Monday, November 23, 2009

And Here I am

So, it's Monday.

I am not in school.

I am not teaching.

What to do, what to do.....

I broke out all my art supplies and created an awesome wall hanging.  Well, maybe it isn't awesome.  I cannot decide.  No matter.  I got in that feesense zone I have not been in for months and I think it is having therapeutic effects.  

No word form university yet.  Not sure when to start nagging about my refund.  My ability to earn a living in a non-hostile work environment or advance to an administrative position in my district have been dashed due to this breach.  I hope to hell whomever breached confidentiality is found out and kicked out.  But we all know that person will be the first to get hired and will be a bullying unethical administrator.  And so it goes.
And of course I haven't heard back from the sup regarding the bullying behavior of one of his/her assistants.  Isn't that the case with bullies?  Once someone stands up to them, they retreat to a corner.

Love Thanksgiving and so thankful to be able to put all I have into it this year.  We will be a family of 15 on Thursday and I feel honored that everyone is coming to the warmth of our home in the belief that they will be cared for, fed well, and allowed to let their guards down for a whole day.

It is my goal to take at least one box or bag full of stuff from my house to Goodwill every day until Christmas.  I am working hard to convince my kids to let go of stuff they never use.  So much is in great, almost new, condition and others should be able to enjoy it.

I am at peace most of the time.  However this is an adjustment and I have experienced some truly wicked panic attacks between those moments of peace.  

I am formulating my campaign for a position on the school board election ballot.  I am not done.  Not by a long shot.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New Day Dawning

As of today I have the following.

  • No response from downtown suits.
  • No response form university registrar about a tuition refund.
  • Wonderful response (in writing, by the way) from a professor and ex superintendent of schools stating I was mistreated by the suit and that he was way out of line.  He also takes responsibility for the breach even though he isn't even the prof that required the message board entires.  Imagine!  Someone willing, actually wanting, to take some responsibility for his institution!   

I am feeling free as a bird, validated, committed to contributing to making things better for teachers working in hostile work environments due to bullying, and becoming a school board member.  Even if I don't win, imagine downtown squirming while I am running my campaign!  I am also feeling very sad that someone was so motivated by a dislike of me that they breached confidentiality to a suit!

I had a great experience yesterday observing a practicum student and sharing my notes with the person in charge of hiring supervisors for practicum students and student teachers.  Our notes and points of issue matched, so I think an offer is forthcoming.  I love, loved, loved, watching, analyzing and problem solving. I know how to teach and love helping others be quality classroom leaders.  I cannot wait to find my way in this venue.

Also shopping for a good Ed.D program.  I think my emphasis will be all about advocating for teachers. Now, don't get me wrong.  Crap teachers need to go and go fast.  I say we advocate for the best, work with an supervise the weaker ones, and counsel the crap ones right on out of education.

Superman's new AUT teacher starts Monday!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Reaction Updates

First I want to thank each and every one of you who have supported me in the last few days as I sort this out.  I woke today with an even stronger conviction that I need to leave this particular program.  I don't feel safe.  There is a mole out there and they have a direct line to the knee jerk reacting suit downtown.

I am still puzzling over the suit's reaction.  He doth protest too much. AND must be not so sharp as he used the bullying and intimidation techniques exemplified and explored in the very study I was sharing with my classmates.

The professor finally responded to me this morning and said I should come to class this weekend (yeah, right) and not make any rash decisions.  Are you kidding me?

I have sent an email to the very top suit in my district attaching the email by the lower suit as well as the entry I made to the message board.  I included a very well drafted letter stating my position and ever-so professionally blasted the suit in question.  I want to publicly thank Hubs for that.  He nailed it and is always my first pick when I need help drafting letters in these intensely charged situations.

I am mailing my withdraw (with no intent to return) form in with a letter requesting a full refund by the university.  I am copying in provost, department chair and class professor and sending it registered mail.

I still feel violated and certainly unsafe to return to any of my classes.  I feel my work environment has become hostile and not sure I can even return to my class next year.  This has deeply effected me.  I am very saddened.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Big Brother Won

I hope I can get through this entry without xanax or a breakdown.  The last 24 hours have been absolutely grueling and I think I am still in a bit of shock.
While I was sitting in Sister's Values class yesterday, I received an email on my home email address.  At break I referred to my iPhone to check for messages and any new emails.
This is what I found from a higher level administrator in my district.

           Recently I was forwarded an email that you sent to some individuals who are probably involved with a course you are taking.  The communication referenced a national study of the mistreated teacher.  You obviously can send whatever you want from your personal email accounts.  However, it is disappointing when an individual uses sabbatical time granted by our Board of Education to communicate the following statements to others - "I can count myself as a teacher who has suffered through some abuse at the hands of administration from time to time"
To sate that you have suffered abuse by administration is a very disturbing accusation.
Please do not contact me regarding your statement because there is nothing to discuss.

Read that again.  

What this higher level administrator is referring to is a post I made on a 'confidential' message board set up by one of my professors.  As a student in this class I am required to post my thoughts, observations as well as encouraged to submit any interesting articles I bump into and open those for discussion. So, being the ever compliant student, I posted the following regarding a national study of mistreated teachers.

As we find our way into leadership positions, I think this survey can
help us keep another's perspective in mind.  Our actions may not
always be perceived as intended.  Although I find this group to be a
bit rabid and fatalistic, there are some truths in what they
represent.  I can count myself as a teacher who has suffered through
some abuse at the hands of administration from time to time.
I am interested to see what others think.

The following is what ran through my head (stampede-like) all night long.
  • What jerk classmate is serving as mole and breaking confidentiality by sending my employer this out of context email?
  • What did I state that was incriminating specifically to my district?  I have taught in 6 districts for 18 years, and in my current district only a handful of years.
  • Was I not clear that the purpose of the post was to help us all be more mindful leaders so that we are not misinterpreted as abusive?
  • Who does this 'leader' think he/she is by emailing me, intimidating me, bullying me, ABUSING me while I am on an UNPAID leave (not a sabbatical as he stated)?  They just did exactly what the whole survey was about!
  • I did not email anyone, as he/she states... this was a message board posting.
  • What in the world is this person hiding, feeling guilty about, or feeling threatened by in my statements?
  • Who is this person to tell me they are disappointed in how I use my time while on leave?
  • What kind of leadership blames the abused instead of inquiring about how they can help stop such behavior or at the minimum, ask if this happened during my tenure within this district? 
  • Let's be honest, to direct someone not to respond is abusive and ignores the whole principle of due process.
At this point I am withdrawing from the program and asking for a refund as I feel that my ability to earn an income in my district has been severely jeopardized.  I certainly have no hope of ever using this license in my current district and to be honest, feel unsafe in all of my classes and cannot possibly fully participate as there is someone there clearly not honoring confidentiality.

I have emailed the professor who is responsible for the message board to make him/her aware of this significant breach of confidentiality.  No response yet.

I have no desire to join administration. I no longer have any delusions about my ability to change anything in education.  

On a personal note, I feel so very hurt that someone hates me so much they feel compelled to put me in harm's way. This person will make a great administrator.  They are already on the Dark Side.

You will find my name on the school board election ballot next term.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Outsider Perspective

Just got back from a lovely lunch meeting with the person in charge of hiring student teacher supervisors.  We chatted about present day school administration, university teacher training programs and the difference between a PhD and an EdD.

Her perspective was interesting. She was emphatic about how ineffective most school administrators are and that she felt they were mostly in it as they were not very good in the classroom.  She also said of the few good ones she deals with, they are on a fast road to burnout because the fight is just too big and the obstacles are too many.

I really need to figure out if I could live with myself if I dropped out of this program and focused on an EdD and supervised student teachers.  

I asked if she thought one could effect more change as a member of a teacher training program, or public school administrator.   She said there are so very many variables to consider.  I agree. 

But where will I be able to get done what I think needs to be done and stay sane while doing it?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Which Bus is the Clue Bus?

Oh Dear.   
I am once again in a quandary.  Since our trip to NY and VT, I have had a horrible time getting motivated to do any school work.  It feels like torture.  I am trying to figure out if I shouldn't be doing this, or if I should be doing this, but while doing it, take note and commit to not inflicting bullshit busy work on others.

Here are the the items on my to do list:

  • Values timesheet... log what I am doing every minute of every day for a week, match each activity with one of 125 values listed, look for patterns and strive for balance. Then reflect and determine if I am  spending enough time on what I value.  DUH!  I am a parent of two special ed kids, taking too many classes. What I value is napping, reading for pleasure, loving up my kids instead of riding them about homework.
  • Take personality type inventory. It turns out I am an INFJ.
  • Write a 2 page philosophy paper.  OK, I have written about 100 of these in my career.
  • Do another case study and cite theorists in APA style.  I am horrible at that!
  • Email my part of the strategic planning project.  OK, this one is a really stupid assignment. I already did one like this when getting my alternative ed project.  We pretend we have all we need and design a school....  Which might be useful if it required real, dig down deep information gathering and  practical research based information.  But, no, we just skim the surface and have no obstacles to work through.  My kids could do this!  It is just busy work.
  • Study leadership theorists in prep for the final exam/case scenario.
  • Turn in a final 250 word philosophy paper for another class.
  • Write a two page paper expressing my beliefs about school choice.
  • Complete my budget planning project.... tailored to building principals, not special ed personnel.
  • Write a collective bargaining paper based on a neighboring school district's contract.
  • Schedule social thinking therapy for Superman
  • Find a therapist for Movie Man who seems to be in some sort of pre-adolescence, significant LD awareness, need to control something in my life phase.
  • research and order diapers and diaper covers for grandchild
  • Figure out math tutoring for Movie Man

I am getting sick, so have no energy and, really, when you look at the list above, none of what I am being asked to do has any relevance to what is important in school leadership.  It is very disheartening.

So, I get this interesting message from a neighboring university.  They need student teacher supervisors next semester!  I so badly want to do this!  I so want this to turn into teaching a university class or two.  If that came to be, I would drop this administrative licensure crap instantly and find a doctoral program and work on my true passions while doing university work part time.

As I watch for clue busses, one drove by last night while in a conversation with a dear friend and colleague.  I will end today's entry with her direct quote.

"Liberty Rose, you are so not an administrator.  You don't fit in with all the stupidity that goes on. You have strong opposing opinions and you will be fired within your first year!  What are you thinking?  You need to teach teachers in training!"

Saturday, November 7, 2009


As of yesterday at 3:54 PM Superman's Autism teacher's position was posted.  She packed up and is gone.

We are sleeping better for a night or two.

We hope against all hope that the district will take time to recruit a quality teacher for the position.

Stay tuned as this gets resolved.  I don't have much faith in The Dark Side.

Monday, November 2, 2009

APA and Busy Work, A Leader Do Not Make

OK, got some papers back from one of my professors.  I have yet to satisfy his very high expectation for using APA referencing protocol.  Oh brother.  This will probably net me a B in the class.  It has been years since I received a B in a class.  Somehow I cannot conjure up the motivation to care.

I thought I nailed it in my last two papers.  I used citation machine, I was very careful.  I used the professor's template.... and still didn't get it quite right.  I cite the references correctly. But this time I numbered the pages and screwed up the header a bit.  BIG F-ing DEAL!  I just want to get this license so I can make things right for special education students and their families by being involved in program development and teacher evaluation.  Does it matter I numbered the pages (correctly, I might add) and he didn't want the pages numbered?

What's coming up?  Let's see.  As I take a quick look at my calendar I see I have a values journal to do for Sister Donna.  When she assigned this she pointed out what category sexual play fell into.  Twice she explained this.  HMMMM.  This assignment is a tool for us to use in reflection about making sure we spend time doing what we value.  I don't need to keep a journal for that.  
I need to do my part for a group project ( I really hate group projects for class).  I need to figure out staffing for our make believe charter school.  Oh brother.  I am all for teamwork and collaborative work.  In real life.  This contrived make-your-own-dream-school-with-a-group-of-people-from-other-schools-and-disciplines-and-interests-and-present-it-to-the-class is a useless exercise.  I already did this in another program.  I have never used one single component of that one and won't from this one.  If you want to start a charter school, get online.  Get together with like mined people.
Let's see.  I also have a budget plan book to put together.  I can get some use from this as this project makes you really internalize all the doing a budget entails and how important following a timeline and sharing that with others is.  I also need to outline and review chapter 9 in a text for my classmates.  Hey.  Whatever happened to everyone reading the whole text book?  I don't want someone else's outline.  Just read the damn text. Oh yeah, I also have to find some inspirational tidbit to read to the class.  We all then reflect on these tidbits.  For a grade.
I need to do one more case study for the citation police as well as turn in my little black book.  This little black book is supposed to be full of bits of info and thoughts and references.  NOT a journal.  This is just supposed to be a book we can flip through and reference as needed.  

So, of all these assignments, which ones will make me an effective leader?  I think leaders are born and then fine tuned through experience, trial and error.  I think there are way too many education 'leaders' out there that are clueless, worthless, and harmful.  The good ones didn't need formal coursework to be good leaders.  The good ones intrinsically know how to treat people, how to inspire, how to keep their eyes on  what is best for kids.  They never lose sight of that.  They don't let us lose sight of that.

So, with all that school work to do, I think I will trip off to the kitchen to bake cookies and the laundry room to wash all our vacation clothes. 

Not sure I should keep on in this program.  I have always wanted to design furniture.  Should I do that instead?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pray for Objectivity and Clarity of Thought

Hub and I just got back from Vermont and NY where we visited an incredible school for Superman and Movie Man.  One of the main perks was rubbing the pregnant belly of my first grandchild's mother.

 I am scared to death.  Hub and I are scared to death.

 For our boys.

We cannot continue to subject them to the education they are currently enduring. Both boys are problematic learners in their public school setting.  Although an IEP is a good thing (theoretically) it is only as good as the people implementing it.

And they are not very good.

So, we fly out of Happy Valley and land in Albany, NY all without a hitch. We drive to Saratoga Springs, NY and check it out in prep for our meeting with the Waldorf school the next morning.

AMAZING!  Wow, the very gracious and articulate hostess was the admissions lady.  We had time to personally meet with the 4th and 6th grade teachers.  We were never rushed.  They took time to genuinely communicate with us.  I was very impressed.  As was Hub.  As was Superman when he heard they are dismissed at 2:00 PM.  As was (well, sort of) Movie Man when he saw the way the kids are taught.  Why, oh, why can't all schools embrace at least some of this stuff?

Anyway, after 2 hours... yes, I said 2 HOURS, of unrushed, very informative quality time, we left ready to continue on with the application process.  They did not even flinch when they met our kids and heard about their IEPs.  Movie Man would be slow to adjust, but he would eventually take to it with gusto.

Superman was quite engaging with our admissions lady and even tried to explain being in the dark (autism) to her.  He got a little more autistic-like in observable behaviors at about the 90 minute mark, but he did pretty well.

Guess what?  Not one computer in the classrooms.  (Do not misread me here!  I believe in technology.  We are a family with 4 computers, many video gaming stations and Beatles Rock Band) But there were no computers beckoning to the teacher from his/her desk.  No learning time taken up by keyboarding class.

But more impressive than that is that the kids have AT LEAST 2 recesses a day!  Gee, recess?  Recess?  Isn't cramming more reading minutes in every day more important than unstructured play?  What on earth does play have to do with readin', writin' and 'rithmetic?

Art and music were evident at every turn of our tour.  They use cursive writing, they don't have text books, the teachers stay with the kids 1st - 8th grades!  You read that right.  1st - 8th grades!  Can you believe that any teacher would want to be with the same 15 kids for that many years?  Can you believe that any teacher would want to know the curriculum for that many grade levels?  I say that takes huge commitment and dedication.

Waldorf has been around for a long time.  Around the world.  Are they a bit extreme as far as technology avoidance?  Maybe by today's standards.  But are they accessing and exercising a part of the brain that could use a bit more attention?  Yep.  Do I think that would be best for my kids?  So far, I do.

But to relocate from the midwest to NY will take a huge amount of effort, googahs of cash and a few miracles, employment for both parents, a sold house, a new house secured... well, you get it.

So, do parents do this for their kids?  Is that reasonable?  Expected?  Advisable?

Hub is wearing his NY warm up jersey this afternoon.  I think he's there.