Senator Howard Stephenson
came and observed my classroom this morning. One of the district math specialists got the ball rolling a few weeks ago, but it had hit some major ruts on the way. Basically, I didn't know until yesterday that it would all actually work, and I was stressed to the max. I am not familiar with the man, but everyone kept frowning and explaining to me that he is "Not a friend of education," and he "Would much rather have a child learn from a computer (think on-line classes) than with a teacher in a classroom."
I was annoyed by this attitude, and I got sucked into hear-say, and when I went up to beg our adorable librarian, Steve, to let me open up the library to use the computer lab one last time, I completely stuck my foot in my mouth. I was describing Howard to Steve, and I was using everything that I had heard from everybody else, and Steve sat back and cut in with, "Actually, I know Howard." Huge gulp from me. "And he definitely is pro-education, he just feels that a lot of money is wasted on administration ... and he can be bratty, but he will listen to you, and you do a great job, so you don't need to worry."
It was a very stressful morning involving the airport, an early morning meeting, and one practice run of lowering the Phantom (a whole other story, basically our school has a phantom: think V for Vendetta) from the rafters for the assembly later in the day. I literally kicked off my shoes after Jess and I bowed out of our meeting, and we ran down to the auditorium to practice. I was under the impression that I would be in the aisle, belaying the Phantom, but apparently, I was to be up in the rafters with the Phantom, and I would lower him from there, unseen. We climbed into our harnesses, I was ready with my ATC, and then I sized up the Phantom, and had a slow-panic realization of his girth compared to mine. I was literally sliding across the metal walkway as the Phantom put his weight on the rope.
"I don't have you!" as I started to sweat with panic.
"Um, I'm totally sitting on the rope, you have me."
"No, I don't! I can't lower you, and I can't pull you up. This is really dangerous!"
"You have me! Just lower me!" assured the Phantom as I continued to slide until my ATC was smashing itself into a metal bar.
"My ATC is literally up against the bar. I cannot lower you, and you will have to pull yourself back up."
Finally, the Phantom heaved himself back on to the cat walk, and kind of chuckled as he saw my predicament. I was terrified, and now I was sweaty, and I was about to meet a senator, and I had sticky sweaty bangs. We anchored me to a bar, and it pulled me sideways as I practiced lowering the Phantom one time. I had no visual, but it worked out alright. I made a mental note that I should at least switch shoes before the real run.
I sprinted back upstairs where my vice principal spotted me, "Amy! They're looking for you, where should I tell them you will be?" I showed her my filthy black hands, told her I'd be in the library in one minute, and literally washed my hands five times.
The five minute bell rang as I was walking to the library, but luckily only Maggie (one of the district math specialists) was there. She was under the impression that no one else was there yet, and she started to tell me a story about how they had a different appointment with the Senator elsewhere, but he hadn't shown up ... I wasn't listening.
My kids are gems, and they got right to work, and I explained the situation to them because they were so nervous about being in the library, "We're not supposed to be here Ms. Bateman, it's closed you know."
Howard Stephenson walked in with Jan (my principal), Camille (another district math specialist), and Christy (one of our vice principals). I was a little annoyed by the huge gathering, so I focused on helping my kids, and eventually squoze in to the crowd to introduce myself. I was beyond being intimidated, everything had been way too stressful up to this point.
Howard walked around with me, listened to me help my kids, talked to students individually, and later asked very thought-provoking questions. I enjoyed talking to him, I never really felt like I was defending my teaching style, more explaining how and why I approach teaching the way I do. However, I was very annoyed by our district math specialists because I totally felt like they were on the defense/attack the whole time, and I didn't have as much time with the Senator as I would have liked. It was great to explain things to him, and to feel like he was really listening and absorbing and interested.
As our meeting after class wound on and on, I was getting very nervous about my involvement in the assembly. Thankfully, Christy stepped in and explained my position in the assembly, and they were all very curious, and acted very wowed that I would "Do such a thing." Christy created the perfect situation for me to bow out.
I thanked Senator Howard Stephenson for coming, encouraged him to e-mail me if he had more questions, and invited him to come to my classroom any time, explaining that he never needed an appointment.
The assembly went smashingly, and thankfully I was able to support the Phantom's weight as he dropped into the auditorium to fill the guitar spot for our SBO's rendition of Born to be Wild.
School ends next Wednesday. I am thrilled.