ATRs, the unrepresented -- no elected representatives in the UFT

"The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which other rights are protected.
"To take away this right is to reduce a man to slavery, for slavery consists in being subject to the will of another."
Thomas Paine, First Principles of Government

Hello, ATRs are suing

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Star art teacher Part II: filling in after a safety-violating AP to be

In our last installment we read of how a Max Beckmann Fellowship awardee's wisdom and experience was snubbed. In this second report by the star ATR art teacher, we read of his experiences filling in an AP-to be leaves behind a room filled with safety violations. And is the new DOE resisting putting ATRs back into the classroom?

When I reported to one secondary school, the secretary asked if I were the art teacher they were told would be coming to the school. I replied I was and she said she had a program for me to assume. The staff and students of the school had just returned to the campus after being displaced by Hurricane Sandy, but without the art teacher who got a position as an AP with another school in the same building. I saw this as an opportunity to help students in a meaningful way.

My initial enthusiasm was dampened by the very first class, a group of 7th graders. One student went right to a jar of paint and threw it on the floor. It was acrylic paint which is hard to remove especially from clothes if left to dry. That day, I set about securing materials. I found unlocked in that art room easily available to the students: serrated blade knives (steak knives, I believe), permanent markers, acrylic paint, x-acto blades, electric jigsaws, cans of mosaic tiles, and other materials that normally would be locked up.

It took nearly a week to get keys to the cabinets so that I could make sure these and other items were safely out of reach and I could only do that by appealing to the custodians. That week I was stopped by security because they detected metal implements in my bag. Yes, I had to go through scanning. I had brought in a screwdriver and pair of pliers to remove a coathook sticking out from a cabinet by the door. It was mounted at eye-level for a young person. Security allowed those tools when I explained what I needed them for.

As troubling as the unsafe condition of the room was the program itself. There were double period enrichment classes for 6th-graders, but the Juniors met only once a week. Altogether, the program necessitated nine different curricula. It took over a week to get rosters for the enrichment classes and I was only able to get a printout of where all students had to go for the enrichment classes and sort out which were mine, but when I did I found that there were over forty students enrolled in one of the classes. I contacted the person serving as guidance counselor about this irregularity and she explained that she thought art was a specialty subject like gym and could have up to fifty students. Now the students could also change which enrichment class they were to attend the very day they were to go to a class by informing "guidance" they wished to switch.

I had support from the Dean and an AP and was able to get students' phone numbers. Unfortunately, due to Sandy, the phones didn't work properly. Staff contacted administrators on their cell phones and I was only able to use school phones for parental contacts the last few days I was there. The behavior of all classes from the sixth-graders to the Juniors was horrible with countless instances of purposeful destruction and lying. Students constantly reminded me that I was only a substitute, not a real teacher and that they would fix it so I would lose my job. After all, this was an "A" school.

During that time, I produced lessons and had projects I thought appropriate. Students were guided by rubrics in the expectations of those projects. I left behind the work the students accomplished graded during the three weeks graded according to the rubric and a record of each student's daily participation during the time I conducted classes there as well as  a recommended grade for each student. Whoever would assume responsibility for the program had my grade book. But I think what was most emblematic of my time there is the memory of a sixth-grader who kept throwing paper at a girl's face. I tried to talk to him in the hall. When that didn't have the desired effect, I called in the dean. As well a parent coordinator was present as this sixth grade boy said he wasn't going to stop doing whatever he wanted because he just didn't give a f*ck.

This school did receive a grade of "A" from the DOE.

1 comment:

  1. The problem is not only to the kids not give an F neither does the union who shouldn't get a dime for their continual theft of services. We are bouncing all over the map because the dolts at the Uft volunteered the policy of rotation.
    They made this agreement to protect about four thousand newbies who the little tyrant had threatened to fire.
    As usual the great minds and negotiators threw over two thousand senior people under the bus, to save the newbies who hadn't payed as much in time and dues as we old timers had.
    Mildew should have called the whinny little pigs bluff.
    So here we are two years later. No parking permits, no bathroom or room keys, no respect from our erstwhile colleagues. Nary a peep from the bunker at 52 Broadway.
    The only thing to do is sue . It will take years and cost a huge amount. At some point over two thousand have to dig in our heels and go after both