I just met with my MTLD and she was wonderfully, refreshingly upfront about the fact that my school is full of crazies. (My words, not hers.) She asked me how things were going and I continued with my recent trend of starting to tear up in embarrassingly public places, and we talked about the fact that I feel more than anything like a paraprofessional in my own classroom.
On Thursday we had a meet and greet with families, and I tried to contribute to conversations that my co-teacher was having with parents and guardians. I interpreted this as tag-teaming and establishing a team teaching dynamic. My co-teacher interpreted this as being abrasive and stepping on her toes, and on Friday we had a brief meeting to “establish norms for us.” The grade level chair was invited to attend. I was told that parents in this community need one point person to contact if they have concerns, and that person is my co-teacher. It was firmly established that during parent-teacher conferences, I am to take a backseat and let my co-teacher do all the talking until she’s done, at which point I can jump in.
All class rosters have the lead teacher’s name on them. My class is not my class and it’s not our class, it’s her class.
Especially because I’m a first year TFAer with three weeks and two days of classroom teaching experience, this attitude doesn’t bother me as much as the fact that the expectation was never communicated to me. I had mostly heard that we were supposed to share responsibility equally in the classroom, so that’s what I was trying to do. Now that I actually understand what the job title “associate teacher” actually means I can work with it. I think.
And then there’s the administration. They all have extremely forceful personalities and they have high standards. My MTLD told me that, in the in the interest of being blunt and upfront, she needed to share a concern that they had about me: timeliness. Apparently the problem they have is that I show up at 7:27 for meetings that start at 7:30.
This has been going on for four weeks and they haven’t shared this concern with me, and I’ve been living in happy denial that there was ever a problem at all. I was supposed to figure out on my own that showing up three minutes early and totally prepared – and earlier than many other people in the building – isn’t good enough.
I’m confused and frustrated by these expectations that they have at my school, but I’m not as frustrated with them, necessarily, as I am with the fact that no one told me about them, especially after I repeatedly violated them. At least my co-teacher nipped her problem with me in the bud the first time she noticed there was an issue. I hope so, at least.
I am a crazy person. Everyone I work with is a crazy person. Everyone I work with thinks I’m a crazy person. I haven’t had a Saturday yet that doesn’t involve going into school. This craziness is absolutely not sustainable in the long run, but the first day of school is tomorrow and hopefully having a routine will help me feel a little bit less insane. At this point, the only way I can figure out my role in the classroom is to learn by doing, so that’s what I’m going to do.