Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance

If only ... I can't read minds. If only I could. [Okay, maybe selectively... all those sci-fi shows where the person who can read minds but can't turn the ability off and has to live alone, in the middle of nowhere. Not worth it.]

I had a conversation with someone on support staff this week who was asking me about sub folders and I laughed and told her I'd seen everything from soup to nuts. The binders with literally nothing; I should have known about the allergy in the room from something other than the allergy alert bracelet around the kid's wrist, no roster, no seating chart, no classroom schedule, no specials schedule, no bell schedule, no school schedule, no I-have-bus-or-time-out-duty schedule... the binders that should have been bronzed and held up as an example - yes, please! do this! because even within the district it was different from elementry school to elementry school. In a world where everyone wants everything to have some kind of standard to hold everything else up to, the last thing that comes standard is the expectations - and the instructions and information - one teacher leaves for the guest in their classroom. However capable or inept that person may or may not be.

So I found this little gem. And I heaved a sigh. No, it's absolutely right. I don't need to know someone's life story that I do not interact with 7.5 hours a day, 5 days a week with for 37ish weeks. But it's nice to know about allergies, and to go to the nurse to learn to use the EpiPen. NOW. Don't open that vaugely labeled granola bar here. You can't drink your coffee unless that's non-dairy creamer. Hope you didn't spill any.

But... on the off chance it's a kid's birthday, is it okay that I get the birthday stuff from your closet/desk/whatever -  or don't? Because you want catch up with them when you get back? How am I supposed to know any of this? If you care - or don't? You didn't say - it's seemingly minutia, but people keep all kinds of things all kinds of places. I will not rummage in someone else's room because I don't know what I'm going to find. Not everyone labels a drawer CONFIDENTIAL. I'm smart enough to stay out of that. I also won't just walk into someone's room when they're not there and I'm a floater [no one place to be for the day]. Then you get the "Why are you in my room? Who are you? I'm calling security" questions before you can flash a smile and calm someone down. If I learned anything in 6 months it's that some teachers can get incredibly territorial about their room. Especially their desk. So you wait for them to come back first, and enter with permission. [Walking in and finding the regular teacher there, even if you're supposed to be in that room, is always fun, too. Especially when neither of you have any idea who each other are.]

Don't sweat it, I'm over planning. Get what you can get to. This is enough, but on the off chance you finish early... please. Tell me right off. I can't read your mind. The other teachers say, eh, it's okay, we didn't lose anyone today, but sometimes I wonder how okay it really is. You may feel like you're repeating yourself saying again and again "I'm over planning" everytime someone walks through your door. But I don't want to mess up. I know I messed up when I came back for you, uninvited, and the first thing you wrote was, "Please, don't try to cram in everything like last time. I'm overplanning." Thank you for telling me though. Because the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly, getting the same results, but expecting a different outcome.

Sometimes I think people see the sub tag and they think I've been there - or maybe at least subbing - forever. So I fumble, from tiny faux pas to Oh. No. She. Didn't. and it's God, there's another awful sub. Can't we do better than this? (Am I making this up? Sometimes I feel like I must be making up the words in my head... like the title of that book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? [And Other Concerns] )

The two things I think I would add as musts to this list are the phone numbers to the office and the nurse. Seriously. Kid goes down, you don't want to wait sending a runner, and if you don't know there's a panic button in the room, it doesn't do you any good. Kid has a melt down, I want to know how to reach the principal - or at the very least the secretary, who can tell the principal that someone's coming down, so look out for them.  Rookie mistake number one. Not knowing, or having someplace easy at hand, the office phone number.

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