SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: I Got Called to the Principal's Office

Sunday, January 24, 2016

I Got Called to the Principal's Office

On this past Friday, the last day of my 5th week in the school I am assigned to, I got called to the principal's office first thing in the morning.

As usual I arrived to the school about 15 minutes early and received my assignment for the day. I was to cover an absent teacher in a 1st grade ICT class. I said thank you to the secretary and headed downstairs to do my part. I put away my stuff and the students soon started arriving.

This was a breath of fresh air. Up until last Monday I had been covering a 3rd grade class whose teacher had suddenly left on maternity. Though I liked the kids, and the other 3rd grade teachers were quite supportive of me, I was blessed with the roughest 3rd grade class. Not that they were disrespectful to me or getting in fights or running out of the room, it was just they never stopped talking. This, I was told, was why the teacher suddenly left on maternity. She was ordered to bed rest by her doctor.

So has the little 1st graders were entering the room, and giving me that "Who is this guy?" look one of the AP's popped her head in the door and told me the principal wanted to see me in his office to give me an different assignment. OK, no problem I said to myself. I told the other teacher I had to leave and went upstairs to the main office.

As I was walking to the office I passed by the auditorium and saw the principal. I went up to him and said that I heard he needed to see me. He said yes, it was about a new assignment and to meet him upstairs. I told him yes, and went to the main office.

When I got there one of the secretary's told me to have a seat and to wait for him. I sat and wondered if it is just a different assignment why not just tell me then and there and let me be on my way.

Didn't happen.

The more I waited for the principal, the more I started to go over in my head what was "really" happening. My mind was in a swirl of possibilities that seemed all too real at the time.

I started to wonder of I had done something incorrect. The 3rd graders had seen me on the stairs the other day and a few of them gave me fist bumps. Maybe I returned the fist bumps too hard.

Maybe I had not given enough homework and a parent complained.

Maybe I had given too much homework and a parent complained.

Perhaps I had given a Double-Stuffed Oreo to the wrong student who was allergic to Oreos

Or the fact that the Double-Stuffed Oreo was a holiday Oreo with the red creme and I committed a micro-aggression by giving an atheist, or non-Christian a Oreo that obviously was conforming to a Christian celebration and went home crying.

Do I need the CL for the meeting? Is this a trick to tell me that my assignment is being changed just to lull me into some kind of trap? Am I being sent back to the Rubber Room?

All this stuff went through my head, and more.

Worse, I felt my heart racing like it had never done before.

Then, the principal showed. He gave me my new assignment. A 2nd grade ICT class. Whew! Why couldn't he just tell me this when I saw in in the auditorium??

I hate, hate, hate this feeling now that I get every time anyone from above wants to talk to me. I understand the the saying "keep your guard up," but this is ridiculous. I know this is PTSD and I don't want to harp on me. I know there are teachers and others much more worse off than I.

This is no way to go through my, or anyone's, remaining years with the DOE.

It's natural to wonder "what did I do" when you are told to see an admin, I get it. But the swirl I got, I had never gotten something like that before. In the past, I had been able to self-correct, to find that ability to stop and think rationally. I was unable to on Friday.

I had been through both parents dying as well as three dear friends dying within 2 years of each other and never felt this bad before. My wife was sexually abused and has PTSD from that. I feel guilty that something so benign as compared to what she went through has put me in this state. This feeling on Friday went beyond the typical Jewish neurosis.

The DOE must be held accountable for this. Not just for me, but for the others who are in the same position. Just as importantly, the UFT should step up to the plate and be proactive with teachers that are hurting. Yeah, I've been down that road before, there needs to be some union pro-activity.


Anonymous said...

I get really nervous too. I am under a Corrective Action Plan. When called to an administrator's office, I recite my list of recent transgressions. Did I raise my voice? Did I hurt anyone's feelings? Was I a minute late to my post? To the best of my knowledge, I have not committed any felonies, but plenty of minor transgressions. It stems from the insecurities of being on the SHIT List and the knowledge that the benefit of the doubt will not be extended to my particular circumstances.

Abigail Shure

Anonymous said...

Great post! I feel the same way every time they want to see me. As an atr I try and hide as much as possible and hope for the best. I keep my head down don't say hello to anyone and just cover the classes I'm given. 21 yrs in the system. What a way to make a living

Anonymous said...

Been teaching over 15 years. The past ten or so, I get real shaky when I get an email to meet with a supervisor. Fear climate prevails.

Anonymous said...

I am not an ATR but have been teaching 30 + plus years. I need 2 more years to go. I had to start taking medication for the anxiety I would get just even hearing the phone ring in my room. It is truly an awful way to work. You just don't know who will create problems for no reason. It was not like this when I started in the 1980's senior teachers were respected and looked up to.... now we are just trash that can be kicked around...

Jonathan said...

Sorry you are going through this. But I hope this lets you breathe a little easier while you keep this assignment.