What’s a Sister To Do? aka Depressed and Confused in CR
Hmmmm…. where do I start? How does one explain the politics in K-12 administration? A job that I thought was going great suddenly turned ugly. I knew when I started this position that things were not quite kosher here because seven people in this same position last year were sent back to the classroom, or asked to retire and they hired 3 of us instead. Of course, I didn’t find this out until after I was hired.
At the start of the job, our team met with our immediate boss (just hired a month before us and replacing two other people), and his boss ( the CIO of the district). In that meeting we were told that this job was brand new, that they wanted it to look different than it did last year, and that we were to “think out of the box” in figuring out what this job should look like. In retrospect, I realize that these directives came from the CIO who is a visionary that expects others to implement his vision (sound familiar??). The challenge is, though, that I saw the same vision, and started doing what my background (which I assumed I was hired for) knew needed to be done. This included creating a survey to gather data about the state of the schools and teachers at the beginning of the year, getting on to committees at the district level (I was invited to one, because I was recommended by one of the folks on the hiring team, and the other I was mandated to be on by the CIO – my boss’s boss). In the meantime, our team starting jelling and developing what we thought we should be doing with training CRTs(Computer Resource Teachers – one from each building), and trying to get answers from our boss on several other intitiatives. However, since our boss was currently in his learning curve, and attending his share of committee meetings, the answers we got were few and far between.
Suddenly, during the Xmas holidays I goofed on an email that was sent to a principal, as I included a remark that could be taken as an editorial, and the principal, my boss, the principal’s boss all reacted to this email. As soon as I realized how the email was being interpreted, I offered to “unsend” it, but was told by the principal’s boss that was not necessary, just to be careful next time. My boss never answered my request for directions on what to do, and just set up a meeting with me for after the holidays. Little did I know that this was an “evaluation” meeting with several negative items on it, and nothing positive about all the things I’ve done. The survey was a really positive tool, and I got our department involved in the ETIL issue which had caused us to lose some funding last year because someone dropped the ball, besides all the positive training sessions we had held. But nothing was said about any of those. AND, this turned out to be a written write-up without so much as a verbal warning! Therefore, right now in my personell file, I have one negative, and nothing positive! And I’m considered a probationary teacher since I’m new to the district. I guess there goes my contract for next year…
The main thing he accused me of was spending too much time on “distict” activities, and not enough time in my schools. I wrote a rebuttal defending the fact that he approved the one committee, and his boss assigned me to the other.
After this meeting, I sat down and revisited all my school data, and made a chart of what I had found in each one, what I was doing, and where they were in the integrating technology stage. Quite a few of my schools are progressing nicely, as they have a staff development model in place where their CRT trains staff on technology every other week, and another school makes the teachers go into the lab with the lab instructor there, so they can learn the software, and make the connections to what they are doing in the classroom. I sent this chart to my boss asking for feedback, and where he saw that I was not on the right track, but he never responded.
In the meantime, the issue of the budget for next year came up, and he mentioned hiring 5 more people again next year. I wrote a couple of emails to him and his boss stating that I thought they should rethink spending that much money, as since my schools are progressing nicely, I didn’t think that many positions were necessary. I even made the comment that I was probably putting myself out of a job, but that they should be looking at the state of the schools and hiring what they needed. He never responded to those emails either.
Well in a meeting today on another (but related issue), he stated to the whole team that he would not answer emails that were a “piss war”. His words, not mine. And he still keeps insisting that I need to spend more time in my schools and less on district meetings. Well, the one meeting group has ended anyway, and the other was taken away from me and shared with my teammate (who wanted the committee herself, and I think was the one that got him started on the fact that I was not in my schools). I keep telling him that that’s a non-issue… (and in my rebuttal I proved that I was only spending time on committees that it says in my job description I was supposed to do.)
In thinking all this through, and relooking at all my notes from meetings, and emails to see if I was “pissing” in any of them, (I don’t think I was), I think I’ve come to the conclusion, that because I sent copies of the emails about the budget issue to his boss as well, and a couple of other things like the ETIL which he should have been involved in from the beginning, but he knew nothing about, that I’ve stepped on his toes. (It looks like I may have gotten my point across on the budget issue, because today he announced that due to budget issues, they are only hiring one more besides us rather than the 5 originally proposed).
So what’s a gal to do??? It sounds like we have totally different philosophies on how to make change happen in a school system. I believe it has to come from the top down, and teachers won’t change until the curriculum includes the tech and they are required to make changes. He believes that a grass roots effort makes change, because people at the bottom get excited, and get the principals excited, which causes change to happen. We are probably both right, and I wouldn’t mind doing what he says, if I thought the schools needed it. But the main thing is, if he had shared his philosophy at the beginning, I would have done what he wanted. But because our directions were so ambiguous, and conflicting at the same time, I did what I thought needed to be done, and got my hand slapped for it. He’s now saying that I’m looking at “the wrong box”.
I guess I need to just buckle under and do what I can in the schools that do need me, try to figure out how to stop stepping on toes that don’t want to move into the 21st century (there’s an issue of a discussion board that we disagree on also – but that could be another blog).
And I guess another thing I need to work on is getting over the negative evaluation by not worrying if that’s the only one I’ll get. I’ve debated going to the union, because the evaluation procedure has never been explained to me, and the original planning meeting was not done correctly (he was in HIS learning curve at the time it was due), but have decided that would just be stepping harder on toes, or even playing his p game.
Sigh… why is working so complicated??