In the small community that I teach in, there’s no shortage of gossip (better known as “chisme”). And in many cases, individuals are too consumed with their own reputations.
In two particular actions in the hallway one morning this past week, one teacher – who claimed the day before that she knew that one of my students had failed the past grading period with a 68 – stood inches from my face with a printout, highlighted with the student’s name and the 68, and shouted, “See, [student] got a 68!”. Seconds before, another teacher claimed that I was “insulting” her by not having some of my students attend a training with her students, because it was making her look bad.
(In reality, the reason my students did not attend was because after months of work, my classes averaged a 96 on that objective, while her classes had never seen it before.)
Thankfully, I was able to have someone cover my class, so that I could catch my breath and put myself together without my students needing to see my frustration. Without turning this blog into that same frustration, I can only say seeing how these teachers treat other teachers terribly in order to prove their points and defend their reputations, I am eternally thankful that I was never one of their students.
But the counter side of things is that when something positive catches someone’s eye, others are quick to notice it, as well. This past week, I have been teaching all of the seventh grade students at my school in somewhat of a “boot camp” initiative. I’m using a large room, teaching easy-to-remember strategies, and I have the support of all of the other teachers in the department, so that independent practice allows us to have a 1:5 student-teacher ratio in some classes. The results have been extremely positive in terms of student outcomes.
On Friday afternoon, I was called over to the high school that we feed into. Turns out that one of the students told her mom about our “boot camp”. Her mom is a teacher at the high school, and she proceeded to talk with her assistant principal. The end result is that I will be meeting with the entire high school E/LA department for a half-day (paid) training to show them the strategies that we will be using, and trying to come up with ways that they can incorporate them into their curriculum.
Even though “chisme” comes in its negative forms, it’s somewhat exciting to realize that before leaving town, I’ve somehow managed to pierce its gossip bubble at least once with what I’m doing.