Friday, June 01, 2007

Story of the year

Every teacher in our school has to do a "duty". Even as a part time teacher, I have a regular full time teacher "duty". Last year they had me working down in the basement under the school filing portfolios. I strongly didn't like that. It was such a ridiculous mess.

They changed my duty though, last year, to the computer lab. Thankfully.

This year my duty was to collect up kids with attendance issues from their classrooms. No biggie, kinda fun because you get to visit so many different rooms. I anticipated no problems. I even really liked all the walking in the morning because it got my blood flowing. Our campus consists of about 7 buildings and covers 5 square blocks. It is a behemoth of a school.

So I anticipated no problems, but then the guy I was supposed to work with, not by saying so much, let me know I had no idea what I was doing and that he needed to show me how to properly do this job. Okay, irritating, but he did seem to have a pretty finely tuned system worked out so it wasn't as though he was full of bluster. I learned some stuff from him.

Every morning though, he would make me basically follow him. I wasn't very much allowed to do anything, look up kids locations: no. Get a few kids out of class on my own: no. Just follow him. When I got a little impatient with (again, not by saying so much) he asked me persistently if I had drank too much coffee.

These are the times that one must be trained to smile, while inside thinking "Good God, what zoo did they find this guy in?" At first I was foolish enough to assure him that I only do a cup in the AM and not more than that. But the whole idea of defending myself to this (ugh) person, activated my nausea.

Can I just mention here that this guy, a science teacher, while very intelligent I am sure, teaches mainly by showing videos?

So for the better part of the year, he deigned to allow me to follow him around the school. I probably wouldn't have cared so much, except my feeling is with "duty" is that I want to do a good job. I want to DO a duty. I want to be useful, valuable, period. This is me, this is how I am.

Perhaps I would have said something. But the guy who we reported to whenever he saw me asked where the other guy was. It was never Hi, how's it going? it was "Where's N?" This happened every single day that I arrived early until probably May. "Good morning W, what have we got today?" "Where's N?"

I don't care if anyone who reads this thinks I am making a mountain out of a molehill, I know it is a molehill. But it was a molehill that was there every every day. Whether I did a good job or not wasn't really an issue, I did a good job, I swept a huge campus every other day for kids.

The differences between N and me are there. He is an ugly, cranky old guy who LOVES catching kids doing the wrong thing and then "Bringing them to justice" or whatever. And I think he knows that administrators LOVE this. He also calls all the coaches "Coach" because I think that he knows that in their world this is like calling them something of very high respect. Since I have never been in sports, calling anyone "coach" is pretty foreign to me. Coach to me is the way I have to travel on the airplane. Also, I am a young female. My actual age is 36, but I could easily pass for younger. I like bringing random kids into the office about as much as I like potty training my daughter. It is necessary. I do it when necessary. It is not hard, scary or otherwise, it just is. I would rather not deal with it, but that isn't so much an option at times.

As this school year ends, I told "Coach" that I was leaving, commented on how insanely hot his office was (it had to have been well into the 90 degrees with the AM sun). Something novel, amazing and really kind of cool happened. We had a short conversation. I felt for the first time acknowledged by him. I told him I was leaving for another job. We discussed house prices, school districts and he (as well as many people I have told) told me he wanted to leave too. He said good things about the district I was going to. He said the real problem with our school was that it was too big. He was right, I was sort of shocked, no one had ever stated that obvious fact before.


happychyck said...

That situation would have irritated me, too. Kind of depressing and demeaning. Cheers to your new job! Hopefully you won't have any strange duties!

Zhenya said...

N. is a very mysterious man. I only had a few 1 minute conversatios and could never figure him out. Most of the time I couldn't tell whether he was joking or being serious. His look is super serious--and that scares the h--- out of kids. But at the same time I know that they love him--though that may account for the fact that he shows films every class and gives out a lot of As. I don't know. I did have a pretty good discussion with him around Creationism and think that he is now a believer. Sorry you had such a hard time working with him. Maybe in a different setting he would be different.