Advice and Thinking Out Loud

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Myrisophilist, Feb 14, 2014.

  1. Myrisophilist

    Myrisophilist Habitué

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    Feb 14, 2014

    I'm thinking out loud here and trying to articulate a question.

    I've decided not to return to my current job (HS science at a public school) next year. I do not yet have my professional certification, but some things (as I see it, my mental health and sanity) are worth more than that. In fact I want to get out of education indefinitely. This is not something I thought I would be saying just over a year ago when I had just graduated and completed a great student teaching semester. So what happened?

    My district is totally gung-ho with mass customized learning (see Inevitable here and on Amazon) and this has caused a lot of issues between admin, teachers, parents, and students, particularly around grading practices. It took me awhile to realize that that is not the thing that bothers me the most, however. My issue is the students. When I began this job, it was a shock how non-academic these kids are. The expectations and standards are extremely low, IMO. I quickly gained a reputation as the most difficult teacher (Not because I was trying for that title. I hate hearing that said about me). My relationships with the students are really bad. I've tried to be caring and to push them academically, and all I seem to get is hatred.

    Most recently I have been seeing facebook posts about me -- kids writing how much they hate me and saying that they should "feed me something." (To clarify, I don't go looking for these; I have found them accidentally on occasion). They aren't shy about saying mean things to my face, either. I am at the end of my rope emotionally, and am just exasperated. I have given up...just feel hurt, angry, helpless, awful about myself. Other teachers tell me that I am one of the best teachers they have seen. My evaluations have been great. But I am hated, and I am miserable.

    Advice? Thoughts?
     
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  3. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Feb 14, 2014

    What a waste of your abilities. Move to Florida and work at my tutoring agency. We can always use good upper level science teachers.
     
  4. Myrisophilist

    Myrisophilist Habitué

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    Feb 14, 2014

    Thank you, truly. I've been thinking it's a waste of my abilities, too, but not sure if I've just been fooling myself.
     
  5. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Feb 14, 2014

    You colleagues have said some wonderful things about you. You have received good evaluations. So, it most likely isn't a problem with your ability to teach. You did make a good point. YOUR expectations are not matching that of the students' expectations or possibly the students' capabilities at this time.

    The idea of students rising to your expectations is a fine notion, but if that expectation is too far above their current capabilities, frustration will occur. If your expectations are within their capabilities but the ability to step them up to that point is lacking, frustration will occur.

    I have two suggestions. First is to examine where the students are really at. Do they have the needed skills to comprehend the lessons? Do they have the skills to produce the products you want to see to demonstrate understanding and application of knowledge? Is that gap so large that your expectations are too high? If they don't have these skills, they must be taught. The problem is many of these skills take years to develop and you have them for a year. If the gap is not too large, are you really able to break things down to the level they need to bring them up a few levels? Some teachers really struggle with this. Some are great when the gap is small but when the gap is large or the holes in student knowledge and skills are many, the teaching falls flat. (Not saying this is the case with you, but offering ideas.) Second, examine if you are willing to teach in an environment where the kids are so low. Would you be better getting your certification then going elsewhere where you have students more to your liking such as a college prep school.

    I think the hatred might be coming from setting expectations that are really out of reach for them. They may feel your frustration so all of the good work you try to do to develop a relationship with them is overshadowed by your NOT purposeful frustration regarding how low they are and what you are expected to do.

    Good luck in your decision.
     
  6. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Feb 14, 2014

    ^^^ GREAT advice. :thumb:

    I've seen many new teachers come to my district and get frustrated by our students' lack of academic skills/abilities, low school-wide expectations and general student apathy. All of this on top of behavior problems and discipline issues force many good teachers to head for the hills or quit teaching altogether.

    OP, I don't know what your teaching options are without having your certification but I hope you land on your feet soon. It sounds like you should get great recommendations and maybe you should not give up on teaching altogether - just get out of your current school. Your health, sanity and moral is more important at this point.
     
  7. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Feb 14, 2014

    I agree very much with a2z.
    I have always been named a teacher with the highest expectations, now, last year and when I was a long term sub. My experience have been for 2 years with students that just have not made it in regular schools, (often dropping out, getting into trouble and getting locked up stems from failing academically and feeling as a failure). I've had students with large gaps in their knowledge and skills due to not going to school regularly, or actually not going at all, or not paying attention, always getting kicked out of class, etc.
    Still, my student teaching was done at a middle school (not alternative ed) with very rigorous expectations - I'm forever thankful for that. So I could never shake the memories I have of what is expected of the students.

    I have very high expectations of them, but I also had to realize that I have to meet them somewhere and just raise the bar high enough so that they can succeed. This means I might have some As and Bs in my class, a lot of Cs, and yes, Ds and Fs but that's because they don't even try. (in juvenile halls students usually get As and Bs, because they set the bars so low, which I don't agree with.) However, setting them too high, where they fail is not good either, because you are just showing them that they can not do it.

    So this is what I have learned (this might just be specific to my student population)
    - even if they're supposed to know it, you still have to teach it to them. For example, in high school students supposed to know how to structure an essay, but I still explicitly teach the purpose and the how-to of the introduction, body paragraphs, conclusion, etc.
    - stay with grade level expectations, but you can deviate a little. For example, - maybe a lot of you disagree with me, but with my students this was important - when they wrote their essays, I didn't focus on grammar and spelling so much. Yes, I deducted points, but not as much as I would have in a 'regular high school. I wanted them to write, to stay on topic, say what they had to say and follow the structure of the essay. So a lot of them earned Bs, that would have been a C or C-, but this also resulted in a special ed / ED / learning disabled student to pretty much write his 1st essay, and with a B-. Up until now he refused to write.
    - provide extra credit, provide every opportunity for them to make up work and succeed.
    - reach them where they are and bring them up. I cannot possible read an 11th grade novel with my students, just the size of the book would intimidate them. They would completely shut down. We've read a 7-8 grade level novel and had great success with it. Because I have these students for a couple of years, I know I can bring them up to read a novel that they're supposed to read, but can't just yet.

    I had a lot of resistance from students, especially when I first started, because of my high expectations. In their mind, who was I, trying to come in here and change things? My P said keep my expectations high, they will rise to it, accept it and eventually appreciate it. And they do.
    The first day back in school after a winter break, a difficult student walked in, sat down, (with everyone else) and said "I know we're gonna do work in your class". He said this with a voice that he was ok with it, or better yet, he expected it, even though the rest of the teachers just did nothing with them. (I gave them academic fun-stuff for extra credit)

    I would suggest to think about what you can do to keep your values and reach the students at the same time. Don't quit just yet.
     
  8. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Feb 14, 2014

    I forgot to add. Don't be your own worst enemy. Beating yourself up won't help. Not everyone will like you. Sometimes none of them will like you. However, the adults are on your side. Grieve that what you envisioned didn't happen and decide to take on the challenge if you really want to be a teacher for the long haul.

    No profession is perfect. You will find dislike from others no matter what you choose to do.
     
  9. Myrisophilist

    Myrisophilist Habitué

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    Feb 14, 2014

    Thanks for the advice, everyone. I'm reflecting on all of it. Not sure what to do yet, but I will surely be weighing my options over the next week (Feb. break).

    I never thought I'd be one to leave mid-year, but honestly the stress and unhappiness are eating at me so deeply that I might snap one of these days -- and I am not the type of person to "snap." Classroom teaching might not be the right place for me. It's true that I may not be liked everywhere I go, but there must be places where I will not be abused [emotionally] every day. Being young and not tied down is in my favor, I believe.

    Thanks again, and if anyone else wants to add, please do so.
     
  10. AliLand

    AliLand Rookie

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    Feb 15, 2014

    Your just in the wrong school! I've worked in places where my expectations were too high - with the best will in the world, you can't raise standards without cooperation from the other teachers. I've also worked in places where the owners had expectations way above the students ability- thus they were set up to fail. Last time I went job hunting, I did it a bit differently. I looked honestly at my own abilities and attitudes towards teaching and literally went to every place in the area - opening or not. Obviously, most heads disliked my attitude as I didn't try and sell myself as much as invited them to 'sell' the job. I wondered if I was crazy, but the stress involved was making me hate work - you just can't teach that way.
    In one interview, the head was clear that I wasn't what she was looking for (based on skills/ positions open) but called me back a week later saying she'd rearrange some classes and give me a part time job if I was interested. Five years on, I'm still very happy!
    Make the decision to leave, but see if you can finish the year for your own self respect
     
  11. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Feb 15, 2014

    Listening to you and reading your posts, IMO I think you should switch schools, but stay as a teacher in education. I would suggest looking at schools that are higher academically. You have a lot to offer, and I am confident that in time you will find the right place to teach for yourself.
     
  12. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Feb 15, 2014

    If any of the fb posts were made during schoolhours or on school technology those students may be in violation of district technology policy. I'd recommend taking screen shots of the offensive posts and taking to your union rep.
     
  13. LisaLisa

    LisaLisa Companion

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    Feb 15, 2014

    Agreed. Cyber-bullies.
     
  14. Myrisophilist

    Myrisophilist Habitué

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    Feb 15, 2014

    I did take screenshots; the posts [that I saw] were not made during school hours.

    Again, thank you all. It is reassuring to hear that I should stay in education. This school is definitely not a good fit for me.
     

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