Total Pageviews

Monday, September 26, 2011

A former ATR teacher ponders a descent back into Purgatory

Here's the latest from Life in Limbo.  Her earliest writings for NYCATR described her life in ATR Purgatory.  This September, she arose from the dead to accept a regular teaching assignment.  

Call me crazy (everyone else does), but I am starting to regret this and it’s not even October.

Eons ago, back at the end of August, I was relieved to be offered a permanent position that was both relatively close to home and which also allowed me to stay under my Literacy license, which is where my tenure is. It is a Collaborative Team Teaching (CTT) position, and I share the four major subjects with another teacher in the room, and I was told that the class would contain between 25 and 28 students. Not bad, I thought. So I took it, thankful that I was going to be spared the ordeal of becoming a member of the "School-of-the-Week Club."

Then the pile-on began. The faculty handbook of my school includes a list of about 20 items that MUST be prominently posted in the classroom visible to ALL students all the time. Things like a poster of the breakdown of the Reading/Writing Workshop. And the complete list of the Common Core Standards in ALL subjects. A poster of classroom procedures (at front and center in the room). A poster of entry procedures (near the entrance door). A poster of exit procedures (near the exit door). Miscellaneous blank graphic organizers. The school oath. The Pledge of Allegiance (they don’t know it by 8th grade, apparently). List of acceptable uniform items. Rubrics for every subject. 

The list doesn’t stop and I found myself scrambling to find a working printer and computer to print out all this stuff because my classroom contains NO technology whatsoever. No computers, no printers, nothing. Forget about a SMART Board, LOL! I have a non-working mounted TV and a pull-down screen. And the waiting list for the one projector/laptop cart for the whole floor is already a month long. And all this HAD to be done by the END of the day on September 9 – and the administration was starting the walkthroughs as we were dismissing the students that day. I wonder about all the purpose of this – why do the kids need the Common Core Standards up in their faces all day? I mean, aren’t the standards and Reading Workshop components for ME? As if the reason this school’s scores dropped like rocks last year was because the graphic organizer with the Workshop Model wasn’t big enough? And think of all the time that was wasted as I chased my tail trying to print out and post yet another piece of pretty bull**** on the wall. And on top if it all, I was cited on the “Learning Environment Checklist” because some of my pretty bull**** didn’t look like everyone else’s pretty bull**** which makes the school look "inconsistent," and also because some of my pretty bull**** was done by hand, and not by computer (mind you, I have PERFECT handwriting – just like those cards we used to hang across the front of the classroom back in the day). I guess “NO EXCUSES” even applies to technology that you don’t have. Maybe one of these days I can type it on my cell phone and print out of my butt. But not today.

I have been given a flash drive containing pacing calendars, curriculum maps (a couple of which start in November, not September) and the 181-page faculty handbook and told to "take it home and print it all out."  I have already been required to attend three mandatory meetings during my "duty-free" lunch period and have had both "Inquiry Team" meetings last over 20 minutes beyond the end of the day, making me late picking up my son from a weekly appointment he has. During these inquiry team meetings, we are usually given some kind of ARIS-related BS task to do on the laptops. The catch? The laptops rarely work properly with everyone logging on at the same time, so "inquiry" time is usually spent rebooting and pushing random buttons on the laptop and the new assignment, (due by the "close of business tomorrow") ends up being added to the pile-on we must miraculously complete. 

The best happened on Friday. I was in my room on a prep toward the end of the day and a student comes in with a clipboard and a little stack of neon colored papers. She says that the AP wants everyone to sign for one of these slips. The sign-up sheet only says that I received it, so I sign and take the slip. I read it and got really pissed. It said to be sure that you log on and check your DOE e-mail frequently during the weekends for "important information and updates" and that "twice a day is the expected minimum." WTH? Sorry, but I really try to FORGET about work on the weekends so I can enjoy my family a little. As far as I know, I am not required to check e-mail AT ALL on weekends, let alone twice a day. This is on top of the fact that I ALREADY receive text messages from my administrators at 10:30 at night telling me to check my e-mail before bed.

And how is my union responding to all this? 

The silence is deafening.


  1. Sounds like my old high school. Bulletin boards and all the bull were soooo important. No one seemd to care about the groups of cutters walking the halls. Teachers were accountable and blamed for everything. I miss the security of a regular position but I do not miss that school!

  2. Surprised that a teacher unwilling to do the work that everyone else does was excessed? No

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. To Anonymous (9/28/11): I'm surprised that someone could passively accept such nonsensical, extra-contractual obligations and not even feel the need to vent on a blog, or to a psychologist, faith healer, or hypnotist. Besides that, you should read the Collective Bargaining Agreement, where you will see that excessing has nothing to do with job performance. The best are often excessed, and the worst often continue to draw pay for substandard work.

  5. My advice to Life in Limbo and other ATRs would be that the grass is not always greener on the other side. Sadly, it may be a little bit better to be an ATR in my opinion. Over the past 3-4 years, I have been in both spots. I was an ATR 3 years ago, then put back on in a regular position only to be excessed again and have been an ATR ever since. As an ATR, you are not subject to the harassment. I found that many administrators will annoy the person they put on in a regular position because they 'did you a favor by giving you a job' which is a crock of you know what. Granted, principals do treat us ATRs as sub-human species and the papers seem to want to blame us for the JFK assassination, but you are not responsible for anything. As much as I love teaching(and when it is just teaching and the bs is gone and you are doing your thing it is fun), the amount of hatred I have for administrators is as equal as my love for teaching, so why would we want to have any contact with them? As an ATR, you go in, get an assignment for the day, do your best and go home. It is not the worst thing in the world.

  6. Life in Limbo said:

    veteran teacher, I agree with you. I only took this position because the principal allowed me to stay under my tenured license, the school is about 25' from home, and I only have one class to deal with, and there's a co-teacher with me. That was a pretty good deal and I actually like the job and the school for the most part. It's the "Flash and Trash" BS that drives me nuts.

    I also do not trust my union to support me indefinitely in this situation and fear that they will sell the ATRs out in exchange for a 1.5% raise over 3 years and 15hr/wk more work or some other wonderful deal they can't wait to shove down our throats.

    Last year as an ATR, I was placed in a classroom out of license, so I had all the stress, papers, planning, grading, etc. of an appointed teacher, with none of the benefits. I didn't even get a bathroom key or a place to lock my belongings. I was "a regular teacher" when it was to their benefit, and "just a sub" when that point of view was to their benefit.