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Sabbatical – one rule

July 22, 2014 am31 11:14 am

But one decision, one rule, I kept. Almost. I decided not to go into my school.

When my sabbatical was approved, May of 2013, I had to make some decisions about the school year that just passed.

I chose an institution to take courses, and then I changed, and then I partially changed again. And I changed classes along the way. They were still, mostly, graduate level math classes. Just not the ones I had originally planned on, nor at the institution I had thought was perfect.

I decided to travel every other weekend. And while I did travel, and a lot, it wasn’t close to every other weekend.

I decided to visit schools and watch math classes. I figured I would get to 2 or 3 dozen. The visits were harder to arrange than I thought, and I ended up visiting fewer than 20 schools.

But one decision, one rule, I kept. Almost. I decided not to go into my school. Not to drop by. Not to say hi. Not to speak to a chapter meeting. Not to discuss administrative items with my principal. Never.

I cleaned out my personal items on June 26, 2013, so I wouldn’t have an excuse to “just drop by” for something.

There was excitement (not in the positive sense of the word) over the new evaluation system. Teachers wanted my input. They got it via e-mail. Or in person in bars or restaurants. I wasn’t going in.

The principal occasionally wrote to me, apologetically asking a question. He knew I was really disconnecting. He did not ask me to come in.

This winter a student was making a documentary film for class about specialized high school admissions (my school is a specialized high school.) Several of the teachers in my school worked on a UFT committee (organized by VP Janella Hinds) examining ways to improve specialized high school admissions – and I co-chaired the committee. And he wanted to interview me, and I wanted to grant the interview. But I arranged it in a college library, close to our school. I wasn’t going in.

My principal received papers, important to my sabbatical (eventually) and offered them to me if I dropped by. I asked him to hold on to them. I wasn’t going in.

I was really, really good.

And then the new contract proposal hit in May. And one of the co-acting-chapter leaders asked me to come in. I declined. And then another chapter member. And then another. And when I had my fifth request, from a chapter of just 25, I broke down. May 23, I came in and ran two Chapter meetings. And then I met with my designee and the principal about possible schedule options, assuming the contract went through. June 2 I came back, ran an after school chapter meeting to discuss schedule options. And while I’ve been in touch, at a distance, I did stop by twice after school ended – once to follow up on some questions, and once to collect copies of sabbatical-related material (I’m turning in my sabbatical papers today).

I guess this rule, not going in, this one rule was a really good one, as long as I kept it. Once I broke it once, it kind of broke down.


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