Hello, I hope you all are having a wonderful weekend and a lovely start to your summer. Make sure you spend lots of quality time with family and friends during the warm weather. I apologize for not updating sooner. Unfortunately for me, my summer has not been off to such a great start. I need advice because I feel like I have nowhere to turn lately.
As some of you already know, I’ve had quite the bad year at my teaching job. This year has probably been the worst one yet. I’ve been employed as a teacher for a total of 30 years with the district, 23 as a full-time teacher (it took me 7 years of substitute teaching for the district before I was offered a full-time position as a permanent teacher). They did not renew my position for next year. I was told it is because they do not have enough positions for science teachers due to projected student enrollment, and they need the existing biology teacher to also teach chemistry too. I am certified in biology and math, not chemistry. Thus, I am still technically employed with the district but currently do not know where I will be sent to teach next fall, and must go through a process called site selection to find a school with a vacant position for a teacher in my certification area. I’ve been interviewing at various schools, all schools that I would not choose to work at, just to have something. So far not one school has offered me a position. This means I will now have to wait until almost the end of summer to be called down to the school district office to pick a school with remaining teacher vacancies from a list. The district calls teachers down in order of seniority, so at least that works to my advantage since I have 30 years seniority. But I fear the only vacancies left will be at less desirable schools. Already the only schools with openings are mostly faraway or undesirable schools. I liked where I worked before because it was only a 5 minute drive from my house. I’ve worked and befriended teachers who went through this nightmare process before. Usually being force transferred and going through the site selection process results in getting transferred to a worse, not better, school than before. I’ve had a hard enough year…what’s next??!
I am hoping to get transferred to this one school, we’ll call it XYZ High School, which is further away than this last school but still a relatively short drive, 15-20 minutes. It is still in the same part of the city where I live. It is the least bad of the places remaining with science teacher vacancies. I keep checking the updated vacancy list on the school district’s site selection portal. A lot of positions keep disappearing, which means they’ve already filled spots with teachers. Only the less desirable schools are left, and then there’s XYZ High School.
When staff and students caught word that I was not coming back next year, they became very disrespectful and dismissive to me. Students started telling me they were refusing to do my work or the projects I assigned because "whatever, what can you do about it, you’re not going to be here much longer anyway" or they’d say "we don’t have to listen to you, you’re already getting fired I heard". Even though I was not actually fired (although at times it sure felt like it). The dean started ignoring my detention slips that I would submit to him for students to serve after school detention. The principal started being more curt with me. It was almost like people figured they didn’t have to pretend to be nice to me anymore because it didn’t matter since I was leaving anyway. And then there’s my workplace bully, Mr. Trout, who I suspect might be behind me getting force transferred out, if in fact there was any ulterior reason for my forced transfer. He spends at least 2 HOURS after school each day hanging around the building, chit chatting and hanging out in the (female) principal’s office, playing principal’s pet. For a while he stopped doing that after the principal called him on his BS in front of the entire school staff at a full staff meeting last year, but then in recent months he started hanging out in her office again. He would also hang around the copy room and ridicule me, falsely accuse me of helping my students "cheat" on the citywide test, etc. He said the only reason my students didn’t score well on the citywide test was because I put wrong answers on the cheat sheet I made for them because he thinks I don’t know the subject I teach. He has said so many defaming, hurtful things to me. He got ruder than ever after word got out that I was transferred out.
Even the janitor got rude with me. She started yelling at me in the last year for staying late. She claimed I was a burden to her because she would have to wait to lock up the building because I was still there. As if she knows the stress I go through with this job or the mountain of paperwork I’d have each day. In the last few weeks, she started scolding me and talking really nasty to me in general, and told me I was responsible for cleaning out my classroom and the large walk-in lab closet. She said she had already reported me to the principal for not cleaning out my room. I had plenty of paperwork deadlines to work on that prevented me from fully cleaning it out. Even my friend/former colleague questioned the irony of the janitor telling me I have to clean, said cleaning is the janitor’s job. Then the principal approached me and confirmed that I have to clean my entire classroom because it was my classroom all these years. The janitor was very rude to me. It’s like she didn’t even remember all the times I was super nice to her when she had her cancer scare a few years back, how I’d spend some of my after school time listening to her vent and I’d comfort her amidst her scare. Now she acts like we never had that bonding experience.
I stayed until at least 8pm each day for the last week after all the grades and everything were finalized, organizing and cleaning out my room and getting other administrative tasks in order. I had a ton of extra work caused by this forced transfer. Usually the posting of final grades marked the end of teacher tasks for the year aside from the usual basic cleanup. Instead, I had more work than ever. Other teachers got to party and celebrate end of year while I was stuck staying behind each night later than ever. They also put extra tasks on me. For example, the district’s psychologist – who does the psych exams, IQ testing, and special ed reevaluations on students – sent me 6 student input forms, multiple pages each, the day after grades were finalized. I had to dig through everything to supply data on each of these students to her. Then the principal told me that I had to put together ESY (summer school) science packets for students in the school’s ESY program. Basically I’m doing half the work involved with ESY, even though I’m not teaching ESY or getting the extra pay that comes with it. My work felt like it never ended.
The last day of school a few days ago was the absolute worst for me. Everyone got to leave early at 12pm except me. I stayed the latest I ever did, until almost 8:30pm. The principal said people who had their end-of-year to-do checklist completed and signed for approval from her could leave. But everyone else had to stay until it was done. More than half the teachers left immediately. She refused to sign mine because the janitor had complained that it was too much work to clean out my classroom, said I had to be the one to clean it out. Finally after 4pm, the principal said she was leaving but to drop off my to-do list under her office door and that she would have the janitors confirm that my room was cleaned out. I stayed until I got everything done because the last thing I want is a write-up for noncompliance at a time that I’m desperately trying to get accepted into another school placement. During site selection, new schools definitely check references with former placement’s principal.
On that last day (a staff-only day) we had our usual last day of the school year staff meeting. The principal gave her usual round of shout-outs. She gave shout-outs to every other teacher who was retiring, leaving the profession, or leaving the school. Except me. She forgot to acknowledge me. I guess leaving the school involuntarily doesn’t count for a shout-out. She gave two teachers shout-outs and award certificates for perfect attendance. Yet when I had perfect attendance last year, I never got such a thing.
After school on that last day when I was in the middle of cleaning my classroom lugging some of the classroom items to my car, I encountered my bully Mr. Trout. He was in his car driving out. He pulled his car up aside me in the parking lot. He started talking to me, so I did the polite thing and conversed, hoping maybe he’d help me carry my boxes. He didn’t. Instead, he told me that he heard I was trying to get into XYZ High School and that he thinks it’s a bad idea. He said I would never survive there, that I don’t have nearly the classroom management skills to handle the kids there. He said I should just give up teaching altogether. He acted concerned at first (probably fake) then quickly turned backhandedly insulting and then more insulting. He said any school I transfer to will be harder than this one was for me. I said defeatedly, "What difference does it make, it seems you got what you wanted by ridding this school of me anyway." He then told me I should just quit teaching because I’ll never make it to my retirement or get my earned pension. (I’m eligible to retire in 5 years) He told me I should just give up and get a menial job, maybe work at a nursing home because at least that job will provide health benefits. Whatever. Why the heck would I go work for minimum wage doing the very type of work I detested doing when my elderly parents were still alive and obligated me to care for them full-time? And worse, possibly work alongside some of my graduated 18-year-old allied health pathway students who had disrespected me so badly when they were in my class? Besides, I hate nursing homes and hospitals, as I find them depressing and I cannot stand bodily fluids. That’s the whole reason I switched majors away from nursing in college, even when it meant jumping through hoops to do so. How could he suggest such a thing?
I ended up staying later than ever that night. I was literally the last person to leave, except the janitors, who thankfully were there late because the district sent in an extra crew for overnight due to the deep cleaning required for end-of-year cleanup. When I got home, I was too exhausted to even go to the gym. Then the next day I had to finish the special ed input forms the psychologist said were so urgent, and the day after that I had another site selection interview for a school I didn’t really want to work in that did not lead to an offer anyway. So my summer never really started until two days after my last day. I have spent the last couple of days sleeping in and trying to make up for the sleep debt I had from the last few weeks. I haven’t felt well. Meanwhile, my former colleague friend seems annoyed with me because I didn’t meet up with her after school the week before to celebrate her end of her unhappy teaching career (she’s changing job fields after her own bad experience working for the school district). She tells me I’m "chicken" and I need to stand up better to my boyfriend R and to my job. Maybe I do. But even though she can probably relate better to me on work stress than most, even she hasn’t had the extent of stress and extra burdens that I’ve dealt with this year.
That is the end of my long vent. How can I enjoy my summer when I don’t even know if my employment is guaranteed in the fall? How can I really have a summer when I have to schedule all these seemingly go-nowhere interviews? What can I do for stress relief? Also, am I really all that wrong to turn down my friend’s requests to go out and "meet people"?