Prologue: Most of the teachers I work with are downright amazing. Just like in the classroom, however, it's the small minority that requires the most energy and for whom I lose the most sleep. Yes, I lose sleep over teachers now. It's funny how that hasn't really changed. This post is for that small minority...though everyone is welcome to read too.
"TOSA's are People Too"
It seems like such an obvious statement, but it seems to bear repeating. TOSA's are people too. If you say mean things to us or about us, we might cry. (My skin is much thinner than I'd like to admit.) If you poke us, we do bleed. We get fevers and the pukey flu like everyone else. We are bound by the same laws of physics, which means that we can exist in only one place at a time and are still bound by the same 24-hour day as everyone else. Seems obvious, right? I thought so...
We work for 600+ teachers and administrators across our district, spread across 20 schools. Our calendars are not really our own and we don't always get to control where we go or when. We're not sitting in the office waiting for your phone call or anxiously checking and re-checking our email waiting for a new message. Contrary to the beliefs of some, we work just as many hours as our classroom teacher colleagues. Yes, there is sometimes more flexibility in those hours because we don't have bells governing our lives. I'd trade that to be master of my own room again, though. Heck, I'm not even master of my own office! I share it with three other awesome TOSA's who probably wish I could reign in all of my science stuff that seems to multiply daily. All that to say, like you, we are busy.
I am the popular one who pulls teachers out of their classrooms for full-day trainings. (Can you read the sarcasm there?) I try to make those trainings as upbeat and interactive as possible. We have a job to do (move forward towards NGSS implementation) and professional development is part of the puzzle. Most teachers take it in stride and make the best of it (see the prologue above), but there's always at least one in the group that chooses otherwise. Last week, it was a teacher who spent at least 20 minutes standing on the side of the room typing on their laptop with their back to me...during the training. That would never fly in your classroom...so why is it okay to do in a district training?
So, we plead for the same patience you desire from your own administrator and colleagues. We do crave feedback on our practice. After all, we chose this job because we wanted to help other teachers grow. Please just make sure that the feedback is "humane and growth-producing" as the awesome Jennifer Abrams would say. And remember that it doesn't hurt to say "thank you" just as you would expect your students to say. It goes a long way. And don't forget that we lose sleep over you...
Love, Your hardworking TOSA