Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Rooster Next Door

I have a new neighbor, Mr. Bantam Rooster.

It all started because instead of the predicted 300 or so sixth graders in the school, we have a whopping 356.  Which meant that the sixth grade class sizes were just massive.  So massive, in fact, that The District actually saw this as a problem and decided we could hire another teacher.  However, at this time in the school year we don't get to actually hire the teacher we want.  Rather, The District takes a "qualified" teacher from a building that has lower numbers than expected and transfers him or her to the building where another teacher is needed.

So we got a social studies teacher from a high school across town who has a masters degree in history.  But has a license that states that he's only qualified to teach 7th through 12th grade (and has never taught middle school from what I've heard).  And probably, would rather die than teach middle school if he's like most folks.

This for a sixth grade social studies position.

So The Principal had to juggle around a whole bunch of teachers in order to get this new teacher to fit into the system where he's qualified to teach.  So instead of just disrupting the sixth graders, who are getting a new social studies teacher, we have to disrupt the seventh graders and the eighth graders as well.  Mr. Bantam Rooster has been teaching seventh and eighth grade social studies, so he came to my seventh grade team.  My social studies teacher, Mrs. Social Studies (who has never taught sixth grade) is now the new sixth grade social studies teacher.  And Mr. Came From High School is now the seventh and eighth grade social studies teacher.

Mrs. Social Studies and I are not happy.  My whole team is not happy.  We've been a good, successful unit for three years now, and Mrs. Social Studies and I made a good pair with our classroom doors right next to each other.  But now she's in sixth grade (and she's also teaching a unit of sixth grade health which we find hysterical as she's a smoker) and she's miserable.  We have, however, indicated that if the seventh grade goes back up to three teams next year (and if these 356 sixth graders stay, we'll have to), We Want Her Back.  Fortunately, The Principal agrees with me.  She'd rather not have moved everyone around like she had to, but Mr. Bantam Rooster, who has taught sixth grade, is more trouble down there than he's worth.

And he's going to make my entire team crazy.  (Apparently there's a bet in guidance about which one of us will snap first.  I thought for sure I'd be the one in the lead, but apparently not.)

I think he's a good teacher.  He is retired military and a nice guy, but he's just....a pest.  He needs constant reassurance about what he's doing.  All the time.  He's constantly in my room all the time asking questions (usually the same one over and over.) And I'm starting to feel like the biggest bossypants witch in the world because I'm having to tell him "this is how we do it here."  We sign our homeroom agendas (because it's the right thing to do).  We let the kids go to their lockers between seventh period and afternoon homeroom (he didn't let them go until after bus riders were dismissed which caused some to nearly miss the buss.)    He's having fits because he's not used to kids not turning in homework (eighth graders turn in more homework than seventh graders because they've grown up a bit), and he's calling something like 50 parents a night.  And I'm telling him, "seventh graders are different, it's been a while since you've been around them."

And I had to close the door and ban him from my room when Mrs. Eagle, and Mrs. Angora and I had planning because we only have 1st period on Wednesday's to get together what with all the parent meetings we're having.  That time is GOLD.

And the kids are completely freaked out and terrified of him.  He has, well, a reputation as a screamer.  And a mean, tough teacher.  But then there are high school kids who love him.

The Principal told me not to worry about being bossy.  And to do what I have to to get him to toe the line with our policies and procedures.  Which is fine, but just one more damn thing to deal with.



Mrs. Gumby said...

Oh, dear. It's annoying when you have to make major adjustments after school has started. It's hard for the students and hard for the teachers.

Just be yourself, Mrs. Bluebird, and don't take any crap from the Bantam Rooster.

Linda Fox said...

I dunno.

Some of his authoritative attitude may be coming from his uncertainty about being moved - who likes to be told, "you're getting a change of assignment, right now". He has to be devastated that he was considered expendable.

Also, men, when nervous and unsure, tend to bluster. Have pity. He's probably a good person, and a good colleague who needs support. Don't forget, men in elementary and middle school feel left out of informal and social interactions - you girls do that (or, so I've been told by men). Treat him like you'd want a lone female Chemistry teacher treated by her peers at the high school.

I have been the new kid breaking into a well-managed group - the regulars don't always make it easy. And they definitely made me feel stupid - don't think I didn't see the "significant glances" at each other that conveyed "isn't she hopeless?" without a word. Keep the unspoken disdain out of sight. In fact, dump it.

Finally, remember, he wasn't there when you set the rules and procedures. He'll forget, misinterpret, and not find it easy. Cut him some slack. Imagine having to make a mid-year change to a school that treats you like you're a rookie, insists on your changing routines that you KNOW work, kids that don't respond to methods that have worked flawlessly, and a general sense of "holy shit, who did I piss off to get this assignment?"

And, include him in the Friday after school socializing. And the conversations.

Mrs. Bluebird said...

@Linda: Friday after school socializing? Really? You do that? We're so damn tired and so busy with clubs and dances that there is no such thing as Friday after school socializing. Or any other day for that matter. I'm lucky to see my husband for an hour a day!