Thursday, September 12, 2019

If Principals and Custodians Have AC, All's Fine in City Schools

Yesterday didn't seem as bad as Tuesday. I looked at the thermostat in the trailer, which was not easy. Some genius or other had mounted it outside the bathroom close to the ceiling. That may be a good idea, actually, if you want people to feel like it isn't as hot or cold as it really is. School trailer bathrooms somehow tend to get heat and AC when those of us sitting in the actual room do not. So I looked up, put on my glasses, and even with the weird location it read 87 degrees.

Of course, if you happened to be by the windows, you were getting direct sun, and that was brutal. A young woman in my class sits there, and she wears very long clothing that looks heavy. I asked her if she wanted to move further into the classroom, away from the window and she turned me down. She's clearly made of stronger stuff than I am.

I usually wear suits to work. I started doing this when I was in the trailer, because trailers look like piles of crap. I thought the students should know that even though the city dumped them in the crap I felt differently. When I was finally paroled from the trailers a few years back, I kept wearing them. I now figure if I'm in meetings with the principal and the district rep, I ought to look the way they do.

Another teacher told me that he went the other way. He used to dress up, but thought the students related to him better when he dressed closer to the way they did. I said that was really interesting, and that maybe we were both right. He said it was good that sometimes people could see things two different ways and not fight. Other things, though, are really obvious to everyone.

For example, it's absolutely miserable sitting in a hot classroom. This doesn't phase the Tweedies, who talk of something called "air-conditioning season." This is a period of time that one genius or another pulled out of his ass and decided was good enough for NYC children. The standard is it should be no higher than 78 degrees. Why not 75? And why is it okay for temperature to go highter than that when it isn't "air-conditioning season?" Do they sit in their air-conditioned offices and determine people don't feel the heat at those times? Who knows what goes into Tweedie decision making? A coin toss? The age of their mothers when they got them the jobs? Could be anything.

One of the great privileges of being chapter leader is getting the plum programs. I teach four classes in three classrooms, and only one is air-conditioned. That room, of course, is only half a room. It's diabolical. When you give a test, you have to put up these ridiculous dividers. It's awkward and inconvenient, and creates new and exciting ways to cheat. Also, if the guy who gets paid to clean the room takes a notion to throw them out because the room wasn't clean enough for his discriminating taste, you're screwed.

Don't get me started about the trailers. I was in there for twelve years. I'd always ask for them because while everyone hated them, it at least kept me out of the crappy half rooms. Now I'm in both. An AP asked me last week if I'd swap out one real classroom with one of his teachers who had a trailer. Why not, I thought. I'm already like that cartoon Mexican mouse running around on three different floors. Why not run outside as well?  I said yes. This week, he casually let me know he was doing something UFT hadn't approved, in blatant violation of the contract, and thanked me for allowing him to do so. When I told him that was not, in fact, the way we do things, he informed that me that I had a choice of going along with him or screwing the kids. Thoroughly charming.

Of course, being an assistant principal means never having to say you're sorry. Sometimes I'm jealous, and think I'd like to run around uttering whatever came into my head whenever I felt like it with no consequences. Actually, though, I would get no joy whatsoever in issuing pointless ultimatums or treating kids like that. I want my class to be a relative oasis where students know I will be patient and help them get where they need to be in other classes.

I was lucky yesterday, My wife found a short sleeve dress shirt someone had given me as a gift, and it really made the day go easier. I was going to buy a few more after work. I saw an ad saying they were two for $29 somewhere. It turned out they were two for $129. That's way too much for shirts I'd wear only a few times a year. 

Anyway, no more suits for me until the temperature outside drops below 80, and the true trailer temp drops below 90. I like the kids I have this year very much. They're charming and funny. But I've got my limits. My standards may be low, but they're all I have.
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