My co-worker, who was also not being renewed, called this year's parent/teacher conferences the gallows. I can attest to that. While I know that most of the teachers support me, every time one of them laughs or looks in my direction, I can't help but feel animosity towards the individual. The worst part is that it has been me in years past: tentative layoff notices have always come before spring conferences. I now know the lonely feeling that those other professionals had while sitting in the gym with all of their soon-to-be former co-workers.
Keep in mind that I have usually avoided a lot of conversation at conferences. I liked to get some work done. However, I never figured my short conversations and smiles were poisoning someone else's world. Teaching, especially in Wisconsin since I've gotten into it, must be the worst for the lame duck issues in employee termination. My first staff meeting was uncomfortable for myself and others around me, most of whom do not know how well regarded I am in my own department. Their assumption must be that I did something wrong. In a lot of ways, looking at all their happy faces, my own assumption is that I did something wrong.
I was never Mr. Popularity at staff events, but even those old timers from Sulphur Creek tend to avoid eye contact when they have to see their own potential demises through another's experiences. My friend Casey asked how they can even do this to me: guaranty I won't be around next year and make me finish out the year. I guess it gives me a chance to look, but every meeting, party, or glance is another nail in the coffin, judgement in the courtroom, or walk across the gallows.
I think I should have called in sick on the day of the first staff meeting after the layoff notice. My co-worker did, and that's why he called conferences the gallows. I do not want to call in sick every day and look unprofessional, even if I was laid off in an unprofessional way, but missing some of the bigger events and meetings seems appropriate. I'd also advise not looking. As I type or talk to parents, I forget about what's going on around me. That's better than looking up to see two first-year teachers (and survivors) from my department hamming it up two rows ahead of me.