Time for a Hug
OK…we’re almost halfway through October and feeling like we want to blow our brains out. Right?
The routines and rituals have either robbed everyone of their dignity in the name of order, or not been implemented in the name of making you shout like a fool to get the class to sit down. Either way, your dignity is gone.
And Columbus Day…what a goddamn joke. It was only two days ago and already you feel cheated. The only thing that seems farther away than Columbus Day is Thanksgiving. And you can’t afford to start getting excited about that yet. Then there’s December. And at the end of that is…we dare not speak of it…
Anyway, who needs a hug? Probably everybody. But I’m thinking now of the new people at your school. These may be people brand new to teaching or they may just be new to your particular messed-up little microcosm of administrative hubris. Either way, these folks are having a hard time adjusting and need some support. They won’t always show it, but they need it and they need you.
They have survived the initial onslaught of demands, requirements, non-negotiables, imperatives, directives, deadlines, “suggestions”, criticisms, complaints and all manner of related crap. They have likely figured out that they cannot do it all and that at least half of the administrative staff has a borderline personality disorder in addition to not being very smart. And they know there are landmines yet undiscovered. They are settling in, but very lightly.
Plus, they are in a new professional environment…trying to make a good impression, trying to not look stupid, trying to make friends. This is hard in a school. You spend most of your time with students or in some cluster-fuck of a dumb-ass meeting about nothing that is run by a moron.
In some places, like the Columbia Heights Education Campus where I most recently taught, the annual teacher turnover is 40-50 percent. Quite rationally, this makes people who have been there for a long time (3-4 years) less likely to invest in relationships with the new ones. Mathematically, this makes all the sense in the world…as soon as I get to know your name, you will be gone.
But they need you…the veteran. The person who can confirm their suspicions, so they know they aren’t crazy. Give them a hug. Or a pack of smokes. Just help them.
So stop by the new teacher’s classroom during your planning period. Be supportive and listen to them. Buy them a drink. Invite them to lunch. Many times I would stop in on a new teacher and find out they were just on the verge of a nervous breakdown. This is a hard job and there is no chance that it will get easier. We need to buck each other up. So do it. Fuck the data tracker that your new VP who just got out of the New Leaders program this summer told you to get ready for Friday. Even though that poor, stupid fucker doesn’t know it, it’s bullshit and you know it. So act accordingly.
Find that person who needs a little help. And help them. Maybe, just maybe, in spite of the administrative density, retardation and control freakishness at your school, you can help this person to help his students.