Contracted teacher, but this school is tougher. What do I do?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by LittleShakespeare, Oct 12, 2017.

  1. LittleShakespeare

    LittleShakespeare Rookie

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    Oct 12, 2017

    This is my third week at my new school. I'm a contracted teacher now, so I know that I should be grateful. At my old school, I was only a long-term sub making $120 a day and treated like garbage by a majority of the contracted staff members. One of them actually told me to go back to my country. Now I am contracted with benefits, so life has been easier. My anxiety is under control. I have an 80 minute prep period, and I don't have to take work home. I don't have a panic attack in the morning before school. My nights are spent reading Shakespeare and Vonnegut, whom I love. But I am having a hard time.

    I work with a largely Hispanic community from low-income homes. I am a ninth grade ELA teacher with a block schedule. These kids are tougher than my old district. Not only are they rambunctious and loud, but they're really intrusive. One of them asked me if I was a virgin on my first day of school.

    I know that I'm still so new to be complaining about my job. I DON'T HATE MY JOB. I DON'T HATE THIS SCHOOL. Please don't misunderstand me and say that I should find a new district or quit teaching altogether. People sometimes have normal frustrations at work.

    I'm just not sure how I can bring my passion for books to these kids. I've been told that I'm too nice, but when I'm more firm, the kids act out more. I'm not sure what to do.
     
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  3. miss-m

    miss-m Cohort

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    Oct 12, 2017

    Firm doesn’t equal mean; kids act up when you crack down because they’re testing you. Stick to what you say consistently - it may be weeks or months for some of them - and it will improve.

    Find out what interests and motivates them. It might not be Shakespeare and that’s ok; link it back to what they’re interested in.

    I’m glad your anxiety has improved! That will make it a lot easier to build relationships with your students.
     
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  4. RWorld1

    RWorld1 Rookie

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    Oct 12, 2017

    That sounds tough for sure.

    One thing I can assure you is that it will get easier. The first year was the worst for me because it all felt new. I used to get really nervous to the point I'd often go into staff toilets, lock myself in a cubicle and try to boost myself up by taking a few really deep breaths and reminding myself that I can do it and why I'm in the profession.

    I know that sounds crazy, but I know the feeling of nerves. Stick through it and my motto is as long as you're giving it your best shot don't worry about anything else - because it will get easier.

    The one thing which matters more than anything in my opinion is setting the tone at the beginning of each class. The first few minutes matter. If you can get that down well for a few lessons in a row I find the class will behave far better.

    Check out some stuff on classroom management. I remember being told a really good book. I can;t remember it off the top of my head but I'll try hunt down the title for you.

    Good luck :)
     
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  5. rpan

    rpan Comrade

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    Oct 12, 2017

    I'm happy your anxiety is under control.

    I think perhaps changing the pedagogy may help. Many of your kids may not see the relevance of what they are learning and are disengaged. So perhaps you could change the way you present Shakespeare to them, have them watch or act screen adaptation, or rewrite certain acts, even make it into a song etc. to reflect modern times and modern happenings etc. Help them to relate it to themselves. An engaged classroom is a proactive classroom and behaviour management strategy.
     
  6. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Connoisseur

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    Oct 14, 2017

    First of all... they're freshmen (yuck!) :rofl:
    I'm taking a secondary adolescent ed class RIGHT NOW where I'm learning all kinds of interesting things...
    1. You HAVE to relate the books, content, and themes to the kids' lives. It's the ONLY way they'll get hooked... Who cares about Shakespeare when I'm instagramming? How can you make the connection?
    2. Try graphic novels? I had never even heard of them before taking this class, and now I LOVE them! One of the assignments was to find and read graphic novels / multi media type texts and I discovered the book March: book 3, by John Lewis and am absolutely in love with the medium.
    3. Try pairing contemporary literature w/ "new'' literature as a way to pique the students' interest and comprehension; many students can't read and comprehend the text well enough to appreciate it, but many teachers refuse to do anything other than read the classics. The students suffer.
    4. Build relationships with the kids and find out more about their interests and lives. What do they like to read? And appreciate that ALL reading IS reading... even if it's FB posts, blogs, etc.
    5. Have a classroom library and/or be able to recommend many types of books (above and below grade level,) with a variety of content to reach all readers.
    6. Make the reading and assignments more engaging beyond writing paragraphs and book reports (it's the point of the class I'm taking.)

    If you want, I can try to send you the course syllabus so you can see some of the kinds of things I'm doing in the class that might help you in yours. Many of my classmates ARE HS English teachers and they seem to work in their classrooms.

    :)
     
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  7. LittleShakespeare

    LittleShakespeare Rookie

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    Oct 17, 2017

    I've had freshmen before, and they were NOTHING like this. These freshmen are lazy, disrespectful, and rude. At least at my other school, the kids were nicer. They would say "thank you" and smile. Here, they demand food from me on a daily basis because I brought them Halloween candy once. The first thing they say when I appear through the door: "Did you bring us food? Where's the candy?" What's worse is that I've had students constantly ask me if I'm a virgin and how many men I've been with. I've written them up and called home, but it's not like their parents do anything. Their parents cannot even speak English. Luckily I am fluent in Spanish, but nothing happens.

    I don't dread coming to school every day like I did at my old school, but I think that was because I had five preps. Here I have three preps, but the kids are terrible.
     
  8. LittleShakespeare

    LittleShakespeare Rookie

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    Oct 17, 2017

    I really appreciate all your feedback, everybody. I'm just having a bad day, and I know I'm going to regret this much later when I have users tell me that I'm not cut out for teaching and that I should consider other dreams since I "complain" so much. Trust me, it's happened before. :p
     
  9. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Oct 17, 2017

    It sounds like you're being incredibly PROactive instead of REactive. That should make all the difference in this new position.
     
  10. LittleShakespeare

    LittleShakespeare Rookie

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    What do you mean? Is that good? Because I feel like I'm screwing up. :(
     
  11. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Oct 17, 2017

    You're ahead of what could possibly go wrong, you're seeing what COULD happen, and you're taking steps to make sure the worst doesn't happen. It sounds like you need ways to shut down intrusive comments / questions that are aimed to undermine your control of the lesson. Is that correct?
     
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  12. Backroads

    Backroads Enthusiast

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    Oct 17, 2017

    Today it dawned on me that my Tough Kiddo this year has improved, somewhat dramatically, since the beginning of the year.

    You will see results!
     
  13. LittleShakespeare

    LittleShakespeare Rookie

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    Thank you. I suppose so. :( I want to talk about literature, not my exes. They're just a bit nosy.
     
  14. vickilyn

    vickilyn Virtuoso

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    Oct 17, 2017

    Students may always be curious, which is why I refuse to answer some questions. I am cautious about how much of myself I am willing to give access to, since you never know how that information will be used. It is also the reason that my social media is locked down tight.
     
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  15. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Comrade

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    MY answer to any personal questions is "Okay, problem #3 on today's worksheet...."
     
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  16. LittleShakespeare

    LittleShakespeare Rookie

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    I know! Seriously. I would never even have that conversation with them! It's despicable. I'm dealing with some rough kids at this district.
     
  17. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Oct 18, 2017

    This is my advice, that I can give based on the last 5 years of working with alternative ed, high risk high schoolers. This year I'm having a hard time with one class. I haven't had this much trouble for 3 years. It seems that my hard work has paid off and for the past 2 weeks they've been pretty good, and then today and yesterday went back to pretty bad (although not as bad as before). So I am thinking about my advice all day, every day lol.

    - kids will test you and see how far they can go. You need to stop all unwanted behavior right away. Asking you if you're a virgin? Let the kid know this is extremely inappropriate and you could write them up for sexual harassment, but you will let it go this one time, as long as they can learn from this, etc.
    - you have to be consistently strict from the getgo. You can lighten up in a couple of weeks. I have a lot of fun with my other classes, some more than others, depending on their personality, but if kids are generally rude and disrespectful, put the fun aside.
    - look at the leader. Get rid of them. What I mean is look a who seems to lead the kids, the others feed off of him / her, and this kid can be pretty invisible. Once I got one kid under control (finally got to talk to the mom and she handled it) the class improved by 50 %. Sometimes you might have ore than kid. isolate them and come down hard on them. Write them up, kick them out, follow up. Do it fairly, but strictly and consistently.
    - I don't really care if they kids like what we're doing. I know teachers always say your lessons should be engaging, and you have to have them to by in, but I don't care. Kids will complain no matter what, and say your lessons are boring. I stopped listening. Life is not about what they want. I'm the teacher, I decide what I teach, they're the students, and they follow. In college you can't complain to your professor that you don't like the book you're reading or the assignment. My attitude about this has cut down a lot of complaints over the years.
    - this leads me to my next point. Don't try to please the so much. Yes, you want them to respect you and you will get it by being courteous, respectful, consistent and fair. But don't try to win them over and care if they like you.
     
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