When Teachers Quit: A Lesson in Two Daves

Readers who follow this blog know that in my other life, I work as an Admin Assistant to the Principal of a large suburban high school.
Readers who don’t follow this blog… well, they know now. 

Monday morning, my administrator greeted me with, “I hope your weekend was better than mine.”

“What happened?” I asked.

“A teacher quit!”

My mind raced over the staff list, the various possibilities. Was there a news report I missed? Was someone arrested? I asked who it was — braced myself for the possibility it was someone I liked.

She said the name. It was one of our new teachers. For the sake of privacy, I’ll call him Dr. Dave.

Dr. Dave was one of the first of our new hires, and we considered it a stroke of luck someone with a doctorate was going to teach at our school. First and second year Spanish, no less.

Let that sink in: a man with a doctorate was knowingly accepting a position to teach lower level high school Spanish.

Amazing.

I met Dr. Dave about a month ago. The Department Lead was going to show him his classroom and give him a tour.

Dr. Dave had white hair, thick and wavy. He was stout, but not overly so, and he had a pleasant face.

Also, he spoke like Ricardo Montalban.

Yeeaahhh.

He sat on the couch near my desk and told me stories as we waited for the Lead.

He told me of the time he taught in Costa Rica. Everyone in the village told him not to open windows. They didn’t say why, just don’t open windows. He figured it was because of bugs.

But one day he was in his classroom alone and it was stifling hot. He decided to open two windows. Within minutes, the room was full of monkeys!

brian-mann-16601

He told me other things too. The important thing to remember is that he lived in Costa Rica for a time. Got that?

Three weeks later, I’m walking him to his classroom and he’s complaining about Phoenix’s humidity.

“I guess you’re used to it, but my god it’s humid here!”

I looked it up. On that day, the temperature in Phoenix, Arizona, was 91°F and our humidity was 36%. In San Jose, Costa Rica, the same day was 82°F and 94% humidity.

Yeeaahhh.

I realize I’m suspicious by nature, and just a tad cynical, so I let it pass. Maybe the guy just didn’t like heat. Maybe Costa Rica was long ago and he only remembered the monkeys. Maybe he was just having an off day.

Then, after eight days of school, he gives his notice. But not much of a notice. Monday would be his last day.

The reason? He said our kids weren’t smart enough.

Actually, what he said was that they didn’t know English well enough. He shouldn’t have to spend time explaining sentence structure or reminding them what a predicate was.

Also, they expected him to speak English. He refused. You can’t teach a foreign language by speaking in their native language. “That goes against everything my 37 years of training taught me.”

He quoted Shakespeare in his letter too. Or as he referred to him, “Billy Shakespeare”.

Yeeaahhh.

Later that same day, we had another resignation. By another Dave. We’ll call him Dave G.

Dave G. was hired under an emergency provision, allowing non-teachers with bachelor degrees to take “hard-to-fill” positions.

Not sure if you heard, but there’s a teacher shortage. Especially in Science, Math, and Special Ed. Dave G. was hired to teach Earth Science. 

I met Dave G. about a month ago as well. I showed him his classroom, found a teacher’s edition of the class textbook, and listened to his story.

He had been a meteorologist. He worked for a news station for awhile, then for an airline. They moved to Arizona about a year ago and he decided to try out teaching.

After eight days, he realized he was in over his head. “This is the hardest job I ever had,” he told my Administrator. She was sympathetic.

He said he’d stay on until we found a long-term sub, and given the fact he looked like he aged four years since we last met, I thought that was pretty swell of him.

So what are the lessons can we learn from our two Daves?

I believe there are three:

  1. Humility is Always Better than Arrogance
    If you’re having trouble with a job, admit it. Don’t push the blame elsewhere or claim you’re too good for it.
  2. Leaving a Job With No Notice is Not Cool
    Especially for some jobs. Like brain surgery. Not cool. Granted, teaching isn’t brain surgery, but it’s still not cool to leave your post without warning. For our school, five teachers gave up their planning periods to cover the classes until we could find a sub.
    Not cool.
  3. If You Live in Costa Rica, Don’t Open Your Windows
    Whether or not the monkey story is true, it sounds like good advice.

One final note: If you happen to know any teachers, tell them there are a few positions open in Phoenix.

Daves need not apply.

Lead Photo by JJ Thompson and
Monkey Photo by Brian Mann on Unsplash

Girl Talk in the Break Room

At work last week, one of the Attendance clerks was wearing the prettiest blue top you ever did see.

But when I was in the Break room with her, before the school bell rang, she admitted something. The top was brand-new; she bought it at Ross. Brought it home, was cutting the tags off and… what do you suppose she found? A maternity tag!

Here she was so thrilled with how it fit, and come to find out, it was a maternity top!

Augh! Continue reading “Girl Talk in the Break Room”

IWD: Like A Bra, You Support Me

corinne-kutz-157291In case you haven’t heard, today is International Women’s Day.

I hear there are places where women didn’t show up for work and one person told me they heard of a school that had to close for the day. (I haven’t verified that, just thought it was interesting.)

Where I work, we all showed up. Because that’s what we do. (We need the money.)

Not that we neglected the day. One lovely coworker/friend (who has her own blog HERE), emailed some facts on IWD with the following graphic: Continue reading “IWD: Like A Bra, You Support Me”

Why Are White People So Sensitive?

White peopleWarning: This post does not contain the folly typically found therein. Sorry. But non-folly thoughts were in my head and I needed to let them out.
Totally understand if you click away.
(I’ll judge you, but I’ll understand.)

This last week, I came to a startling realization: we White People are a sensitive lot.

Make that damned sensitive. Continue reading “Why Are White People So Sensitive?”

I Was a High School History Teacher for 40 Minutes

vvgvlh1d10u-slava-bowmanI never wanted to be a teacher.

I loved school, loved reading, loved learning.

But standing in front of a classroom for nine months out of the year? No thank you.

Nevertheless, for 40 minutes last week, I was in charge of a high school World History class. Here’s how it happened… Continue reading “I Was a High School History Teacher for 40 Minutes”

Anonymous Note Update, #2!

The tension is mounting people, even drawing in our most chill-est of personnel! (If you didn’t catch our previous update, click here.)

This morning I walk into the break room for my requisite cup of Earl Grey, and there by the microwave stands one of our counselors. One of the cool ones because she reads this blog. (Although she’s running a month behind, meaning she hasn’t read my last two posts.) Continue reading “Anonymous Note Update, #2!”

It Was One of Those Mondays

wp_20161003_17_13_24_pro“They dropped Richard,” she said to me, before I could reach my desk.

“Good morning,” I reply, never one to drop good manners. Especially if I can feel superior in the process.

She is one of our teachers, as well as one of our parents. Strangely, I see her most often in her parent role.

Teachers I like. Parents? Hit or miss. Mostly miss.

“Sorry. Good morning. Anyway, they dropped him. We got an email on Friday.”

They being the community college where young lad Richard is dual enrolled as a high school student. She is telling me this because I serve as the High School Dual Coordinator.

My title is not as impressive as you think, and I’m fully aware you’re not impressed. Continue reading “It Was One of Those Mondays”

And the Winner is…

It’s occurred to me that I haven’t shared a recipe with you in a long while. To make up for it, I’m giving you my recipe for prize-winning blueberry muffins. More on that later.

For now, I want to tell you about my recent experience, not with winning, but with awarding prizes.

balloonsWe have a very active parent group on campus who sometimes host brunches for staff and gives away prizes. Recently they added a monthly drawing where teachers can win a rather large gift basket filled with discount cards, food, and other doo-dads.

The first winner was selected a few days ago. I was given the task of delivering it.

This is not unusual. About three or four times a year, the parent group will drop off at my desk eight or so gift cards with balloons attached, and ask me to email the teachers who won. The first time it happened, being a rookie, I did just that.

You know what happens if you sport eight to ten colorful balloons at your desk? Continue reading “And the Winner is…”