should I just quit?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Kenz501, Dec 2, 2017.

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  1. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    Dec 8, 2017

    I don't think it's so much "woe is me." Maybe it's more like "how am I supposed to do this?" I really am asking. Why does everyone have to be so vague? Sorry, but I'm really not that comfortable with teaching myself. College was the place where I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out what I wanted to be. I finally settled on "teacher," because I thought I would learn how to teach myself while learning how to teach other people. I imagined a program that was much more structured than what I got. I don't why being frustrated and not knowing how to do something translates as "lazy" to some people. I do avoid asking for help too much where I work. I think I get that people think I should be able to muddle along, make a fool of myself, and "reinvent the wheel" enough times to figure it out, but I don't really like that idea.

    My students are expecting a skilled professional, and I do think their misbehavior is partially because I'm not that professional. I'm also pretty disappointed in myself. I mean, I have a bachelor's in English / Language Arts and Secondary Education, a master's in Education with a concentration on ESL teaching, and a license to teach kids in kindergarten through twelfth grade, and I'm honestly not doing much better than a long-term sub; I'm probably doing worse, and I've already explained why, haven't I? How is any of this laziness rather than a desire to be able to do my job correctly?
     
  2. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    No offense, but you are talking about ESL teaching aren't you, and isn't that easier to teach than English, because it's structured like a foreign language class, and the objectives are far less complex?
     
  3. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    I guess I will eventually figure it out, but it's just frustrating to fail when I know that I don't really have to. I feel like I could start to grasp this a whole lot more quickly if someone would just show me what to do. Teaching Language Arts is different than teaching other subjects, or at least that's the way I'm looking at it.

    Well, here's a list of things I've figured out from trial and error and helpful advice so far...

    Keep grades in a physical grade book; don't just enter them into the computer.
    That way, if there's an error or if the computer erases the grades, I'll have a copy of what I need to re-enter, and I won't lose the grades.

    Give short assignments.

    Short assignments of about 5-10 questions help me gauge where the students are and are quicker and easier to grade. I can usually return these short assignments within the same class period.

    Use labeled morning work to keep track of attendance.
    I've gotten into the habit of handing out a short assignment, no more than five to ten questions, labeled with their names, ready for them on their desks when they come in. That way, they have a reason to sit down quietly and start working immediately. I also have a very good way to keep track of absent or tardy students.

    Here's what I think I need to work on...

    Lessons

    I have a tendency to try to teach directly from the textbook and not even focus on the standards I'm supposed to cover. I'm not always sure what the standards are even though I've gotten all kinds of help with this. There's still this disconnect; I'm not sure how to translate these requirements into an engaging lesson.

    The temptation for me is to try to teach each individual standard as a separate lesson so that I know that I covered them all, but I know that doesn't work. The standards are meant to go along with other material, and some are so broad that it's impossible to cover them in a stand-alone lesson. Why can't I just have something that tells me which materials to pair with which standards and how to do so?

    Lesson Planning
    I'm not great at planning my lessons very far ahead. I've expressed concern about this, because if I don't know what I'm doing, I can't communicate to others who need to know for the benefit of the kids--parents, special education teachers, ESL teachers, etc. Usually, I just plan from week to week. This isn't how an effective teacher works, is it?

    Also, I sometimes draw out my lessons and make them longer than necessary in an effort to just keep the kids busy, because I don't know where I'm going next. The textbook covers a lot of things in each lesson, and I've been told not to try to cover everything in the textbook, but I often feel like I don't know what to cover.

    Classroom Management
    First of all, I think it's ridiculous that my students would rather have social time and talk the minutes away instead of paying attention in class. Maybe I could understand if we were back in the 90's, where it was more difficult to reach out and touch someone, but nowadays all you have to do is friend them on Facebook and strike up a live video chat. I really don't get the fascination. I understand why I was fascinated with connecting with people in person when I was a young teenager, but what's the issue with kids today? They can literally stay in touch 24/7, so what's the problem? Just ask for someone's email address or Facebook nickname and catch up with them at an appropriate time! They can actually do that now, you know. It's not like they have to go through the potentially awkward process of asking for someone's phone number or anything! They even have a school email account with everyone's email address. It's not like they have to choose between paying attention in class and socializing with each other, like I felt like I had to do when I was around their age! Since I didn't want to embarrass myself by asking for a phone number when I was a kid, in person was the only way I had to socialize. I didn't have the option of looking in the yearbook, typing in a full name and location, and sending a friend request!

    Anyway, though, since for some mysterious reason it's STILL important to them to socialize when they are in my class, I need to be able to provide them incentive for not doing it, and I haven't been doing that well. I called a kid's parents, and he walked up to my desk and told me with such sincerity that he didn't do anything! I don't get it. I feel like I should at least entertain the possibility that the kid didn't think he was doing anything wrong, but come on! How many times do I need to explain the classroom rules? I've printed them out and handed them to them, and I've told them to them over and over and over again! I don't get it, and I also feel at least a little sorry for myself. Why are we even enemies? Part of why I became a teacher was to fight against what I felt was an unfair system that actually hurt certain children. The more I see of the classroom, though, the more I think that unfair system, if it was even there to begin with, was dismantled long before I showed up. Now, honestly, I sometimes feel like the kids have too much power. I didn't put up with such coldness from my peers in school only to have to continue to put up with this attitude from children as an adult. There has to be some point where I become the competent one who gets some respect, right?

     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2017
  4. CharRMS

    CharRMS Companion

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    Dec 8, 2017

    You don't have to fail. You have been given numerous pieces of advice in this thread to help you. If you feel like you didn't learn all you needed to know in your program, then get online and search for information, ask a veteran teacher to observe his/her classroom during your planning time, find professional development you can attend or complete, do something to help you become better. You should never stop learning, finding new information, and developing as a professional.

    You said you don't have someone to show you what to do. Did you have a student teaching placement or observations you had to do during your program? That is where you should have had someone to help show you the ropes and let you have practice teaching under guidance.

    Teaching ELA is a little different, but you can still use some of the same strategies that you have mentioned above. Below is a starting point on making sure that you cover the standards and have a prepared lesson based on your standards.

    Start with your state standards. Choose one standard that you are focusing on. If I remember correctly, you are teaching middle school in Texas. Here is the link I found when I searched for Texas ELA standards. http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/rules/tac/chapter110/ch110b.html

    I'm going to look at standard 6.a

    Students are expected to:

    (A) summarize the elements of plot development (e.g., rising action, turning point, climax, falling action, denouement) in various works of fiction;

    1. Turn this into an I can statement. " I can summarize the elements of plot development.".
    2. Choose how you are going to teach this and with what text. I use Seventh Grade by Gary De Soto and a Pixar short film.
    3. Give the kids notes with short examples.
    4. Read a story with them and help them pick out the plot structure in the story.
    5. Give them individual or even group practice picking out plot structure.
    6. After you feel like they have a good grasp on the standard, give them a quiz on plot structure and see what they have learned.
    7. Then, have an activity for them to do if they didn't catch on the first time that could help bost their skills.
    8. Move on to the next standard. Find the standard that builds off of standard 6.a and start the process again.

    This above is implementing part of the "I do, We do, You do".

    Always start with your standard and your texts. Then decide what activity you are going to do with the students and what you will have them do to practice the standard. This is a starting point to make sure that you are covering the skills and standards that you should be meeting as a teacher. When it doubt on what to teach, go back to the standards and look. Then, take the standard and turn to Google or Teachers Pay Teachers and see what you can find to teach that standard.

    Always be a learner.
     
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  5. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Dec 8, 2017

    Your students deserve more than what you are delivering. You are doing a disservice to them.
     
  6. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    Dec 8, 2017

    That's basically what I said, isn't it?
     
  7. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    I guess I'll look again and see if I can make sense out of it.
     
  8. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    Dec 8, 2017

    I've made slight improvements. I just haven't improved as much as I would like.
     
  9. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    No, not easier to teach than English. It is incorporating English Language instruction using whatever proficiency the student has gained in ELA content through their L1. IMHO, most ESL students are less proficient in ELA in their L1, so I would compare it more to teaching English (ELA) using SPED methods for the most part. The test you can take to become ESL proficient in states like Texas pale in comparison to programs that require more than 2/3 of a master's, and many of us have, in fact, completed our MEd. in ESL because it is complex..
    Just as you are unsure why people won't help you, we are unsure why you keep wanting others to help you when you seem, in your posts, to want others to do all of the work for you. That is the "woe is me" part that gets old. If everything that has been offered as help seems vague to you then you got taken by the school that was supposed to get you ready to teach. You never seem to try any of the suggestions given, you want your colleagues to give you their "system" and expertise, but you never seem to take their hints or directions and build on that. What makes you think that many of us haven't "reinvented the wheel" in our own efforts to become better teachers? Learning by doing, by picking ourselves up after failing, is a time honored way to acquire life lessons.

    I have suggested getting help from organizations that deal with people who struggle with ASD. Not once have you mentioned contacting these resources in an attempt to effectively deal with your perceived ASD deficits. Am I supposed to write the emails, contact people who might be able to help you, and follow their suggestions for you as well? Where is your effort in this sequence? The fact that I haven't done all of this FOR you brings the lament that I have been "vague." There was nothing vague about any of my suggestions, but your inaction is turned on me, since I didn't "teach" or "cure" your problem. Hence the "woe is me" that I refer to. I'm sorry that you don't want to invest the effort to learn. People on the spectrum NEED to find ways to learn, and that isn't something I can give you - it is an individual process for every person on the spectrum.

    You have clearly stated what you want - canned curriculum - but you haven't told us how you think you are going to be able to "unpack" that knowledge and incorporate it in your classes. My overwhelming feeling is that owning the curriculum is just the first step in requiring more "help" and guidance. I think it won't stop until someone else is, essentially, doing your job for you. At no point do I believe that you will roll up your sleeves and work like the dickens to understand and find ways to make the curriculum work "for you." The lessons we learn the best are the ones where we learn from our mistakes, and that is true whether or not you are on the spectrum.

    I would suggest taking some of the same questions that you ask over and over on the forums to the staff of the university you attended. They took your money, they should be able to explain what they believe your responsibility in the learning process is, and you do have a responsibility in learning that goes beyond begging others to give you ready made lesson plans and a total curriculum.

    You have, over and over, made it perfectly clear that you don't feel like you are qualified to teach your content area unless being held up by other teacher, spoon fed every step along the way. I find that very sad, and I do pity you because you can't see where your effort in learning is expected and necessary. But if I was a coworker being asked to teach the teacher and provide the curriculum, step by step, I would be pulling back and vague, too, because otherwise I can imagine doing your work, day in and day out, for as long as we are colleagues; I would resent doing my work and yours as well..

    None of this is hateful, but since you need things spelled out explicitly, I am stating the truth from a colleagues perspective. You seem to be all about taking and needing. If I was your colleague I would become resentful that you want everyone to do your work while you don't seem to bring anything to the table to lighten our load.
    The reality is that maybe you DO have to suffer through some failure to truly appreciate success. Maybe you need to fail to understand the suggestions that others have offered here, gained through their own trials and tribulations. None of us gets this stuff "for free". You are wanting to bypass that potential of failing, jumping directly to success and accolades. If you can't appreciate that your co-workers only arrived at the point of "success" by failing along the way, you will never understand why they may be intentionally vague. Your colleagues may offer breadcrumbs to follow, but they will continue to put emphasis on "authentic learning", which will include some failure along the way.

    Try seeing this through their eyes, and you may start to see why no one is handing you canned curriculum.. Sometimes we pay with our efforts, learn from our mistakes, and grow from our failures. I suspect you may need to be in touch with ASD specialists to understand the process, but I think it would make your life more productive in the long run.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2017
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  10. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    Maybe you are right, but it just seems strange to me. When I was a student in K-12, I never saw failing as a route to success, and in college, I was encouraged to drop the courses that I wasn't doing well in if they were difficult to understand, even if it would mean graduating later. The idea of learning through failure to do a job that I should already know how to do because supposedly I've been trained, is new to me, and I feel like it won't really lead to gains.

    What you are telling me isn't much different than what I was told by my colleagues at that youth center. I STILL never really learned how to do the job successfully, though, at least not as far as I was concerned. I don't think just staying and "gaining experience" will help me learn the job; it didn't the last time--I worked there for around two years and I don't think I learned very much, and as far as me not "bringing anything to the table," I could if the system were different, if we were all encouraged to share with each other, but I'm aware that I'm the only one who needs anything in most of this. I can't get people to see things my way and do what I think would benefit me, because the way things are works for them.

    Yes, I do think the college I graduated from did me a disservice. The program focused on content knowledge and general education; they didn't really go in depth with how to teach my specific subject, and that's what I wanted. I know I did student teaching, but I was under prepared even though I tried hard, and my cooperating teacher went really easy on me. I probably didn't benefit much from that.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2017
  11. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    Still, though, I feel like if I were anyone else, like someone who knew how to communicate a little better, I probably would have figured out a way to explain my problem in a way that the other teachers would understand. I mean, usually when people say that they have no idea what they are doing, they get help, and it's not a big deal. I seem to be one of the few who ask and am greeted by scowls, gruff voices, or "you should have learned that in college."

    Either that, or we would have figured out that my college really did do me a disservice and I should be griping to them.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2017
  12. Always__Learning

    Always__Learning Comrade

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    I don't think your college did you a disservice. Colleges are set up to move you along a continuum towards more skills. It sounds like they did do this but that you came in lacking many skills a student would be expected to have. They can only move you along so far if you come in lacking things like organization skills, the ability to be comfortable standing near a student, etc.

    You should have learned that in college doesn't mean you should have been taught that in college. It means during your college years you should have recognized for yourself what you needed to learn and sought out those learning opportunities. For example, if you didn't spend a lot of time formally on classroom management I would have been seeking out learning (as I did during my degree), reading a lot, visiting multiple classrooms during my practicum, asking very specific questions of colleagues, etc. Having a degree doesn't mean you will get a job and it does not mean you will be successful in the role if you do get a job. It is the minimum standard.
     
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  13. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    Ideally, a good teacher education program should cover these areas: communication with students, colleagues, and parents (scripted by situation, step-by-step), how to teach the state standards (again, step-by-step and formulaic, not just "here are some resources--have fun! I would like a guide for every standard, every lesson, with the textbook and without it. I don't have time to dream up lesson plans when I'm actually working), how to communicate with special education and support staff, how to keep track of student needs to make accurate reports, how to effectively run a classroom (again, step-by-step procedures, not something vague, like "set your expectations and stick to them.") I didn't get that.

    Instead, I got a program that left a lot of things up to me, and I've never done this before. They loaded me with content knowledge, independent of the standards I was expected to teach, and then they gave me the education part as a collection of vague theories. I never learned a specific technique just to get an idea of how the techniques work!
     
  14. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    If you acted like this in person, I would greet you with a scowl and a gruff voice also.
     
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  15. Kenz501

    Kenz501 Cohort

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    The minimum standard should at least mean that I can do the job, though; otherwise, what's the point of earning the degree? What does it prove if it doesn't prove that I can do the job successfully?
     
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