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Author Topic: Should I stay or should I go now?
Member # 8375

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<long rant, sorry>
As some of you know, I am a middle school teacher. I am trying to decide whether I should stay at the school I am at now or if I should leave and teach at the district in which I live.

Why I should stay at my current school:
1. I love most of the teachers I work with.

2. I have a cushy position regarding the classes I teach. I have a leadership class that is wonderful, an honors class and a regular class, while most language arts teachers have 3 regular classes and most other teachers have a total of six classes.

3. No one notices if I screw up (being late since I have 1st period off, forgetting to do afternoon duty or turn in my lesson plans). Not that it happens often but it is still nice to not work for a Nazi.

4. I am a team leader for a 4 year grant that my school has (we are in year 2) that pays me a $1000 stipend and if I choose to work some in the summers I can get between $1000-$4750 more. In the district I am in, I get paid $4000 more a year than the district that I am considering moving to. With what I am working this summer I would be losing about $8300 a year. Plus I like the work I have done for the grant and would like to continue it. If I move that is not an option since the district has the grant.

5. I have 8 years of experience in 3 different schools and 3 different districts. At some point all this moving around is going to hurt me in the resume department. This is par for the course in middle school to some extent but 4 schools in less than 10 years is beginning to look excessive.

Why I should leave:
1. I have a 45-minute commute each day. That is over 7 hours a week spent driving instead of being with my family. I also spend $60 a week in gas! This would not be so bad if I did not have the other bad reasons. Also I want to go to grad school as soon as this grant is over (and I have more time) but I am not sure I can do that with such a long commute.

2. There is something wrong with my district. The school I teach at has only been open 5 years and we are on our 4th principal. In all that time we have had the same assistant principal and he has been passed up 3 times for a promotion to the principal (for good reason). The district still keeps him even though they know he is not a good administrator. The principals we have had have not been bad until the one we have now, but this lack of ability in choosing quality leaders is a huge problem throughout the district and it is taking a toll in our schools.

3. My principal. Where to begin? First, he was thrust into a situation that was not ideal. Our last principal quit the week before school started so they moved up a new elementary assistant principal. He was new to the district and new to middle school. The one person he should have been able to rely on was the assistant principal that had just been passed up for the job for the third time. Then he had some medical problems that we think may be hindering his brainpower either because of the condition itself or because of the medication he is taking. Either way, he is driving us crazy.

We can't have a conversation with the man. He rambles on, mumbles incoherently and never finishes a sentence, much less a thought. He is scared of parents and waffles on their kids' punishments when challenged. He believes the kids when they lie to him and repeatedly questions to teachers about the referrals they right since he believes the kids over us. He can not make a decision to save his life and refuses to rely on his teachers to help him even though we have offered kindly then pushed forcefully for him to fix some things that drastically need fixing.

Our school has some serious safety issues. Kids are doing drugs on the buses, in the bathrooms, and I even got a report that kids were doing coke in a classroom while the teacher was present. The principal scoffed at me when I tried to tell him about it and says the kids are exaggerating.

We have huge fights everyday, mostly in the bathrooms where teachers and administrators don't see. We try to tell him that these fights are the norm, not isolated events like he thinks, but he just refuses to believe that things are that bad. We have had two students withdraw from school in the past month because of these fights and I hear numerous parent complaints about the lack of support in the office regarding the safety of their children. I had a student write a poem recently about how afraid she is to go to the bathroom after witnessing a fight in which a girl's head was being pounded into the floor but is too afraid to come forward. When I showed it to the principal, he blew me off and said we had already fixed that problem and it wasn't happening anymore. I had another student tell me of fights in the bathroom during lunch where the girls pile onto a single girl in a still while others stand on the toilets in adjacent stalls watching and egging them on. This kids sneak around the building and make out, do drugs or fight on a daily basis while he swears he is on top of things.

He is walking around with blinders on if he doesn't see this and he refuses to believe the teachers when we tell him what the kids have told us. In the last faculty, meeting the entire staff worked together to bully him into making a decision about better monitoring the students only to have him back out several days later. This is only going to get worse as we finish off the year. The assistant principal and the officer on our campus are no help in the discipline department either. It is so frustrating to know what to do to keep the kids safer and not be allowed to do it because the principal doesn't trust his staff. This is the only time in my whole career that I can say I would not allow my daughter to attend the school where I work. We have voiced our concerns to the superintendent and he has assured us that we will not have to worry about this next year but the principal recently turned down the transfer offer he was given and is talking like he is planning to be back next year. I am not afraid to stay and help solve these problems. I am afraid that we will be stuck with this principal next year and that he will continue to keep his head in the sand. I think there will have to be a huge injury or a death before something is done and I don't want to be around for that.

So what do you think?

Posts: 1319 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 9163

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I think you should stay and help the students and teachers. They're gonna need your help. How would you like it if one of them quit on you?
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Member # 8845

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What a horrible situation!

For me it's a toss up.

I think you should definately do what is best for you (physically safest as well as emotionally best).

On the other hand, that school sounds like it needs some stability and help.

I would probably talk to all parents of students in my classes who had personally complained to me and suggest that they write letters of complaint to the superintendant.

I would also write a formal letter of complaint explaining your previous concerns and what has happened with the principal.

I would also keep a detailed record of fights in bathrooms and such that you are aware. Record keeping holds weight, rather than just saying that it happens "all the time".

Good luck. I hope you find some support as it's a shame to see a school go down the tubes from lack of administrative support.

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Member # 5981

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Is your safety threatened, Mandy? If it is, I'd say it's time to move on. If not, stay.
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Member # 4774

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What sweetbaboo said... Is it possible to carpool to work?
I know i need to do that to avoid 40 bucks a week in cab fairs...
It depends on how much stress it costs you. If you can't take another 6 months of it, maybe you can move on, or meet with other teachers and see what they think...

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Member # 9144

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stay, the middle school that i went to was like that and 5 teachers left during my 8th grade year (Im in 9th grade now). All the kids at my school HATED the teachers that left.
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Goody Scrivener
Member # 6742

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My gut says stay. There needs to be some stability there, and it obviously isn't coming from administration. Plus, as you said, you love the work you've done on this grant, and the difference in pay more than makes up the increased cost of gas for the longer commute. (And if you can either get in on or form a carpool, so much the better. What about public transportation? does that exist around you?)

The fighting situation concerns me, however, and the lack of response from authority. Can you call the municipal police directly (rather than going through the school safety officers) when a fight is going on? It seems to me that perhaps the administration is subterfuging that situation to avoid scrutiny and perhaps to maintain funding or something similar.

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Member # 2314

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I don't know. Your first obligation is not to your job or even to your students - it's to your own family. You've already mentioned that the commute cuts into the time you spend with them. Do you think the stresses and worries about this job also affects your family time? If so, then maybe you need to go to a a place that won't weigh you down so heavily emotionally.
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Member # 7825

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If you stay there will be trouble.
And if you go it will be double..

**This song's playing on the radio right now.
**Lyrics edited to make a point

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Member # 8375

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Thanks for the comments guys. I have talked to other teachers are we are pretty much all feeling this way.

I wish I could commute. No one lives close enough to me. I am going to carpool for the grant work I am doing this summer though since it is in a different location even farther away.

As far as my own safety, I am not scared personally. The kids are scared of the fighting in the bathrooms and things like that. There are other issues though like that the admin did nothing to the two boys who brought knives to school recently and we had to push hard for our officer to give a ticket to a guy who pulled someone's pants down in the cafeteria. This kind of behavior is only going to escalate.

Also the principal tried hard to get us to break the law during state testing in February. We tried to tell him what he was asking was against testing rules but it finally took me printing it offline and highlighting it for him to listen. I am just sick of the battle. Why should I do his job or battle him to do it himself?

I think what I am going to do is next week I will write up the recent incidents with a few of my teacher friends and send it to the superintendent. He seems like a reasonable man to me but some teachers think he is full of hot air. Truthfully my gut says to stay too, but I am so tired and frustrated at the end of every week.

Again, I appreciate everyone's comments. Keep 'em coming!

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Member # 4774

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What does a person have to do to become a principal anyway?
It seems like you'd do a better job. At least you know what's going on...

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Tante Shvester
Member # 8202

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Only you can decide. But, if past performance is any indication of future returns (and it may not be), the current principal may not be around for much longer, either.

There have been times when I left a job for another position because my boss was someone that I couldn't work with well. Other times, I just rode out the situation, and before I knew it, my disagreeable boss was replaced by someone better. Or at least different.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

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I guess I'm warped, growing up in a suburb of L.A. Half the kids I knew growing up had a parent that commuted at least 1 hour each way every day (including my mom and dad.) 45 minutes doesn't seem that bad to me... [Blushing]
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Member # 8375

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Synesthesia, thanks! That's what my friends keep telling me too. I would have to get my master's degree in Educational Administration, which I am dying to do. I am waiting for my hubby to finish school, us to get our finances in order and for my daughter to go to kindergarten (in 2 years) so I won't have to pay so much in day care.

Again, thanks for giving your thoughts. You basically said what I was thinking. I know I should stick around but sometimes I wonder if I shouldn't jump him in the bathroom. But then again, leaving with a cut in pay would be better than jail.

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