You’ll pardon me for a being silent lately. Schools across LAUSD just wrapped up their first week of the second semester, and my life has been rather busy. Aside from the common kind of busy I usually am, this week happens to be particular deadly to my clocks and calendars.
A teacher in our department decided she wanted to leave the school at the start of the new semester. Under most circumstances, after the teacher leaves, the department is allowed to refill the position and life continues (more or less) like normal.
You may remember I told you last year that there was a fiasco involving placement and scheduling of classes. That was not supposed to happen this semester–and actually did not–but this one teacher leaving managed to throw everything off.
Image from Dahveed76’s flickr under a CC license.
As it turns out, administration would not let the department rehire for her position. This meant that just like last semester, my classes would balloon to huge numbers, since the other teachers would have to absorb her students. We had a department meeting and three teachers decided to take an auxiliary, or extra, course. Depending on who you ask, taking the auxiliary is either a sign of dedication to the profession or mental instability.
Teachers are contractually bound to having one free period a day. This provides the teacher with time to grade, plan, or meet with counselors and various school personnel. Taking an auxiliary course means I gave up my free period to teach instead. On the plus side, I get paid for this. If I had not taken the auxiliary and instead simply accepted the large classes as a part of my daily existence, I would not have gotten paid a single extra dime but would have nonetheless have to deal with the headaches of large classes and more papers to grade. I begged one of the counselors to give me a couple of teacher assistants. They will be able to help me, and I in turn give them a grade and course credit. What a deal! … Of course, I do have to train them, too.
Right now, I at least get to say, “Well fuck me, I’m at least getting paid for this.”
As to how I feel about this teacher leaving, well I have mixed feelings. Part of me is bitter and resentful that I have to pick up someone else’s slack. Another part of me is glad for her: she was not happy at our campus, and had she stayed, she might have done long-term damage to the student’s education and to her own mental well-being. I’d rather she leave the school than leave the profession entirely. I know all too well the shortage of good teachers.