Monday, August 3, 2015

The 300 Days: Part 5 - The Emails and The Daggers

Previously: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

“I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: Oh Lord, make my enemies ridiculous. And God granted it." 
- Voltaire

Apart of the sound of Chris Berman’s power grumbling from his TV, Will was focused on his tedious task at hand.  For weeks, he had been taking the time to type up his lesson plans in an effort to “include” Miss McDonald in his classroom activities.  However, each week seemed to be worse than the last.
When they had broken off in that mid-October “intervention,” Will had agreed that he would send her his lesson plans for the coming week.  But he would soon learn that even that was not good enough.  On several occasions, he received snippy replies back late Sunday evening in which she would go off on some train-of-thought sermon.  At first, it began as a bombardment of questions:  “how long will this take?  Are you going to modify this for my students?  Is this an appropriate reading level?”  Eventually, her replies morphed into full-blown criticisms.  
Will was fine with sharing his lesson plans, but it did not seem that Miss Marley was even going to use them.  Instead, she simply read through his agenda, and would reply back in her typical supercilious tone.  She didn’t want Will’s lesson plans; she wanted Will to change his lesson plans for her.  She wanted him to be a different teacher.
One reply went as follows:  “I don’t have enough time to aren’t giving me enough time.”  Will typically emailed his lessons Sunday morning, but Miss Marley clearly did not check her email until late Sunday night, which was understandable.  She was busy or out of town that weekend.  She had very important events to tend to, like wash her mom jeans or clean out the giant dog cage in her car.  Will, on the other hand, was not allowed to have any sort of life outside of school.  Just shut up and do your duty, little shit.
One Sunday, much like any other, Miss Marley had had enough.  Will checked his email at about 10:00 that evening, to find that she had replied to the email he had sent around noon earlier that day.  As Will read through the two paragraphs, he could feel himself becoming tensing with each word his eyes fixated on.  “I don’t have enough time to modify this” she griped, “I don’t have enough time.  I was out of town this weekend, so I’ve only just gotten this.”  Will re-read the email to see if there was any part in which her weekend plans were his problem.  There was not.
The email was kept open, and in a new tab, Will began researching ulcers and treatments, as he became concerned with his well-being.  About 20 minutes later, he received an alert that he had an email, this time from his principal, Mr. Evans.  The email was short, merely inquiring him if he was available to meet the following day.  Will knew immediately it was because of Miss Marley. There was nothing to fear; he had done nothing wrong.  If anything, he was relieved that he could explain his perspective and frustrations.  A peaceful resolution was in sight.  Will knew Mr. Evans to be a level-headed, understanding person.  This was the tip of the iceberg.

The following day, Will took a list of “grievances” to bring to his after-school meeting to better organize his thoughts;  no stone would be unturned.  It was not so much a list of complaints, but instead a miniature “screenplay” of things that were said and done over the past month. Despite Will’s thoroughness, he would not need it.
“There have been some concerns that were brought to my attention...” Mr. Evans began.  Will’s mind immediately swelled with the demands and excuses from Miss Marley as he prepared his disposition.  He shifted forward in his chair, ready to engage.
“Your team has become a little upset that you aren’t bringing enough to the table.”  Will’s mind immediately went blank.  His brow furrowed as he attempted to comprehend what he had just heard.
Mr. Evans’ statement slowly sunk in, as did three small daggers, one for each of his cohorts, plunging into his back.  Will had been prepared to defend himself on one front, but this whole time he did not realize that there was more than one army.  Miss Marley had sold him out.  She had gathered reinforcements.  Will had shown up to gunfight with a pillow.
Mr. Evans continued, informing Will that he had talked with the other members of his team (likely at Miss Marley’s insistence), and they had confided that he did not plan good lessons, did not share his common assessment data efficiently, and on a few occasions, did not share his lesson plans or lab experiments with his team.
Will’s anger then became shame and guilt.  He was a leech.  A spectator; ashamed for utilizing their resources.  In his experience, he had been taken underwing of a few great teachers, all whom offered him advice for lessons, or even gave him all resources that they had used in years past, some neatly organized into a 3-ring binder, some lazily thrown into a cardboard box.  The only expectations they had for him were to “use whatever you want, and change whatever you want!  Why reinvent the wheel?”  He had been received with kindness.  At every step in his career, Will returned the favor before he departed, leaving resources behind as a respectable predecessor.
Will’s trust had been betrayed.  As he made his way back to his classroom, he started to piece together some conclusions.  For one, it made sense as to what Miss Marley was doing when she would take his student handouts and worksheets and leave the room.  She wasn’t making copies; she was bringing them upstairs to the rest of the team to show them “this is what he is doing; he didn’t share it with you!”  
Secondly, Will finally understood why his emails and requests to the team went unanswered:  they were blackballing him.  For weeks, even months, Will had tried to be proactive, asking him team “what topic/concept do we have coming up next so I can look into it?”  After all, this was a new curriculum for everyone, so he wanted to make sure that he had ample time to research the concept, find/create some resources, and report back to the group before they intended to teach.

Will wanted answers, and he wanted them immediately.  If they did not have the courage to tell him his shortcomings to his face, then they would be demanded.  Before Will left for the gym, in which he would have a workout of a lifetime, he contacted the entire team, including Miss Marley and Mrs. Chapman whom he had previously met with.  He was professional in his request that he’d meet with each one individually so they could discuss his role.

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