Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Soup-Nazi ain’t got nuthin’ on her.

I was in an all day meeting at the district on Monday, so it was yet another day with a substitute in my classroom.  Some of the kids said something about how the sub was quite late getting to my advisory class, and they were left alone in the room.  After advisory Tuesday one of my students dawdled around until everyone had left and then said he had something to tell me.  Seems that while the class was unsupervised, a couple of my advisory students had taken the opportunity to rifle through my desk, filing cabinets and closet to see what interesting things they could get their hands on.  Fortunately I had taken everything of real value with me over the weekend, and all they got were some huge Sharpie markers and other little things.  That, of course, does not change the fact that they invaded my things, and, as I told the Vice Principal, it was no better than if my car or house had been broken into.

The VP took down the details, and decided that since school was out and all the students were gone, the only thing we could do right then would be to open their lockers and see if any of the ill-gotten booty (or ill-booten gotty) was in their possession. 

Easier said than done.  The only person with the password to the program that has the list of the students locker numbers is the principal’s secretary – the same one that has total control over the copy machine.  Unfortunately, she was currently busy with the student body officers (SBOs), and already being in “a mood”, even the VP didn’t want to incur her wrath. (How a secretary can wield that much power, and why she is allowed to, is way beyond my comprehension, but [and I’ve seen it before] dealing with bad secretaries is at least as hard as dealing with bad teachers). 

I’m quite frustrated at this point.  It’s like the police telling me they can’t deal with my stolen car right now because they’re busy with a parade.  Overseeing the SBOs is her choice, and not really something that her job should encompass.  Assisting the VP with student information is. 

So the VP and I spend the next 15 minutes asking other possible holders of this information if they have it, looking for a legendary book of locker numbers, to no avail.  Finally the VP asks the secretary's daughter, who is sitting at her mom’s desk, to let he mother know that we need to get a couple student’s locker numbers.  She comes back to tell us that her mom made a reference to the aforementioned legend of the locker-book, and that her mom would be there in a minute. 

Twenty minutes later she shows up and I tell her the quick story and ask for their locker numbers.  She rambles off something about the program, getting her computer started up, the often talked about but never seen book and then, I kid you not, says in a huffy tone “I’m sorry you got stuff stolen, but I’m dealing with 40 kids right now.”  Kudos to our head custodian who responded with “You wouldn’t feel that way if it were your desk.”

She starts up her computer, spends 2 minutes looking for the book, logs into the program and in less than 10 minutes I’ve got the locker numbers.  Whoosh, she’s headed back to those out of control SBOs.

Now, it doesn’t matter that there was nothing of mine in those 2 lockers.  What matters is that whatever she was doing with 40 of the most trustworthy students in the building is more important than breaking away for 10 minutes to help me with a serious problem.  What matters is that this school has fostered a climate where everyone is afraid to ask her to do her job.  What matters is that, even though she has had grievances brought up over this climate before, it is still allowed to continue.



A Paperback Writer said...

Wait. The custodians can't open lockers?!!!! Every custodian (not the sweepers, just the custodians) at our school has a key that can open any locker. Each member of the administration has a key also. What does the admin. do at your school when they need to search a locker? Ask the secretary? What if she's absent? Stupid set up.
And I have never heard of 40 SBOs in any school before. Nor have I heard of any secretary (and we've been through a bunch of them in my 21 years at this school) being in charge of any student group.
Does your school have a building committee? That's where this ought to start. Of course, our building committee has our friend with the chickens (where we went for the party last year) as its head (amuse yourself by picturing this teacher going head-to-head with your secretary) and science teacher RW on it. Yeah. Things get done with our building committee.

A Paperback Writer said...

PS. We got our phones today. I would've had no freakin' clue about them at all if I hadn't read your blog because our guru said nothing abut them except that his TAs would be delivering them to our rooms.
He was supposedly going to hook mine up after school. No doubt I'll "forget" how to hook it back up again when I have to set everything back up next year after the summer cleaning. I don't want parents calling me. I want them to e-mail so I can answer when I've got time. I don't want to be interrupted when I'm coaching the academic team after school.

Max said...

The custodian and administrators do have keys to the lockers, they just don't have access to the list that tells you which locker belongs to which student. Yeah, I know. Stupid.
And that's what I keep saying, I've been to 4 schools before this and not once have I ever seen a secretary in charge of the SBOs. At the high school I was we did have an advisory period (twice a month) where every adult in the building had a group of students, but that's the closest I've ever seen.
17 years ago, when I student taught at this school, she was the Principal's secretary, and from what I gather, had been for half a dozen years already. Somewhere, she insinuated herself into this position of power, and although I know the current Principal to be a very strong one, has been able to hold onto it through the years. How? I don't know. I do know that at least once there was a grievance filed against her with the union, and nothing changed.

Max said...

I just thought about those two having a disagreement, and all I could see was little rubber rats bouncing off people's heads.
Oh, the humanity!

Max said...

We got our phones this week too, although our STS hasn't said word one about them yet. I do think that there will be a "send them straight to voicemail" option so you won't be bothered during Academic Team coaching. Either that or just unplug the thing.

A Paperback Writer said...

Like I said, I'm going to play "technologically impaired" and "forget" how to set it up.