Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Absessive Repulsive

Seriously folks, how long is it when carrying a grudge becomes absurd?  When is it time, or way past time, to just be an adult and let it go?

I no longer have the energy to waste on being pissed off at somebody for something that a) no longer effects me and/or b) was done by somebody who is no longer in the circle of my life and probably never will be again.  Life is too short.  Anger is too soul-sucking.

I ran into a teacher I used to teach with, oh, it’s been almost a decade since I left that school.  I was having dinner with another teacher, who happens to live in the same neighborhood and is an acquaintance of hers too.  We had a nice little 5 minute chat, it was quite enjoyable, until right as she was leaving that she asked a question I truly didn’t expect.

Flashback time. The first school I taught at (for 8 years) was an upper-income junior high.  Three years into my time there we got a new principal, who attempted to implement some reforms to bring the school into the 20th century, so that maybe it would be somewhat ready when the 21st century hit 5 years later.  The faculty was fractured, 1/3 loved the new principal, 1/3 hated her and the last 1/3 couldn’t care less.  I was part of the 1/3 that loved her and the changes she was trying to make.  The teacher’s union was called, meetings were held, attempts to have both the principal and vice principal transferred were made.  One particular union meeting was scheduled behind the backs of the teachers who favored the administration.  We heard of it through the grapevine and, being union members at the time, took it upon ourselves to crash the party.  The head of our district’s union headed up the meeting and opened it with “The bad news is that N and K are still going to be here next year.”  Doing a scan of attendees and quick mathematical calculations, I raised my hand, was acknowledged by the leader and made the comment “Uh, you need to realize that half the people in this room actually support this administration.”  I got a polite nod of acceptance from the leader, but during the 2 hour meeting she needed to be reminded by several who felt like me, on more than several occasions, that not everyone wanted to get rid of them.  Things got so divisive with this faculty, even at the school, that at one point a student asked me “Mr. R, which side of the faculty civil war are you on?”  I’ll admit to being emotionally involved in the issues at the time, angry, frustrated and disgusted.  But that was 4 schools and 10 years ago.

The principal was transferred a couple years later, at least 7 years ago.  This teacher has been retired for a couple of them.  From what I’ve heard from friends up there, the school quickly returned to it’s usual laissez-faire practices and all is well.

So, tonight, after a few minutes of enjoyable reminiscing about fun things that happened at that school, this teacher gets a solemn look on her face and asks me, knowing well my answer, “Tell me, really, what did you think of N?”  When I came back with “I liked her, she’s the principal where I’m at now” she just harumphed, rolled her eyes and walked away.

Yeah, I’m a little annoyed and frustrated right now.  But, much like the dozen or so other times this has happened over the last decade, by tomorrow it will just be another amusing little anecdote to add to my life.

P.S. don’t try to make sense of the pictures, they don’t go with the story, other than they were taken during my time at that school.  I just hate posting without pictures.


A Paperback Writer said...

So, does this mean I later get to hear the rest of the story about the changes this principal tried to implement? I'm definitely curious now.

As for holding grudges, well, you know I worked with the principal who framed me and tried to get my license revoked. I'll never trust her, since I know she doesn't play fair, but I'm not going to spend my life hating her. Besides, she eventually felt guilty enough (didn't admit it, mind you) to hold my job for me while I was off getting that master's.
And you'll like this story. You may recall I've been divorced 10 years now. This summer, I ran into an old high school chum of mine who works out of the country but was home visiting family. I mentioned to her it'd been 10 years without the ex.
"Are you over him?" she asked bluntly.
I shrugged. "Yeah. I think so," I told her.
"Do you still want to knee him in the groin?" she asked.
I chuckled. "Nyah, I'd rather not get that close," I told her.
"You're over him," she announced and changed the subject.

I thought it was funny.

Karen S. said...

Oh very interesting story and I too love the photos...you just have to have pictures too! Back to the story, sounds like your teaching life now is in a better place!

Mustang Sally said...

There are some people so stubborn that they will carry that poison to the grave Max. Yes, it is beyond stupid ... and it hurts them far more than whoever or whatever it is that they are mad at, although they rarely realize that.

It even happens with friends and in families, but perhaps it's a tiny bit more understandable because the feelings are so much more intense, but those deep feelings are the very reason to dig deeper and find the common ground.

It's generally people like myself, highly resistant to change, that carry grudges (thank goodness I escaped that curse). It's sad when they are teachers because it means they've stopped learning new things, and how can one who refuses to learn, teach?

Max said...

Writer - See that's the difference between you and this other teacher. You know I like the principal you talk about, and yet you've never harumphed, rolled your eyes and walked away from me when I talk about her.
Ironically, the things she tried to implement were a lot of the things that drew me to your school. Serious, real teaming. Making sure videos shown in class are linked to the curriculum. Curriculum mapping, cross curricular lessons. Things like that.

Max said...

Karen - yeah, much better, thanks.
Sally - It's truly sad with family, but like you said a little more understandable. The emotions involved are a lot stronger, and a lot of the time it's not possible to, or even desirable, to completely eliminate the person from your life. I find it harder to let things go when they are still effecting me, even peripherally.

The Gearheads said...

Holding a grudge for decades seems to be a trend as of recent (Herb Doom and his "friend").

I liked the photos, but I thought it was bizarre, I never realized your first school offered Jr. High kid soup, did the district approve of this?

A Paperback Writer said...

Wow. Does anybody still do curriculum mapping? I thought that had gone the way of assertive discipline. Does your current principal have you do curriculum mapping?

Oh, I totally agree on videos and curriculum, but I wasn't aware that was a new idea with the principal we both shared. Did any of your previous schools just show videos for the sake of videos?

Max said...

Mr. - yeah, I got to read round two, or is it 3?, of Herb and the King of Obsession. Had to rinse my brain out with lye right after. As with my teacher friend, I'd have to ask "Do they still have a direct effect on your life?, No?, Then let it GO!
As for the soup, I just had to put that one on there because of that. It's really good with a nice slice of focaccia bread and some good romano sprinkled on top.

Max said...

Writer - No, we're not doing curriculum mapping, but that was one thing we started to do up at my first school. The videos thing was new to the faculty up there, and they fought it tooth and nail. Being my first school, I was amazed when I came to your school and found social studies teachers that didn't just show movies and hand out a worksheet every day. We had one teacher that handed out worksheets that were xerox copies of mimeograph copies, they were so old. We used to joke whenever he called in sick that he must have sprained his "play" button finger.

A Paperback Writer said...

I think the only teacher we used to have that was a video queen was a French teacher you wouldn't know. She used to show a TON of Hollywood videos in French, claiming the kids would learn from them. I suspect that the occasional video in the target language would be a good thing, but this was at least once a week.
Most of the rest of the teachers at our school showed stuff that had to do with the curriculum. (Heck, the only full-length video I ever show is Romeo and Juliet, but I recall showing Camelot when I used to teach 8th grade and we did the King Arthur legend. That was years and years ago, though.)