Captain's Log, Star Date XYZZ

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Aces, Jan 29, 2019.

  1. Aces

    Aces Cohort

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    Jan 29, 2019

    So it was requested in another thread that I keep a sort of day in the life I suppose as I transition into the VP role and what not. I figured I might as well start a running thread, my Captain's Log, if you will. Yes yes, I'm a geek, and a nerd, but that's secondary. This will be kind of a running dairy almost, day in the life, whatever you want to call it. (Mods: if this isn't appropriate for this area I do apologize, I thought it would fit because it is mostly about the VP role, if not feel free to move.)

    Last week I was basically a shadow to the current VP. The day started early out in the yard (driveway?) with the buses and cars coming in to drop students off for the day. Buses were first (because the school shares buses with the high school, bus riders are early in the mornings) and then cars came after. It wasn't overtly directing traffic, so much as it was basically making sure the students are flowing into the building smoothly. We did stop and talk to several parents for the car drop offs, parents wanting to schedule conferences and such.

    From there we migrated into the building as students were starting to move to their home period. They (we?) have a 30 minute home room period every morning which is used for attendance, progress reports/report cards, a mini-study hall, morning announcements and stuff like that. The morning announcements are usually done by students from the VP's office, which is where we headed next. It was so cool they do like a morning radio talk show over the PA system. I thought that was very cool and the students had an absolute blast doing it. They actually have a radio/tv broadcast club that meets after school on Wednesdays (which I didn't get to attend but I'm wicked excited for).

    Fromm here students move to their first period of the day. There's six periods plus the home room block. Students move from class to class for each period, but the schedule doesn't rotate. So for instance 1st period you'd always have math. 2nd period always have science. 3rd period social studies, etc etc. And every time students changed classes, we were in the hallways being very visible and available to students which I absolutely loved. Yes we had things we needed to get done throughout the day, but at the same time if a student stopped us we took the time to interact with the student and address their needs. Again I absolutely loved this. The current VP definitely does NOT hide in his office all day!

    We did do a teacher observation, which for me was incredibly interesting sort of flipping the script if you will. Obviously, I've been on the teacher side of things, so now I've seen the other side of it. After class, he provided the teacher with immediate feedback. It wasn't at all negative, nor was it sugar coated and over done like the teacher was the most amazing thing, either. He gave feedback that the teacher could incorporate, gave stuff she needed to work on, but made it clear it was a team effort. It wasn't wow you suck you did this, that, and the third wrong fix it. It was I think we can improve this why don't we work together to make you a stronger teacher.

    We had a couple of disciplinary issues through out the day as well. The way the school is set up, the guidance offices, VP office, P office, resource officer office (we have a city police officer) they're all in the main office hub. So while we were out and about he had his radio, and if we were needed to the office the Secretary would give him a call. One student got kicked out of class apparently having a bit of an emotional break/melt down. One student threw a pencil at a teacher, and two students had a bit of a scruff in the cafeteria at lunch (which we saw but get to that in a second). The one that threw the pencil basically just sat in the office and finished his classwork/homework for the rest of the day. The two that got in the scruff were sent to In-School Suspension (ISS) for the remainder of the day and the next, along with their parents being called. The one that had the emotional melt/break down he basically gave the student the chance to vent and talk about what was going on. It wasn't a you're in trouble conversation, it was a I'm a resource vent to me conversation. I really appreciated how he handled all three situations. There wasn't a cookie cutter response to any of them, but something that was tailored to the individual student which addressed the needs of the involved students.

    We had lunch after the students had eaten, so that we could be in the lunchroom during the three lunch times. Us and a hall monitor were all that was really needed, but it gave teachers a chance to go have lunch of their own. Of course while I was there the two students had a little bit of a scruff which we broke up. When I say scruff, it's not like they were punching and hitting, but were rather basically just pushing each other a little. I mean I wouldn't say it was a full blown fight but it was definitely an altercation. I was there on pizza day but the food is gross... (I pack my lunch anyways!)

    And then after school, bus riders are released first (because of the sharing buses part) then once the bus riders are gone, car riders are released. We were again outside for that, which it all ran quite smoothly. Then we had a staff meeting which I was pretty much put on the spot and got to be introduced to the staff. There was a bit of a Q&A time, just asking about my background, experiences, stuff like that. It wasn't a hostile meeting in the least, they were just curious wanted to know who the knew kid on the block was so to speak.

    The meeting was only like 30 mins, then after that we had a conference with a parent (which we were late for and he apologized excessively for). I mean it was very obvious in the meeting that the parent completely blamed us (the school) for everything that could possibly be wrong. He did support the involved teachers, and when there was legitimate complaint he took it into account and consideration letting the parent know it would be addressed.

    And that was pretty much...it. Now for some of the stuff I don't like.

    For one, I got the impression that student athletes have more leeway when it comes to attendance/academic policies. It wasn't anything expressively stated or that happened, just the general impression I got from the community as a whole.

    Some of the clubs don't seem...organized. They apparently have a french club (I think?) which is supposed to meet on Fridays but were having an impromptu meeting. And I say that I think it was french because it said French club, but they were speaking Spanish... I think in general it's just a matter of the club not really being fully conceived, but I can't particularly say it's his fault.

    I'm not exactly sure what the dress code is or isn't. There definitely didn't seem to be any sort of uniform standard for what students or teachers for that matter were expected to wear. I'm not sure if it's a matter of communications (i.e the policy is in place but not fully communicated to students/staff), a matter of not being enforced (i.e students/staff are aware of the policy but nobody bothers saying anything about it), or just not in existence at all. I definitely want to have the chance to sit down and study both the employee handbook and the student handbook just to see what's there and what's not.

    Students are given a whole agenda for the school year (in the form of a spiral notebook). Not only does it have the agenda, but it has a very nice compliment of math formulas and equations and examples of how to solve them, a nice selection of science items, some stronger "replace me" words (things like "Instead of using very, try using extremely"). But it's not being used, at all. Students have them - I saw them - but teachers don't use them to provide assignments, students don't use them as a reference point, they're not used.

    So yeah definitely some stuff I loved, some stuff I liked, some stuff I might like to improve on/change, and some stuff I straight up dislike.

    (That pizza just smelled/looked gross to me. Just outright gross.)
     
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  3. Guitart

    Guitart Companion

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    Jan 29, 2019

    Captain's Log is supposed to be short.
    This is an After Action Report.
     
  4. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Jan 29, 2019

    You are absolutely incredible! Thank you for these helpful tidbits of your day to day!!!
     
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  5. Aces

    Aces Cohort

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    Jan 29, 2019

    Well you asked so here you go haha
     
  6. Aces

    Aces Cohort

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    Feb 3, 2019

    I don't think you ever truly realize the impact you have on a community until it's time to say farewell to that community and move onto new horizons. I've definitely been learning that lesson and experiencing what that has to offer here lately. Now that it's officially public knowledge of my new horizons, I've had so many teachers, students, and staff members come up to me to wish me luck, give me well meaning advice, and even share stories.

    I've underclassmen students who haven't had the chance to take one of my classes come up to me and tell me they're a little bummed because they won't have the chance. Of course my seniors have convinced themselves that clearly since they are the best class, I've decided to move on to new oceans. They're a little conceited, I know. Everything goes straight to their big heads.

    Friday was terribly bitter sweet. I asked my current admin team would it be possible for me to sit in for the interviews for my replacement, which was granted. Of the six people we interviewed, all wonderfully skilled and qualified, one stuck out to us as being a great choice. The guy we've chosen he's a substitute in the district as it is, kinda on the young side - he just graduated college and everything last spring. His age aside, he has an amazing energy, incredibly passionate about teaching. I think he'll be a wonderful addition to take my place.

    I'm trying to figure out what I should be wearing to school once I actually start. I wore a suit and tie the other day when I went. I can't say I felt over dressed, but I didn't exactly feel right, either. The other VP had on basically the same thing, just didn't wear the jacket all day. The P had on slacks and a polo. I'm going to ask his opinion first just to see what he thinks or if he has an opinion. He did say he ordered me some school polos in various colors including orange, blue, green, red, black, gray, and purple, apparently. He said he had some other goodies for me too that he ordered but I have no idea what that stuff is. Probably all school-related gear, I'd imagine. Gotta look the part, right?

    Anyways that's it for now.
     
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  7. Aces

    Aces Cohort

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    Feb 7, 2019

    I spoke to my current admin today. As per our contract, unused personal days are rolled over to the next year until you meet your cap. Unfortunately though, if you're leaving the district, it becomes a use it or loose it situation. So naturally I asked if I could cash all my personal days in and take them all so I could spend extra time at the new school slipping into my new role. I mean he can't really tell me no, well technically he could but our personal days can be used "at will and with advanced warning" as per the contract. He of course approved it, and the new school is excited to have me. So I guess I'll be spending quite a few of my remaining Fridays in my new district...
     
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  8. Aces

    Aces Cohort

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    Mar 20, 2019

    I got my "care package" from my new school yesterday in the mail, just really got the chance to open it now. And man my new P hooked me up. He sent me a bunch of stuff which is all pretty much school themed, which was pretty great.

    There's two dress shirts: one is light blue and one is white, both have the school logo on the chest. Three ties: one is black/orange with the school logo, one is black/orange with just the mascot, and one is just straight black with the school initials in gold. Then there's a water bottle and a coffee mug — one of the ones with the insolation to keep it hot or cold. There's two lanyards both black/orange one has the school name repeated the other has "Tigers hooked on reading" on either side. (But I'm probably going to keep my Red Sox lanyard — gotta stay true). There's also name tag for my desk which has my name then Vice Principal and the school logo. Several polos in various colors all with the school logo on the chest. I mean seriously there's 14 of these things.

    And last but not least and possibly my favorite there's this leather bound agenda holder. Which every school year they just swap out the agenda part. But it also has a legal pad in the back of it. On the front it has the school logo, my name, Vice Principal and on the back it has one of my favorite quotes "Develope a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow" -Anthony D'Angelo.

    It was all really thoughtful and what he didn't already have he paid for out of his pocket. Like the agenda. I just really like how much effort he went into just getting me some stuff together so I was part of the community.
     
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  9. skyline

    skyline Rookie

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    Mar 20, 2019

    Thanks for sharing! What an interesting read! Please keep sharing your adventures!
     
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  10. Aces

    Aces Cohort

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    Mar 22, 2019

    Had a such a fantastic day at the new school today. I spent alot of time with the actual Principal today doing various tasks. He showed me the school's budget and the books and everything. It was really informative and he answered all of my questions. Basically his idea is that he grooms his VP to run the school so that they can eventually step up into that role. He tends to be very reserved and stepped-back when it comes to things like discipline. He would much rather let the VP handle student disciplinary issues.

    I wore one of the polos and a pair of black slacks/dress shoes. He said what I had on was fine although on Fridays he let's the staff wear jeans. So I'll remember that for next time. And I found out that all this time I'm putting in ahead of time — although my actual contract/paycheck doesn't start until June — they're going to compensate me for on that first pay check in June. Which I told him they didn't have to but he said it was district policy — I'm there working so they're going to compensate me for my time.
     
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  11. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Mar 22, 2019

    Absolutely love that you have a supportive principal and are receiving the monies owed for the time you put in. You better accept it, haha!

    Keep it up! I’m enjoying reading about your day-to-day as this is helping me develop professionally for when I eventually (maybe) take on a VP role.
     
  12. Aces

    Aces Cohort

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    Apr 2, 2019

    Eh, it's like I told my husband. I wasn't really worried about the money because I'm still getting my teacher's salary. So it's not like we're hurting for the money or anything. I hadn't even really considered the idea I should be compensated for my time -- they suggested and did that on their own. They just have me sign in everyday with the office and that's what they'll base the pay on. If you're supposed to work 20 days per month, they'll use that to figure out how much to pay me. (For instance if I end up working 30 days, they'll pay me 1.5 months' salary to compensate.) Which all of this will be on my first check in June so it's going to be basically a double check. I did the math I think I'll end up with something like 25ish days. Somewhere in that ballpark. So in total, it works out to be something like $8,000/month, or $4,000/paycheck. Which I'll probably see like $3,000 per paycheck, roughly. But that first pay check is going to be probably in the ball park of $18,000 because it'll be a lump sum for June + the back pay. And obviously I won't see all of it because of yanno, taxes. The buggers... Which the final numbers will probably change, I think I'm being harsh with the tax rates.

    In related news, when I was at the new school last Friday, we had a bus breakdown before the evening route. It wouldn't even start while it was sitting in the school parking lot before kids were released. The buses/drivers get there early in order to get the buses cranked. After the buses run the high school route in the morning, they're brought back to us. We're first on the routes because the high school gets out later than us, so they're returned to us in order to be ready to go for the afternoon run. Then at the end of the day they return to the transportation yard which is when they do any routine maintenance, drivers have the chance to clean out the buses, etc. The driver went out to start bus #97 and it wouldn't go. I have to admire the practiced actions that followed. Driver notified transportation we had a disabled bus and we were going to need an alternative. Driver then called us on the radio to let us know her bus was disabled and she had a replacement on the way.

    So transportation sent a replacement bus and a mechanic to take a look at the disabled one. Once we knew what the replacement bus's number was, we sent out notifications to parents just to let them know that bus riders who normally ride bus #97 in the afternoons will be riding bus #113. We also had to let teachers know of the situation, of course. A mechanic drove 113 to the school, so there wasn't an extra bus driver standing around and the regular driver for 97 just moved her stuff so there wasn't an issue with the possibility of the route being mixed up. And really, all of this started roughly 30 mins before bus riders would be released. Bus drivers are usually there 30-45 mins before the end of the day in order to get the buses cranked and ready to go. It took transportation fifteen minutes to get the replacement bus out to us. Which it didn't take them long to get #97 fixed, but it was well after bus riders had been released and the buses had already rolled.

    It's actually really interesting to me the way it's scheduled/worked out. Because we have to share buses with the high school, we really are running on a tight schedule. The buses have 45 mins to run our routes and still get to the high school in time enough to be waiting for when the high school students are released. And our longest route is right at 39 mins. So we REALLY do not have time to mess around. And believe me, it's a well rehearsed scramble! I imagine that the first few days are extra hectic simply because you've got a lot going on and new things happening at once. But the current VP told me usually within a week they've got it down and everything runs smoothly. If our buses are late, it puts the H.S. in a bind where they've got students waiting around for a bus to show up. Even the way the buses park when they come in is designed to maximize the efficiency. The buses have a lot to the side of the school with numbered lanes. Each bus is assigned a lane based on their route - longest routes to the front. We need to get them out of the parking lot first so they have enough time to get back to the H.S. in time.

    The way the buses are parked they're staggered so that you can see the numbers on the front. And because they always park in their assigned lanes, students can be told you're riding bus #97, which is in lane #3. Which makes it incredibly easy getting students out of the building and onto buses in a quick/orderly fashion. The way they're parked, #86 is in front. They pull out, then lane #2, then #3, so forth and so on. Usually during the afternoons, our resource officer takes his patrol car and blocks our exit traffic light so that the buses can get out without issue. So people already know that around 2.35 is not the time to go driving by the school unless they absolutely have to. The bus order is done the same way at the high school, except those buses with the shortest routes for us file in first at the high school. This buys a little extra time for the longer routes to get finished. Not much, mind you, but a bit.

    And of course we don't set our bus routes, transportation does. Our relationship to the buses/drivers is unique. If we have an issue with a driver, we have to go through transportation. It's really on the students that we have anything to do with like say they're misbehaving on the bus. That's something we would have to deal with. But transportation manages everything about the buses. They even set the parking order in our parking lot. My understanding is that the routes fluctuate from year to year, which absolutely makes sense. This year we might not have a need to go down Example Road whereas next year we might. And they can even change during the school year although they try to prevent that as much as possible from happening just because of the chaos that is sure to follow. An example that might prompt it, however, would be if transportation decides a route is far too large and the driver is having difficulty making that 45 min window, they might split the route (and subsequently assign another bus).

    It's interesting because by late July, the district has already gathered who intends to ride the bus the coming school year. The way it was explained to me, transportation is executing for August, but planning for December. They are always a step ahead of the school year, which also makes sense. So in late July, they plan out the routes and finalize them. Then before school starts, drivers run through the routes and are clocked to see how feasible the route is and still make the time constraints. Adjust as needed, rinse and repeat until transportation is satisfied enough to give the green light for the routes.

    Then another part of the planning process, as much as possible they do not fill buses to capacity. If you follow the exact specifications of a school bus, absolute maximum capacity is 72 passengers. However, that is an extreme and rarely used. The realistic capacity for K-8 is 60 students. Transportation fills each bus to 50 or as close as possible. This allows a buffer in the event the route gets extra students during the year (transfers, etc). But basically they're planning for 2.5 students per seat, which is realistically 2 students per seat (48 students), which obviously leaves enough room for extras and students can spread out not be directly on top of each other.

    Mathematically, it obviously makes a certain amount of sense to load the buses to capacity. It would reduce the overall amount of buses required for a single school and thus save gas and money. But obviously transportation recognizes that you can't fill to capacity because they're students, not shipping boxes. It saves headaches in the future. What do you do if you have all buses filled to capacity, but now all of a sudden 4 months into the school year you now have 45 extra students who need to ride the bus but would all normally be assigned to different routes. So you would have to have a dedicated bus for the "extras" or a misc route, which would be running all over like a chicken with its head cut off and waste whatever you saved in gas.

    I think the most interesting part of the entire thing is that as a public school district, we are required to provide transportation to and from school for ALL students native assigned to our district. So transportation as to account for all of the students in the district and assume that all of them will require a bus ride, and plan accordingly for equipment. So there's always extra buses at transportation. They then plan around the actual number of bus riders per school in order to assign buses to those schools. And at the end of the day, I think they told me there's something like 8 or 9 spare buses. So there's a buffer for unexpected things and for growth.

    Transportation is an entire beast of it's own which takes a small army of people to manage, coordinate, and execute... They also happen to have a 99% rating of that execution currently. Meaning they've had zero accidents, zero students/drivers/staff getting hurt, the buses are on time, and students aren't left standing at school waiting on a ride. Have to say I'm mildly impressed by the entire thing.
     
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