Professional

Today, I found out I have professional status.  In MA, tenure is not used (for the record, I totally agree with that decision).  So, generally, if a teacher receives professional status from their district, it just means they have worked there for at least three years and they’ve proven themselves.  It also means that if there are layoffs, they won’t be the first ones on the chopping block.  It’s exciting.

On the flip side, I’m ready for this year to be over.  Don’t get me wrong.  I still adore my job.  But the last few weeks of kids acting out, cheating, and not doing any work have taken their toll.  I’m that rare middle school teacher who likes to keep the kids busy up until the end.  Granted, I do ease up a little.  Now that the kids have finished their final research papers of the term, we are taking the last couple of days next week to play word related board games (Balderdash, Bananagrams, Scrabble, Boggle…).  A lot of teachers seem to just be showing movies for the rest of the time.  Even so, I realize that everyone has their own style and I would never call a teacher out on it because it simply isn’t my way of doing things.  Even if it does make it harder for me to maintain order because the kids all come in saying “oh, you mean we’re not watching a movie?  Why not???”  It’s not my place.

However, today, I was up to my neck dealing with kids who copied and pasted their research papers from the internet.  Now, we had spent weeks in class just practicing paraphrasing.  I lost count of the number of conversations we had about plagiarism.  It wasn’t even as though they had a sentence here and there.  It was articles copied word for word with the font all changed to be uniform.  All three kids admitted to it immediately and when asked by the Assistant Principal why they did it they admitted it was because they didn’t feel like doing the work.  Not because they didn’t know it was wrong.  Not because they didn’t understand the assignment.  Because they were lazy (as one kid wholeheartedly admitted before we called his mom).

So, I mention this at lunch because, you know.  I’m frustrated.  And disapppointed.  And I’ve just spent a full period when I could have been grading talking to parents and kids about how they will be getting 0’s on the assignment and will likely fail my class for the term.  And this other teacher comes out with “Awww, come on.  It’s the end of school.  Can’t you just cut them some slack?  Couldn’t you have just let it slide, turned a blind eye and pretended they didn’t do it?”  And then, when I respond that no, I can’t, because it’s a matter of ETHICS and they knew what they were doing wrong and if they’re not caught on it now they’ll keep doing it, this teacher responded “well, maybe they just didn’t know they were supposed to put it in their own words.” After that I got another teacher to vouch for how much time we had spent teaching them about plagiarism and paraphrasing and citations.  She muttered something about it being the end of the year again.

I didn’t say anything.  I just stopped talking and shoved another carrot in my mouth.  And then another one.  And I didn’t say another word for the rest of lunch.  I couldn’t.  I was too hurt.  I know I’m taking this personally.  I know that this person’s opinion is probably the minority.  But it really bothers me.  I have never said a word about her style.  I’ve especially never called her out on something she was clearly upset about.  In front of our colleagues.

Ugg.  Guys, I’m totally sorry.  My next post won’t be such a downer.  There have been some bright spots this week.  Running hurdles with my kids on Field Day.  Having a killer workout with Sunny yesterday.  Hanging out with the very cool people working on the show I’m stage managing.  Planning a date with Mr. Cookie tonight.  Having a great conversation with my sister earlier in the week.  Making plans with Mr. Cookie about the things we will do when we have kids.  Friends that call to check in.  This.  Knowing that next week is a half week and then it’s summer.

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