Saturday, May 3, 2014

Bulging men in spandex

It's been a week with some ups and downs, for sure, with all the negative stuff being work-related.  Today's pictures are from Skin Tight and have nothing to do with the contents of this blog.

1. Next week, I am looking forward to attending an exciting LGBTQ student workshop being held in an even smaller, more remote town with a lesbian colleague from another school and ten teenagers.

The students are an even mixture of lesbians and gays with one trans woman*, a grade 11 student.

*She was born biologically a man but now presents as a woman. By the way, she will be sharing a room with the other teen boys and they're all cool with that. The students all belong to the Gay Straight Alliance at each our two schools; budding social activists, all.

I tried to explain to a straight colleague why this diverse group is so much more special that just your average student club or team. They're all extremely courageous, self-confident and smart. But they're are a self-selecting group.

Any small-town LGBTQ young person grows up "out" and joins a high school GSA must have all those qualities. As permanent "outsiders", I love how the students celebrate each others differences and provide such positive support to each other.

Also, they are very funny and just FABULOUS!

2. I was "spoken to" at school this week by our vice-principal to used to be an elementary school principal. Typical of the breed, she talks to other adults as though they are six years old. Our admin was "concerned" about an anonymous complaint made by the mother of one my grade nine students about various relatively minor (in my mind) issues in my class.

It's all fucking bullshit. Whatever happened to due process? Teacher morale at our school is at an all-time low because our three administrators range from unspeakably bad to just "okay." Our newest VP who we call Jabba the Hut who regularly yells at teachers in the hallway (in front of students) for some minor infraction such as forgetting to remind a student about "The No-Hat Rule."

But the biggest problem is that we have a new principal who seems to encourage parents to complain directly to him rather than the preferred route which is:

A. Student speaks to the teacher about the concern, especially if he or she is a senior. As I constantly remind pushy, interfering "helicopter" parents:  "Our job as parents and teachers is to produce independent, self-sufficient adults."

This does NOT mean a Super Mom  who rushes in to do battle with the education system at every opportunity on behalf of her teenager who is old enough to deal with the situation himself.

B. If the problem isn't resolved, the parent speaks to the teacher.

C. As a final option, the parent speaks to the principal.

So.... I think whatever "problems" existed have been cleared up between me, the parent and the students but I have a meeting on Monday morning with the VP and the Principal.  I will have to use considerable self-restraint to NOT tell them all off.  Fun times!

As an aside, after 15 years at my school, I will be starting the complicated and slightly risky process of transferring to a new school for next September.  Risky because I am giving up a well-established timetable and my own room to end up with a teaching situation which is largely decided by others.

I had decided to transfer (to be closer to my new home) nearly three years ago but my son asked me to not change schools until he graduated from grade 12.  Otherwise, he would have had to switch schools.  At that time, he needed to drive with me to school which was out of zone for school busing purposes.

I was touched that my son was so okay with having me, his gay father, remain as a teacher at his school.  But he's graduating in June so now, I am free to transfer!

After the transfer, I will be guaranteed a job but the actual classes / subjects and school will be fully decided by the principal(s) involved who have the tricky task of dealing with a serious declining enrolment problem.

My hope is that I will be teaching in my area of qualification in a beautiful new high school closest to my home.  This will reduce my commute by some 30,000 km over the remainder of my career, seven years.  Details to follow.


  1. At my school, our handbook actually requires that parents speak to the headmaster (it's a private school) before addressing their concerns with the teacher. I actually like this now that we have a very faculty friendly headmaster. He always backs up his teachers. After he speaks to the parents, I rarely hear from the parents. He stands firm by our decisions, and occasionally asks us to clarify a situtation, then promptly calls the parent back to tell them what lies their child has told them. He's very good at dealing with parents and standing firm behind the teachers. I count myself lucky in this because the first headmaster we had, never stood behind the teachers and would berate us in front of students and parents, causing a demoralizing situation. Now we know that we have the support of the headmaster to make the school a better place for education. I know it can't be an easy job for him when you have to walk the fine line between keeping up enrollment by satisfying parents, but he has such a great personality that he's able to soothe parents while remaining firm.

    1. You are very lucky! I can assure you that the administration at most of our schools here do not treat their teachers in such a positive manner. :-(

  2. I very much relate to the parental concern issue. For the most part, our students and parents do go to the teacher with concerns. But every once in a while I'm contacted by someone from administration about a "parent concern". Usually it's over something that could have easily been handled by just contacting me. I'm very lucky to have administrators that back their teachers.

    Three years ago I was laid off from a small, rural school and was lucky enough to land my present position which is MUCH closer to home. I went from a 50 mile round trip to an 8 mile round trip. My commute dropped by 7,600 miles a year (a little over 12,000 km). Just the amount of money I saved on gas was a raise in itself!

    Love the spandex photos, especially the triathlete in photo 3 - very woofy!

    1. Thanks, Robert for another excellent teacher's point of view. Would you consider e-mailing me? You might be interested in what I have to tell you.

  3. Congrats and good luck on the new job. Do your students know? There are going to be many disappointed students and a few hearts broken.

    I'm surprised that the t-girl is rooming with the boys, I would have expected her to be with the girls -- especially in a LGBTQ group. My question is, "Is she ok with it?"

    1. I feel very sad at leaving my GSA students, especially a barely-out football-playing boy who joined (I am sure) just because I was the teacher in charge.

      But I will see them occasionally.
      during city-wide GSA activities.

      The trans-girl asked to bunk in with the boys and everyone else agreed. Her sexuality is what's called "fluid"..... she'll present herself as a girl one day and dress in a more boyish fashion on the next.

  4. Glad to hear you'll have a shorter commute to the new school, but I hope it doesn't involve reduced opportunities for you in a situation where you have less control over your options. In particular, I hope you'll still be able to be the very positive influence on your new students that you have been in your current position; you have a great mind and are wonderfully caring.

    1. Thank you! I will be doing the same basic job but likely teaching different courses.

      It's time for a change! I likely will experience the same opportunities in my new school as my old one.

  5. We get "direct to the top" parents all the time. It's annoying, and very difficult to deal with tactfully. I usually keep my mouth shut and let others do the talking. I just fix whatever it is they are bitching about as best I can and say (think!) "screw the rest".

    And you are SOOOOO right about school administrators. They completely forget that they are dealing with adults and treat us like the micromanaged students they learned to manage in the classroom. The "I'm an administrator so I'm always right no matter what your story is" attitude burns me up. I am thankful that my department has gotten rid of (or they have moved back into the instructional side of things) most of the ones like that. Now we have a true IT Manager for a Director, a (more or less) true systems engineer to engineer things, and a through-the-ranks systems administrator for a supervisor. I can cope much better with this mix.

    It is exciting to transfer, I changed jobs (within the same district) about 7 years ago now, and it was scary as heck until I got established. Good luck on getting your choices!

    Peace <3

  6. Congrats on the new job, and the reduced commute. Sounds like the new school administrators you will have can't be any worse than the old ones.


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