Sunday, December 07, 2008
posted by Q6 at 5:02 AM
I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about my professional status and the . . . "situation" I find myself in. I guess I've been deconstructing myself professionally, trying to figure out why I feel so out of place and dissatisfied with my current assignment. I believe I've got about three quarters of the whole thing figured out.*

Here are some of the things I've come up with:

--This school site is smaller in just about every way: activities, students, teachers, . . . there's not a whole lot to be done here. And since this school has more administrators than it needs (a political move for this program improvement school), there are fewer opportunities for me to demonstrate my abilities. At my last school site, there was a lot to be done and I had lots of chances to prove myself. I either have to create opportunities or identify more problems to solve.

--This school doesn't have the demographic participation I'm used to (or comfortable with, frankly). The parents are involved very little or at all, and in some cases the parents are out of the picture completely. The students aren't motivated to succeed OR to perform; they're just going through the motions and trying (not very hard at all) to avoid problems. By this reckoning, this isn't as much of a "school" as I would like. It's overblown day care. I feel like I'm trying to sculpt a masterpiece without the benefit of, y'know, clay. Someone once suggested that different cultures value different things. It was very generalized for the sake of a small article, but it essentially suggested this: whites value money, asians value education, africans value stature (or social status) and hispanics value family. I'd certainly argue against some of these points, but one of the things I would agree with is that education is NOT in the top five for hispanics, our main demographic. We're really trying to get them to swim against the tide, with little or no success. Even some of the parents think that while we're trying very hard, we're wasting our time trying to educate future warehouse workers and such.

--This school I'm at has been getting a bad rap for years about its problems, most of which disappeared with the new principal over a year ago. It's a great team, a great teaching staff, and a great program. I just wish we had students who wanted to take advantage of it.

I've decided to pitch a discipline procedure change to the faculty; I want them to throw me some of the work they've been doing for a while. It'll give me more to do, and it'll give me a chance to prove my worth.

There's still something I haven't quite figured out about my lack of comfort, though. Hopefully, it will come to me and I'll be able to finish this professional jigsaw puzzle.

*Of course, if I think about it some more I'll come up with several other things, and the percentages will change. It'll have all the mathematical sense of a Monty Python "Spanish Inquisition" sketch.


At 12:26 PM, Anonymous Jude

I haven't been keeping up with your blog, although now that I'm switching to Google Reader (which isn't blocked by my school district like bloglines is--no "blog" word in the title), I'm hoping to catch up.

As an ELL teacher/librarian/translator, I'd say that you can tie into the importance of family to get your Hispanic students to succeed. One of my favorite students, now a sophomore (I met him when he was in the 4th grade) is a classic underachieving Latino student. His parents are barely literate, although they speak 2.5 languages (Cora, Spanish, and some English). Last year, I learned from translating at his parent-teacher conferences that he had chronic, untreated asthma. He is now being treated and his absences went down until recently, when he became the translator for his dad, who had to go to court. It's important to go above and beyond with these kids, from my perspective. Their parents want to be proud of them, and their parents generally *do* value education. They don't know how to be involved in the school. They need to be educated about ways that they *can* be involved. They need training on how to access student grades online (at their public libraries, most likely). This seems like a wonderful goal for a motivation-starved principal to work on.


At 10:43 AM, Blogger Many Shades of Shabby by Devonia

Re: The parents are involved very little or at all, and in some cases the parents are out of the picture completely.

What?!?!? No *helicopter parents*, no *hot potato parents*? No students sent to test preparation classes?

Perhaps the old adage, Be careful what you wish for.... has just hit you in the face?

It's apparent that you have landed in an environment where the kiddos must look to their teacher for motivation. Do you have it to offer?

Based upon much of what I've read in your blog, this should be the ideal situation for you - a small student body, low parental interference. Stop whining and start motivating. At the risk of sounding mushy, you might be one of the only bridges these kiddos will ever have -find a way to help them cross it.

Good luck.