Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Inmates Run Asylum, Film at 11

I am not sure how things got this disjointed or why things got this disjointed or who is responsible. All I know is that Thursday morning I'm supposed to facilitate a meeting of all the art teachers in our high school cluster from K through high school. Because our former superintendent, Mr. All Apple All The Time, resigned/retired at midyear, suddenly all the "we will use all Apple products even if it breaks the bank" mantra has gone away. Now we're in a time warp (insert Rocky Horror imagery here)and going back to the LAST trend which was "Understanding By Design." This is what preceded the glorified, overpriced Venn diagrammography of the last trend before we began as a district to worship at the altar of Apple.

We have a coordinator whose authority covers Dance, Theater and Art. She claims to have knowledge of all of them, but in reality we only see her maybe twice a year for fleeting seconds of time as she dashes in our classrooms while classes are in session, throws some bauble at us and then scuttles a hasty retreat to the more friendly theater environs. I didn't start out disliking her. I was overjoyed to have someone to intercede for us, to champion our causes or at least to make us less invisible to the powers that be. I was naive.

This year has been what less elegant people would calls a cl*st*rf*ck. I don't use that kind of language, but it doesn't mean I'm not thinking it. From the earliest part of the year, every action demanded of us as a discipline was scheduled on days when we were doing semester exams or standardized testing. I realize the folks in administration don't have enough to do, but when I'm stuck proctoring exams for three days, asking me for an inventory of my equipment does not endear me to anyone. Even such a banal thing as our district art show collapsed under the weight of competing causes such as our State competition, Scholastic Arts and Writing Nationals, and all the hoopla that goes with sending in college admissions forms. It was too much in a short period. Plus it is ridiculous to have an annual district high school show in the middle of the year when half of ours students haven't even been in an art class yet.

It didn't have to be like this. We have means of communicating. But instead of directly telling us what's going on, the coordinator relied on a committee she formed. If it was a group of like minded folks, it would be a great thing, but we have a couple of long time teachers in wealthy, mostly white schools (one on national TV for showing racist signs at a basketball game) and they don't play nice. Because of our different demographics and wealth levels, we can't magically pull funding out of our hats. In a similar fashion, we can't demand students show up because most of their parents work weekends. Our kids work just as hard and deserve better. Heck, I have four kids heading to RISD, two to Parsons, one to Pratt, one to Memphis and one to Carnegie Mellon. Yet for all the praise these kids get, you would think they had learned to tie their shoes by themselves. But when the other schools win even slight honors, the world, and district, must stop and admire. It's not right. Due to this attitude, nobody tells anyone, anything until the last minute.

This leads me to cycle back to the first graph. On Friday, while I was grading finals, logging in grades, I get an email at 3:30 in the afternoon demanding to know what I was presenting at the In-Service. I had only gotten word an hour earlier that middle school teachers as well as teachers from the tech center would be coming. I didn't have time to banter and told her that I would figure it out over the weekend. She got upset, demanded a meeting, claimed I was disrespectful. Perhaps so. But I tend not to respect people who get paid more than I do, but DO NOT DO THEIR JOBS. What's even more laughable is that when I asked my Assistant Principal what WE were doing in the morning before the presentation, she said "I don't know. I don't think anybody knows. It's like administration suddenly realized they had an In-Service on the calendar and they didn't plan anything so they're shoving it on us and now we seem to be passing the buck to you guys." She really said that. I appreciate the honesty.

So I will do this presentation along with our new hire (who is awesome) and we will discuss Understanding By Design and we will figure out goals for fifth grade art and high school art one and we will submit our ideas on implementing change. Not that anything will change. But at least they can't say I didn't do my job.

It just makes me kind of sick to think that even if I do an amazing job (and frankly my lesson plan on this sounds lightyears better than anything we've had the last five years!) I will only be perpetuating the job life of this really unfortunate leader.

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