Monday, August 18, 2008

Prepare thyself

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This picture is about 15 paces to the left of my classroom and overlooking Low Gap Road and Low Gap Park.  That smaller hill in the front is where the Disc Golf course is that I've been trying to frequent more, and the canyon on the down slope is where the afternoon winds come from almost daily.  Drive up that road for about 90 minutes and you'll hit the Pacific.  It's not that far away, but that road has serious curves and is a single lane is some places.  This picture was taken in November of last year, as the trees clearly show.

The picture is one of tranquility and peacefulness.  It is not the message I've been receiving about the upcoming school year.  In fact, the year seems to have started with a warning to all staff, "Prepare Thyself".  Take out of the equation that I'm still really bitter about last year (classroom assignments and my classes being yanked) and the overall attitude from staff that I've talked to remains the same, that challenges from every part of the universe are going to be coming our way and we need to be ready. 

The campus is under construction once again.  Although my personal struggles with it are over, students will be impacted, faculty will be annoyed, STAR testing will be a nightmare, and I'll be listening to the sound of handsaws again in the morning (should be dimmer though, since my end of campus is done). 

There is no money for anything, anyone, at any time, and that seems to be that.  I'll be applying for grant money this year for Model U.N. (again), and I now have to do fundraising if I want to go to more than one basketball tournament.  I would like to do three (the normal amount), so I'm going to have to raise around $1,200 for tournament costs, my lodging, and transportation.  I'm thinking that a free throw-a-thon will be in order, something that I did back when I coached about 12 years ago.  It won't raise a grand, but it will have to do because I think that it is insane that I have to hustle for money for what is basically Advanced Placement P.E. 

And more challenges are coming down the pike from the union.  I'm already hearing complaints about the Super getting more money and people are getting frustrated with not having a COLA raise that matches inflation.  I'm going to recommend that the union investigate, with the district, some kind of program that gives bonuses to teachers based on a union/district rubric for the evaluation of performance.  The money for some kind of merit pay is there, but I don't think that they will touch it because they have a nasty habit of being CTA lap dogs.  Almost none of them have a clue about what merit pay actually entails, but they jump at the chance to tear it down when the words are mentioned.

Then there is the usual scheduling and flexibility that comes with the realization that there will probably be more students than chairs in the room on the first day.  A lot of teachers get real frustrated with quirk of scheduling, I just relax and not worry about it.  Our contract says that we need to be down to a certain number within a few weeks and I know that it takes a lot of work getting everyone's wishes nailed down.  Why get pissed about it? 

So I guess it's time to get in the classroom and keep the profile low.  I feel like the best thing for my own good would be to not walk outside the room for fear that someone will get irritated and that more problems will arise.  I my classroom, I can actually have some control of the situation and outcomes. 

I guess tomorrow we'll begin to find out.    

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