beyond feeling slighted, tread up on, and get my zen on and just look past it.

I watched management in action happen after I packed all my crap up. That week was an amazingly hellish week not to be duplicated since then, and probably never again (problems at home too, big ugly hairy ones) I had just packed up and was in the classroom with the guy who was going to teach from that room next year when in came an administrator, a gentle man who now I know is incredibly well versed in management.

Our school is incredibly crowded. They are building 20 more classrooms right now and many teachers must teach from carts and go from room to room. Teaching from a cart brings quality of teaching to new lows. For many reasons, trucking around with one's teaching gear basically changes the whole teaching game from winning to barely staying in the game (at the worst). All one can do is make the best of it, really. It's the thing that makes teachers cry, quit, yell, complain and wake up in fits of anxiety or rage.

In trying to get what he wanted, administrator said this (not exact quotes)

"Now this situation is really actually potentially very good, two teachers get off carts, and one teacher moves. You know some teachers have had to move classrooms for 6 and 7 years straight. I think of MH. MH has not had the same classroom since she got here several years ago, but when I talked to her about going to a cart, she just says "J, I will do whatever you need me to do," She has an amazing attitude. She is willing to do whatever it takes to make things work out. She really is the kind of person who simply does what needs to be done and she has an amazingly good outlook about it. So one classroom move in 8 or 9 years is actually a bargain in light of what most of the staff are up against."

I don't think I am even remotely approaching the level of convincing this guy reached as he rambled on in this vain for 45 minutes.

At the time I thought, "I want to be like MH, she is a good person, I like her and I think she has a good attitude"

When I consider how administrator made it seem like if the person who was getting moved even so much as dared complain, they would seem not only like a total ingrate, but also like a selfish person for grousing, I am impressed somehow.

I learned something, he appealed to something he laid odds that we had, a desire to make a positive impression and be valuable contributors, and used that in order to get one of us to light our shorts on fire and be as close to ok with it as possible. He kept 2 of us together, one getting good news (a classroom), the other bad news.

I realized what a very clever man he is. I mean truly, to make people want to do what he wants them to do is very crafty, especially when the thing he wants them to do is akin to lighting ones shorts on fire.

Moving classrooms has never taken me less than three days of unpaid work, one to pack up, two to move and to unpack and reassemble in my new space. Usually there is no one waiting to help you, no one offering to make it a little easier, it's usually more just the teacher hauling all their crap elsewhere. Alone.

Insert violin of pity here. But truly, it is miserable.

SO! How do I get this to work in my life? Can I make my friends do what I want by talking for 45 minutes appealing to some desire deep in peoples heart to be good people to get them to go buy me a pizza? Or give me some money? Or rub my hot sweaty tired feet? Maybe I need to read a book to learn the finer points of this new technique, as I think by the time people realize what's happened, I will have enjoyed a nice foot rub!


toujoursmardi said...

My husband has many books on these sorts of techniques. He talks all sorts of lovely and tricky ways but it never works on me!

Wouldn't it be amazing if somehow there were enough classrooms for all of the teachers and enough teachers for all of the kids??

My mother has been a teacher for 30 years and told me that she has never had to put more personal resources (labor, money, time) into her job than she has in the past six years. Hmm.

Good luck!

Happy school starting!

Natalie said...

I can't figure out MH... although I definitely know who J is... I hate those talks. Somehow I am now moving to one other classroom... have no idea why but it is better than 3 like last year. But darn it, I got ISS duty the last period of the day! That is one of the suckiest duties.

aadil said...

This is a rather long blog entry to read. Can't you, for the sake of preserving your faithful readers, summerize it in a single short paragraph?

Norman said...

foot rubs = goooooooooood

jane said...

oh "management" personalities....

when i worked in san diego, my boss looked and talked EXACTLY like Lumberg. not to mention that i also technically had four bosses, one of whom was named Bob. (my younger coworkers and i would periodically get together, get hammered, and watch office space)

i remember when management told us that we'd be switching to a "better" computer system. they told us all these wonderful reasons why the system would be better.... of course, we were switching from Windows to DOS (I kid you not) and they were only doing it to save $$, so all their syrupy management drivel did nothing to convince me!

Megan said...

Love the lead-in here. I think I'm going to pop in that movie now.

Are you changing classrooms, but once you adjust, you get to stay in that room for the year? If so, just think of how it could be worse: living out of a suitcase going from classroom to classroom. If you ARE doing the suitcase thing, good god, I'd give you a huge hug right now.

M said...

People will always help for pizza, beer, and future paid back favours.

And management, dude, don't GET ME STARTED!

Missed ya

happychyck said...

Indeed a good questions....where does one get the skills to manipulate or simply talk to others for nearly and hour and make them do what you want? I'm thinking there might be witchcraft or voodoo or something involved.

Adeline said...

Toujours--thankyou, I wish your mom luck as well. My years seem to go on and off with houw much money I put out...lately it is money for storage crates for past curriculum that I have no idea if I will ever use again...

Yeah I got attendance, Natalie, but I ain't complainin!!!


Jane--windows to DOS, wow, it makes me feel sorry for those middle management suckups.

Megan--I was geting the good news in this particular instances, but it could have been the other way around very easily. So I am just grateful I don't have to move and be on a cart, though I did pack up all my things because I was under the impression that it was going that way for me...

M we were offered no pizza, no beer and it wasn't really a favor, it was more like a gentle command. I would take pizza or beer or anything though to make the bad news a little easier to stomach...

happy...yeah i don't know. I will try to weave my magic on jeff though to see if I can score a foot rub. I think I have a plan even...