Last Thursday, as I was writing a post about the recent changes in the discipline code, I received a phone call. It was the AP from my old school and I was being asked if I was interested in returning. It appears that the final head count brought forth additional funds for teachers and that I was one moving up in line. I accepted the offer to return from the dead and was assured of my old computer lab as my room. Thus, no longer am I "Excess'd -- A Teacher Without a Room". And I was just getting comfortable being an ATR. What with a blog that at least a few people seem to read, an animation character; Mr. Letgo who, it seems, has taken on a life of his own now that he has a Facebook page and a new attitude on my own part about my work as a teacher and of the current skirmishes on the educational battlefield. If nothing else, being a member of the Absent Teacher Reserve has evolved to being a member of the Angry Teacher Revolution. There is a fight against the privatization of education and the dismantling of the teachers union and it is being waged on every level and across the country.
You never know what might set you off in a particular direction. When I was a jock at seventeen and laid up in a hospital bed from a football injury, I read my first book on my own: "Last Exit to Brooklyn" by Hugh Selby Jr. and it changed my life. For me, being sent to the ATR pool has made me more engaged with the political realities surrounding me and my profession and made me want to add my own take in my own way. I am clearly, not a policy wonk, but I am in a world where enacted policy has a direct effect and I intend to communicate that reality in my own personal way. Now that my "situation" has changed my perspective has shifted. My feet are no longer in the ATR; I am in my classroom where I have my first obligation.
We return to school on Tuesday and I know what an empty feeling that gives those who are still in the Reserve. Their welfare and future must be an issue that stays alive despite the union's efforts to keep them silent and fragmented. I am going to keep this blog going and advocating for our shared principles and goals under the current moniker. I just will not be able to give first hand accounts of life of an ATR (and I had just signed a contract with Mr. Letgo for three more episodes) but I will continue to post as a teacher in the NYC system. As far as Mr. Letgo's Facebook presence and his page for the ATR's - well, I will keep it going as a platform for ATR people but if no one is going for it then I am not going to keep it open, there is enough work to do already. Well, I think I have a handle on all this...and now, I need to get ready for school.