Monday, September 27, 2010

Wag More, Bark Less

Big Brother is Watching

Already four weeks into the school year, and I have a couple juicy tidbits to share with you, Dear Readers, about Principal Man and his Merry Band of Idiots.

First off, under a new schoolwide policy decreed by PM, our faculty has been ordered to "Wag more, and bark less!" I think he even included a smiley face in his back-to-school memo. Along the lines of the Ladybug Inservice, which was so juvenile and embarrassing to all concerned that I've only touched on it once in this space.

The new attitude infusing the halls of Our Humble High School really fit into my lesson plans until I was jumped (only in the figurative sense of the word, praise the Lord!) by our new Director of Student Services (that would be the person who bosses the guidance counselors around) for, in her words, "attempting to determine student schedules."

Rehashing the whole sordid tale, which thankfully only took place via e-mail, would bore you to tears, but here's the freeze-dried version. My yearbook editor wanted to switch into my AP Lang class. I said, basically, "Fine with me. I've got 32 cherubs already crammed into 2nd period, which is a tad overwhelming for 7:30 in the a.m., but if you can find a seat, I don't mind."

You see? I was trying to go along with the program. I'd say my response to the child definitely smacked of wagging, and not one little ol' bit of barking, correctamundo?

Well, little Miss I'm in Charge of Student Schedules pretty much busted a gut when she found out how pleasant I'd been. She basically staged a technological meltdown. I could see steam (figuratively, Dear Readers) coming out of my laptop when I clicked on her electronic missive to moi. Which she copied Principal Man on, natch.

I'm in charge, you're not, how dare you. That kinda thing. After attempting four drafts of a civil response, I settled on a polite but firm reply. In my 16+ years in charge of Room 215, I've never attempted to change a student's schedule. Nor could you pay me big bucks to be a guidance counselor. No sir, missy. Not goin' there in a heartbeat.

Of course, our Principal is a Man who often finds himself drowning in a flood of fools, so I guess I should have expected what happened the following week. I had no sooner put out one brush fire than I had to man the water canons once again.

PM decided this year to locate his four minions ~ known to the school population as Assistant Principals ~ in more visible office space throughout the building. Makes sense, I guess; more visibility from those in charge equals fewer disruptions to "instructional time." Fewer fights, less theft, quieter hallways. I'm all in favor of that.

Well, in all his ultimate wisdom, The Man with the Plan located one of the APs, as they're known, in a space across the hall from my Journalistas. As in the cherubs who attend Camp Kumbaya each year about this time.

The shot above shows my new neighbor's door, with its officious sign and its happy fall door dec (she previously supervised smelly 13-year-olds in a middle school), along with the reflection of my journalism computers. Yup, we're that close.

In my defense, I tried to make friends. She's new to our school, and she's older, and I figured I'd get on her good side by getting to know her. Well, a certain level of detente did exist, until she started questioning my cherubs and their motives, for goodness' sake.

A newspaper editor stepped out in the hallway ~ it's about a 5-second journey, I assure you ~ to get a drink from the water fountain.

"Where's your pass?"

Yours truly scurried down the hall (about 50 feet) between lunches to nuke her Chinese carry-out in the faculty microwave. Our new AP buddy sticks her nose into my classroom.

"Where's your teacher?" (Yes, I leave them alone sometimes for short stretches, like lunch or when I gotta go. It's not like they're playing with power tools, although they have been known to crawl out the window, on occasion.)

Then, my cherubs ~ at 3:45 in the afternoon, mind you, almost two hours after the final bell ~ were having a little fun while cobbling together the first deadline of the year. General guffawing, music blaring and all that jazz.

"Guys, could you please keep it down! This is a school!" Oh, sorry...we hadn't noticed.

In the meantime, miscreants in other quarters of the campus have vandalized both the baseball field and the football stadium; backpacks are disappearing from the gym locker rooms and there was a near-riot at a recent home football game when someone from the visitor's side deigned to walk through our senior section. OK, I'm exaggerating on the last one, but I think you get my drift.

Sounds like PM and his BOIs should wag their little bee-hinds over to the communal hydrant of bad behavior in our school, and stop peeing all over the good folks. I know one little doggy, though, whom I'd like to muzzle.


PJ said...

I can sympathize with you. I for one have NEVER been good with office politics and that's what it sounds like your describing. Not only that, I have never cared for woman bosses. They are too "power hungry" and make too many power plays. All I wanted to do was my job, but the clckish females would have none of that. If you weren't a tale-end kisser, you got nothing but a hard time.
Good luck with the rest of your year! I'll pray for you.

God Bless!

quilly said...

Is she new to the job? She doesn't know what to do with her power so she's going to play with it until it explodes and someone gets hurt.

Ria said...

Ug, I hate when people don't really think through a plan. And being female with some clout at work, I can't stand when females with a bit of power think they have to weild it constantly to make the point that they have it!

Cheryl said...

Uh oh. Looks like I stepped into a gender bias arena. I'm not going down that road one inch.

All I stopped in to say was this is part of what I imagine makes it less fun to be a teacher than back in the days of yore. A good idea in the hands of idjits is gonna fail every time. Sorry that things have gone awry so quickly this year.

Plow on, Scribbler, plow on!

Jeanie said...

Sounds like an AP whose power has gone to her head, or else she is just trying to justify her existence and is afraid of confronting the real problems.

Tracy P. said...

Hmm, a little close supervision. Could be an interesting life lesson for your cherubs! Whatcha gonna do, Mrs. Scribe? I hope she likes chocolate. Either way, hope this nut isn't too hard to crack!

Susie said...

I hate micromanagers!

Amy said...

Well, that's a touch misplaced. I hope she soon realizes that your cherubs are not thirteen and you run a pretty sound ship.

paige said...

Ah, the perils of teaching. :)

Krysten @ After 'I Do' said...

Yikes, that does not sound like fun.

Joann Mannix said...

All I could think of as you were telling your story was, these are Advanced Placement kids and journalists, for pete's sake! Why are the big dogs barking around them?

I guess the wagging only refers to the folks doing the educating, not the folks doing the . . . what are they doing?

Kristin said...

Sounds like someone's on a power trip. Boo.

Nance said...

...and lucky for all of us teachers, now Oprah is getting involved to tell all of us what we in education need to do. Glad I can retire in two years. If we could just BE TEACHERS IN A SCHOOL instead of parents, drug counselors, restaurant operators, employment counselors, social workers, police officers, psychologists, etc., maybe things would be different.

The Blonde Duck said...

Ugh. You've got a Nazi on your hands!

Sarah said...

Some people have a natural talent for bureaucracy. Sounds like you have a bunch there. Get on their good side pronto. They are the bunch that's most likely to succeed!

carma said...

Would you believe "I'm in charge, you're not, how dare you" is pretty much the rant I heard the other day. Also completely out of line. Why do people need to be so nasty and difficult. My stress level is going through the roof. People need to leave the good folks alone!!!! Couldn't agree more....Hope you can hang in there and that logic prevails.

grace said...

I've never understood why administration likes to pick on the good kids.

Lucy said...

Oh, boy, sounds like PM has put AP on babysitting duty. I think this is a little war waging time to play the game and beat PM and AP at their own game. Good Luck!

Jenny the Pirate said...

Hall monitors ... sheesh. In every place where human beings attempt to organize themselves in order to accomplish something, the hall monitors happen along and for all the world you'd swear their only function in life is to make it difficult for everyone else.

Sounds like you've got a good handle on the situation, MB. Keep calm and carry on. Tail wagging optional.

Betty Manousos @ CUT AND DRY said...

Aww, that doesn't look like fun..Yikes

B xx

Jeanie said...

Sounds like the scheduler needs to wag more.

Good grief -- Doesn't it make you crazy? Sometimes I swear it's not the kids that make school hard, it's the whole system that surrounds it!

Hope you and the cherubs can hang in! said...

The ne VP has probably been told from the powers that be that she is to maintain order at all costs, stay vigilant, and let no one, and that means no one, get away with anything. I would be in so much trouble this year at my former school. The VPs are trolling the classrooms, looking for kids with their iPods in their ears or texting on their phones. I let my students, when I wasn't talking, do both. I tried very hard to have a classroom that was like a workplace.

Anonymous said...

My cherub will always be indebted to and admire you, as do I. She adores you so much, she sent me this link:)

Allyson said...

Well this is going to be a frustrating school year for you and entertaining for us - I hope you don't mind. I think office, and especially school, politics is what makes people lose their mind and eject themselves from a parked plane via an inflated slide. I wish you had an inflatable slide to deploy. And, of course, a refrigerator stocked with your beverage of choice to grab on the way out. It always amazes me how leadership can be so blind to The Problem while they micro-manage The Solution. And it is like that everywhere. Even in the Army. Good luck this year. I hope The Man with the Plan and his BoIs are addressing the real issues and staying out of your classroom.


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