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.