Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Library That Never Was

It was a year ago this week that I presented my idea to create a guided reading lending library for my school to the assistant principal. She loved the idea and we immediately started working on putting it together after the last day of school. Many teachers were paid per-session rate ($40/hr.) to help me collect, organize, and level the books. I also planned a whole PD session on how to do guided reading. In September I bought supplies to hold the books and created a check-out system. I was given an empty classroom to set everything up and I spent many lunch periods and preps putting the finishing touches on everything. Additional books were needed to fill in the gaps so I wrote out a huge book order. The library was ready for teachers to come in and check out books! Here is a picture of what it looks like . . .

Now here's the sad part of the story: Not a single teacher ever got to use the library.

As I worked to finish the preparations at the beginning of the year I tried to set a date with the principal to introduce the library and how to use it as well as to give the PD that I'd planned. She picked some date in October but it didn't work out. Then she suggested I give it at the Election Day PD. "November will be here before you know it." Well, turned out we had district people talking to us about data that whole day so it got pushed back again. And so on and so on until we all practically forgot about it. After the ELA I pushed to introduce it again because "Book Clubs" were the focus in the upper grades and that would be perfect for the teachers to have sets of books to check out. Still didn't happen. Finally it started getting to the point where the year was wrapping up. Is anyone even *teaching* guided reading now (if they ever were)? I just didn't feel motivated to bring it up again.

Now it is the last week of school. Half of my book order arrived last week. Today I integrated them into the library. And still not a single teacher has been able to take advantage of the library and all of the time, effort, and money that has gone into putting it together. I fear for the fate of the library next year. The classroom that the books are housed in will go back to being an actual classroom. The books could fit in a large closet but the proper shelving would have to be installed to make them fit and be accessible. Half of my books can't be ordered until next year's budget "opens up."

I still can't figure out why they dropped the ball on this one. All the work was done. All the effort put in. Plenty of money spent. A simple workshop and set of keys was all I needed.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Still trying to negotiate that self-contained class

Today was our end of the year meeting/celebration for my ESL study group. It was the most fabulous meeting I have ever been to. It was held at the Water Street Restaurant in DUMBO and after a few short presentations we had a delicious lunch (paid for by a book company that gave us a presentation). After the meeting I walked around the waterfront and took some pictures before returning to school (because I had a paid PD I needed to get back for).

At the meeting I talked to my supervisor/ELL specialist/CLSO-whatever-you-call-her about how I wanted to move to teaching Kindergarten. She thought that was a great idea and asked if it was a self contained ESL. I said no, just a regular class. I told her about the whole situation with my principal saying she couldn't post a vacancy. She replied that she could and SHOULD post it on the open market. She also said that she would try to send some ESL teachers my way. She had a suggestion for me as well. She said that I could have all of the incoming Kindergarten ELLs in my class (along with some other students) and I could have a self-contained ESL kindergarten (my ideal class). This would lighten the load of the pull-out ESL teacher who would then only have to service grades 1-5. A good situation all around, in my opinion.

When I got back to school I relayed all these ideas to my principal. She interjected ways that it wasn't possible and I countered with how it was since I was told by our district ESL know-it-all that it was!! I also told her firmly that I CANNOT teach the same thing again next year. I am in a rut doing the same thing three years in a row! I am a kind of person who needs CHANGE! (She tried to get me to distinguish between 'unhappy' and 'in a rut' "because they are different." I can't distinguish between the two because it is both, I told her.) She listened to everything that I had to say and said she would consider it and get back to me by the end of the week.

I really hope this works because I seriously need a change for next year. Oh, and at the meeting I gave my email address to two schools that need self-contained ESL teachers for next year. Networking, networking.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Apparently the answer to Tuesday's question was no.

So my principal talked to me today about next year's assignments before she handed out the organization sheets. She said that she put me down for ESL again though there was a vacancy in a lower grade like I requested. She said I was "being considered" to fill the position but the problem was that she couldn't post a vacancy for my license area. If she found an ESL teacher though I could possibly be given the Kindergarten class that had a vacancy. (It was sounding a little hopeful at this point.) Then she went on to say that while she was interviewing for various vacancies she would put it out there that the ESL position was a possibility but that she couldn't specifically advertise for the position because she "couldn't create a vacancy in my license area." Well, what if she hires someone for the Kindergarten position and finds an ESL teacher after that? Can I still have the position? I asked her. No, she said because it will have been already filled she said. I pointed out that it seemed unlikely for her to randomly come across an ESL teacher if she doesn't post the position. Yes, she agreed, as she nodded her head and gave me a look that said "this is the unfortunate predicament that we are in." I pressed on saying that it seems like I am stuck here in this position. It's as if the only way for me to get my own class is for me to go to a new school and start all over. She made some light comment about not letting me leave and I'm so great or something like that. (Throughout the whole conversation she showered me with compliments about how great I am with the ESL program and that the AP thought so as well.)

Essentially I came away from the meeting with the impression that she has no intention of giving me the position but is trying to make it seem as though she is doing everything she can to work it out for me. In the end when it doesn't work out she will be able to blame it on "the system" for not letting her create a vacancy. She compared this to a previous year when a special ed teacher wanted to go into a general ed classroom and so they put her there for the next year and created a vacancy but then "it wouldn't let them do it and she had to put the teacher back to special ed." (She says this all cryptically as if there is a computer system that knows where she is placing people for next year and won't let her do certain actions.) Now I understand about not creating a vacancy insomuch as she can't give me my own class next year leaving the ESL position with out a qualified person to teach it when I am qualified and working in the building. I completely get that. But I don't see how anything is preventing her from advertising and actively looking for my replacement. This is why I know this whole business she keeps repeating about creating a vacancy is her cover. I know this woman. If she really wants to do something, she will *find* a way to get it done. Obviously she doesn't want me out of ESL.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Will I ever get my own class?

For the second year in a row now I put on my preference sheet that I want my own class instead of teaching ESL. Just like last year my choices were 1) first grade, 2) Kindergarten, and 3) second grade. I talked with the principal and she knows that I really, really want this for all the same reasons as last year. This year though she keep mentioning how she knows I'm "not comfortable with the inconsistent schedule of being an out of classroom teacher." Weird that this year she tries to subtly put me down by saying I can't handle an inconsistent schedule of coverages and maybe I should "consider going into the classroom" when last year she said she had seen me in coverages and I needed to work on my classroom management if she were to consider giving me my own class. Contradictory much? Anyway, she said she would seriously consider it though it is problematic to create a vacancy in a "high-needs" license area. (Makes me think I'm definitely not getting it as she's already set me up for why she can't.) Then at the full day PD last week when her and I were discussing yearbook stuff she said I needed to make sure to go to the PD with the rest of the teachers because I need to "be in the loop in case I have my own classroom next year." (And still I think she's just saying that to say it.)

I know that next year they are adding a first grade class and a Kindergarten class and both of the current Kindergarten teachers want to move to new grades so there should be plenty of movement if she really wants to give it to me. The tentative organization sheet is due out Thursday.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Watch Me Fly!

For Ms. Frizzle's Birthday we went to the New York Trapeze School. We learned a surprising amount in just two hours. Here is my last fly of the day.