Sometimes there's a bold line drawn between the attitudes of teachers and their students, and sometimes there is no line at all.
My job description over the last six years has gone from a leaflet to something resembling War and Peace, and the newest addition to this tome is Attendance. All 7th-12th grade attendance issues are now routed through me, the Middle School Assistant Principal. (I suspect the impetus for this change has something to do with the fact that I get through my referrals in about a fifth the time it takes the High School AP. If it keeps up like this, I should be doing everything but school finance and master schedule by the end of 2010.)
One of our teachers, one with a conference period at the beginning of the school day, has been making a habit of coming in late. I finally had a chance to call him on it, and his main argument was that it was not affecting his job performance. "I'm still getting everything done, so what's the big deal?" I called upon the contract language for support, the fact that other teachers did not have this luxury he seemed to be abusing, the example he was setting, etc. Finally the matter was settled, and lately I've seen him each morning passing through the front office well before school starts (whether this is for legitimate reasons or just a show for me, I couldn't care less--he's here, and that's all I really want.)
Later the same day I called several students in to discuss their lacking attendance. This has become my routine, and it's too soon to tell if it's having a positive impact or not. I was struck by the response of one 12th grader, a young man who had been missing classes after lunch with some frequency. When I imparted to him the potential harms of ditching class, his response was almost frightening:
"I'm still getting all my work done, so what's the big deal?"
In my many rants about the state of the public education system (or the school I work at, anyway) I don't think I've yet touched on this item: at what point in time did we begin to move away from the basic concept of time? I'm now working in a district that is dealing with such things as Credit Recovery and Year-Round Summer School (to, supposedly, remove the stigma of an extra year of school from course failure). Online courses are everywhere. We're offering college courses to high school students. Remediation is a thing of the past at our school--students here are majoring in "Fast Forward." Now we've come to the point where time itself is irrelevant.
I miss that place I once knew as "high school." I miss it because it sure as hell isn't anywhere around my office.