If this were a work of fiction, last year’s job loss and unemployment might have still happened. But then things would have fallen into place, a new job would appear, and the teacher would make a victorious comeback. Last year’s reality would be nothing more than memory. Not preparation for the next battle.
This is not fiction.
I’ve known for a long time that I had philosophical differences with those above me. I’ve known that one of us views Big Data with worship and the other with disdain. I’ve seen the dismissive attitudes towards real problems that affect learning; I’m told none of those matter.
It’s just about the test.
I’ve watched the year unfold into the haves and the have-nots. Administration has cherry-picked teachers and placed them into one group or the other; your treatment is markedly different than that of someone on the other side. It comes into play with observation scores, technology in your classroom (or not), professional development that will or won’t be funded.
My administration often won’t even say hello as they pass me by. I’m not worthy of that miniscule bit of attention.
Maybe it’s intuition. Maybe it’s past experience.
I’m seeing the signs. The colleagues I confide in say that I’m thinking too hard, I’m worrying too much, it couldn’t possibly happen.
I don’t want to be right.
But I think I will be.
The administration waits until almost the very end of the year to start announcing grade assignments for the next year. Everyone is abuzz, wondering who will stay in the same grade, who will be moved.
They start scheduling individual conferences with teachers to tell them their assignment in secret.
They want to meet with me on a Friday afternoon so no one will see.
I know what that means.
We go back and forth on days and times. Every time they offer is after hours. I keep pushing and they finally schedule it during my planning period.
The morning of the scheduled meeting I check a personal finance site for updates. Their top story is how to survive a layoff.
My eyes reach to the heavens. Of all the days for that to appear, of course it had to happen today.
The meeting is over in ten minutes. They detail how I am a poor teacher who wastes time reading to children. They remind me that I have the lowest reading scores in my grade level. (Never mind that my children are young and are not in a testing grade. Never mind that I have refugee students, many kids still learning letter names, learning how to write their own names, learning how to count to ten. It’s my fault my expectations were too low. According to them, it’s always my fault.) They make up lies and blame me for things that have nothing to do with me.
And then they hand me my letter.
I’ve lost my job.
This year is unlike last year, both personally and professionally. Last year I was bewildered and emotional and sure (at least, when it first happened) that I was meant to be a teacher.
This time there have been few tears. I’m more disgusted with the system than anything else. I’m frustrated that once again teachers and students lose. I’m tired of working so incredibly hard and being told that everything I do is wrong.
They may want me to go quietly, but I’m not. I purposely told a few colleagues and told them to tell everyone in the building. If they’ve done it to me, they can and will do it to someone else.
There is an odd freedom in this. Last year I could reapply in the district. This year I can’t. So that disastrous thing coming down the line for next year? Good luck with that. I’m out.
This situation is wrong. It’s unfair. It’s destroying people’s careers–not just mine.
And it just plain sucks. Absolutely.
But it’s not devastating. Today is not the worst day of my life. The worst day of my life already happened several months ago, and improbably I’m still here, plodding along.
I know my days at this school are numbered.
I don’t know if I’ll be able to call myself a teacher in a few months.
It really did happen again.
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