Tuesday, April 26, 2011

ChalkDuster's Future: The Inside Story

So, Spring Break has come to an end. I know I won't sleep well tonight. Anxiety sets in. Sometimes, my loved ones say, "Why do you worry so much? Remember, it's just a job."

As much as I love my loved ones, I have to admit, sometimes they just don't understand at all. No, it is not just a job. Teaching is a way of life. Even when I'm not actually in the classroom, my mind is. My mind is thinking about whether or not my next lesson will be sufficient to teach my kids to the standards yet still leave them with the sense of wonder and creativity they should have as sixth graders. .My heart is wondering if my students are safe right at this moment. My stomach is in knots over the next meeting with my principal to review an observation or my dreaded "professional portfolio". WAIT! Definition time!

Professional Portfolio (pro-fess-shun-al port-foh-li-oh): A rather large binder full of three years of formal and informal observations, lessons, community contributions, student work, letters, and, of course, TEST DATA that NYC teachers hired in 2008 need to put together RIGHT NOW so we may be reviewed for tenure.

I was informed in March that I had to put this portfolio together for my tenure. One would think that I would have been told three years ago, when I was hired, so I would have been able to gather the items needed for my portfolio over the years. Just this year, the state has changed their tenure evaluation process. We now need to prove ourselves worthy of the Due Process that tenure entitles us to.

So, essentially, in the past six weeks I have tried like hell to have this portfolio ready for review. Of course, this was dropped on our heads two short months before the state test, and the due date for the portfolio is right before the test. You would think the Bigwigs would see that our priority is our students at this time, but I suppose we are expected to use every second of our personal time constructing this professional portfolio. Teachers have families and lives outside of our jobs, and this is not considered whatsoever. The common misconception is that we have tons of time off. We don't. If we're not grading papers or planning (or putting together last-minute portfolios) at home, we are thinking about our students, lessons, and administrators.

To compound this frustration and pressure, I found out just how drastically tenure guidelines have changed. The most monumental "adjustment" aside from the professional portfolio is that the three years of probation that precedes tenure can now be extended....FOREVER. So, my question is...what's the point of tenure at all if a principal has the power to never grant it, but also does not have to fire the teacher if she won't grant it?

This basically means teachers can be led around on a stick for as many years as the principal sees fit, will always be disposable and exposed to subjective scrutiny without the protection of Due Process.

My future as a teacher seems quite unstable st the moment. Anxiety sets in. I have a family to support.

Good night.

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