Saturday, October 5, 2013
Going Around In Circles - School #1
Yes, the Traveling ATR is back and ready to travel throughout the borough of Queens and to share my misadventures with the educators of New York City. It's been almost two years since I last appeared on this blog and demonstrated to the two schools willing to pick me up as a classroom teacher that I am an asset to the schools in question. However, thanks to the misguided "fair student funding" fiasco and short-sighted principals who don't know how important it is to have a "quality teacher" for their students, I find my self traveling in the ATR pool yet again.
I was assigned to a 200 student transfer school with a newly-minted "Leadership Academy Principal" who has no experience teaching in the New York City classroom. The staff are mostly tenured but only have between three to six years experience. The student body are "high needs" mostly overaged and under credited and are unmotivated. The teachers seem to be clueless about their fate under the teacher evaluation system and don't understand that the poor student growth scores, likely with these students, could result in many of the teachers getting an "ineffective rating".
There is no teachers' room for the school and bathroom keys were not provided to the three ATRs assigned to the school. The ATRs were given a table and a chair in the main hall to sit at when not covering classes. There was no safe or secure space to store our belongings. The staff and Principal treated us with respect and didn't abuse the ATRs during our stay there.
Most of the students have very low academic levels and act and dress "thuggish" . Many of these students are only looking to get the credits they need without putting in the work to succeed academically. The students know this is a "last chance school" and think that they can get away with just about anything as long as they show up to the school. Many of these students disappear after lunch and come to school as they please. This is "bad news" for the teachers because these types of students will get "low growth scores" and jeopardize their jobs.
The Principal replaced a highly popular Principal that was accused of financial issues and brought with him a very permissive policy called "restorative justice" that addresses student discipline by using meditation rather than progressive discipline and puts the teaching staff at risk. He believes in the "circle method" of discussion and has a non-profit agency to provide counseling and social services to the students. Many of these non-profit employees act and dress just like the students, not very professional if you ask me.There are no DOE guidance counselors to serve the students. The Principal is hiding an Earth Science vacancy and wants to hire a friend of his in January once his friend gets certified as a teacher.
The school is a tough school to teach in as they service "high needs" students with academic, behavioral, and attendance issues. While the Principal seems supportive, the nature of the student body makes teaching in this "last chance school" a dicey preposition and could lead to many "ineffective ratings" due to the State's student growth requirements. Von voyage and I wish the teaching staff well, they are going to need it.
Under no circumstances would I ever accept a position at this school, unless I want to be terminated.