replied 5 years ago.
The past two years have been difficult for me. Someone desperately wanted me. They tried to make me look incompetent by removing many items from last year's classroom and this year's classroom. This has to be the working of an adult, and not a child. This adult had access/keys to my room and knew my work schedule, inside and out. School materials, teaching materials, student work, and personal property were taken. The person who was harassing me knew exactly what a teacher needed and when while instructing. For example, he/she/they would take only 10 tests out of a set of 22, and they would take a Math Teacher's Guide when I needed it the most. They took my password XXXXX Jiji Math, which is a Math program that teaches conceptual math without using much language, and the principal was very upset with me when I reported to her what was going on. She blamed me for everything.
I told my principal, who has a PhD, by the way, that my harassment was continuously taking place since the middle of last year and this year as well. The principal called me a lot of names: She called me: a liar, a racist, a victim, delusional, paranoid, disorganized, and mentally unstable. I learned that whatever I did or said, Dr. W would turn it around and use it against me. I was always being caught doing something "bad." Over time, my harassment began to feel like purposeful bullying. My students were there with me in and out of the classroom and saw all of all this occurring. I started bringing home important papers, but the perpetrator found other items to take, such as my lesson planner, miniature animals that I purchased at the zoo, and the Student's Writing Workshop binder.
I tried to maintain my calm and began sending the principal emails when items were taken from my classroom. Basically she ignored me. Instructionally, the administration was holding me back and the coordinator would say, "Oh, using Word to type up student scripts is way too ambitious of a project for your students to do" and on and on ad nauseum. This abuse was hurting myself as well as the students. If I, a teacher, was being bullied from someone in this school, how were the students going to feel safe? Day after day, I observed inequities that were targeted towards our class. Some teachers have two to three working computers in their classrooms, whereas I had none-- the two computers that were placed in my room were very old and they broke down due to connectivity issues. How can my students do research without access to computers and limited access to three computer labs in a very small school?
Also, my Jiji Math folder and password XXXXX taken from my desk, and as a result my students got a late start in the Math lab. While I was keeping track of how the students were doing, I noticed that the class was behind. I asked to schedule Jiji Math 5 times a week for 30 minutes instead of twice a week for 90 minute sessions. 150 minutes a week, rather than 90 minutes, would have helped them with their understanding of the mathematical concepts and applications. Again, I was ignored. I asked for a 3rd slot in the Mac Lab to teach students how to write, edit, proofread and publish their work. I was able to get a slot, and we were beginning to type up our scripts, then a few weeks later, Ms. Coordinator comes up with a rule/policy, that every teacher must have 2 slots for the Jiji lab and that it was unfair that we had a 3rd slot. We were pulled out of the lab. Decisions were made and changed constantly. Is it my fault that they were not prepared? Our students do not have the time to wait! Everything I did was a problem.
The Math lab did not start in September but in late October/ early November of 2011. Why it took so long to get it running is beyond comprehension. Currently, in Rm. 27, there are 20 relatively new computers and I asked the administration if these computers could be dispersed because no one was using the lab. My ideas fell on deaf ears. The principal spends the school’s money without a discussion with the staff. The principal claims that she is being “transparent,” and she is everything but; she is secretive, talks behind closed doors, etc and encourages other teachers to write letters of complaint on other teachers. This kind of behavior is unheard of!
Dr. W decided to purchase these SMART boards at $1,400.00 each. SMART boards are a great tool. However, while other teachers were ready to use their technology since day one, I had to wait again for 2-3 months to get my technology connected and up and running. Once it was set up, I began using it for instruction. The technology cart uses a piece of equipment called a dongle, and that too was taken from my classroom. The principal expects us to use the SMART board interactively with students, but there is not enough time to learn how this technology works, and the quality of training we receive does not address individual teacher’s classroom needs. Technology looks and sounds good, but do not help students learn!
Sometimes, when using technology, it would break down or something would not be connected correctly, and trying to get it restarted would waste instructional time; why I had so many technological problems, I would never know. The principal hired a company to work with the kids in the areas of drama/music. She took schools funds to pay for this and whether the teachers wanted it or not was never discussed. The principal did whatever she wanted and no one called her on it. We ended up writing our own original scripts because I wanted the drama hour to be as academic as possible and not just be about the students playing theater games. The writing of the scripts, which was an extension of our learning, took up a lot of time to complete. With computer lab twice a week, music once a week, library once a week, psychomotor once a week, and drama each day for an hour, there was not that much time in the day to teach the Reading (Treasures) curriculum that is mandated by the District.
The principal did not know what she was doing, and if one school hired ballroom dancing for their schools, she would want in on it as well. Well, the other school had higher test scores, we did not. The principal hired an outside company, at the rate of $1,000.00 per day, to come to our school and teach teachers how to teach writing to students. Again, teachers were not in on the decision making process of whether we wanted to implement this writing program or not. We were not asked but told. It was very clear to me that the principal did not have confidence in our teaching skills. Why else would she have troubled herself? So now, we have two writing programs and there is not enough timeto teach writing, let alone do one program completely.
Before we returned to school on the 9th of January 2012, I participated in a three-day training on PBL (Project Based Learning), which is the way I like to teach and have taught for many years. I implemented/designed my own Zoo Animal Project Based Learning Unit into the 3rd grade curriculum, as a result of the training that we received and got paid for. I gave my principal an overview of what I was planning to do, and had already started designing my own curriculum. Later on, I got into trouble for doing PBL activities. Dr. W and the school district gave teachers mixed messages. There were so many programs to juggle at one time, that I became overwhelmed between the harassment I was experiencing, the lack of support from the administrative team, and their complete distrust in my abilities.
At the end of 2nd grade, my principal called me into her office and asked me to participate in the District’s Pilot Study pertaining to the new Teacher Evaluation Program. Dr. W told me, during the spring of 2011, how "productive" I was, and that she encouraged me and wanted me to participate in this pilot study, which I eventually did. This pilot study was to be "non-punitive" and "not evaluative" in nature, but it became a huge problem because it had become punitive and evaluative in nature.
For the first cycle, I was more prepared than the principal and her immediate supervisor, who is one of Local District's Directors of Instruction. I knew right then and there, that my self-assessment and/or my lesson plan were not read. Instead of talking about the plan, my supervisors were trying to maneuver the platform and to figure out what they needed to do. I did not think/feel that it would have been appropriate for me to explain to them what they were supposed to do. So, I just sat and observed. To make a long story short, I received low ratings, because they did not understand what I was doing. Some people do not understand and/or recognize excellent teaching when it is occurring right in front of their eyes. Right then and there, I realized that this process was not about improving instruction, but was about flaunting their higher status positions. They could not say one positive thing about my teaching and how my students did; they really don't know anything about my students.
Dr. W and the Director of Instruction were threatened by me for whatever their reasons. The botXXXXX XXXXXne is this: as of the 2011-2012 school year, I have endured four formal conferences and conference memos. The principal encouraged staff members to put their concerns in writing instead of sitting down and having a discussion. My first formal conference was based on two T.A.'s, who never worked in my room, and had become empowered by the coordinator and the principal. They filed two letters of complaint against me. Not once was I presented with an "informal conference,” but was subjected to attend a formal conference, which may have ended in disciplinary action.
Towards the beginning of the school year, after I got my flu shot, I was sick for five school days, and did not leave my house for 10 days. When I returned early morning on a Monday, Dr. W called me into her office stating that I am a "fabulous" teacher, and that two T.A.'s filed written complaints against me. One of the T.A.'s was a former student of mine (1997-1998). For the 2nd formal conference, one of my students’ "brother" filed a written complaint stating that I was screaming at his sister. Student S came to school wearing full-faced Halloween makeup and was wearing wedged, open toed shoes. Her costume was bizarre, too. As I walked towards the principal's office with the whole class, I wanted to make sure that Dr. W saw this student's outfit and makeup. She told her to go to the nurse's office to wash off her face and that her mother needed to be contacted because Student S needed to get a fresh change of clothing to wear for school. I was not in the nurse's office with student S, but I later learned that she was very upset about this ordeal.
Later in the school year, I learned from student S's social worker that this "brother" was not, in fact her brother, but the student's “God-child.” I emailed this information to the principal and she never responded to my email. No apologies, nothing.
My 3rd conference was written up from an outside the classroom teacher, the school's Categorical Program Coordinator, who claimed that I was "harassing" her. I was not bullying or harassing her, that was her perception. I was, however, focused on student achievement and knew that i would be held responsible if my students did not score high on the state standards test. I saw myself as my students' advocate, because no one else was, I needed to make sure that my students had universal equal access to the curriculum.
The 4th formal conference was based on my lesson on maintaining healthy lifestyle habits. I have Diabetes type 2 and wanted my students, who are of Latino and African American descent, to understand why they shouldn't eat a lot of sweets and carbs, and to avoid becoming sick with a life changing condition such as Diabetes. In my family, Diabetes is prevalent. My mother, her mother before her, my brother, my niece and nephew all had Diabetes Type 1. For me, testing my blood sugar is like brushing my teeth. I demonstrated how I check my glucose levels and the students were so engaged, that they wanted to try it as well. I tested four student volunteers with clean, sterile lancets. Not one student was pressured or forced into getting their blood sugar tested. Many students wanted to learn about their blood level sugars and the purpose of my demonstration was to teach them about healthy habits, and to not become diabetic like myself.
We had a very intellectual discussion on blood as a result of our Project Based Learning activity. One of the students actually turned out to be hypoglycemic with a reading of 77. The principal removed me from my room on Friday, 2/24, and said that a sub was to cover my room. As I made my way to the door, the students were asking me where I was going, and I said that I was in big trouble. The sub came up and was unable to control the class. Many students, including myself, were upset. Later, the principal explained to me, while being housed in the conference room, all the people/offices she called because she did not know exactly what to with me. My principal's Director of Instruction said to her that it was under her discretion. I knew that I would get some kind of disciplinary action, but when the principal found out that my students were upset, she directed to return to my classroom.
The police officers came to talk to the four students and myself. The students told them the truth as did I. The principal called the parents of these four students, to ask if they would be interested in filing a police report. All four parents refused to file a report. Last week, when we met for my fourth formal conference, I explained that it was difficult for me to focus on our reading program because there were so many programs going on, that I had very little time left for teaching all the mandated instructional programs, struggling students were coming and going to attend a Reading Intervention Program and the Learning Center Program. Plus, I had two autistic students, two students with ADHD, students who had serious emotional problems, students who had parents in jail, students who had parents in rehab, students who were unmotivated, and students who were experiencing financial hardship. Don't get me wrong, all these programs are wonderful and they are good for our students, but there was no discussion amongst the staff to see what we thought about these programs and whether having all these programs was feasible instructionally.
I had a very wide range of students, and I had a group of students that do not listen, they are constantly moving, and are very disruptive. Regularly disciplining these students took away a lot of our instructional time, but if I had not dealt with their concerns, I was afraid that someone could get hurt. Tying shoelaces was a big problem. Most students were not even aware when their shoelaces were untied. On Wednesday, 2/29, at 3:00 p.m., the principal explained that I was to leave the school and to never come back. All my materials were left in the room for the children to use. I am now housed in teacher jail.
Did I make a serious mistake? Of course I did. My intent was to demonstrate how a diabetic person checks their blood sugar levels. Ironically, the Special Education Aide, who was assigned to one of my autistic students had worked for the district for 30 years, sat there, while the four students who volunteered were being pricked. I was caught up in the moment, and she could have easily whispered something in my ear, but she did not. She was smiling and laughing and there was no kind of negative expression on her face. I later found out that the Special Education Aide was the principal’s "spy" and reported everything that I was doing in my class to the principal.
In education, there are double standards. My classroom was dusty, the rug had fleas, and my two own 409-spray bottles were also taken from my room making it more difficult to clean. I told my principal about that and she got super annoyed. I asked for district cleaning supplies, which was as typically ignored. It doesn't matter if my test scores were going up, it didn't matter that I had been a part of the school's community for the last 15 years, it didn't matter if the students and parents loved me and respected my work, all that mattered was that I made a mistake and I needed to be punished.
I am very sad about being pulled out of my school. I was accused of using poor judgment and am paying the consequences, but what will happen next?