Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Why do I bother? *UPDATED*


Well, today I officially feel useless.

Before spring break, my grade seven students were all set and ready to perform the project they had been working on since January. It was the last week before spring break, and everybody knew performances were coming. The day before performance day, I found out by accident that one of the teachers had scheduled a last minute field trip to watch a basket ball game and HALF of my students would be gone. It totally screwed up everybody's performances, threw a major wrench in my evaluations and my ability to write report cards, and basically made me feel like the whole term was a big fat waste. The kids had been working for so long on their projects, for what? To not perform them? I was sooo glad that a basketball game was more important than three months worth of student's - and my - effort. Most kids ended up being able to perform, but only after some serious gymnastics with the schedule, and still there were some who just didn't get to do it. Mainly it left me feeling really undervalued.

Cut to spring break. I spent half the week stressing about how to write these report cards for the kids who didn't do their performances, how to work around kids who went on early holidays, etc etc etc. Many hours were spent tallying, writing comment bases, and making sure marks and comments were fair and accurate. I finally finished early this morning, after going to sleep around midnight and getting up at five just to get them done.

A quick explanatory note before I continue: For my intermediate students, I give letter grades every term, but only give comments once. I sent out a note to all teachers about six weeks ago telling them who would be getting comments when and to get back to me if there were problems, because I evaluate things differently if I have to make comments (ie. not just a test score, but what sections they did well on and what sections they had trouble with). It takes way more time to evaluate a class I'm commenting on than one I'm not.

So this morning I handed the results of all that work to a few of the teachers, and I was met with, "Oh, we don't have room on our report cards for comments this term."

It doesn't happen often, but I was speechless. Whaaaa????

What about all that work I just put in, missing a good friend's birthday party in the process? What about the note I sent out asking if you had any problems with getting your comments this term? What about the fact that THIS project that we just finished is the major project for the year and is what needs to be reported on?

The response? "Oh yeah, I got that note a long time ago, but I forgot. Aw, and nobody reads those comments anyway." This was the same teacher who told me before the break to just make up marks for the kids who didn't do their performances.

I wanted to scream. And cry.

I'm so glad I bust my ass every day trying to do the best I can, trying to be fair, trying to do my job properly just to be told that nothing I do really matters anyways. I mean, of course it DOES, which is what makes me so mad, but when I keep comming up against comments and situations like this, I really see how teachers can start to get apathetic.

SIGH. I don't even know if I'm coherent spilling this all out, just all I could think of today is why do I even bother??? Ugh.

After a few of the comments I got on this post, I realized I had to clarify a few things. First of all, this post was written in a moment of frustration. I considered taking it down, or changing it, but decided to keep it as is, whith the explanation that blog entries sometimes are "in the moment" type writing. Things have since worked out - they always do. This post was written in reaction to how I was feeling about my colleague's remarks.

Now, a word about my colleague. This person is an excellent, dedicated, caring teacher. We don't always see eye to eye, but this is a person from whom I can learn a lot. I'm not excusing what this person said, because it was insensitive and frankly made me feel like crap. But nobody is perfect. I still smart a little from the remarks and just the whole situation in general, but life carries on, and I hold no grudge against this teacher.


niki d said...

aww!! Here's a hug Hillary *HUG*...I'm praying that things look up and that those teachers realize what an awesome job you're doing and see all the effort you put in....*HUG* PS-happy to hear the rat is gone! ~nova~

Anonymous said...

Too bad about the apathetic forgetfull teachers. It's examples like this that show why people like me should not be teachers! We are praying for you. Keep up the good work!

PelaLusa said...

In EVERY organization there are great & amazing people like you and imcompetent, mediocre people like your colleague. Your stories remind me a little of something I father once told me. When he came over to Canada from Germany in 1951, as a 20 year old eager to make a new life for himself, he was first sent up to and underground mine near Yellowknife. He, and the other young Germans there did what they thought they were supposed to: work hard and build a prosperous future for themselves.

After just a few days one of the Canadian workers called him over. "What are you and your friends doing?", he asked my father. "Doing what we were told by our supervisor", he responded. "Yes, but you're all working TOO fast and making us look bad."

I wouldn't be surprised if this fellow was related to your absolutely pathetic colleague!!!

beth said...

One of my favourite and most inspiring teachers was my eighth grade music teacher. Not only did he demand the best from his students, but he demanded the best from himself. Out of all the teachers I've ever had, he's the one I remember the most about. I know it's frustrating, but you are making a great difference in these kids lives with a caring attitude like yours.

Paul said...

I'm really sorry about that Hillary.
I know it won't help, but most church leaders feel pretty much the same - I'm glad I'm not one any more.

anne said...

What a frustrating and compromising situation they have put you in. That really sucks. Good for you for at least sticking to your guns as much as you have been able. Just keep working your hardest and it will pay off. Even if only for you knowing that you worked your hardest. :)

Hillary said...

Pelalusa, this person is neither mediocre or pathetic. I appreciate your support, but I wasn't slamming this person. My colleague is an excellent teacher who happened to make some insensitive remarks.