Audience in Captivity
All the world's a stage,Before my reassignment, an ordinary teaching day was active and productive. Along with my colleagues, I yearned for the Pre-Kleinberg, Pre-"Robo-Principal " days when my school was like a second home. I knew the ins and outs of the school and I knew what to expect. When my principal was having a bad day, we too, had to be in a bad mood. When my principal was happy, in turn we had to act ecstatic. It may not have been perfect, but we knew how to survive. My principal wore her moods on her sleeve and we monitored them like the weather. When her mood changed, warning signals were transmitted throughout the building in a flash.
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts... -Shakespeare
The arrival of Robo-Principal changed everything. There were no changing facial expressions or moods to read. There was only one stone face and one mood and no one knew what that was. Fear permeated throughout the building, almost as if someone had died. He didn't like laughter or noise and reminded us to keep it down. In discussion, he never made eye contact and wrote everything down. He responded only through email. Communication as we once knew it had died. Everyday we mourned the loss of human contact. Teachers walked around saying, "I don't know." We were in the dark about everything. That is why it came as such a surprise when I was 'served' my rubber room invitation.
For many teachers like myself, the first few days in the rubber room were a turbulent and surreal experience. I was nervous, scared, disoriented and confused. From the moment I was reassigned & banished from my school building, to my first week in the rubber room, most of it is a blur. Although I was extremely restless at first, I knew that my task at hand was to slow down. God's way of saying, "Time to learn another lesson." What the lesson was, I did not know. Reassignment is a very humbling experience.
For the most part, the people that I've met in the rubber room are quiet, amicable and bright professionals who have fallen victim to our dysfunctional school system. Amongst the group are teachers, school aides, principals(yes- principals!), social workers, nurses and secretaries who want to maintain a low profile and a peaceful existence.
On the other hand, there are those individuals who require lots of attention and drama. For them, quiet complacency is foreign idea and the walls of the rubber room are a stage; A perfect channel in which to act out their neuroses. Whether it be their loud, incessant talking, whining and complaining or just plain ignorance, the show is and always was about 'them'. Their lack of respect for themselves and others is disturbing. Let us not forget that we are grown adults who represent the field of teaching. Regardless of allegations, we are still innocent until proven guilty and it is important to maintain a sense of professionalism. Try as I may, the unscripted drama, the characters and the storyline in the rubber room are all too bizarre to ignore.
Some of the behaviors that I alone have witnessed are; broadcasting loud ring tones and inappropriate phone conversations. Random calling out, 'hooting and hollering' and pounding on & smacking the tables. Also, unnecessary outbursts of laughter and cursing, insulting remarks about religion and racism and comments about the human anatomy- as well as pornographic images via the Internet.
Sad and depressed? These characters can never be sensitive to your needs. These actors are not in tune with any one's boundaries but their own. They will sneeze, cough, blow their nose and clear their throat without any regard for those around them. There is no escaping the dysfunctional daily performances . The rubber room comes equipped with a 'captive' audience or dare I say, "audience in captivity". These 'actors' will drain the life out of you. As the rubber room imitates life, these "Teachers Behaving Badly" are what perpetuates the negative stigma attached to the rubber room further increasing the already stressful and oppressive process for all who are reassigned.