Mrs. Geek is starting her new job this week. It's proving to be something of a culture shock for her... in a very positive way. Her old school (St. Aloysius of the Perpetual Night Light or, School A) was in a somewhat depressed urban area that catered mostly to children of non-European ancestry. Her new school (St. Cyril Ostentatious or, School C) is located in a well-to-do section of a nearby commuter/professional bedroom community. Both are Catholic schools, yet they might as well be on different planets as far as her experience teaching goes.
Mrs. Geek found teaching at School A to be tough for a variety of reasons, some socio-economic, some not. She seemed to have more than her share of discipline problems in her 5th grade classroom last year. The school seemed loathe to threaten these students with expulsion however, for reasons that seemed equal parts Christian charity and an unwillingness to reduce the size of the revenue stream in the face of budget deficits. The parents were often not that well off themselves as well, and were busy working multiple jobs to make ends meet. So naturally, disciplinary follow through to help that teacher at school seemed to fall through the cracks... as did any similar follow through from the school administration. Schools often achieve results from students by demanding much of them; a culture to foster those demands was almost completely lacking at School A. The message of the day was not "do better!", it was "get through it as best you can."
School C is proving to be very different. Aside from the material trappings (like wine served with decent flatware and real cloth tablecloths at school meet-and-greet occasions), there is a real sense of order at School C that was lacking at School A. For example, attendance was a perpetual problem for Mrs. Geek at School A. When a student was absent, the student was required to bring in a note. If that note was missing (as it often was,) it often fell to Mrs. Geek to get the student to call home or to try to find the assistant Principal to take the situation in hand. That is a distraction under the best of circumstances and hell when you have a small cadre of troublemakers ready to make mischief as soon as her back was turned. School C solves this problem by not even admitting a student to his or her classroom after an absence until a note is presented at the school office. This leaves the teacher able to deal with the problems at hand.
Of course, socio-economic factors do figure into the equation. Where School A had to worry about whether its sixth grade girls were becoming sexually experienced, School C merely must worry about its fifth grade girls bullying each certain girls last year at the Spring Fair. Where School A must worry about meeting its budget, School C has to worry about how to deal with the donor waiting list for furnishings in the new Parish all-purpose room/gynmasium.
It's a brave new world for Mrs. Geek right now. She keeps worrying that someone is going to come to her with a contract to be signed in blood to give up her first born. I simply tell her "This may be new to you but, you are trained professional. They are simply treating you as such." She says "I understood every individual word you said but I don't know what you mean."
She'll adjust though. Just like a soldier home from a war, it just takes time to get over the shell shock.
on 2004-08-25 at 4:12 p.m.
The Wayback Machine - To Infinity And Beyond