Making it Through the School-Week


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.

6 thoughts on “Making it Through the School-Week”

  1. I disagree with Discarted, this is a perfect place for this informative post. Having seen the LA educational system as a student, it’s even more interesting seeing it now from the other side, by those that work there. I empathize with your ordeals. Please keep us posted.

  2. Are you kidding, Discarted? An insider’s look at what its like to be a teacher at LAUSD?

    Good stuff, EB. Now, tell us about those anklebiters! Is it just like “Freedom Writers” and “Dangerous Minds” out there?

  3. Emily keep them coming. Having family who taught within LAUSD as well as worked within LAUSD Administration what goes on is amazing. Small wonder so many opt for the early retirement when they get the chance and move onto other areas of education.

    More people need to udnerstand what is going on from a teachers position. Until they have kids most people don’t know to give a damn what goes on. As a parent I care a lot and if we ever expect our kids to get the education we want, we need it possible for teachers to be all they want to be.

  4. me = h.s. teacher from nearby district.
    we (my department) thinks of 6th period assignments as a blessing and a curse. We love the money (it basically means we can skip summer school w/o drawing on savings) and it acts as a pressure-relief valve on those huge classes. Yes, we complain and grumble, but it’s a nice chunk of change.
    Unfortunately, with declining enrollment, there haven’t been many 6th periods.
    the MAIN issue (and what we’ve been trying to protect newbie teachers from in every circumstance) is the VARIETY of classes or ‘preps’. I teach American Lit and 10th grade English: two preps, and I’m almost always doing the same thing in each. At this point in the eyar, I don’t know if I’d take an extra period if it meant a whole new set of books/tests/overhead transperancies/benchmarks/etc. We ‘encourage’ our admins to avoid this; it often sets up a new teacher for failure.

  5. On the bright side, the auxiliary I took was the same subject as the ones I already teach, so in that regard it wasn’t more prep work.

    I do have three preps, though. 3 of Alg 1A, 2 of Alg 1B, and one ESL math class. Despite this, I consider myself lucky: i have a wonderful back up team, and when I got there the curriculum was more or less handed to me. (not to say mandated, because my dept loves to modify, remix, reevaluate. gotta love those rational mathematicians ;)

    Last year I taught algebra as well, so i’m not feeling overwhelmed by all of that. Just the workload generally. Phew. But i’m done grading for the night. :/

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