When my online school employer decided it was time to find a way to get rid of me last March, they put me on a performance improvement plan with next to impossible goals so that I would fail. Turns out I achieved all but the one that would have required me to compromise my professional integrity, so all they had at their disposal was what all “right to work” states have: teachers can be let go, for any reason, at the end of any school year because every teacher is on a yearly contract and that contract can be “non-renewed.”
That was a stressful 3 months. I was watched all the time, people were in my logs and records and grading, checking the quality of my work. Oversight was increased 3000%. I had to meet weekly with my IL (instructional leader: think principal) to go over my results. I can’t really explain how, during those 3 months last year, any phone message, text, or call made me jump. I was constantly terrified, I worked 12 hour days, I couldn’t sleep. I cried at the drop of a hat. When it became apparent that I was going to pass enough of the plan to stay at the school but not enough for what they really wanted, they informed me that they would not be renewing my contract. So I wasn’t fired, but I couldn’t come back.
The day this happened to me was…not great. My reaction after getting off the phone involved a lot of frustrated screaming and crying. It was a betrayal. It was unfair. I had worked so hard. It didn’t make sense. But in the days that followed I quickly applied for and secured a new teaching position for the fall and scrambled to make the finances work until my paychecks began again.
So the other day the husband and I were watching The Office, and we got to the episode where Idris Elba is hired as the new Jan/Ryan (regional supervisor) and comes in to micromanage Michael way more than either of his predecessors did, and goes too far, pushing Michael to quit and start the Michael Scott Paper Company. Watching that episode and seeing Elba’s character completely eclipse Michael, push him around, disregard his success at the branch and drive him to quit made my breathing speed up and suddenly I was crying and asking the husband to skip to a different episode.
I’m not sure what this means. If I think back there are other times when I’ve had a “reaction” to a situation that was not entirely in my control related to what happened. I mean, I know what this means, I’m just so tired and it takes mental energy to do what needs to be done.
So I have decided to take some steps to finally move past it. I contacted an education reporter at my local major paper to see if my situation sounded like a story that would contribute to the public good. I think I might contact my therapist to work through my feelings about what happened so I feel better emotionally. I have to recognize at this point that what happened to me was definitely traumatic, and I need to start dealing with the effects of that trauma.