Hi E2, been a while since I noded properly.
I am now officially ELD Department Chair.
I was asked to do this a month or so ago; our current chair is trying to retire, and she recommended me. Unfortunately, like our very own CA hillside, the ELD Department at our school is on fire, and only just got to vote last week. I was the only name on the ballot, and all four of use teachers voted unanimously for me.
(Note: I was sooooo tempted to write-in a vote for the person who explicitly didn't want the job, just to be funny. But then I figured they wouldn't find that funny).
Our school has undergone some major changes this year. Our principal of several years (I want to say eleven, but don't quote me) has been promoted. That's an odd word to use for it, but he's now in charge of a lot of money somewhere higher up on the district rung. Something about choosing which campuses get new buildings or something. This is apparently something he's wanted for a while, as he apparently designed, funded, and built our school's Student Union building for the purpose of getting noticed. The Student Union building is absolutely fantastic-- spacious, modern, huge windows. It looks like something out of a college campus-- which was exactly the point.
So he's gone, and one of the APs left too; the AP I'd always considered to be "my boss" because she was the one who hired me and observed me during my probationary stage has gone off to be AP at a different school. The good news is, the last AP remaining (who is my favorite because we've worked together on a lot of ELD stuff, so I know her a little better) is now the principal.
Now, one of the things our district likes to do every time it's a union bargaining year (which it is) is pretend that here's going to be massive layoffs. Last time, it claimed there'd be 200+, and it wound up being one single counselor, who just took retirement early to circumvent it. However, due to district money whining, we've officially entered a state of austerity, and to avoid the threatened layoffs at our campus due to projected lower enrollment (even though it turned out to be higher this year than last), our old principal had a choice:
Preemptively lay off a teacher Just in Case, then hire them back if they were needed, or let a teacher unqualified to teach ELD1 teach ELD1. Due to a legal loophole, you do not need to be an English or Language teacher to teach the ELD Lang and Literacy courses, so anyone with a teaching credential can teach them. To save someone's job, he chose the latter.
Enter Mr. Charming.
I feel like I've talked about Charming a lot, but I don't think I've ever officially written about him.
Mr. Charming is not Charming. Mr. Charming is an asshole. He's some social studies or econ teacher or something, and while I haven't directly interacted with him, I've always been fascinated by the degree of prickishness to which he will stoop.
The first time he came to my attention was when the ELD department several years ago was giving presentations to other teachers. The groups of teachers were divided by subject matter, and I was doing the science and math teachers. The presentation was on the new CA language Objectives-- namely that it is no longer enough to say "kids will learn X" but to also have another objective to show how they would be utilizing language to do so. "Kids will learn X, and also they will use target vocabulary" or "they will write in complete sentences." This is something that the ELD classes have been doing for a while, but was novel for most other classes, so we were voluntold to present the idea to the other teachers.
The coordinator for all the district ELD classes was afraid that any push back regarding these new objective formats would be from the math and science crowd, as they would have had the least experience ensuring their students became familiar with the grammatical nuances of English, so there were three people presenting to them: me, the ELD District Coordinator, and the aforementioned AP-I-Like. But the science/math crowd was entirely gregarious and enthusiastic about the process, and happy to incorporate the new objectives. It was golden.
So imagine our surprise when we get to the room where the English/Social Studies group were, and find everyone leaving and speaking in hushed tones, with the presenter, Ms. R, speaking to a cluster of concerned other lady teachers, looking like she wants to both cry and murder someone at the same time.
That was the first time Mr. Charming came onto my radar. During the presentation, he had insulted Ms. R-- apparently not realizing that she was a fellow colleague and instead thinking her some random "district flunky." He'd gotten into tizzy, and finally asked if someone could just give him a list of the common core standards so he could just plug one into his lessons each day. Then someone else in the audience apparently muttered loud enough for everyone to hear, "they're online, idiot."
That set him off, and he raged that none of them were any good at teaching, and that if they wanted to see a real teacher teach, they could visit his classroom. Then he stormed out.
The icing on the cake was that Ms. R was not only a young teacher at the school, but she herself was a graduate of our high school who came back to teach there. Not only that, but she was specifically one of his old students, who he hadn't recognized.
After that, I started noticing his passive aggressive assholery elsewhere. He made no secret that he hated our then-current principal, and would take every opportunity to disrespect him. My favorite incident was during a full-staff meeting, where the principal began with an anecdote and said,
"I don't want to take your time, so this story will only be about seven minutes--"
To which Mr. Charming stood up (he'd been seated in the middle of the audience) and said loudly, while putting in earbuds, "I'll be back in seven minutes," and then left.
It was to the point that I and a few colleagues I'm friendly with used to sit near him at these staff meetings just so we could have a good view of anything that happened, like that time when the police were leading our yearly Run-Hide-Defend drill training. For those of you too old or foreign to know, Run-Hide-Defend is the process for what you do if there's an active shooter on campus. if you can run away while he's on the other side of campus, you do. If you can't, you barricade the classroom. We have a drill every year, and before each drill there's a mandatory training.
This year, there was also a district-wide push for student intervention that required more teacher input for disciplinary action. Normally, teachers could (if they were assholes) file a referral for a student and then let the office handle it, without any middle steps. However, a bunch of old and assholish teachers around the district were abusing that-- sending kids referrals for not having pencils on them, or for coming in late. Now the district requires you to explain what previous measures you'd taken before issuing a referral (calling parents, after school/lunch time detentions, reteaching expectations, etc. Super simple stuff.)
At the Run-Hide-Defend staff-wide mandatory training, the two cops were giving their presentation, and one mentioned how if there was an active shooter, you made sure your kids aren't in immediate danger first, then called the police (like if the shooter is walking towards you, running would be better than whipping out your phone). Mr. Charming raised his hand, and when called on, he asked the police officer if he should call the shooter's parents first, because he didn't want to overstep any of the new district rules.
Cue the officer being completely baffled, and all of our admin looking like they wanted to strangle Mr. Charming.
He also sent out super passive aggressive emails to people, including publicly responding to an ASSETS Program grand application with his idea to start a an after school Monday class on how to start a small business. On the part where it asked "How is activity/course aligned with the single school plan/WASC recommendations and/or grant goals?" he responded, "Not sure because the administration has taken an active role to eliminate these types of classes at the school." When asked "What materials/expenses do you request the ASSETs Program to provide/budget?" he wrote "My time. Est. Cost $30,000"
So you get the picture.
Guess who was selected to teach ELD1, working in close conjunction to Ms. R, who had been the ELD1 teacher at our school for several years?
So while I was off being blissfully unaware of this, Mr. Chrming and Ms. R tried to get Charming to work with the ELD1 kids, which he hated. I walked by the English Chair's classroom (she's next door) and heard him yelling about how disrespected he felt that they would dare make him work with ELD students.
Then, a few weeks ago, he went AWOL.
He didn't call in sick, he didn't quit, he didn't get a sub. He just stopped showing up to work and answering calls.
Since then, there was a flurry of activity trying to find a long term substitute for the ELD1 classes. The class has apparently gone through several long term subs in short order; one had to cancel, one got hired in another district for a real position, and one sub-- who used to be a principal!-- broke down crying and never came back.
The kids, who are actually really nice little foreign kids just trying to learn English, dammit, have had a bit of a trying time.
The latest sub seems to be determined to stick around, but unfortunately, given the nature of his predicament, nobody bothered giving him the usually-requisite training or access to materials (why bother if someone else is going to show up next week?). He emailed me finally to relay these concerns, and I linked him to the district ELD coordinator who was already planning an individual training session for him, so hooray me: I wasn't necessary at all. But at least I've talked to the guy.