Saturday, June 03, 2006

Biggest Challenge of the School Year

The biggest challenge of my first year in MTC was dealing with my administration, and parents are a close second. Really, parents are only second because they weren’t as involved until the end of the school year, after their children had failed my class.

When I was in school, I never thought about the relationship between the teachers and the administration. I don’t ever remember seeing a teacher talking with the principal. I thought teachers operated on their own, and only used the principal as a disciplinarian for unruly students. The situations I faced were ones I never considered I would be faced with. I never thought my principal would argue with me in front of my students. I never thought my principal would storm into my classroom to paddle someone. I never thought I would have to send my students to the band hall for discipline because the principal was also the band director (being a principal should not be a part-time job).

One of my most recent confrontations with my principal happened after the aunt of one of my 19-year-old students interrupted class and asked to see my grade book. I refused, so she made the principal interrupt my class again. I explained to him that the woman was not the student’s mother, and that I had been instructed not to share grades with any adults besides mothers and fathers. He told me a story about how the student didn’t really have a mother, that she hadn’t seen her mother in a long time. I told the principal that was a lie because I had met with the student’s mother in the past month. Then, he told me that I should tell the aunt anyway because she might be a positive influence on the student. I said that it would also be illegal for me to share grades without the student’s permission because she was 19. This really set my principal off. He first told me that he didn’t care what the law said, he just wanted to do what was best for the student (really, he wanted to appease the scary aunt). Then he said, “In this school, I’m the law and if you don’t do what I say I’m going to write you up for insubordination!” I didn’t back down, though. He finally let me get back to my students.

My principal returned after school to again discuss what had happened. I told him that I had recently taken a law class at Ole Miss, and had specifically asked my professor if we were supposed to give out grades to parents if the student was 18 or older. My principal told me that it’s more important that I do what he says, because I don’t want to have a bad working relationship with my principal. He told me that I wouldn’t want my principal to not like me because my principal is the one that evaluates my performance as a teacher. He said that I wouldn’t want my principal’s personal feelings towards me to be the cause of a bad evaluation. It was an unexpected threat.


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