2nd year teacher needing help, please!

Discussion in 'General Education' started by bcs, Jul 6, 2013.

  1. bcs

    bcs Rookie

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    Jul 6, 2013

    I know this will be long, but I'm desperate. I don't know what to do anymore. I began teaching my first year in the middle of September last year. I was given a very difficult class, and it was my first time teaching, much less inner city children who had incredibly low test scores and VERY poor behaviors. I was given the class with no prior warning, and my requests for a mentor teacher were never honored. I was told by others to watch who I talked to, because many teachers in the school simply wanted to see the new ones fall on their faces. I didn't ask for much help, but I did to my grade level chair, whom I was told by my principal to talk to about needing help.

    My first month was pretty difficult. Students were in my face, screaming at me, cussing at me, telling me that no white teacher was going to tell them what to do, and threatening me with physical violence. They continually threatened others with physical violence as well, and I obviously had one child who had autistic tendencies and parents who refused to have him even tested, much less have any help. He was a terror, running back and forth across the back of the room claiming to be "Batman!" Nothing worked for him, and nothing seemed to work for the others.

    The first month, I was given a letter of caution, telling me to listen to the other teachers (I had been), to send out weekly newsletters (took them 2 weeks to get copies, and I was unable to plan that far in advance being a new teacher to the group and not allowed to make copies for myself), and to create an environment conducive to learning. He told me that my room was "quite frankly, ugly." I had taken everything down and made it all uniform due to the suggestions of the SPED teacher across the hall, because I had half of my class with ADHD, and what the previous substitute teacher had up was too distracting. Yes, I came in after a month and a half of the students having a sub... That didn't help anything, either. At this meeting, he told me to get it together or he'd have to find someone who could. After a few weeks, he agreed that things were better and told me to keep improving. That was the end of it.

    After Christmas break, I had 3 more evaluations. I had been told by the principal to never expect above a 3, because he doesn't give them for new teachers due to the fact that he was told that if he valued his job, he wouldn't do it. I expected 2s and 3s. I was scored at 2s and 3s. He gave me one last evaluation before the assistant principal gave me 2, and he gave me 2s and 3s and one score of 1 for the management subcategory. My kids had just gotten in trouble in lunch, came from a nontraditional schedule that morning, and had a difficult time adjusting to centers for math. Yeah, I understood they were a bit off for behavior, but not worthy of a 1! I was upset, and he talked to me about it and yet again, threatened that if I couldn't get them under control, he'd have to find someone who would. This was right before spring break.

    I finally got tired of being threatened with my job, and after spring break and time to think, I went to him and asked him what his intentions were. He told me he didn't think he would rehire me next year. We discussed management, and I told him the kids had gotten much better, which they had. I also explained test scores had skyrocketed! Students who were scoring well below grade level were much closer to grade level, but he said it wasn't good enough and I was making excuses. All of the other grade level teachers with me had similar scores. None any better than my own. He told me I don't "mesh" with "their type of kids." He also told me my best option would be to quit so I could obtain another position easier. After the conversation, I emailed him and asked what I could do to fix it and keep my job and be rehired. He never responded, and any time I saw him for the rest of the year, he literally ducked into another teacher's class to avoid me.

    He gave me my nonrenewal letter 8 days later than it was written, and he just said I wouldn't be there next year. I just took it, refused to sign anything, and left. My teacher's union was no help, because they just kept telling me to do what I felt was right. I went back to him and asked if he would give me a negative reference, and he assured me he would not. I asked him to write a letter, and he said he would. I gave him three days, and I asked him if he had the letter written, and he said sarcastically that he didn't think he was going to do that, and he felt more comfortable just having me include him as a reference, and they would send him forms to fill out. He would fill out the forms and turn them in. I left, knowing he was giving me a poor reference more than likely, but I didn't quit. I fulfilled my contract, came an extra day to clean out my stuff, and tried to find him to talk to him about this stuff. Again, he was in his office when I came in, but nowhere to be found 10 minutes later when I left.

    Since then, I have had 2 interviews that went extremely well. The principals have actually followed me out the door shaking my hand, and I didn't get offered either position. I don't know why, and I haven't asked for fear of looking unprofessional. I don't know what to do. I haven't had a phone call about a position since, even after visiting schools, handing out resumes, and applying, emailing, and calling several schools. I'm just so frustrated and scared. I can't make my finances without a teaching position, so subbing isn't exactly an option, and I can't work for this district again for at least a year per their policy for nonrenewals. Sorry this is so long, but I really need some help! Thanks!
     
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  3. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    Jul 6, 2013

    It sounds like you had a really rough first year, with little support. I don't know what state you are in, but in Ohio public schools are required to give new teachers a mentor.

    Not getting two jobs you interviewed for does not mean you won't get a job. Can you stretch out the distance you are looking? Can you move?

    I would call the principals you interviewed with, thank them for their time, and ask for any suggestions they can give you for future interviews.

    Around here July is a slow hiring time, because many administrators are on vacation. My district goes back early, so principals are back in mid-July.

    Good luck.
     
  4. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    Jul 6, 2013

    I would email the principals rather than call. I think putting them on the spot will probably not go well, or they will feel like you are an inconvenience. Better to email where they have time to get back to you, and answer accordingly (if at all).
     
  5. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Jul 6, 2013

    My first year was similar to yours. Fortunately, from my 2nd (through the present, entering my 6th), I found a place at another very low income, urban school. My new school is in the same city (only 2 miles from the last) and has the same demographics as my last, but it is a totally different culture. At my old school, the problems were generational - decades of poverty, lack of accountability for students, parents, and teachers, extreme drug use, gangs, etc. Both schools are Pre-K-5. My new school is located in the worst drug neighborhood in the city. I have students with parents in jail or just absent. I have students being raised by grandmothers, aunts, friends, and even a few by their "real" parents - some by both parents! We have parents who work 2-3 jobs just to keep their heads above water. We also have parents who walk the streets or conduct their business on the street corners. We have an overabundance of students with learning disabilities, due to genetics, parental drug/alcohol abuse, environmental issues, whatever.

    So what is the difference? There is accountability at my new school - for teachers, yes, but also for parents and students. There are rules, and they are expected to be followed! About half of my students bring supplies (at my other school, 1 out of 26 did), and I supply the rest. I (and others at my school) have provided backpacks and clothing to those without, but so have many of our parents. Compared to my "old" school, my new one is Heaven! Do we have problems? Absolutely! But the inmates are not in charge of the asylum.

    I say all this to let you know that your perseverance was not in vain. Keep trying! I agree with Missy - ask the Ps with whom you have interviewed what you can do to improve your interview skills (they will like that). Look at the positives from the past year - you DID make a difference, and YOU stuck it out - good for you! Many Ps do not even start interviewing until August (although I can't understand that one), so stay calm, and keep your chin up!
     
  6. Teacher Chele

    Teacher Chele Habitué

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    Jul 6, 2013

    I was in a similar situation two years ago. Like PP's have said, lots of hiring takes place at the very end of July/first of Aug. and even a few spots will be hired after school starts because of numbers. You stuck it out through persecution on yourself and your career and you should hold your head up and be proud of that!
     
  7. Global Teacher

    Global Teacher Companion

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    Jul 6, 2013

    It sounds like you ended up with they type of students that make teaching the difficult job that it is. Those who haven't taught just don't understand. Unfortunately this type of students is not uncommon, but you do get better at dealing with them once you've taught for a while and make necessary adjustments.

    Two interviews is not a lot, considering how competitive the job market is right now. Just keep applying. It won't do you any good to assume you're being undermined.

    Where I am July is a dead month for recruiting. It picks up in early to mid August and runs until just after school starts after Labor Day.
     
  8. bcs

    bcs Rookie

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    Jul 6, 2013

    I have to include him as a previous supervisor, and most apps ask for the previous principal for whom you worked. I have to include him. As for the school, it was the lowest income school in the district and had the similar problems with violence, poverty, lack of food or appropriate shelter for the kids, etc. The list goes on of supplies I also bought for those kids, and though it took me a while to get my bearings in the beginning, 100% of my students showed gains of up to 250% from the beginning of the year. They also had huge attitude changes. They were still talkative and difficult at times, but after realizing that I was going to respect them, listen to them, and most of all, care for them and be there for them, they backed off from the cussing and name calling.

    I will try asking the two principals I interviewed with about what to do to improve my interview skills. I never knew how to put that exactly, and I will definitely ask through email. I never want to put anyone on the spot or make them feel uncomfortable. I am just so disheartened that I am trying to get over it. I worked so hard to have none of my efforts recognized, except the 100% growth that I was one of very few teachers in the building that accomplished this, and I feel very hurt that I was told all these things. It feels personal to me, though it may not be, and I've been so depressed over it. I really hate how I feel, and I try to tell myself that it wasn't my fault or I did nothing wrong, but it still gets to me. :( I moved my family 60 miles from our previous house to come to an apartment in the city to teach here, had my husband take a job he hates now, and I feel trapped and like my career is being ruined. School starts the first couple of days of August, and orientations for new teachers begin the last week of this month. There is still time, and I'm considering anywhere within 2 hours of where I live and have heard nothing. I have to stay somewhere close, because hubby has a daughter that goes back and forth between us and her mom. We can't leave her.

    Thanks for the advice and encouraging words. I am starting to feel better and a little less panicked. :)
     
  9. raynepoe

    raynepoe Companion

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    Jul 6, 2013

    BCS where are located (generally)?

    I had a similar experience, after college I could not attain a public school job, but was able to find a position at Head Start. The school districts within the community the company I worked for, have a very low opinion of HS and of anyone associated with it. As a HS employee we were asked to do the impossible with little support and we were in (but not part of) the schools. I had to start looking 90 miles away to get someone to consider my application, and it took 4 years! Hopefully persistence will pay off and Good Luck!
     
  10. schoolteacher

    schoolteacher Habitué

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    First, let me say that I am sorry that you had this difficult experience. You were not given the support that you deserve as a first year teacher. You asked for and were not given a mentor teacher. That's not right.

    Let's take a look at some of the positives that you gained from this past school year: in spite of great difficulties, you succeeded in improving your classroom management, and your students had test scores that were on a par with the students of veteran teachers. That is something to celebrate. That is something to be proud of. That is momentum to build on.

    You fulfilled your contract, and were assertive in dealing with your cowardly principal. Cowardly, because he not only didn't do his job, which was to support you, but he also lied to you about writing you a reference and avoided you.

    Continue being assertive, and ask the principals with whom you interviewed why you were not hired. Tell them that you enjoyed interviewing with them, and would love to know how you could make yourself a better candidate for a position. There is nothing unprofessional in doing this; in fact, these principals are in the best position to give you feedback that will help you obtain a job.

    Be sure to tell about the gains that your students made during any interviews.


    You clearly have what it takes to teach in a tough inner city school. We need caring teachers like you, who have the ability to take a difficult class and turn it around. That takes heart, and you've got it. You were destined to teach; I'm confident a principal will hire you.
     
  11. Zelda~*

    Zelda~* Devotee

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    Jul 6, 2013

    For as badly as things went for you---you have a fantastic attitude. I'm sure that attitude and fantastic work ethic will get you another job. :)
     
  12. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Jul 6, 2013

    I agree with others who said to not give up yet. You were put in a difficult situation. and based on what you described, I think you did a really good job! If you had a supportive principal, you would have excelled, and loved working with that student population. You would have really made a difference, and you already have done that, anyways. But just imagine the impact after a few years!
    Unfortunately you had a sucky P. :(
    When you go on interviews, talk about your success, you passion of teaching, how the kids changed, and give examples with data as well! They will see it, it's only been 2 interviews, you gotta keep going.
     
  13. Aussiegirl

    Aussiegirl Habitué

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    Jul 6, 2013

    Do you have any documentation of the gains your kids made? If you do, include them in a mini-portfolio and leave that with principals who interview you; drop it off at schools where you would like to teach. If you have documentation and can present it, it may lessen any impact a negative letter from your coward P may have.

    Hang in there and good luck!
     
  14. bcs

    bcs Rookie

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    I live in the south eastern part of the U.S. Technically located in that good ole Bible Belt! lol I hate it took you so long to find something! I am certainly doing what I can, researching daily, checking online job postings for every district I would consider teaching in, and doing research on teaching strategies and common core in order to better my chances of finding a job. I am really trying not to let it get me down! :)

     
  15. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    Jul 7, 2013

    When you email by the way, don't ask why they didn't hire you, ask what you could do better in future interview situations. You'll probably get more info that way.
     
  16. paperheart

    paperheart Groupie

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    Jul 8, 2013

    Great job at being upfront with your P and courageous with a tough year.
    Honestly, your principal's decision to only give a verbal recommendation is completely understandable given his opinion of your work. This is not to say he is fair or correct in his opinion. Personally, I would NOT email those principals to request advice for two reasons. One, many employers are advising supervisors not to give any sort of hiring advice because of the risk of lawsuits (in case they hint at a legally protected issue. Two, it could be interpreted as desperate, make them suspicious, and mention their suspicions to other principals.
    Definitely try to improve your interview skills (why not?) But find a different audience to dispense advice. I would suggest a networking group. These tend to meet weekly and there are usually several in every community. You could also ask friends our friends' parents.
    as others mentioned two interviews without job offers it's not something to worry too much about. given that it is July I would have a backup plan such as substituting and a part time job just in case. Having a backup plan might take the stress out of finding that teaching job you'll be great at.
     
  17. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Jul 8, 2013

    I agree with what many here have already said. You made it through an entire year in that difficult situation. That in itself is worth a lot. It sounds like the combination of the students and an admin with little to no support is what made the situation so difficult. I hope your next school will prove a much better one, and I do think that eventually you will find something else.
     
  18. bcs

    bcs Rookie

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    Jul 9, 2013

    Thank you all for the kind words and encouragement. I didn't realize how bad it was until the end of the year, it being my first teaching, and it was all too late. It also didn't help having my grade group chair going behind my back and repeating my problems to the principal as well. :( Live and learn, I guess. I am so eager to find another teaching job it isn't funny! I cannot imagine doing anything else, and I love it! I am doing everything in my power to obtain one soon. I hope that by being upfront with the principals that it will help. It is hard to find teaching jobs around here now, because an hour away, they consolidated city and county schools, cutting over 150 teachers. :( Here's hoping, though! Thanks again for the support!
     

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