Our new way of operating, the paradigm shift if you will, is taking a heavy, heavy toll. Where I believed I was creating a clear set of parameters for my co-teacher and I to operate in, to quarantine us from dysfunction and general idiocy…I have in fact created a more subtle set of unusual constraints. Some of them completely internal.
The basic rule of, “If it affects kids or instruction directly, it needs to be dealt with,” seemed simple, ethical, and intelligent. Budget issues, politics, etcetera…immediately thrown out the window as antagonistic forces. A return to instruction, and instructional issues only seemed like a solid move…one that would let us “turtle up” to endure the year, if need be.
However…glaring problems of scheduling, spending, and even staffing, that directly affect students and the classroom have reared their heads almost immediately. Many of them are currently being fobbed off on the broken MiSIS system of student tracking, but the time window for that as an excuse is waning. Compliance issues of all kinds, some of them really troubling, have reared their heads. The year has not started as smoothly as advertised…and with this plan to get through, I hadn’t been prepared for such hard cases early on.
It has caused a kind of crisis of confidence that I don’t usually have. The scheduling issues…they are what they are…at least as far as MiSIS goes. The young man who speaks no English that is in my honors class…that’s a human error, not a computer oversight. The idea that the problem is unfixable, and that he has missed two weeks of English class…also unacceptable. His parents have also been in, speaking stridently about legal points. I referred the issue, of course…and capable people are on top of it, but I’m not fighting about it.
The same goes for referrals of students for psych services. We have more psych staff than ever before on campus, but the system to make them spring into action seems sluggish, undocumented, and less urgent than I am all that comfortable with. Forget the fact that I have no idea which students of mine might be Special Ed, and need services in class. These are major issues. Normally, I would pick a fight over them…but now…not as much. The strategy of “biding time” makes that a no-return idea, picking a fight.
The staffing and actual matrix issues…also, not the time, despite some things that are really troubling.
Thankfully, I have my co-teacher. Also struggling under this set of ideas, troubled by not revealing opinions and criticisms liberally in a public forum…she is only too happy to write e-mails and generally hold people accountable. In the short term, she is picking up the slack, with communication about instructional focus that is laser like in direction, and quite pointed. When matters of operations impede instruction, she drops the metaphorical Truth Lasso on it instantly.
For the time being, while I get all my ducks in a row, that’s the heavy lifting. Without some sort of buddy system support, I wouldn’t be able to ride it out. As it is, there is so much that I am unhappy about keeping my mouth shut about, it is hard to quantify. The long strategy may be high return for instruction, and for the future of the school, but it totally sucks @#$% in the short term.
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