Saturday, March 29, 2014

I Won't Delete You


I recently finished our school's yearbook. It was a pain in the, uh, butt. A tremendous amount of work for very little, well actually, no money. A guest teacher once said to me, "Oh, you're in charge of the yearbook, sorry to hear that" and then continued, "a job no one appreciates when its done perfectly and everyone points out the smallest mistake." Yep.

Nearing the deadline and desperately needing candid classroom photos, I deftly steered the teacher lunchroom conversation away from the most recent pregnancy updates (I'm the only male teacher in a staff of 30+) to an open solicitation towards any classroom teachers within earshot. The 'photos' that the yearbook company photographer provided were barely 'snapshot' quality. I needed photos that would be worthy of a lifetime memory.

Well actually, deftly is an overstatement. It was more of me blurting out "I need your photos people!" The approach was neither subtle, nor particularly effective. I only had four submissions following my plea, but four more than I had before.

Once I created the pages, I submitted the proof sheets to each classroom teacher for proofing. Children's names have to be checked for spelling and placement in the correct classes among other things. If a child's picture is missing, I start my search through the 35+ galleries to locate an errant portrait. The web-based software is excruciatingly slow and clumsy. If I can't find them, I use my makeshift portable background I created and make my way to all of the classrooms to do my retakes. Not a small task.

My school is a Title I school and our student body has a fairly high mobility rate (student mobility refers to the phenomenon of students changing schools for reasons other than grade promotion - Ed Week) My school can expect about a third of the students who begin their year with us, not be around to celebrate field day in June. Students come and go. Often without any notice.

I always get some of the proof pages back with an "X" over a student's picture. It always makes me a little sad. I think my job is to include, not exclude from our year's story. I know that kids with high mobility are more at risk for academic and behavioral problems. Maybe it's easier to cross off a difficult child. To their teachers, they can be a real pain in the, uh, butt. But they are our pain in the butt. No matter how long they spent with us.

Picture day is in September. Some of the kids leave early in the year and will surely be included in their new school's yearbook, but that's not guaranteed. A lot of calendar comes after that pretty smile is meant to be captured. I want to make sure that every kid, regardless of how long they spent with us, remain part of our story.

Every kid deserves to belong to something. I'm not going to take that away. I won't delete them. I'll find the room.

Thanks for reading. Follow me on Twitter @YourKidsTeacher

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