As promised, here are a few more tidbits from the lesser-known inside world of public education:
Skillset? Whatchyou Talkin’ About??
This one gets me every time. And it usually gets TO me as well. Last year I left the world of public education – at least, as a career. I’m still in it as a parent and that’s a WHOLE other ball of wax. Anyhoo, during my job hunt I was really amazed – amazed and discouraged – at the number of corporate types who view teaching as irrelevant or non-experience in the business world. That’s just dumb. Skillsets? Please. I’ve got skills to spare. You just have to look at the facts. For example:
Technical writing? I learned this one through the process of The Office Referral. The Golden Rule here? Be Specific. So, yes, I can write with brevity, specificity and direct quotations. “Johnny chose to look at a friend, shout ‘You smell like ass!’ and climb on top of the coat cabinet.” That’s a direct quote, people. Or this one:
Sales skills? Again. Please. YOU try sitting in on a conference with Protective Mama Bear and try to put a diplomatic spin on the fact that her little darling – who has never done anything wrong – thought it would be funny to paint his name on the restroom wall – while peeing. Mama Bear’s argument? ‘Are YOU a boy? YOU just don’t get it. Sometimes they just can’t aim.’ No, I’m not a boy, but I get the fact that, when I’m standing outside the boys’ room and four boys exit laughing with EXACTLY the same story about Jimmy peeing on the wall – there’s probably some truth to that. But it takes excellent sales skills to get Protective Mama Bear to admit it.
Growth and Development is Even More Horrifying as an Adult
Oh my. I learned this one the hard way. A couple of years ago, during my Master’s work, part of my degree was and on-the-job internship. My mentor suggested that I needed to step up and be the ‘go-to’ person when anything was needed. So when the ad went out for extra female chaperones during the Growth and Development film I eagerly – and naively – volunteered immediately. This was going to be my Path to Administration. And the end result? I was horrified. Back in my day, the Growth and Development film for girls was some old – really old, as in on a reel-to-reel projector – film about the marvelous changes to your body. It was probably filmed in 1965. So I wasn’t prepared for the up-close-and-personal diagrams – really detailed diagrams – of a woman’s hoohah. Labeled and everything. I’m pretty sure my gasp of horror was louder than any of the girls’. Chaperone Fail.
Strength and Agility Drills? Check.
During my second year teaching in The Hood, I lost my classroom to another department and was sent out to a portable building. A quarter of a mile from the building. Bathroom emergencies? Forget it. Anyhoo, this also meant that administrators were less likely to come visit – because they just didn’t want to walk that far. This was also a bad thing more than once. Take, for example, the time that Montell or Montrell – I can’t remember which – got upset about his behavior card and decided to run away. From school. He was out the door before I could catch him. Keep in mind that my portable backed up to a busy urban street. If he ran out there, he’d get squashed like a bug. So I grabbed him just as he tried to jump the rail around the stairs. Got a teacher’s aide to call the office. There I was, dangling a 55 pound kid over a rail five feet off the ground with one arm. And the office replied that the higher-ups were all in a meeting and could I just handle it this one time? Sure. No problem. Same thing on the day the kid decided to use me as target practice with his shoes. And other small objects he found in the room once he ran out of shoes. Heck, I could win a dodge ball tourney just with the skills I learned that day, folks.
Some Administrators Get It
And finally, here you go. A fairy tale in a world where administrators sometimes get a bad rap. A colleague of mine got a surprise visit from our district supervisor one day. As music teachers, we had the normal on-campus principal evaluations but also the regular district-level walkthroughs. So anyway, our supervisor came by to visit my colleague. After class I asked her how it had gone, and she replied, ‘Not that great. Kids were awful and he only stayed three minutes. I’m probably gonna get fired.’ Later that day, guess what? The same guy popped in to watch my class. Stayed the whole time and even lingered to visit afterwards. He was in a good mood, so I ventured to ask about my colleague’s visit earlier that day. His response? ‘Oh, I’m going to email her and ask when I can reschedule. And offer to buy her a drink.’ Huh? I was confused, and said so. Told him she thought she might lose her job. His response??
Wait for it.
“Lose her job? Please. I’ve seen lots of things, but Jesus Himself could not have controlled THAT classroom on THIS particular day.”
And that, folks, is just a snapshot of Public Education!