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Saturday, October 29, 2011

As teachers die (literally) ATRs are underutilized

Here's the latest masterpiece from the great Life in Limbo.  Read it and weep. 

I didn’t think they could squeeze any more out of us. I mean, my colleagues and I are maxed out paperwork-wise, class size-wise, and stress-wise. Seriously, we had one teacher die of a heart attack the first week of school, two teachers are out on medical leave due to anxiety, the teacher across the hall has stopped me twice in the hallway to ask me to watch her class so she can go throw up (no, it’s not pregnancy), the teacher on the right is having panic attacks every morning before homeroom and the teacher on my right was in the ER this past weekend diagnosed with Acute Anxiety Disorder and is getting a consult for anti-depressants this weekend. Also, a teacher down the hall left a few weeks ago, in an ambulance, because he was feeling dizzy and ill. Turned out his blood pressure was up to something insane, like 270/110 - he was in the hospital for three days. And that’s just on MY floor. 

Now, before I go any further, here’s a pop quiz (yes, I know it’s the weekend, but it’s only one question for full credit): 
How many teaching periods per week is considered a full schedule for an appointed teacher? 
Twenty-five you say? Hahahahahahahahaha!!! How 2005! 

Try thirty. 

I have thirty teaching periods per week as of this week. How did they do it, you ask? Allow me to explain. 

I came in to work this week to find a program of “small group instruction,” a Circular 6 Professional Assignment. I have no recollection of filling out a C-6 preference sheet, as required by our contract, but there it was anyway. 

Remember my last post, where I said we had vacancies in the building? One of them is an AIS (Academic Intervention Services) Reading position that, as of last week, has yet to be filled. This is a relevant fact, as you will soon see. 

Now, I teach a CTT (Collaborative Team Teaching) class, which means I have a homeroom, which, according to our contract, serves as my professional assignment, so I should not have gotten the C-6 assignment, right? RIGHT??? 

Wrong. I went to my principal who said that since it is a CTT, there are technically two people doing one job, so Mr. X, my co-teacher (whom I must say does a wonderful job of putting up with me and my compulsive board-washing), will be the homeroom teacher of record and I will report to my C-6 assigned “small group instruction.” So I was officially relieved of my homeroom duties, apparently. Fine. I hate collecting baby pictures and lunch forms anyway 

A New York City teacher provides academic intervention
to a small group of children.
So the period for this “duty” comes and I report to the room, and I realize that it is the room reserved for the AIS vacancy–it is not set up, many desks have been pilfered, graffiti has been applied to some of the furniture, there was debris everywhere and there was no chalk, earasers, etc. I had no roster of students, no materials, and no idea exactly WHAT I was supposed to do with this small group. So imagine my surprise when an ENTIRE class shows up for “small group instruction”! No section sheet, no roster, no materials, nothing. There were 21 students in my “small group,” all of whom were so used to not having a teacher this period (it’s been this way since September) that my chance of getting them to actually DO anything was slim to none. 

After this fiasco, I found out that the rest of the CTT teachers were subjected to the same treatment–one was given the homeroom exclusively, and the other pulled to cover a “small group” in this same room. We figured out that instead of HIRING one of the MANY READING ATRs that are currently members of the “School-of-the-Week Club,” they are using the C-6 assignment to avoid hiring a teacher and getting the five of us to teach what is, essentially, a sixth teaching period each day. 

Upon closer scrutiny, I discovered a few more oddities relating to my particular assignment: 
*On two consecutive days, it causes me to teach four periods in a row, a violation of the contract. 
*On two days, we have “voluntary” department meetings during our common prep time (as in, it’s voluntary, but you are still responsible for what happens if you don’t show up). On those two days, this C6 assignment leaves me with NO PREP at all, also a violation. 
*Twenty-one students is NOT a “small group” 
*I was never given a menu of C-6 choices from which to choose (I would NEVER choose more time in front of kids, LOL) 
*I was told by my Chapter Leader that I must have a lesson plan for this period, and that I can be observed in this setting. 
*I must keep track of what I do, and the kids change every day, so I just had my prep time cut by more than half (if you count the lost periods for department meetings, I only have three preps per week now) and was given an extra prep (the “small groups” are a different grade than the one I teach), and another 100 students to keep track of. 

I am considering chucking it all and joining a commune in Vermont. 

So, how was everyone else’s week? Me? I need a large glass of pinot grigio, which I will now pour. Any more of this, and I’ll have to start mainlining tequila.

Photo credits: 



  1. These schools need to be named. Do not know if we will return to the same school latter in the school year, but I am willing to take the chance.

  2. @ Tom

    I understand your desire to out the school, however I think it is important to recognize that these schools, in many ways, are carbon copies of one another. The tales of abuse and dehumanization from colleagues and friends are incessant, often times indistinguishable from the story you heard yesterday, last week, last month. Make no mistake about it this madness is pervasive and insidious.

    Here is something that I have thought extensively about: Who is their right mind will want to choose education as their life work?

    These tales we tell are now a part of the public consciousness. The birage of attacks both locally and nationally are being seen and heard by young people who are beginning to ask the question, "what do I want to do with my life?"

    They will use all this information to make their determination. I guarantee you that many hearts and minds have and will be shifted away from education.