Monday, March 22, 2010

being replaced by technology? or did I just fire myself?!

I knew something was up when the principal came into my classroom on Friday. I've been at my school for TWO years and through two principals and neither one has ever set foot in my classroom to my knowledge (All my evaluations are done by the vice principal).

I'm with a class, bent over helping a student, when a hush descends over my classroom. If you work with kids you know that quiet is a a sign of trouble. I look up and see our principal has come into the classroom. The student I'm helping whispers to me, "Mrs. B are we in trouble?" "I don't think so," I whisper back and, like a scared crab, I scuttle over to our principal.

"How are you today," I ask the principal. "I'm good," he replies. "Did you need to speak to me or a student?" I inquire. "No, just looking around," he says. Warning bells go off in my head, but I smile, explain the project and go back to helping my students.

He stays for about 10 min, examining every inch of my room. Finally he comes over to me and says, "After school I was hopping to bend your ear about teaching keyboarding." Um...ok, I am thinking to myself, and assure him I will come by after school. What in the world he could be talking about?

Recently a group of our teachers went to a technology conference. When they came back we had a staff discussion about teaching keyboarding/typing. I commented that I felt it was a really important skill and maybe we should have a typing elective. Perhaps he wants me to teach typing?

At the end of the day I go to see the principal with some vague ideas of how I could combine art and typing .We chat a bit and and he asks me to talk about my ideas of mixing art class and technology. The only clue I have is his earlier mention of typing class. I offer that I could teach a half typing/half art class. He frowns and tells me he thinks typing is important but something we will work on later. How else can I turn my art class into a technology class. WHAT? Who said anything about turning art class into a technology class?

I must look confused. He starts talking about the technology conference they went to and how he wants a technology program with a technology teacher. I'm nodding along, not sure what this has to do with me. I suggest I could teach a photo shop class if we got the software. He doesn't like that idea. He wants the technology classes to teach core content material (math, science) by using different types of technology. I offer that a few years ago I taught a claymation class where students animated the life cycles of a butterfly, frog or flower. He says that is getting closer, but what other technology do I know how to use. I'm grasping straws now. I took a CAD class in high school, 14 years ago... and then built my house out of foam core. We could do that if we bought the software and had the money for the foam core and materials.

Can we stop a moment here, I need to mention that I am given 72 cents per child for art supplies for the ENTIRE year. We have ONE computer lab in the school that is used for state testing most of the time. As a school we own only 2 digital cameras and the kids are not supposed to use them. I did a architecture class last spring but couldn't afford either the foam core or the exacto knives for all 25 students to build houses so we did Popsicle stick bridges instead. I have spent close to $4,000 of my own money over the last two years to fund my art program. AND my classes are mixed age 6th, 7th and 8th...all doing different core content each year.

Back to the meeting. The principal must know I'm running out of ideas because he goes in for the kill. I am informed that he has received the numbers for next year's FTE from the district. He wants to add another half time gym teacher, a foreigner language teacher for the middle school students and he wants a full time technology teacher/coordinator. We also need another 4th grade teacher for our Duel Language program. I'm doing mental math and it's not good for me. We are being given 1.11 new FTE but he is talking about 3.5 FTE. I see where this is going. I have basically just proved to him that I don't have the technology knowledge to be a technology teacher. I think I just fired or demoted myself.

This is the exact sentence I am sent to spring break with. "I'm not going to say art will be a class here next year...I'm not going to say it won't. If I keep art I'm not sure how it will look next year. Obviously it is a waste of FTE to have an art teacher teaching something that is not art. I'll let you know if the next two weeks what your role here next year might look like."

I'm speechless. How did I go from being asked about teaching typing to being told I may not have a job in two weeks. I feel like the Principal tricked me with the premise of the conversation. I'm also hurt that I have put in countless hours and personal resources over the last two years to build an art program at my school with no recognition in return. He has never even observed my classroom to see what I have to offer. How will he fund this technology program? This is the second school I have been at that has gotten rid of their art program in favor of other classes. Maybe I'm waisting my time trying to teach art and need to go find another carer.

I will just have to wait over the next two weeks to see what my future holds.


  1. Wow, that really sucks. I can't stand the push for technology with no financial backing - just the cost of computer maintainence alone is pretty high. Start looking - even if you stay is it what you want to do with your skills?

  2. I'm so sorry to hear what you have been going through. As a former art teacher, I feel your pain. Good luck! I agree with gt goddess, start can't hurt.

  3. Absolutely agree! Start looking! A school with no art program is not a school where I want to teach or send my kids. Also, a principal that never enters your classroom during the year? That's awful! Then, to feel like you've been manipulated during the "visit"... shameful! I am in my 2nd year of teaching art, and although I have to also be a literacy coach (dual jobs), at least I feel supported. I do spend a lot of my own money for the program, too. Sucks, doesn't it? I sure hope things look up for you.

  4. My heart goes out to you. I hope a new door will open for you if they decide to end the art program. Best of luck!

  5. I'm so sorry to hear this is happening to you. It's heartbreaking, really. We invest our hearts, souls, time, and a good deal of our hard earned money to provide our students and our schools with an outstanding art experience. Sad to say, we are at the time of year when many art teachers are in your same situation, sitting on the edge of their seats, waiting to hear what will become of their jobs next year. I wish you the very, very best of luck. Stay positive, start looking, and know that with the love and support of others you will thrive.

  6. Thank you for all the kind comments everyone! They really make me feel better and a little less isolated in the world of teaching art:)

  7. Grrrr. Talk about passive aggressive management style. Sheesh. With any luck, the principal might be distracted by some other new shiny thing by the time Spring break is over.

    Too little too late, but for future reference, used foam core is pretty easy to come by. Architects have tons of it. SHS used to have a bunch, too. (But on the other hand, teachers shouldn't have to go around asking for scraps instead of, you know, teaching.)

    Whatever may come, you're one of the most tenacious people I know so I know it'll all work out for you!

    -- Mark