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  #21  
Old 12-09-2012, 09:21 AM
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Milsey Milsey is offline
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Um, this AP is bullying you. I would bring the union rep. to your observation conference. Please don't give up. Keep working hard and making improvements - so you can show how you've improved at the next conference. Just coming in every day on time sends a message that you care about your job.
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  #22  
Old 12-09-2012, 01:03 PM
cometclear cometclear is offline
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Well, I went in and re-arranged my classroom again yesterday, breaking the students up into small groups of 3-4 and scattering them around the room as best I could. Then I re-wrote my rules again to clarify them and set a consequence policy where they only get 3 strikes for the week. The most disruptive, hot-headed student in that class gave me flack for it, but the rest were ok. In my 2 other classes, the students blew up and said they couldn't possibly comply with such a harsh policy and it started a lot of arguing, but I just kept plowing through with a bunch of yelling.

I got observed today. The kids were pretty well behaved in there. I still don't know how I scored, but I anticipate it was poorly. This was not the lesson I'd originally planned to teach for my observation (that was a week ago, when he called in sick and told me "just do that lesson next week" on 5 minutes notice--it wouldn't work out of sequence, anyway).

The only thing the AP would tell me was that I clearly didn't plan (I've been planning for days and was up until 4:30 revising it yet again, but the students were so lost on one bit of the lesson that I couldn't even get to the last 3/4) and that I clearly didn't care about my job because that was the most boring thing he'd ever seen. He said he knew some ways I could fix it, but when I asked for feedback, all he said was "be more entertaining."

If I still have a job in January, I guess I need to become a master entertainer who makes every lesson something that keeps the kids excited and rolling in the aisles with laughter and glee every minute of every day, all while constantly citing specific state standards and moving them into different groupings at least 3 times. That is what our state says I must do just to be considered "solid," though still not worthy of tenure, along with 4%+ improvement on their test scores and overall growth of 4%+ on the schoolwide scores.

I honestly feel like I made a horrible mistake by going into teaching.
Maybe you have, maybe you haven't, but your assistant principal is a certifiable idiot. Understand that so you don't put any stock in his "evaluation" of you. You were put in a tough situation and it didn't go as well as planned. Big deal. Very few of us would want to be evaluated based upon 45 minutes out of one day out of an entire quarter's, semester's or year's worth of work. It's an asinine method of assessing someone's job performance. I cannot think of another profession or occupation in which an employee is evaluated on such a miniscule sample.

The fact that you care about these things, the fact that you spent as much time as you did going over this lesson, tells me you're reflective. There are many teachers who are not. The truth of the matter is that, in all likelihood, you are dealing with these conflicts because your expectations of the students are higher than that of many of your colleagues. I've encountered this before. Frankly, I no longer like being told I'm some student's "favorite teacher." Many students will resent teachers who do expect them to behave in ways that other adults do not.

Just my two cents on the part about "dumbing down" the assignments. Instead of giving them these types of assignments, have them read/watch something and tell them beforehand that they will be quizzed on what they read/watched. This helps you in a couple ways:

a. Unless these kids are completely uninterested in their grades, they will take a quiz or test more seriously than an assignment. If they don't care, they won't care about completing an assignment, either.

b. I don't know your school's policy on missing assignments, but if they don't complete the assignment and you have to make sure they complete it, it creates more headaches for you. If you instead use quizzes, you know you will have those grades and you have less babysitting to do afterwards.

Try that for awhile. For the kids who consistently do well on quizzes, give them the opportunity to work on individual projects of their choosing instead of having to take daily quizzes.
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  #23  
Old 12-12-2012, 02:48 AM
FlavioSousa FlavioSousa is offline
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No, you didn't make a mistake by becoming a teacher. It's perfectly normal to feel insecure and even experienced teachers go through a lot of stress. Moreover your AP is obviously an idiot (mine was much worse) and that doesn't help either.

I started teaching three years ago, it was tough but my second year was infinitely better. I learnt in these years that empathy is the key to controlling a class of wild teenagers (and believe, mine come from the local slums and are as wild as they get). Rewards and penalty systems are important but don't expect to control an entire class based on that alone. Empathy is the real key.

Having said that, keeping your distance is just as important. Your students are not your friends, they are your co-workers. This is a professional relationship, it should remain that way and that's what kids really want. If you keep that in mind and do a good job, your kids will respect you.

That's the beauty of our profession, I guess. The teacher-student relationship is entirely unique and somewhere between friendship and work.

A few more tips: knowing your students (their likes, dislikes, family background) is essential; adjust your expectations, not all classes are the same and there's nothing we can do to change that; try to find topics and subjects that will appeal to young kids (bullying, celebrities, music, etc); be fair and treat everyone the same way, teacher's pets are the road to disaster.

Good luck and be strong! The fact that you come to this forum shows that you care about your work and this alone makes you a much better professional than most teachers today.
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  #24  
Old 12-12-2012, 03:12 AM
FlavioSousa FlavioSousa is offline
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Then I re-wrote my rules again to clarify them and set a consequence policy where they only get 3 strikes for the week.
I also establish a set of rules in the beginning of the school year - the seven rules, as I like to call them. They will ignore most of them, of course, but I always go through this ritual every year and make them write down these simple rules. It's worth it and everytime they open their notebooks they will see them.

The seventh rule is extremely important, something like 'always help your colleagues' (not sure about the english translation). This sends them a very important message and they sure get it: I will be tough but fair as well.

Another tip: always listen to your students' opinions, no matter how brutal, but never ask them for those opinions - that would be a sign of weakness and they would think you don't know what you're doing. And never take it personally if a student makes a negative remark, it's the authoritative figure he's criticising not you.
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  #25  
Old 12-12-2012, 05:27 PM
Newb Newb is offline
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Thanks everybody.

For those who asked earlier, I'm teaching 9th grade English. Our school fills the classes by ability, so I have two "Inclusion" classes featuring the lowest ability/behavioral problem students, then a 3rd class featuring the remainder of the low-scoring Gen. Ed. students who didn't get put in with the Inclusion kids.

I finally got to sit down with my AP and go over the evaluation score. I guess he was in a slightly better mood. He said my discipline was better than it had been, but he wasn't looking at that in this evaluation. He said that the kids were clearly confused (no argument, it was a new concept--I was teaching inductive and deductive logic) and this was my fault.

He then spent most of the conference telling me how kids should never be confused because that's means I'm not doing my job, the exact words I should have used to introduce each concept, and that I should put them in groups whenever possible. I've tried this--despite going over expectations with them multiple times, they still think group work=free day and won't even stay in their seats.

He didn't threaten to fire me in that meeting, but he gave me a "2" after saying I needed a "3" to be secure in my job. If I'm back next semester, I get observed 4 more times, unannounced. That's what the state says.

In my state, the union rep has no power at all. I'm a member for the insurance in case I get sued, but that's about all they're good for.
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  #26  
Old 12-12-2012, 05:42 PM
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Furthuron Furthuron is offline
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Middle School English teacher
Quote:
Originally Posted by FlavioSousa View Post
No, you didn't make a mistake by becoming a teacher. It's perfectly normal to feel insecure and even experienced teachers go through a lot of stress. Moreover your AP is obviously an idiot (mine was much worse) and that doesn't help either.

I started teaching three years ago, it was tough but my second year was infinitely better. I learnt in these years that empathy is the key to controlling a class of wild teenagers (and believe, mine come from the local slums and are as wild as they get). Rewards and penalty systems are important but don't expect to control an entire class based on that alone. Empathy is the real key.

Having said that, keeping your distance is just as important. Your students are not your friends, they are your co-workers. This is a professional relationship, it should remain that way and that's what kids really want. If you keep that in mind and do a good job, your kids will respect you.

That's the beauty of our profession, I guess. The teacher-student relationship is entirely unique and somewhere between friendship and work.

A few more tips: knowing your students (their likes, dislikes, family background) is essential; adjust your expectations, not all classes are the same and there's nothing we can do to change that; try to find topics and subjects that will appeal to young kids (bullying, celebrities, music, etc); be fair and treat everyone the same way, teacher's pets are the road to disaster.

Good luck and be strong! The fact that you come to this forum shows that you care about your work and this alone makes you a much better professional than most teachers today.
I was reading over all this thinking the same thing. I was in a situation similar to yours in my first teaching job (although I did have MUCH better administrators). Building rapport with the students is so important, and it can take a long time with a difficult group. Start small, and be consistent. It may seem like it's not working, but that doesn't mean it won't.

It's harder partway through the year, though. Have you tried having a heart-to-heart talk with your classes? Have you tried meeting with individual kids with their parents and/or a counselor? Showing them you care and aren't out to get them makes a big difference in how they perceive you. Unfortunately, some will just always hate you and disrespect you because they probably don't like or respect themselves much, but you can get a few. Try to see what's inside their heads/hearts as much as you can, and try to talk to kids individually, even if it's just a quick, "How did your game go last night?" It means the world to them. If you can, try it with the ones who lead the bandwagon. I remember telling one particularly difficult class once, "You guys know I absolutely adore you, but you're driving me crazy today" in a really sweet voice. The kids were like, "Awww... You like us?" At the time, I really didn't (they were the class from hell), but they didn't need to know that.

They know they're getting under your skin, and they are probably just waiting for you to give up and cry/quit/etc. Don't give them the satisfaction! Instead, turn it around on them: sweet as sugar, tough as nails. I had a class ask me to give up on them (same one I just talked about above), and I just said, "Nope, sorry, you're stuck with me." It took months, but they came around.

Don't give up. There's much more to teaching than this unfortunate experience.
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