Saturday, June 18, 2011


Mom: Laura, Mademoiselle isn't going to be coming back to school next year.

Laura: What?? Why?

Mom: I think it's because some kids didn't always do their homework.

Laura: No! I did! I did always do my homework! I swear! [She didn't.]

Mom: Oh, well I guess it must be something else, then.

On Thursday, my school had the 1st grade Field Day. While sipping a lemonade and chatting with several moms, they asked me about next year. Not knowing what else to say, I told them the truth: I'm not coming back, it's not my decision, and I'm not sure why.

Before I had fully gotten the sentences out of my mouth or managed to extricate the lump from my throat, the shit hit the fan. Expletives flew. Next came the text messages; the news spread like wildfire. Soon I was getting BCC'ed on emails to the superintendent and principal, telling them how happy the parents have been with me, that I'm one of the best teachers their kids have had, how they've loved what they've seen in my classroom, etc. Others have made appointments to meet directly with the superintendent. In addition, I received some incredibly thoughtful, touching personal emails:

"Dear Mademoiselle, I haven't been able to stop thinking about this since I spoke with you on Thursday. It makes me feel sad and upset to know that I live in a town that treats its teachers this way. Please don't hesitate to ask me for anything."

"It is outrageous that they never asked our opinion when we are the ones who really saw your work through the kids. This REALLY pisses me off."

"I am so sorry about your departure... I really think you were truly awesome! I would not quit that early yet... Maybe they will change their minds..."

All of this, of course, is incredibly affirming and gratifying. At the same time, it makes me feel sad and disheartened to see what a disconnect exists between my parents' opinions of me and the people who make the decisions. And I wonder: will I ever find a school to work for that is not dysfunctional?

Last week, I was scheduled to go in to a school for a demo lesson at 9 a.m. on Friday. At two o'clock the day before, they emailed me to cancel: "At this point, we've decided that we need to continue interviewing candidates before we move on to the next step. It's a really busy time of year. We will keep in touch as we move forward with the process. And would you mind mailing the book we gave you to read to the class back to me?"

No apology, not even a little tiny "Sorry for the inconvenience" or an offer to reimburse me for the cost of mailing the book. I would think that schools, of all places, would be employers who would treat teachers with dignity and respect, to be a positive role model for the kids if for no other reason. Sadly, that does not seem to be the case.

But, with one and a half days of school left to go, maybe now is the time to stop worrying about it and just enjoy the summer.

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