Education is a fascinating field in which to work. In addition to the joy and interest that students bring with them each period, I find our educational system fascinating. This system can be observed, and analyzed, as if it were an animal, a personality, and in many cases, a machine.
Suzy is a teacher. This is not her real name. In fact, it may not be the correct gender. However, for this tale, I will use Suzy. It is the name I use with all of my writing that I do with my students. Suzy is not the name, but the person is real.
Suzy is a teacher who works in a large school within a large school district. Recently Suzy learned something about how the education system works, or more to the point … Suzy was taught something that I find appalling.
Suzy was working with students. This is something that Suzy does well. She believes in working with small groups and with students one-on-one. It was a later period in the school day and Suzy, as mentioned, was working with a group of students who needed scaffolding on the literary concept. While Suzy demonstrated the skill, two students decided to use the opportunity to smoke marijuana in the classroom. A quick toke, when Suzy turned.
Suzy was told by her TA that this occurred, stating she heard the “click” of the lighter, saw the two students. Suzy could smell the change in the air, clearly there was a lighter fire and marijuana smoke. At this point, I thought the story Suzy was telling me was done. Simple story: student breaks the rules and there is a consequence. However, it is not that easy. Suzy called security so that the two students could be dealt with as well as so she could continue her work with students because, after all, that is why Suzy comes to school each day—to work with students.
At the end of the day, Suzy was called into the office to discuss the event with an administrator. First, I will give you the end of the story, because you need to know it, but really it is the middle that taught Suzy a sad lesson about the education system.
How the story ends: Suzy was told that since it was close to the end of the day and that there was no physical evidence on the students, the students were let to go home. The TA’s observing and hearing the event must not be valid enough evidence, nor the smell in class.
What leads up to the end: Suzy was asked by the administrator why she singled out those two students; why was she picking on them? The administrator received an angry phone call from the parent of one of the students and raged on about why her child was suspected. (side note—if I received a call from a principal a call about one of my sons and drugs, I would thank the administrator for notifying me of this so that I could intervene. I would not yell at the person trying to help me.) But that is what the parent did, and that is what the administrator did to Suzy.
Suzy was yelled at in as polite and professional a way as could be. Suzy was yelled at for following through on a drug issue; fire hazard; and insubordination by two students in class. Suzy thought she was doing what the educational system would want. It is what I would have done. I presume Suzy’s school has a no drug policy.
In every event, there is an opportunity to learn. As a school system, what are we teaching teachers? In the case of Suzy, she has been taught to not be rigorous, responsive, and responsible.
She has been taught to be reluctant.