Friday, April 17, 2009

Alana and the Terrible, Horrible , No Good, Very Bad Day

UGH! Have you ever read the book "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" by Judith Viorst? It's children's book about a boy who ---you guessed it---has a really, really awful day. He gets gum in his hair, has to eat food he dislikes, his teacher doesn't like his art project, etc. I had one of those days today...

School Stuff: Yesterday was a big day at my school. We had a "cluster" visit in which district reps from each subject department visited our school. County reading reps went into all 4 of our school's reading classrooms. I'm very frustrated because they docked points in a lot of areas, rather than seeking clarification from myself or the other reading teachers. Of course, we didn't find out about this until today...too little too late.

Today I had a training that was interesting and informative. After the training, I stopped at my school to speak to the principal about how yesterday's cluster visit went. He said that it was the "worst reading report" he has received in the 5 years that he has been principal. He stated that myself and one other teacher were noted to be OFF MODEL. Meaning we weren't following the Read180 program protocol. WHAT?!?! I can't "vouch" for the other teacher, but I was doing everything by-the-book. The only exception is when the Internet server froze, so my students could no longer use the Read180 software. Then those students were using Microsoft Word to type their language arts poetry. But, since the servers crashed while the reps were in my room a rep asked a few students to click on both the program and Internet Explorer. Once she noted that the Internet was not working she seemed to be okay with their "alternative assignment." ARGH.

My principal was very calm and pleasant, and not at all accusatory. He listened to my concerns and informed me that he requested a meeting on Weds 4/29 with all the reading teachers, himself, the vice principal, and the district/cluster reps so we can all talk in person. Though he said, "Don't worry about it, we'll get it all sorted out," I still feel disappointed.

My next step was calling Ms. Cray, one of the district reps who observed in my classroom. (We've known each other for a few years and she has called me before for help with resources, ideas, etc.) She told me that I was "off model" because I only had 2 rotation groups in my room. I reminded her that my "silent reading group" of students were working across the hall with my co-teacher, which has been our routine since 1st quarter. Despite the fact that 1st quarter Ms. Cray and her co-worker told me this was a "great idea" and "how wonderful" that my school had space for the silent reading students to be separated from the other students, she said it was "questionable." WHAT?!?! She said that because they were only there for a "snapshot" visit, it wasn't obvious that I still had 3 groups (a Read180 mandate) that were facilitated within my class. When I reminded her that just before she and the district people left my room, the co-teacher and 6 students returned to the classroom---she said that she remembers seeing the co-teacher, but did not realize any students were with her! ARE YOU FREAKIN' KIDDING ME? My classroom jumped from 16 to 23 people and you DIDN'T NOTICE??? She told me we'll have to work it out at the 4/29 meeting with the principal because it "didn't appear" that I had 3 rotation groups. I am FURIOUS. If they would have asked me or any of the students in the room where the silent reading group was, any of us could have told them. Instead they assumed I was just skipping silent reading all together. That alone burns my bridge...but the fact that 6 months ago she was praising my idea at having a separate, quiet reading area...which she somehow mysteriously forgot entirely about. I DON'T GET IT!!

Ms. Cray also informed me that another teacher's student's were caught listening to music during their Read180 software rotation. One teacher had word searches in her classroom. She was upset that my students had 3 crossword puzzles in their portfolios. Even when I explained they've only had one crossword per quarter and ALL the words were vocabulary directly from the Read180 text, she still said it was unacceptable because it wasn't Read180 material. I told her (truthfully, I might add) that the crosswords were all given near the end of the quarter when my students had substitute teachers. She stated I need to find new sub materials, and crosswords are unacceptable. Though upset by this news, I could normally take it with a grain of salt. However, shouldn't I at least be informed of this BEFORE losing points in the school evaluation? I'm a rule follower. If I'd been told not to use crosswords (even definition/vocabulary related ones) I would not have used them, but it seems very unfair to be docked points for something I didn't even realize was the wrong thing to do. Ms. Cray continued telling me issues they had in all of the reading classrooms---"none" of us had student work stored, etc. When I explained that my student portfolios are in a cabinet that is labeled with a "STUDENT SOURCEBOOKS ARE STORED IN THIS CABINET" sign, she stated she must've looked in the wrong location. So again----how am I losing points for what YOU MISSED or didn't ask about? UGH!

The clincher was the end of the phone call Ms. Cray said, "I don't want you to lose sleep over it, but there is cause for concern." Ummm, yes, asshat, there is cause for concern. You didn't give my department a fair chance!

I am hoping: 1. I am not blamed for things that are out of my control (because I'm the reading department head.) 2. Everything is sorted out at the meeting. (Please God, let the teachers and I have the opportunity to explain ourselves...I hate that we weren't given the chance to do so yesterday!) And I am stressed and irritated that my department and I received all negative feedback. Seriously? How are our students showing reading level gains and growth if we're doing such a shitty worldclass horrible job? I don't get it.

Home Stuff: DH got his new work schedule this afternoon---he'll be working 10:30 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. Ick. This was his prior schedule that we were so grateful to have end, as it really puts a damper on Emma's schedule. DH doesn't get home until 7:30ish, so we don't eat dinner until 7:45ish (or later.) This means Em's bedtime is closer to 9 than I'd like...because as you can imagine by the time my4 year old girl actually falls asleep, it is usually at least 30 minutes after she's gone to bed. Big ick.

Miscarriage Stuff: To create the perfect end to my day, there was a hospital bill in the mail when I got home from work. Total coast of my January ER visit for miscarriage $75.00. Sighs.

On a brighter note---Super DH: DH's birthday was yesterday. Happy bday, mi amore! I soooo appreciate you and the wonderful contributions you make to our lives together. One awesome thing about our relationship---we started when Em was just a baby---we take turns for bedtime. Every-other-night it is my "turn" to help Em with PJs, teeth brushing, bath, stories, and bed. Anyway....tonight is DH's "turn." I think I'm gonna take a candlelight bubble bath tonight when they start bedtime...I sure need it after my day.


Carrie27 said...

Wow, that sounds like a big clustered mess (work). We do not have a mandated program we need to follow and I'm thankful for that, actually. I enjoy having the freedom to try different techniques, vs. being forced to have one and only one option. Good luck at your meeting. We are also having a meeting at the end of the month to talk about writing. Big gulp.

That is a late schedule for your dh. How long will that schedule last? Unfortunately, there are many nights that my husband doesn't get home for the twins' bedtime and sometimes Addyson's.

Becoming a Family of Four said...

sorry about the work stuff :( We take turns for bedtime too - I love when it's DH's turn :)

Beautiful Mess said...

WOW! That IS so very frustrating. As a parent of a kid who will most likely be using a reading program to "catch up", I would think that looking at the progress of the children is the key here. I know there are rules and such, but they should really ask questions or look harder for things that are important. Good luck with your appointment and I hope this doesn't ruin your weekend!

tbonegrl said...


Wish I could give it in person! How craptastic!

Marie W said...

Wow! Don't you just love criticisms from people who are not in the classroom??? I dislike that they don't come over a period of days, but come one day and make their judgements off that day. {hugs} - I would try and relax, but at that meeting, make sure you and your team are all on the same page and have all your documentation. Like I always say-CYA (cover your ass). Let me know how it goes.