Monday, March 30, 2009

Social Justice

It's 5:45 am. I normally do not concern myself at this time of the morning with anything other than watching the morning news while giving my hair a little time to air dry and getting a good dose of caffeine running through my bloodstream so that my eyes are actually open when I put my mascara on my eyelashes. I will admit that my coffee is a bit strong (and particularly good) this morning, but it is not the reason I am writing.

Today at work I have to talk to the principal (some days being a teacher feels an awful lot like being a student) about an important matter. Without getting into more detail than would be appropriate, he came to me on Friday and essentially told me that I may need to make an exception about a matter. That is, he’s really making this exception. What he doesn't understand, in his haste to make this executive decision in order to please one student and one set of parents, is that it will open a can of worms and have far-reaching consequences. I'm not as into politicking as I am doing the right thing.

I am a big picture thinker so I am thinking of all those kids for whom an exception has not been made, and it's frankly just not fair. Or right. As my friend Deanna joked, “You? Miss Social Justice?” Add to that the fact that he just kind of came in and usurped my authority on this matter and it gets to my core. For good measure, throw in a third piece to this tricky puzzle: my passion. I stand up for myself and my beliefs and it’s not always easy to keep my cool. But today I have to.

As much as his unwelcome and unannounced Friday afternoon visit ruined a part of my Friday and occupied my mind for much of the weekend, I now see the timing was advantageous to me. I absolutely cannot walk in and say Are you out of your effin' mind? or anything else peppered with expletives, as would be natural for me and as I wanted to Friday. (Come to think of it, delayed kudos to me for not blowing a gasket on Friday!) Over the weekend I had the opportunity to seek the counsel of good friends. I was able to vent and seek their advice. Venting was good for...well...venting, blowing off steam so I can keep the expletives in that cartoon bubble I walk with above my head so often at school. (student: Did we do anything yesterday? my cartoon bubble: No, we decided that since you weren't here it wasn't worth learning anything.) Their advice helped ground me. I took notes and think I can be focused and rational and professional.

So often I live my life according to the bumper sticker: Well-behaved women rarely make history. Today my challenge will be to disagree without being disagreeable. I'll let you know how I fare.

PS I kept my cool. I did some homework, so to speak, consulted other faculty to make sure I knew what I was talking about. (That would at least make one of us! (meow)) I brought notes and I argued on my own behalf and the other teachers who would be affected and should have been consulted. Perhaps more importantly, I argued--without raising my voice--on behalf of the kids who'd be cheated by the provision he, on Friday, told me I might have to make for this one particular student. There will be no exception.

Now give me back my bumper sticker.

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