how the good the bad the ugly shaped me into the educator I am now

“This post is week 2 of 8 in the 8 Weeks of Summer Blog Challenge for educators.”

Ok this week I am suppose to reflect on what has contributed to the educator I am today.
Hmmmmm???
I so want to talk about my family-
I am a 4th generation teacher and I feel like teaching is a genetic thing...
my mom was a fabulous teacher and I would like to think she had a little to do with who I am today
my hubs is a supporter... always listening to my moans and groans
offering advice when necessary
Bubs has even helped me become a better teacher
he is academically way above his classmates -BUT- socially below
I have advocated for him to get the education he deserves -
his situation has opened my eyes and has made me more understandable to other kids' behaviors.

BUT

If I had to really think what has made me the teacher I am today
it is my admin...
the good the bad and the ugly

I started teaching 18 years ago...
WOW (jaw dropped - that's a long time)
well my first year I had one of the best principals EVER -
at the time I was a little scared of her... a little -
OK  A LOT
any who
I had taken over midyear after a yucky teacher quit (thank God - he was horrible)
my first day on the job ALL of my girls went home with lice
ALL OF THEM
that was back when if one had it... the nurse could check all the kids...
AND they had to go home...
well that was interesting!!!
that same day...
I also stopped by a beauty shop and had the lady chop my hair off (like 8 inches)
in this class I also had the city's head gang member's son
who liked to cuss a little - OK a lot
he could barley read a kinder book (we were in 3rd) BUT boy could he throw cuss words
I decided I needed to call his mom...
imagine a first year teacher (about 1 month on the job) calling a house known for its gang activity
-I was a little scared -
ok A LOT
the only place we were allowed to make phone calls home was an office located by the principal's office
and it wasn't really an office... more like a little corner nook
so as I was talking to the mom...
the mom proceeds to tell me - that her kiddo never cussed until I became the teacher...
I was so mad...
I couldn't believe she was blaming me...
and she was yelling at me...
so what did I do...
I told her...
very calmly
"maam the word F@*K is not on our spelling list... so I can assure you I am NOT teaching this!!!"
well my principal heard me say this and immediately came out of her office grabbed the phone from my hands and asked me to go back to my classroom.
I was embarrassed - walking out of the office.
But as I was walking out... I could hear my principal loudly say to the mom...
" you and I both know (insert boy's name) has been cussing since he was in kinder" and
"don't you waste my teacher's time with nonsense"
I was out of the office before I could hear the rest of the story
but her secretary later told me she also told the mom to talk to all her teachers in a respectable tone the next day ...
I had homemade cupcakes and the kid told me he was sorry.
I never had anymore issues with that kiddo :)
and I didn't eat the cupcakes - I was a little scared of them - ok
A LOT

What did that principal teach me -
* my time is precious... it shouldn't be wasted on nonsense
* be blunt and precise in what you want to say to parents
* parents will push new teachers - you have to show you are in charge of your classroom

The next year - I moved to a different city
and obviously new school (which I am at still)
 and once again I had a great principal.
she wasn't tough like my first one
but she was good
I was one of 2 new teachers to the campus..
the majority of the other teachers were well
what's a good word... ummmmm
dinosaurs...
walking the path and guidance of the teacher manual... BORING
set in their own ways... doing the same things they had done 15 years ago...
getting the same results
it was intimidating... to go against the norm
my new principal welcomed my new ideas (she was also somewhat new to the campus too)
she encouraged me to go my own way...
she allowed me to spread my wings and break the monotony of the dinosaurs and their manuals
she did reign me in if I got to far off the target
but her willingness to let me be me was amazing
I was with this principal for years and I grew so much as a teacher...
she trusted me and had me on committees for hiring -
I was also on the committee to improve our campus
I became the grade level chair within two years
when district came to visit - they were escorted to my room
after a few years - many of the dinosaurs had retired and I was left with a fabulous young team
we were amazing...
we were kicking butt on all state tests - yet we were NOT teaching to the test
and we were not using textbooks and manuals
we were blessed to work together for I think 8 years...

What did that principal teach me?
* When you are surrounded by people that believe in you - you can really go further than you ever imagined!!!
* let new teachers share their ideas - sometimes they have good ones
* don't be a dinosaur

OK those were the good-
now for the bad

I have had admin that
BLESS THEIR HEART
were just bad

I mean really...
one would fall asleep during meetings -
and if you wanted to get a fab score on your walk through...
just pretend it is snack time and feed them too
seriously every time I would get rave scores!!!
he had no clue what we were suppose to be teaching
he was just a good ole boy that was hired because he knew someone
and well we all suffered
don't get me wrong he was SUPER NICE
but he wasn't admin material

What did that admin teach me?
* Snacks in the classroom bring happiness to kids and adults!
* good ole boys should be GOOD at what they do
* it is hard to grow under weak admin - they usually have nothing to contribute

one was a meany -
she came in and wanted to change everything
EVERYTHING
schedules - traditions - ceremonies - plans - routines
EVERYTHING...
she even started cleaning out closets and throwing our old yearbooks and photo albums out...
we turned 50 this year so... throwing out our memorabilia was horrible
she wouldn't listen to anyone...
her way or no way...
she thought she was there to save us...
we did NOT need saving...
the only thing she did was make us hate her
and guess what...
our morale went down... with our scores

What did that admin teach me?
* Leaders create the environment... if the environment is made hostile the morale will reflect that.
* you can't come into a new place and just start changing everything - take time to get to know what needs changing
* if you think you are put somewhere to SAVE them... you are not... save that for Jesus

another was a want a be
she wanted to be a great principal
she talked the talk but never got up to do the walk...
she mostly sat in her office with her minions and did
absolutely nothing to help us grow as a campus
each year she was there it got worse...
she did less for the campus and just pushed out all the work to others
student behaviors got worse, the newly hired were questionable, and the school was divided more than ever... she even had a nickname for those of us that were not buying her act
little did she know that "the clique" was getting her the scores she needed to keep her butt in her office chair

What did that admin teach me?
* You can not run a school sitting behind a desk.
* Rumors travel fast in a school - so watch what you say.
* If you are lazy students, parents, and teachers start misbehaving.

OK and now for the UGLY!!!

thank GOD
this guy was only here for one year...
so -
we were in a meeting at the beginning of the year...
my team and I
with the "admin team"
we were asked to read a poem
this poem was deep... it was college level
and was actually a really good poem
sorry I don't remember the name
we were then asked to give our opinions about the poem...
I stated mine... my teammates said theirs
and then he gave his...
he then tried to tell us our opinions were WRONG
we were not reading deep enough
he told us we were small minded
YEP!!!
so let me give you some background...
he had been moved from countless campuses -
demoted promoted demoted moved promoted moved... we were just his next stop
he had NO elementary experience and specialized in one subject

so here we are... in the conference room being told our opinion of the poem is wrong
I proceeded to tell him... you cannot tell me how to understand a poem
that is the beauty of a poem... especially a good one
I told him everyone's answers were right because we have to infer what the author is saying
as long as we can support our reasons we are all right
he got mad...
told us we would never see his side...
it was pointless...
anywho... he then proceeded to show us a powerpoint where he told us we are
NO LONGER allowed to use strategies for reading and math
WHAT!!!!????!!!!
here he was - brand new at our campus-
never being in a an elementary setting
and telling us this nonsense
of course I let him know - and my team - that we disagreed
he stood up and slammed his fist on the table (I was sitting next to him so it was right by me)
and screamed you will listen to me!!!
this was within inches of my face

I left -
from then on I had absolutely ZERO respect for him
and the "admin team" who sat there and did nothing!!!

What did I learn from that principal?
* You can have the title but you can still be unqualified!
* Breath mints are a necessity when in a close proximity meeting.
* Immediately report vile and inappropriate behavior. - I didn't I was scared of retaliation!

Through my 18 years it became apparent that the leaders of the campus set the stage for the campus.  It is up to you to stand strong in your beliefs.
It is up to you to find the positive in bad situations.
It is up to you to grow even under bad circumstances.

You can learn from the good - the bad - and the ugly!!!










44 comments:

  1. LOVE this! In my 31 years, I've had all of the above and think that these categories are wide enough to include principals, assistant principals, curriculum directors, and superintendents. I think the higher on that totem pole you are, the more the title becomes person. Not sure how long I can "close the door and teach" without losing my mind, my religion, and/or my job.
    Cheers to year 32!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow. That's a lot of learning over the years! No judgement, I'm at 20 or 21...but who's counting?
    I bet that fourth generation has more to do with it than we all realize!
    Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Setting the climate for respect, relationships, and reflection. It takes a great leader to do that as your experiences have shown. I've lived through all of those as well, so another moral is: Stand up when you must for what's best for kids, but this leader too shall pass.

    One admin we had said on his first day with the staff, "I will be friends with some of you on staff, and the rest of you will just have to deal with that." Yeah. It was not a good four years.

    Thanks for your writing with "what you learned" from each because those points are so true. ~ Sheri

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