Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What Shut Me Down- Part 1

You all have no idea how lovely it is to read your comments!  Makes a girl feel loved.  Dallas was amazing and I have some fantastic pictures for you.  People dressed up in all sorts of costumes, some brilliant, some... not so much.  It'll be worth the wait, promise.
First, however, I'll get started on my little story about what caused me to drop of the face of bloglandia, because, if I don't get started soon I'll just keep putting it off.  And I do not need any added stuff needing to be done.  My to-do list is long enough as it is!
Alright, it looks like I left off during fall.  I did blog about how my school was on the 'bad school' list as our test scores weren't up to snuff.  The state department would come in and inspect us, the school district sent in a specialist to help look at what teachers were doing (lesson plans, strategies, etc), the school even hired a 'staff development' person to help the teachers with what to teach their students, and so on and so forth.  We even were under threat of becoming a charter school if the grade the state department of education gave us wasn't high enough.  It was insane!  Teaching is hard enough, but, have all of that being held over you took hard to an entirely new level!
The environment was incredibly strained and everybody, even the teachers and TAs who didn't have to worry about state tests, were feeling it.  My good friend, and third grade teacher, suffered a couple of breakdowns and began to see a therapist.  Her situation in particular was unbelievably stressful as many of her students couldn't do basic math nor reading comprehension when they walked into her classroom for the first time.  It was as if the proverbial deck was stacked against her and she didn't want to fail her kids.  I thought the stress of all of that was what was weighing on her.  It was only later in the year, that I realized that there was so much more to her, and many other co-workers', problems.
My principal was the one who hired me.  She adored Leo and seemed to like me well enough.  At least, she never told me I was doing a horrible job.  I was aware, however, that not everyone was a fan and I figured that was to be expected to some degree.  I tried very hard to be careful about what I said to who and just keep my head down and do my job as best as I could.  Slowly, over the year my principal made some odd decisions.  One was telling everyone on staff that they could not hang out in the office at all anymore.  There other occasions where she made odd requests for specific teachers.  One of the strangest was in March when, out of the blue, she pulled all of the support staff to rearrange the library.  I actually got sick looking at books thanks to that little project.  There were lots of other things as well, but, the gist of it was that my principal seemed to be on edge and downright paranoid that people were against her.  I wish I had been aware how deep that paranoia went.  Sometimes, we can reason things away and dismiss stuff we really should be putting in context of the bigger picture.
The tension never abated, and it built throughout the school year like some cartoon snowball going down the mountain.  I was not immune to feeling this and most of the time I was in a terrible mood about work.  I loved teaching, I liked the kids, I didn't mind that some of them were high maintenance, but, the high anxiety, depressed staff, and tense atmosphere was really wearing on me.  More than once I had tears in the morning getting ready for work.  I would cry and tell Jon how I didn't want to go to work and I was tired of doing this day after day.  I felt trapped.  I couldn't leave TPS because I needed insurance, I decided becoming a public school teacher was not worth the trouble, and I wasn't left with many options that could give me the flexibility for dance and training service dogs, pay decently, and give me insurance.  
My situation felt, almost hopeless actually.  At the end of my work day at school I was often tired and cranky and then I had to turn around to go teach piano.  It was all getting to be overwhelming, add problems at the studio I worked for (more on that later) and it really made me a 'delightful' person.  I'm sure you can hear the sarcasm in that statement!  It was awful and I while I did fairly well to keep trucking along, I came to the conclusion that I couldn't keep doing this anymore.  Working myself to the bone for so little and yet having to do more than that just to keep insured and financially.  It was not living, it was survival.  Jon agreed with me and we both kept an eye out for something better.
Little did I know at the time, something better would come under the most surprising and disturbing of circumstances.  In retrospect, there were signs that a tumultuous storm was to come at the school I worked for.  Perhaps, it was the stress or my naivety that distracted me.  Whatever it was, I was not prepared at all for what occured during my last months at Lindbergh Elementary. 


Caitie said...

Glad you're back! Can hardly wait to hear how things turned around for you :-)

Sara Louise said...


The Pliers said...

I think that it is really important that you are taking the time and making the effort to articulate how you experienced all of the things that happened to you on both a macro and micro level, particularly since you were proactive and actually succeeded in leaving the whole situation behind you, moving on to something much for congenial to your own thriving and flowering on a daily basis. Bravo on the changes that you put in motion and best of luck in your new endeavors!