My handler at one school uses a notebook to communicate critical information with me. Recently I arrived on time, instead of my usual 10 minutes early, and found the notebook open on my desk with a mysteriously vague message, “The sixth grade teachers want to have a meeting with you.” My active paranoia started winding up.
- They’ve never bothered to consult with me on anything, even seeming adverse to me prepping them for sample conversations in front of the class.
- They sit two desks away from me and could easily ask me themselves. Actually, one of them was sitting at his desk as this all unfolding during the day, so he could have chimed in at any point.
- No mention was made about the content of the desired meeting: indicating to me a desire to surprise me or guarantee that I was unprepared. Maliciousness or poor management skills would normally precipitate this omission, but I’m having troubles thinking of other possibilities here.
Another teacher, to my knowledge unconnected to the English program and the 6th grade, eventually came to tell me in person that a meeting was desired. She was happy to leave it at that and walk away, but I pushed for a time and more information about what kind of meeting it might be. “They want to change how the classes are taught.”, was not a reply which abated my paranoia.
My expectation was that something fairly major was going to be demanded and that it would be addressed in the you-are-failing-us-and-need-to-do-better tone. For the record I respond much better to the consultative, we’d-like-to-improve-things-by-doing-such-and-such tone.
After that, I noticed the involved parties and the principal having whisperish conversations a lot. Unusual behavior like this only feeds my worries; and they were topped off by a conversation with the vice-principal. He wanted to know exactly what time I would leave for my rehabilitation treatments. I always make a point to only take my medical leave when it won’t interfere with work activities, so I responded that I needed to meet with the sixth grade teachers and I didn’t know how long that would take. The VP said something like he’d ask the principal when that would be. Certainly if the headmaster’s involvement was called for, it couldn’t be good.
Ultimately, the “apparently uninvolved” teacher came to my desk and we had the “meeting”, which consisted of her telling me:
- one of the sixth grade teachers will be out for professional development for awhile
- she will cover for him in his absence
- students will prepare for a singing contest
- one of my classes needs to be moved to accommodate practice
While writing down the information in my notes, I told her that was fine. Meeting time: about 3 minutes. Why that couldn’t have been discussed first thing in the morning, I do not know. All of the conversations about getting together for a meeting were longer than the actual meeting itself.
Often I wonder if my paranoia is justified or just after-effects of some painful political backlash in previous positions.