Monday, August 31, 2009

"We have a form for that"

Thanks to those who've given me suggestions on how to deal with my neighbor issues. I haven't determined the best direction to go, but if the situation changes, I'll definitely update you all on it! (Side-note: Blair, were you talking to Mom? She made the same suggestion.)

Right now I'm just trying my very best to stay on top of everything. Tomorrow starts our regular schedule, and I'm looking forward to establishing a final routine. Of course, I know I've got to be flexible at the same time, but I really want to make it appear like I know what I'm doing (even if I'm all panic on the inside!).

Before you start to worry, my issues aren't with the teaching. I'm too versed in my content to really fret about that. Although I am concerned that my preoccupation with other procedures will distract or get in the way of a good lesson, I'm confident that I CAN teach -- when I have time!

The school, and the district, have very developed and disciplined policies and procedures for everyday school issues and events. Maybe I just have been clueless in the past, but I don't remember so many forms for this referral and that request! Seriously, it's a lot of paperwork. Nothing can be said or done without documentation, it seems. Not that I think it should be done any other way... I am not in a position to question or dismantle a regimen that serves its purpose -- to make sure that everyone is treated in an ethical and equal way.

I just get nervous that somewhere in the midst of me trying to "learn the ropes", I'll misstep, or make an error, and it will cause a disturbance that I'd rather avoid. I am afraid of missing something, forgetting to do something, because its not my nature yet, and having to clean up the chaos that it creates. Basically, I just want to do it right. The first time and every time. Which I know is unfair pressure to put on myself... But you who know me know that I can't change that.

Emails that we get from administrators that say "it's everyone's responsibility to... [make sure the policies are being upheld]" just reinforce to me that I am still very new, and still have to prove myself that I am someone valuable, someone who they can trust to help maintain the structure and order of the institution. When I look around at other teachers who seem to have it all put together -- they know it all for rote, and no one questions their actions -- I can't see myself ever being on the same level as them!

I suppose this is all quite confusing without specific examples. Let's try to make it seem relevant...

The school has a pretty extensive dress-code policy. There are several bullet points on what students can wear, and what they can't wear, how they should wear it, the consequences of violation, etc. Girls cannot wear spaghetti straps or halters, and cannot show cleavage. All kids need to have their shirts tucked in. Sweatshirts are an exception. Pants with belt loops need to have belts. Okay, that makes sense, mostly. They want to avoid saggy, baggy pants, and this is one way to do that. There's more, but those are the biggest issues. So we as teachers need to become sticklers for those who try to slip around without having to abide by the rules. We issue violations. Some give out more than others.

Teachers are expected to be at their doors, greeting their students, but also sending away the kids who try to enter the room with their shirttails untucked or their necklines too low. Teachers are also expected to start teaching the moment the class bell sounds, and keep the kids engaged and on task until the very last second before the bell rings again. We are frowned at when we forget to do attendance. We have to know which form to fill out for this, and which we fill out for that. We have to keep up with our grades every week, and assign kids to 5th block when their marks drop or their attendance falters. We must read the emails, the announcements, keep track of time, cover the curriculum and make sure the kids know that they are important and necessary for our success!

So, what happens if, in the midst of my quest to keep on top of everything, I don't spot the kids who should have been issued violations? What happens if I see a kid in the hallway that really should be sent to detention, but I don't know his name or even what grade he's in? How many am I allowed to miss before I get those quiet requests to keep better track, or (gulp) visit the admin for a discussion. I really don't know, and that's probably my biggest concern of all! I'm afraid to be only moderately consistent simply because I'm trying keep it all together!

I'm not looking for pep talks. Really! I know that you all support me and are rooting for me. Deep down, I know that it will get better. I know that not everyone expects me to be perfect on day 1, day 5 or even day 155! They really are decent people who understand. But when it comes to easily to everyone else, I wonder when it will come easily to me!

Okay, I've lingered on this nauseating topic for far too many words. It exhausts me. Someone give me a better topic to talk about next time. I really do feel positive most of the time, and I'd like to share it with you just to prove it!

Love to all!


Kimber said...

Wow! A Life in Forms! I understand about the multiple forms thing, and I guess it's mandatory for working with kids (??). When I was in the daycare business it seemed like everything I did or said had to be stated on a form, and signed off on. But again ... guess it's just procedure.

Your school dress code sounds interesting! And good, I think. Is there a dress code for teachers too? I mean, I'm assuming you'll have to leave all of your "bar clothes" at home ;) but it's good the students also can't get away with low cut tops, and sloppy outfits. Do you find the kids are pretty law-abiding so far? Do they just get used to it, or do you think you'll have one (or two) that will try and test the boundaries still?

For a new topic ... how about more detailed photos of your home? Take us on a pictorial tour!

Brenda said...

Hey, Melanie!

Here's my opinion, for all it's worth.... :)

The Melanie that I know is a fun, smart, sensitive woman, who obviously gives a damn about others. " err is human..." and all that jazz,so try not to focus too much on what might happen by mistake(" what happens if...?")Rather,try to remember that you ARE those things and you DO make this world a better place! Therefore, I would wish for you to relax in that knowledge...YOU are GOOD!!
I truly don't believe that things come easily to anybody, until they've done "things" a bunch of times.The same holds true for you too, I bet!:)
Here are the words that have become my mantra for the last several years:
"Be the change you wish to see in the world"
Mahatma Gandhi
OK, I know I'm sounding like a mom, but hey! I AM a mom! You, my dear, are the kind of person I would WANT to have teaching my kids...
You're keeping it together better than most people I'll bet, so get out there, be strong, and share that sparkle that those of us who know you,have come to love and enjoy!

Love ya!

Blair said...

Unless you are faulting yourself for mistakes that you have already made, then you are worrying for nothing. No matter how much preparation and studying of the rules you do, there are bound to be things that get missed and that is just human nature.

You'll also be surprised at how well you do, by taking a deep breath every now and then. Be relaxed!

Mom and I didn't talk about your problem with your neighbour, but it isn't a surprise that she had the same suggestion.

We got your card today. Thanks for being the first!