Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My Day as an ATR

I am not an ATR, but yesterday I believe I got a small taste of what it is to be one.

Yesterday was Election Day, so I, along with thousands of you, got shuttled off to another school for
"Professional Development", which is DOE speak for lecturers droning on for hours in a way, which, if you or I taught that way in our classes, we'd rightly be U-rated. But I digress. The point is that I was sent to a school that is nowhere near me, and I was only informed on Monday of what would be happening Tuesday.

This wreaked all kinds of havoc in my life. I had to arrange for someone to take my daughter to school, because I had to leave far earlier than usual. I also had to arrange for someone to pick her up in case the PD went the distance (it did) and I was unable to get to her at the usual time. Then, of course, I had to figure out how to get to the school I was assigned to, map it on Google, and decide whether driving or public transportation would be the smarter choice. I opted for the subway even thought I knew it would take me longer, because I had no idea what parking would be like. I didn't know whether to bring lunch or not because I had no idea whether there was any place to eat at this strange school. In all, the day cost me quite a bit of time and stress to arrange. My day ended up being two hours longer than usual, and when it was over, all I could think is that I didn't want to ever leave my building again.

I thought about ATRs a lot yesterday. They face the same dilemma as I did on a weekly basis. Who'll take care of their children? How will they park, if they can park at all? What and where will they eat? Of course, real ATRs, not temporary ones like me, face even more problems on a regular basis, such as:

Will there be anyone to talk to?
Will the administration like me?
Who will I be teaching? What subject?
Will the students I'm assigned behave? If not, will anyone care?
Will I get a bathroom key and a secure place to leave my belongings?
Will I get a job here or do I start this all over again next week?
And perhaps most importantly, how long will this go on???

I had the consolation of knowing that however crappy my day turned out to be, it was simply a day, not a DOE-mandated sentence. Today, I am back in my cozy classroom (cozy not because it's large, but overcrowded), and I am truly glad to be here. If I were an ATR, I don't know how long I would last.

Maybe that's the point. Maybe the DOE is trying to disrupt the lives of ATRs to the breaking point, in the hope that they will all quit rather than continue in education limbo. For ATRs, every day is Election Day, only much, much worse.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for understanding out plight. Now, if we can get every teacher on our side...

Anonymous said...

You just described a small part of my daily adventures as a NYC per diem
substitute. Sorry for my lack of sympathy, but I've been in Sub-urgatory for the last several years and would be overjoyed to be an ATR.

veteran teacher said...

this atr nonsense will go on forever. i guarantee it. principals will fight not to have to take 'bad' teachers in their mind. the city wants veterans out. the union wants us out, but knows that if they give in on us, then they will cease to have a union. the city doesn't want to lay off their 22 yr old 'superstars' until they turn 25. if you're an atr, which i am, wait it out! it will go on for a while, but at some point, you will have to be placed and all this nonsense will end, but it will take a while, possibly forever

Anonymous said...

This is a new version of the rubber room. It is the travelling rubber room. The ATR's are treated like lepers.
Every day is the first day of school.
The stigma and the age difference makes it hard to socialize with colleagues.
So far, this has been a tour of mismanaged and closing schools. Schools that no one wants to work at.
They are predominantly poor minority populated schools. There are not many new, young, highly effective and energetic educators.

The veterans seem resigned to their fate in the ATR pool. In most cases the admin types seem sympathetic to the plight of the atr sub-species.

I found myself subbing in a school that I subbed at at the start of my illustrious career. The building had already been invaded by a charter school. The community has lost its school which had provided a vital function for over three decades.
It had turned from being an active vibrant place, to a hollow sad shell of itself. The smell of death is in its hallways. The kids there are angry about being in a school that will be closed. The staff is angry too.
It has been very instructive to tour these sad places. The ironic reality is, when they become corporatized, they will do worse than their predecessors, they will have far too many admin types, no institutional memory, and a bunch of two year wonders.

Rank amateurs, padding their resume, to get their ticket punched. Cynically professing their social contribution, their midwestern zeal to save those haplesss souls from the bowels of the ghetto.

Yes, I see the writing on the wall. We are to be replaced as we have been belittled and demeaned. Both the DoE and the UFT are wondering why we are still working. Punching in, getting called at 6. am. Being told that they don't deserve a parking permit.

How about that you unity skunks reading this?

Want to look like you are actually doing something for those you deemed to have no democratic rights and saw fit to demean with your "ATR Agreement"



Bedouin Teacher

ed notes online said...

Great reports. With 47 schools on the closing hit list look for a vast influx of ATRs over the next few years. I know there is demoralization but the only way is to organize and fight back. WE cannot expect the UFT to do much. In these battles numbers count. The first PEP meeting that may deal with these issues will be on Dec. 14 at Prospect Hts HS in Brooklyn. Occupy DOE will be meeting every Sunday at 60 Wall St to plan future actions. Use People's Mic to shut down the PEPs. They will do what they want anyway but why make it easy for them?

Ms Untamed said...

Did the DOE and Unity UFT think that ATR's would choose retirement instead?

Under Assault gives you a good idea of what that alternative looks and feels like.

Even though I have had a rich array of interests to fall back on, my first year of retirement has not been easy. Like the death of a loved one, there is no way to fully prepare for retirement ahead of time.