February 28, 2010

No! No! I won't Go

Usually I am a pretty positive person.  I tend to look for the silver linings.  Nobody wants to be around a Debby Downer.  But lately, I have been feeling pretty negative by some of the stupid decisions made around here. 

Take for instance this....

On Thursday, tucked away in our weekly memo from administration, was the notice that next Tuesday is McTeacher night.  This is fundraiser that McDonald's hosts for local schools.  It is a win-win situation for them.  Neighborhood schools promote a night out at McDonald's, customers tell the server what school they want to support, and McDonald's gives a percentage of the receipts to the schools.

The memo went on to say that each grade level should organize a schedule to cover the 4pm - 8pm evening.  Teachers are expected to meet, greet, and wipe tables off.  Oh yeah--they can also spend their money eat.

This is my frustration:
  1. It is Thursday and I am expected to do this on Tuesday.  Anyone ever hear of notice?  My calendar fills up pretty quickly and I already have a full evening on Tuesday. 
  2. How is it fair that one grade-level might have 3 sections while another has 4 --not to mention student teachers. 
  3. What other profession requires you to work all day and then spend hours being available to wipe tables without compensation. 
I guess I'd rather be asked to volunteer than to be told to do it.  You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.  Not that I am comparing teachers to flies.  Well, I am not going to be there.  I already have an  evening full of a meeting (a district one, no less) and book club until 8:45.  Of course, I don't want to put extra work on my colleagues, but I don't think they are able to go either.  Oops!  I guess our grade level won't be represented.  Bow I wonder what backlash we will face, 'cause you know we will.....

February 15, 2010

Cognitive Coaching

Last fall I began some professional development in Cognitive Coaching and this weekend was the last days of our time together.   Cognitive Coaching is intended for helping mediate people's thinking.  We learned ways to communicate in order to help people plan, reflect, and problem resolve.  
While the cognitive coaching is to help others--I am the one who learns the most about myself and my communication skills.   I have had practice in learning when to ask the right questions and when to sit and be quiet.   
The hardest part of cognitive coaching is giving up the desire to give advice, relate with my own stories, and solve problems.  I have to remember that I am there to assist someone in their own thinking.   

The additional benefit of this course was meeting other educators in my district that I do not see often.    It is sad that often times the only people we ever get to know are the people in our own school.  We have some wonderful dedicated people in our district!

February 8, 2010

Un - called for stress

The weather threatened to get bad on Friday.  Snow and ice were on their way according to the forecasters.  Nevertheless, school began as usual.  I heard rumors that we would let out early, but I had a busy day planned and no time to check email or call the office.  I figured if we were let out, we would find out.

At 11:00, I had the class in the media center doing some research when the media specialist offered to help me make phone calls.  I had no idea what she was talking about.  She reported that school indeed was letting out early and teachers were asked to call all the parents of their children. 

WHAT !?!?!   When did that policy go into effect?   When our time was up in the media center, I herded walked my class back to the room as I strategized how I would make close to 30 calls in the net hour.  I scrapped the next lesson and asked kids to get out a book to read while I looked at my email.   Sure enough, teachers were being asked to call the parents of students who were the oldest in their family at our school.

My stress level increased as I :
  1. figured out which students were the oldest at our school
  2. figured out how to busy engage the students with something they could do independently until lunch 
  3. decided which of the 3 -4 numbers to call for each child ( and wonder if they would be in service)
  4. interupted parents at work to tell tehm something they already knew --most had text alerts in place
  5. discovered the school phones wouldn't work because the circuits were overloaded with all the teachers calling
  6. used up many, many cell phone minutes   ( and also gave out my private cell phone number to parents as I made the calls)
  7. wondered if my cell battery would still be charged if my car slipped into a ditch on the way home

I was about 2/3 done when the office called me at least 3 times.  Seems primary teachers were wondering if we had gotten hold of big sister's parents yet.  Ugh!   Also, I had at least 2 parents want to discuss their child's progress when I called.  I promised to get back to them at another time, because I only had 30 minutes to call 10 more parents.

I hope they never do that to us again.