My goal this second round of teaching was to stay out of trouble and off every administrator's radar range. I'd tilted at my windmills, I'd fought the good fight -- and in so doing I'd left education in 1990 after 22 years of teaching. This time I was doing it differently.
Until Friday morning.
The school Alma Mater song is short and dull - but loud. It starts off "Wyandotte forever, we'll be true to thee" and never gets much beyond that actually. Our principal, good intentioned I'm sure, played it through one time every single morning last year - over the intercom system.
The song was recorded from her computer and it was of the girls' choir singing the song with a piano accompaniment. The playback was from her computer at full volume to the intercom turned full volume. The sound was awful. Every morning at seven a.m. this song blasted through the hallways of an empty school except for staff.
I could understand playing the song for the students -- but for the staff? The staff requested the practice be eliminated this year. The principal gave her reasons for continuing to play the song. The alumni had heard it once and told her it meant the "world" to them that the song was still around. Also, the song is to build a "family" spirit for the staff and students.
This year for the last two weeks the song has been played at ear-splitting volume not just once but three times every single morning. Friday morning at 7 a.m. she played it four times.
F O U R freakin' times. It reacts on my eardrums exactly like fingernails on a chalkboard.
I lost my mind. I went crazy. I got so angry that if you could have seen me, steam would have been rolling not just out of my ears but from my mouth, nose, eyeballs, and out the top of my head.
So I sent an e-mail. I did title it "Heartfelt Request" but I was still very angry when I composed the e-mail. I had some sensibilities left and I did re-read and try to temper the worst language out of it -- and it did occur to me that it was NOT in my best interest to send the note off -- but then I thought about Monday morning - and maybe we'd be hearing that god-awful song FIVE times and I pushed send. I still had sense enough to avoid requesting she stop playing the song altogether -- I merely asked that she turn the volume way, way down so the sound was not so distorted.
The problem is -- I really have followed my rule of "being invisible" to the staff. I stay way up in my third floor classroom and do my job. The admin doesn't have to deal with discipline problems from me. I'm a good teacher and can impress "wildly" when / if an admin needs to visit to see me teaching -- but because my students aren't creating disturbances, nobody ever needs to visit. Even for the required observations (really). I invite the admin to my special classroom events and they come, meet the students for five minutes and go away. My room is pretty -- if you stop by and glance in the door, everyone remarks that they would like to spend time there. It is always neat and clean and full of sunshine -- even on gloomy days. My door is always open and my kids are always engaged in learning -- not always quiet but working at normal sound levels for students actively participating in the learning process.
I am always early to school - by at least 30 minutes, usually more. I stay in my classroom when the kids are there. I am not absent unless I'm sick. I go to the meetings I'm required to attend.
But. I do not join committees. I don't volunteer. I don't go to sporting events this time around. Bleacher seats hurt my back and Hubby's knees. I don't want to hang around school after 3 p.m. I don't offer to tutor gen ed students. I don't toot my own horn. I don't brag about my accomplishments. I don't party with any of the staff members. I don't carry gossip and I don't take sides in faculty feuds. I really have tried to stay off the radar screen.
Until this year. Last year the SPED department asked me to pilot and teach a new English class for SPED kids. Somehow the Language Arts coordinator got wind of the class and because I wasn't attending the English curriculum meetings, his nose got out of joint. He went to my SPED department, our administration, and finally to downtown about the classes. This year when I still showed up on the schedule with even more kids, I got wind of his discontent. Ever since I've been trying to "build bridges" between the English teachers and me by providing them proof that my work actually does dovetail nicely with theirs. In fact, I've been sharing my curriculum with them and agreeing to develop some lesson plans for them. Right now things seem to be smoothed over.
But I have become a blip on the administration radar screens. Hopefully not a big one - but now I've sent off a complaining e-mail. So -- when I finally surface, I've done so in two negative ways right at the very beginning of school.
The response from the principal to my e-mail was very cryptic: point taken. I'm hoping this does not mean that I'm the one actually "on the point" -- and skewered.