Yesterday was a fine day inside my four classroom walls, but a brutal day outside. Our school is so small that the Social Studies department consisted (at the beginning of the year) of only three teachers and one tutor fulfilling a teacher position. Our tutor had small, specially selected classes, of some of the more problematic and troubled kids, and he was amazing with them. He was such a positive force in the school and in the department; he was young, “from the community,” and very good with (especially) our at risk boys. Due to some administrative shakeups and a whole series of misbegotten events, we lost our tutor very suddenly about a month ago. His classes wound up being absorbed into my class and into the class of the other U.S. History teacher, my department head (DH).
My classes took the hit relatively well. I have, I think, been able to quell any budding insurrection, and the classes are settling back into “normalcy” with their new members. DH, however, basically wound up with the second block from hell. His class (already tenuous at best) has just exploded into a sea of defiance with the addition of our tutor’s students. The group he has contains a lot of kids who are very needy, and want constant 100%, me, me, me attention at all times. I have had elements of his class over the year, and I will say that out of all of the problem classes I have been stuck with in my (rather short, thus far) teaching career, that would probably register as the worst. DH seems especially to be having trouble with the constant level of blatant disrespect a hostility emanating from the girls in that room.
Anyway, its been slowly getting worse and worse down there at the end of the hallway and yesterday, in the middle of second period, he stormed down the hall and into my class (just as I was wrestling an illicit MP3 player away from one of my own little angels) and declared, “Well, that’s it. They’ve gotten the best of me. [Here he named several students] have won! I can’t get anything done in that class. I’ve reached the end and I’m done. I’m quitting.”
I don’t even know how I responded. I think I stuttered out something about “Don’t do it.” (backing up my claim that a teacher needs to be about 40% hostage negotiator) and then he left, down to the office to serve his notice. My class erupted into a frenzy of excitement at being witness to such a dramatic scene and at having some great first hand gossip to share at lunch and it took a good 10 minutes of discussion about teaching and the treatment of teachers in this building by the students to get them settled back into Reconstruction.
As of now, I’m not sure if he’ll be there today or not. Our principal (who is awesome) tried to talk him down and proposed several alternate solutions, but at bus let out yesterday, he still claimed he was going to put in his notice and call in sick for the rest of his 14 days. I really, really hope he decides to stick around, and not just on general principle or because I like him either (although both of those are also true). One thought, and only one thought, flashed through my mind as he burst into my classroom: “I do NOT want to take that class.” Oy.
Updated to Add: DH is not here today; there is a sub in his classes. His 2nd period whooped it up down the hallway carrolling “We’re free!” at the top of their lungs. I shudder to think of it, but that will probably become my problem sometime next week. Le sigh.