Snakes and Rats

There's a classic joke in Jewish circles about a Jew, rescued after many years stranded on a deserted island. As he's showing his rescuers around the island they are surprised to find not one but two synagogues. He explains: “This one is my shul. The other is the one where I would never set foot.”

In a lot of ways I think teachers feel similarly about pedagogy as the Jew in the joke. In order for there to be a right way, there must be a wrong way. For a first year teacher this can be confusing at times, because when you're hearing advice from all angles you're not sure which is the right way, and which the wrong.

I was on the subway leaving work after a particularly rough day and I struck up a conversation with a cluster teacher who's been at my school for 13 years now and in the profession for even longer. Throughout our conversation she implicitly and explicitly drew distinctions between the good teachers and bad at our school. The fact that I have certain reservations of my own about her methods just complicates the whole thing more. She even made comments about one teacher I'm closer with saying, "She will stab you in the back no matter if she's your friend." It was all very reminiscent of the infamous Snakes and Rats speech from Survivor, just substitute a thick Midwest accent for that of an aging Upper East Sider Jewish woman.

Besides coming into my classroom with a complete blank slate, I'm coming into the school with no prior knowledge of its history. Many of these schools, just like certain synagogues I know, have loyalties and feuds that date back as far as a decade. It can make it hard as a newcomer, trying not to be drawn into alliances or associated with the wrong crowd. Teaching is hard enough without having to worry about the teachers as well as your students.

Comments

whats going on man? long time. i hate that! sometimes i just want to eat lunch in the staff room and i overhear straight up gossip and "he said, she said", or "could you believe ms. * did ___", or whatever.. i try to stay out of all that talk, because i've noticed that sometimes other teachers share information with you just to probe you to get you to say something you otherwise wouldn't say. and the obvious, projecting their views onto you.. im good off all of that! how's 08 treating you?
Hi there. You don't know me, but I found your blog and I've been having a great time reading it. As for the gossip, it sounds very similar to the school and office gossip I've heard thus far. I guess it's everywhere!
Anne said…
Remember...if they gossip with you, then they gossip about you.

http://readingradically.blogspot.com

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