Tuesday, July 31, 2012

I will say that just by starting this blog I have begun to educate myself about the  "excessed" and ATR,  and the more I read, the more I can appreciate a colleague like Patricia Tambakis.  You can check this out!

When she lists the teaching positions that are missing from this school, think about all the teachers in the "pool" who are left wandering the boroughs, looking for the school that they are assigned to that week.

It seems that there are some very basic blunders here. If you are paying us salaries to "sub", why can't we just simply be hired where there is an obvious need. I just don't see why 2+2 does not=4?  Overcrowded classrooms with empty rooms next door, qualified teachers sent to sit in the empty rooms:  how does all this make sense other than the thought that some other master is being served.

For the past six years I have been the computer teacher at my middle school; two other teachers ( math and history) were also running a computer lab. Now that I have been excessed, I can only assume that my 7th grade students will not have a lab.  In fact, during the last week of school, one of my colleagues (6th grade ELA) was moving his stuff into my lab.  Now, my lab was just created this past year.  I had 34 new computers with cameras loaded, a Smart Board, and plenty of room, (It took from September to December to get the equipment installed; before that we had "air" computers).  Now that computer lab will not be used, which is a complete waste of money unless, of course, Green Dot extends its hold on the building and that computer lab is given up to them as well.  In any case, it is my view that teaching essential computer skills is being sacrificed. For what-- because the school cannot afford a computer teacher (me)? The system can afford to keep paying me for not teaching computers, and would  rather I sit in the cafeteria, coverage slip in hand, waiting for 6th period so I can stand in a room of unfamiliar students with really no purpose other than to maintain order. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Well okay, here we are. 


When you’re Excess’d
(Sung to the tune of the “Jet’s Song” from Westside Story)
(With apologies to all)
When you’re excess’d
You’re excess’d all the way
From your first homeroom class
To your last P.T.A.

When you’re excess’d
And your job’s in the can
No one else is around
You’re an asterisk man!

You wander alone
You’re always disrespected
No class is your own
You’re looking real dejected

But you are protected!

So when you’re excessed
With a capital X
It is one of the ways
That they'll send you away

 When you’re excess’d
You’ll fade away!!!!!!

excessedhttp://www.uft.org/know-your-rights/excessing (transitive verb), to dismiss from employment, U.S. to dismiss an employee as part of a program of layoffs.

 I am starting this blog for a number of reasons, one being a place for other excess'd NYC teachers to a least communicate with each other as we share the unique experience of being teachers without a room. First,  let's note that there is no such word as excessed!  This is a made up word (and I will not "add to dictionary") as a strategy to have teachers fire themselves, or in other words quit because of the onerous working conditions legally imposed through rules and regulations that have nothing to do with the education of the children or with fairness to those whose assist in that delivery. I will go on about this later.

 I suspect that I will have ample time to work on this blog because I have seen the ghosts of teachers excessed, sitting in the cafeteria/teacher lounge, or as the sign read "facility lounge" in my last school. There is that unmistakable look in the teachers’ faces as they look at their immediate prospect, full of uncertainty, as to how each day will unfold: what grade, what class, which kids, which subjects?? What am I doing here? I am a teacher, but I don't have a class.

A quick background note: I have been teaching computer classes to 6th and 7th graders in the South Bronx for the past six years.  Although it has been trying and exasperating, to say the least, it has also been extremely rewarding… and a blast.  I was very fortunate to find this position as my license is Common Branch 1-6 and I am not a techie at all.  It was because the school was considered hard to staff and the fact that my wife designed and created the school's yearbook and the Arts and Literacy magazine ( back when the school was functioning as a school) that I found the opening, was given an interview (a mirror held to my mouth), and secured the position.  It took me five years to really learn the ropes of teaching in the perfect storm: South Bronx, Computers, 12 and 13 year old kids.

 I have tried to make computer class an engaging and enjoyable experience for my students.  I have not let the dictum of "no music, no videos" run my class.  I have brought the elements of Web2.0 into my classroom and it seemed to work for all involved, including my supervisors.

In any case, I received my notice of possible "excessification" in early June when the principal presented a 2012-13 directory posted by the time clock. If there was an asterisk next to your name, there was a good chance you wouldn’t be back.  Well, there were about 18 asterisks that day … and I made the list.  I have to admit that I was surprised since I have received S ratings each year I have taught, my bulletin boards were on point, engaging and colorful, and my evaluators all liked my projects and lesson plans.  I was told it simply came down to seniority, and even though I was the only real full time computer teacher in a school that emphasized technology, I was being let go or "excessed”, which meant that there would be a surplus of teachers. There was going to be a drastic cut in the student population; there is normally maybe 10- 15 kids plus or minus in the population, but my school now purportedly had a drop of 111 students!  Where O where did they all go? Something is fishy.

something fishy
Well, in response to getting "excessed", I wrote the new lyrics that are at the head of this blog.  On the last day when we all lined up with our keys in hand, waiting for final pay-stubs, letter of rating, sign off on absences etc (we all know the routine ), I was able to pass around the lyrics and gave everyone a little show with humor as we all took in the last of this class of teachers. It had been a difficult year.

So for this opening post, I invite all excessed teachers to chime in on their experiences in this awful situation.