Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Worst Boss Ever

I know today is the official end to Blog 365, and it would be logical to make this post about what I've learned about myself as a blogger over the past year and two months of posting daily, but I'm going to save that post for #500. And despite my earlier claims that I wouldn't take a break until I hit "publish post" for the five hundredth time, I probably will take tomorrow off. Unless something changes between now and then, I'll be off to Florida to hike the Juniper Prairie Wilderness, and I'll be leaving early in the morning. I may not post anything until Sunday, actually. We'll be hanging out on the Georgia coast for a couple of days after our backpacking trip and I'd be stuck posting from my phone. I'd rather just wait and be able to follow up my brief absence with photos of the trip.

Today, instead of all of that, I'll regale you with a tale of my worst boss ever.

Back before I moved back to my hometown, I was stuck teaching at an alternative school while I worked my way to a full renewable teaching certificate instead of a temporary certificate. The student body was entirely composed of students who were either considered too problematic in the area of discipline to be allowed to remain in the normal middle or or high school, or they were transitioning back into public schools from being in lock up. In six classes a day, I taught everything from seventh to twelfth grades, often with multiple grades in the same room at the same time for different classes. The students weren't the worst part, however. The principal was much worse.

At one time, the principal had been a respected but feared elementary school principal. She had turned around one of the schools in the poorest neighborhood of the district and had it running smoothly and effectively when she retired. The only problem was that she eventually came back as a half-time employee to run the alternative school. She knew very little about the age levels we taught (elementary school kids are an entirely different species of mammal) and I think she may have started to lose some of her faculties.

There were all sorts of issues where she abused teachers and students, and she would often disrupt a class by walking into the room, screaming at a student for some nitpicky thing and then leaving the teacher to spend the next fifteen minutes getting these kids to get back on track.

Despite all of the crap I dealt with, it wasn't until the spring of my final year working there that I got a great story that exemplified how horrible this woman was. She had trouble keeping up with her duties and would often make up stories to shift blame to the teachers. She never left much of a paper trail or gave me a real reason to risk my job to call her on it until she tried to get one of my co-workers fired. There was a special meeting at the board of education that I and another teacher were supposed to attend. The only problem was that we weren't informed of the meeting until after lunch on the day we were supposed to go. The principal had just forgotten to tell us. She told us we had to go or we'd face disciplinary action, which was fine for me. I had nothing else to do. I was annoyed by the short notice, but it wouldn't cause me any real problems. The other teacher was different. She'd suffered from a heart problem earlier in the year and had an appointment with her cardiologist in another city that same afternoon. She flatly told the principal that she wasn't going to make it.

The next day, we had letters in our mail boxes at school that were dated a week earlier informing us of the previous day's meeting. The other teacher also had an appointment with the system personnel person later that week to discuss the issue of skipping this meeting. I was a little pissed by this. I have an acute sense of injustice and this was the final straw for me. I wrote a letter for the other teacher explaining exactly what happened (the secretary who typed the letter for the principal verified my suspicions) and gave it to the teacher so she could use it as evidence to support her case against the principal.

A few days later after the students had gone for the day, I was keeping one of my students for after-school detention. The principal stormed into my room, issued a few veiled threats and told me I didn't know who I was messing with. I just told her I did the right thing because she had lied about one of my coworkers to cover her own mistake. She turned around and left and the student was too shocked at what had happened to even say anything, and this girl usually couldn't keep her mouth shut. I was actually a bit surprised by my willingness to stand up to the principal here. A couple of months later, I walked out of the building for the last time and started packing up for my new job at a new school.

I found out last spring that one of my former co-workers had taken over as the full-time principal at the alternative school after my former boss retired for the second time. She was proud to be able to say that she managed to get all of her teachers to come back for a second year. My former principal rarely had people work for her for more than a year. A couple only lasted half of a year before quitting. I wonder why?


Julie said...

I'm pretty lucky. I've never had a truly horrible boss. Some pretty bad ones, sure, but all manageable once you figured out how to work with them.

Courtney said...

Wow. I thought for sure your worst boss would have been Big D from the RNT, but that principal sounds even worse.

And you did it! 365 days of posting. Impressive, indeed. Congrats.

Suzanne said...

Whoa! I've had some winners, but that is far worse.

Congrats on completing fourteen months of posting. Enjoy the well deserved rest!

Mickey said...

Congratulations, man. 365. Crazy bastard.

And I suppose I should acknowledge my big failure on Comment365. I had it going for a few months, at least.

And that is one shitty boss. Good for you for standing up to her.

Chris said...

It is liberating to know you can stand up to the boss, since you'll be leaving the job soon anyway. I'm glad to hear the school has a more reasonable principal running it now.