Am I a Bad teacher?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Toast, Mar 10, 2014.

  1. Toast

    Toast Companion

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    Mar 10, 2014

    Hello fellow teachers. I am seeking some insight from others who may have been in my shoes.

    I am coming to the sad realization that I might be a "bad" teacher. I've been teaching elementary school for 6 years, grades 3, 4 and 5. I've also taught at 2 different schools.

    Early in my career I received a lot of praise from my administrators as well as parents at what a wonderful and strong teacher I was. I believed it, felt good about myself and loved my job.

    A couple of years later I started looking more closely at my "data". On standardized tests and district benchmarks, my students usually scored lower than their peers in other classes. This has been ongoing with every class I've had for the past 4 years. My scores haven't been horrible, but not as good as I would like and not as high as the students in neighboring classes.

    Something else that still haunts me till this day: 2 years ago, four of my prior students were retained. These were students in the classes of 2 different teachers and 2 different grade levels.

    I feel like teachers in the grade above me blame me for students arriving unprepared for their class (where they assign a million worksheets instead of engaging projects).

    I also don't grade every single assignment I hand out. Some of it gets recycled because I would spend the rest of my life grading if I graded all of it.

    I truly care about my students and try to give engaging lessons that peak student interest. I do teach to my state standards.

    I'm not showing movies all day and I am actually putting in effort into my lessons.

    My classroom management could be more on the strict side...

    I've been considering leaving the profession because I no longer feel as if I am "good" at it.

    Has anyone else been in this position? What did you do? Be honest with me, am I bad teacher from what you have read? What can I do to be better at my job and raise student achievement?

    I'm tired of being the teacher with the low test scores!

    Thanks for your input.
     
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  3. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Mar 10, 2014

    No, I don't think you are a bad teacher.

    I do think you are a bit over-concerned about test scores. Those aren't a good representation of good teaching. Some of the worst teachers I know do everything they can to get their test scores to look good, but by the time the students show up to the next grade, they have forgotten half of what is crammed in their heads.

    Classroom management might be an area you could take a good class or read a good book such as Tools For Teaching.

    No one grades every paper, and those who say they do are liars.

    Focus on your strengths. What is about you that administrators and parents like so much?
     
  4. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Mar 10, 2014

    It may not be that you are a bad teacher but you may be focusing too much of your time on lessons that are not beneficial enough to all students. Your engaging projects, while interesting and beneficial to students that don't need as much instruction may be not showing the true weakness of some of the weaker students.

    You may want to look at some of what the other teachers are doing and incorporate some of what they do into your lessons. Too much of any one thing is usually bad. Too many worksheets aren't good, but too few independent, specific lessons and practice also hinders those that need more focused instruction.

    Examine what is weak and see if there is a pattern to it. I'm thinking your classroom might be too project oriented leaving some just not being able to learn what you need them to learn from it.

    Also, if you are giving students work to do, you need to be looking at it to see who is getting it and who is not. It may not need a grade in the grade book, but it should be examined.
     
  5. Loveslabs

    Loveslabs Companion

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    Mar 11, 2014

    Ask your coworkers how they teach different concepts. That may help you see why there is a difference in test scores.
     
  6. Loveslabs

    Loveslabs Companion

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    Mar 11, 2014

    Also, I believe part of being a good teacher is reflecting on your teaching practices and data. If you are willing to examine your teaching practices and data then you are on your way to becoming a good teacher.
     
  7. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    Mar 11, 2014

    I agree with this statement. I also believe that comparing data within a particular school is a good benchmarking tool. You obviously care or you would not be posting here or thinking about getting out.

    What do your observations tell you? Do you have a peer or supportive P that will help you on an improvement plan? How about following the lesson plans of one of your higher scoring peers so that you know that you are covering the same standards at about the same pace? these are some of my initial thoughts. best wishes to you
     
  8. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Mar 11, 2014

    Be wary about looking just at test results and deciding you're a bad teacher. There are lots of possible explanations for that. Each teacher gets a different group of kids, and if your administration sees you as a good teacher, they might filter more of the "needy" kids to you. My post-test results this year in math are always about 3% lower than my teammate's... but my pre-test results are always about 10-15% lower, and my kids consistently score worse in both science and social studies (my teammate teaches social studies to both, I teach science to both), so I'm certainly not sitting back and thinking that I'm a worse teacher than my teammate.

    A more useful examination of data would be to look at specific strands. Are your kids consistently lower in any one thing? For example, if your kids are always at the same level as your teammates... except for geometry where they are significantly lower... that would be something useful. Just looking at overall "oh, my kids do worse, so I'm a bad teacher" will do absolutely nothing to make you improve as a teacher.

    As far as the retaining of kids goes, there are explanations possible there, also. It's possible you missed something, but maybe they also had specific issues in a later grade, or maybe they had enough skills to "squeak by" in third grade, but not in fifth grade. Unless you know the specific reason they were retained, you can't blame yourself.
     
  9. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Mar 11, 2014

    Although having said that... you're in your 6th year of teaching, you've taught three different grade levels at 2 different schools. That means, at most, you're spending 2 years at a grade level. It takes about two years to get comfortable at a new grade level, so I suspect what might be happening is that just as you finally get settled and get to a point where you know the curriculum, you're switching positions. That's tough to do. It may be out of your control, but you'll probably feel more comfortable as a teacher if you can spend three, four, five years at a grade level. That would let you really refine your practice. I'm sure you're well aware that things which work with 5th graders won't work as well with 3rd graders.
     
  10. Nate

    Nate Companion

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    Mar 11, 2014

    Bad test scores do not mean you're a bad teacher. Not doing anything about it, or failing to collaborate with other teachers, might make you a bad teacher.
     
  11. MsDeb

    MsDeb Comrade

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    Mar 12, 2014

    This. I too compare my scores to the other grade-level classes but we have totally different students and at times I question my effectiveness. I have a class with a heavy load of inclusion ESE and 504's plus some "interesting" behaviors thrown into the mix. I like to assume that I'm given a challenging class because I can handle it. Do my kids make gains? Yes, they do but comparing them to other classes can be like comparing apples to oranges - they didn't all start at the same place. :2cents:
     
  12. Honest_Teacher

    Honest_Teacher Comrade

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    Mar 12, 2014

    There are ways to control for that variability via value-added models (Ohio is moving that way for teacher effectiveness ratings). It's also possible to control for 75% of the variation in student performance with a proper data set (easily created with at any school that has basic benchmark tests and/or other data points) and a basic understanding of regression analysis.

    Just an fyi; I know most people aren't interested in that level of data analysis, but it is possible.
     

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