Saturday, March 7, 2009

Feeling bad again for things that are not in my control

Yesterday, I had permission from my principal to go to district wide early childhood professional development. This is the first district wide professional development that he has given me permission to attend since this school year started. He has a variety of reasons why I couldn't go to the other ones. Since this training was based on a new assessment that we will have to give this May, he okayed me to go.

The training was actually pretty good. The test looks like it is easy to administer and the second workshop on the development of boys was informative and energizing. I met a colleague in need of some support. We talked all day and as always, I think it helps to know that you are not alone out there in the classroom. That in a district as large as ours is, there is probably at least one other person who has experienced something very similar to what you are going through. Through an ongoing conversation, you can support and learn from each other. So all in all, I thought it was a pretty good day.

That is, until I got home and read an email from Ms. S, aka, super para. There was no sub, despite the fact that the early childhood department would have paid for my sub for the day. Here is an excerpt from her email, when she is talking to the assistant principal in the morning:
"she said no sub and wanted to show me a list of all the people that were out. I told her that was not my problem. I guess it's a don't tell unless asked. She never mentioned it until I asked. The day was not too bad but..."

She goes on to share some information with me about the students. But the not having a sub when I was approved to be out is infuriating. Sure, if a lot of people are out, I recognize that presents an enormous challenge to the administrators in finding enough coverage. How many of those people were given prior permission to be out on the same day? Paras shouldn't be covering classes, especially classrooms that are designed for many reason, two be staffed with two adults. The decision to not have a sub in my room shows a lack of understanding on the part of the administration of the needs of my students. And it is not even a monetary issue, as the early childhood department pays the individual schools for our subs when we go to district wide training.

My para continues her email by saying " I'm ranting but the city needs to value paras more. They just give us $6.00 more an hour when there is no sub. As far as I am concerned they make out pretty well on the deal. The only value us when we have to sub or we are not in and then not enough. Otherwise we are less then second class citizens"

This broke my heart to read and made me feel insanely guilty. And that 6 dollars extra an hour doesn't begin to cover the need for two adults in certain classrooms. I value her and her work each day and though I have told her so many times, I think her issue is with the district or maybe the administration in our building. I care about her not feeling valued. I want to work with her in the future. She is talented, intelligent, supportive, and funny. She works hard and goes above and beyond every day and she is much more suited to the job than the person who was with me last year. If she doesn't feel valued, will she stick around? And how do we as an individual school retain the few exceptional paras that we do have? And as a district, how do we recognize all of the hard work that they do? How do we make them feel the outstanding first class citizens they are?

1 comment:

  1. I have a friend who did that job and am now more conscious than ever about the way that support staff is treated. And, at least in my school, our resource teachers who are fully qualified are treated the same way. When I got a regular classroom position everyone kept congratulating me like I graduated to a "real" job. I think the only thing you can do is what you have been doing, treating her with respect, valuing her, and letting her know you don't support the way she is treated by people that you don't have any influence over.