Feel like I'm watching the profession die...

Discussion in 'Debate & Marathon Threads Archive' started by atomic, Apr 15, 2011.

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  1. atomic

    atomic Companion

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    Apr 15, 2011

    I chose my career for a laundry list of reasons. I see those reasons being slowly taken away one by one...

    Job Security...
    Great Health Care...
    Yearly raises that keep up with inflation...
    Being my own boss in the classroom...

    Spring Break might just be the last straw for me.

    I work the 6 days a week and put off ME time. I put off all my home/family projects and try to cram them into 10 days every spring. Next year...no break. Guess what. I won't be working Sunday's anymore. I'm done.

    This year, we've had a pay freeze, no step movement, 3% towards medical with talks of 30%, possible merit pay next year, kids are more disrespectful than ever, no spring break next year.

    Even my subject is being watered down to the point that I hardly recognize it.
     
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  3. atomic

    atomic Companion

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    Oh...and still no contract...

    I heard there is talk of 0% raise for the next three years...
     
  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Why do you work on Sundays?
     
  5. blazer

    blazer Connoisseur

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    We have a 2 yar pay freeze at present. However what is the nail in our coffin is the way the Government wants to allow anyone to teach. The new Academies and Free schools they are planning will not be required to honour any pay agreements nor will they be required to employ qualified teachers!
     
  6. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    I totally agree with you!
     
  7. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Atomic, despite the barrage of attacks by our governor and others, there ARE great school districts in NJ where our profession is valued. Have you considered looking for a job in a different school?
     
  8. Lockepick

    Lockepick Rookie

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    I'm only a second year teacher, but I feel like one of the biggest things I've noticed is that a lot of the young crop seem inadequate. Don't get me wrong, there are some amazing young teachers who pour their heart and soul into the job. Unfortunately, I graduated as an English major with a large number of people who were awful at discussing reading, awful at writing, and awful at teaching from what I saw.

    I have had the (dis)pleasure of working with a couple teachers that were so bad I felt bad for the kids.

    Not to pile on the bad stuff, but that seems like something else happening. I can only assume that the changes references by atomic will make that worse.
     
  9. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Lockepick...don't know where you work, but in most districts there are hundreds of applications for every one opening. With those kinds of numbers, schools can afford to be very selective about hiring. I haven't seen what you seem to have experienced, but as I pointed out to the OP, there ARE districts that respect and support excellence in education even in these tough times.
     
  10. Lockepick

    Lockepick Rookie

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    That's a fair point. I'll be more on point.

    Most of the college graduates I'm talking about (which again, is not all...just a scary number of them) seem to be either unemployed or struggling with teaching.

    My experience was that last year I worked with a truly incompetent, new teacher. We both replaced awful teachers. I got cut for budget reasons and found a new job. At my new job, I replaced someone who was awful.

    I think I've just ran hot for being around crummy teachers. I realize that, in general, it's not a pressing issue because many teachers are great at their jobs.

    However, it is scary to think that sometimes these teachers are sneaking through without improvement and ultimately gaining tenure.

    I'm not nearly the debbie-downer I'm coming off as in my first few posts on here. I promise!
     
  11. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Feeling as though you are "watching the profession die". Wow, thank you for putting words to my feelings. I understand.
     
  12. John Lee

    John Lee Groupie

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    Not for nothing but: three of the four things you mentioned (as reasons), are directly related to a shrunken budget. Expecting a pay raise (and all the other stuff)... I don't understand... maybe you'd be kind enough to let me know what industry you're comparing your plight to, that is doling out step pay raises in 2011 (so I can inquire)?
     
  13. Lockepick

    Lockepick Rookie

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    Teachers in my district were fine with the soft freeze and no pay raise. It just frustrated them a little when the superintendent then took a 6% pay raise.

    In 2011, no one should really be expecting a raise, though. I agree with that.
     
  14. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Atomic....I don't know where you are in NJ, but it is tough times for Ed in our state (and many others). Do you have tenure? Are you in a subject area that tends to be cut when times are tough? I'm not sure what you mean about 'being the boss in your classroom', but we all work within parameters, even in schools where teachers are given much academic choice and freedom...how can you work within those parameters?
    Contract negotiations are very drawn out...it's not uncommon for districts to go a year without settling on a new contract...school boards are taking a wait and see approach with this governor and legislature...aren't you still covered by the same health care? We are now paying the required 1.5%, but we kept the plan we had...there are 'talks' of lots of things...we must remain united and stand up for excellence in education...
    Btw, a quick google search "new jersey high school spring break" brings up page after page of high schools in our state who DO have spring break this year...you have been lied to by your administration...
    I know it's hard to remain positive in these tough times, but you mustn't let it drag you down...our profession won't die if the PROFESSIONALS continue to provide excellent learning opportunities, facilitate success for students, continue to make a difference every day...i do hope those kinds of things were on your 'laundry list' of reasons for choosing this career.
    Again, there are many many schools in NJ where teachers are valued as professionals...I'm sorry for the pain and stress you are experiencing. I'm sure in many ways your situation can feel like the death of a dream...what are your plans for creating a better reality for yourself and your students?
    :love:
     
  15. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    I agree with the original poster. Though our pay has been frozen for a couple years as well as pay cuts. Those positives that made the job appealing definately went away in the past couple years and it is not just the economic aspects.
     
  16. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Atomic, I am confused. Did your school calendar come out for next year and there is no spring break? Don't all schools in your state have appropximately the same number of instructional hours? Is your school doing more hours or are they just moving the off days away from spring break? Please explain.
     
  17. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    In many respects, I feel I am lucky to be a mid-life career changer.

    My reason for pursuing a career in teaching is because that is what I felt I should be doing for the rest of my life. I have considered a teaching career for the better part of two decades, but wasn't able to actually pursue it until a couple of years ago. My main reason for pursuing that career is the passion I felt bringing my knowledge and skills to the classroom to help kids learn. That is something that can never be taken away by budget cuts, tough economic times or job cutbacks.

    Job security and health insurance were two considerations as well, but I view them as benefits of the job I want rather than reasons for pursuing the job itself.

    Right now, our basic health plan is free for the teachers. Unfortunately, I don't get to participate because I am only part-time. Our state Congress has proposed a bill that would force teachers to begin paying for their coverage at a cost of around $25/month. Our governor vetoed that bill - which is nice - but I've been paying anywhere from $250-$300 per month for insurance (and that is based on group rates) for as long as I can remember; $25/month would be a pittance compared to that.

    I do see our profession under almost daily attack in the media and from politicians and it is disheartening at times. But I am also beginning to see a few bright spots in the pervasive gloom as well, such as our governor backing up her commitment to value education and teachers.

    It does sadden me that our country - for whatever reason(s) - doesn't seem to inherently value the role of teachers and educators. Many other countries consider teaching to be one of the most valued professions a person can do and it would be nice if our government adopted that same attitude as well. Politicians give lip-service to that ideal during campaigns, but then attack education budgets and the teaching profession itself once they get in office.

    Then again, most Americans are becoming more and more disillusioned with their elected politicians across the board as well and are seeing their self-serving actions for what they are.

    I'm eternally optimistic that attitudes will change as the general public - and especially those associated with education - seek to remove those who attack our profession from office and replace them with representatives that do value education as much as they claim to.

    Positive change will be slow in coming. It won't happen overnight, but it can happen and I believe the roots of that change are finally beginning to take hold.
     
  18. timsterino

    timsterino Comrade

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    Yep, I feel exactly the same way too. :(
     
  19. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    I have not had health insurance in my last three teaching positions, nor have I had job security (quite the opposite), my salary has stagnated and although promised, I have yet to be the boss of my curriculum.

    Although I do have the occasional pity party, I'm trying really, really hard to stay positive. I can get health insurance through my husband, I always seem to find another gig, I will trust God to guide our finances and I'm finding other outlets for my creative ideas.

    I do feel very sad for the pressure educators are feeling right now. It's a struggle to balance venting/commiserating with optimism.
     
  20. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Sometimes, as with the phoenix, death leads to rebirth - not that that ever makes the process fun.
     
  21. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    I agree. And it's not just the perks of the job that made us think this would make a great career. It's the job itself, too. Who didn't think this job would be fun and spontaneous when they went into it? Who didn't think they would be respected and treated like a professional? Maybe I was delusional then, but I definitely don't think any of these things about my job now.

    I feel like this is what has to happen at some point, I just wonder when. It won't be until the economy turns around and ideas about education have truly changed. And I don't think I will be around to see that happen.
     
  22. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    <<Job Security...
    Great Health Care...
    Yearly raises that keep up with inflation...
    Being my own boss in the classroom...
    >>

    I find it very disheartening those are the main reasons you chose to be a teacher. I'm quite sick and tired of this mentality and I don't care how rude I come across.

    I chose to be a teacher to work with kids and nobody is taking that away from me.
     
  23. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Wow... none of this matches my experience.


    And, as others have mentioned, many of those factors are mostly a function of the economy. EVERY profession, evey aspect of the workforce, is feeling the pinch.

    I'm still convinced that I'm in the right career.
     
  24. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    I still don't understand why people get upset at the reasoning people go into certain professions. As long as you do the job, the reason you are there should not matter. The ability to work with kids was probably around the middle of my top 10 list reasons for going into the profession.
    Everyone has to decide what is best for them, in their life.
     
  25. Lindager

    Lindager Companion

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    OP what other professions did you look at? Maybe you need to look at them again.

    Job Security-- NO ONE has that today People with 30+ years experience with one company are let go for no reason other then "Budget Cuts"

    Medical Coverage-- Most companies are cutting back or cutting this out. I have a friend who was a para for 10 years fulltime, she got cut to 1/2 time no benifits now she works 2 part time jobs just to pay the medical insurance. My sister and her husband pay ~$1000 for family medical insurance that leaves them with $1500 per person deductible. They would be happy to only pay 30%

    Raises to keep up with inflation-- My sister hasn't had a raise in 4 years, My pay in my other career was cut 40%. My DH had no pay unemployed 18 months. So we all would be satisfied with one year of no raise.

    I could go on, but the economy and the overindulgent lifestyle we were all living has changed. If you think you could do better in a different career more power to you good by and good luck.

    There may be a lot of new teachers who don't know what they are doing, but they won't last long. No school has to put up with that now a days. There about 100 other people who would work harder at the job.

    I am going into teaching as a second career. Why because I love the students I love being able to be and talk to them I love AHA moments, I love science and I want to teach students to love science.No changes in the economy are going to change my reasons for teaching.

    I hope to have job security, pay raises, good medical, summers off, spring and winter breaks, But don't we all wish we had those things. At this point I settle for no benifits, no security, no raises and no respect. I substitute because I love every chance to get to know these students. To look for AHA moments and to watch them grow and mature.
     
  26. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    May I be honest?

    It's bothersome when someone shares a concern or complaint and others are so quick to reply with lines such as...well, I'll just provide some specific examples.

    • A person is venting that her father has said something quite hurtful. Another responds with something to the effect of "At least you have a father. He could be passed like mine. I'd happily have him back even if he was being a jerk."
    • A person is venting about major changes in her profession and others respond with, "Just tell me where you live. I'll happily take your crappy job."
    I wish we could allow everyone to share their frustrations without either one-upping those with our own circumstances or mocking the concerns entirely as being petty or otherwise ridiculous. I know many people share their perspectives in order to shed light on the bigger picture or to commiserate, and I do understand that, but the tone of some posts are sometimes snarky and that's too bad. Everyone should be entitled to their own feelings, with which we certainly do not have to agree or understand.
     
  27. porque_pig

    porque_pig Comrade

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    Agreed. A lot of us are having a really hard time coping with some of the big changes the profession has faced as of late. Are other professions suffering similar changes? Yes, of course. But knowing that doesn't make me feel any better--we're all facing long hours, decreased pay and benefits, and pretty poor treatment by a lot of politicians, and that's frustrating.
     
  28. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    Wow, that last sentence is comical. Telling teachers to learn to work with a little less. I'm trying to think of when teachers were actually given more to work with. Teachesr seem to always be expected to do more with less.
     
  29. TeachingNTX

    TeachingNTX Rookie

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    Over the past decade or two, per student spending has gone up - drastically in some states. Teachers have been provided "wanted" technology, increased pd, etc. It is time that teachers learn to do with less as there is a limit to the amount of money taxpayers are willing to pay. I personally do not need a 3D projector, computer ratios at 1:1, and a smart board to teach. Yes they are all nice things to have, but not necessary. As the first poster wrote teachers do need to be creative and learn to work with less.
     
  30. mathematics

    mathematics Rookie

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    There is one thing we do as teachers that trumps most other professions.

    We have the ability to influence many young people in a very positive way.

    That's priceless. And that is what will keep me in this profession as long as I am able to do it.

    The blatant disrespect shown to all teachers at our school by a weak administration and the disrespect shown by politicians means nothing to me.

    Why?

    Because I am respected by the people who matter most: by my students, my colleagues, the parents of my students and most of all, I respect myself.
     
  31. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    At the risk of sounding positive--wonderful post, mathematics.
     
  32. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Thanks, mathematics! Great post...even in these tough times we should all wave the flag...while pulling up those who are feeling downtrodden by the current state of affairs.
     
  33. webmistress

    webmistress Devotee

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    Teachers don't ask for these things where I am from. These things are given by the powers that be. I could do fine with a white board and markers, and projector.
    I didn't ask for a 10k smartboard but you better believe it is required and to meet the demands of the district you have to have such technology whether you want it or not. I could definitely work with less, but that choice is not mine.
     
  34. atomic

    atomic Companion

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    It's getting worse too.

    Laptops need new batteries and we can't afford them, my smartboard has dead spots and they can't fix it. Even getting new batteries for the graphing calculators is tough.

    All of our software is outdated, but no one cares about that. It's not part of the stats that are reported every year in the newspapers. Who cares if the computers are useless as long as that computer to student ratio looks good.

    I wouldn't be surprised to find out they keeping and counting a bunch of broken ones

    Chalk and an attentive student is all we need to teach. The Babylonians even taught without paper and pencil. All they needed was clay tablets and sticks.
     
  35. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Atomic..budget cuts are affecting everyone...even in wealthy districts. It's annoying to have technology that you can't use because there is no money to replace parts, but you can teach well 'old school':p I know you feel worn down by the current conditions in your district...what are you going to do to make it better for yourself and your students? What can we do to help?
     
  36. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    I suppose the reason some people sound upset is because they feel there are certain professions that should be entered for more than the standard reasons.

    If you were in the hospital, would you want a nurse taking care of you that didn't consider "Helping other people" high on her reasons for taking the job?

    We had a nurse as one of our guests on Career Day a couple of weeks ago. She explained that nursing was one of the best fields you could enter as far as pay goes for the amount of education required. She also talked about the numerous options and job security nurses have; they can be traveling nurses and visit lots of different locations, they can be Life Flight nurses and work on patients being transported by helicopter, etc. At the end, though, she said "More than anything, you HAVE to love helping other people. Otherwise, the stress, long hours and demands of job, patients and family will wear you down and burn you out."

    Having been in the hospital many, many times (most recently within the last couple of weeks), I can attest there is a big difference between the nurses that really care about helping the patients and the ones that are just putting their time in.

    If working with kids or helping other people are not high on your priority list, then there is a legitimate question of just how well you do your job when the standard reasons (security, pay, benefits, etc) stop meeting your expectations. You will become frustrated with the work and resentful of the continued (or increased) demands for no extra compensation and will eventually start giving less effort on the job as your own means of compensation.

    In most jobs, that just might mean you become a little less productive than before, but still meet minimum standards. In that case, I would agree that - as long as you are still meeting company expectations - the boss or customers don't have a reason to complain. But as your frustration builds and burn-out begins, your production will usually drop off more and you will slip closer to not meeting company requirements. Still, your decreased efforts are generally only affecting yourself and maybe a handful of team members (at most).

    In education and nursing, it is a different story. Your efforts directly affect the lives of other people and, in the case of education, it affects the lives of our most vulnerable and impressionable members....our children.

    When job security, pay, benefits and being your own boss in the classroom are you top priorities, the loss or reduction of these rewards leads to frustration and burn-out. That affects the effort you put into the job, which in turn, affects and impacts the lives of the students you are teaching.

    Can a teacher still do an effective job when working with kids is not high on their list? I suppose so, depending on your definition of "effective". We've all seen or heard examples of the teachers that just hand out worksheets every day and don't offer enrichment activities. Are they being effective? Some would say "No", but the teachers themselves would probably say "Yes" since the kids are still covering the required content.

    The highest priority for me is to have a job I really enjoy doing. That can't be taken away when the economy goes into a nosedive or admin adds extra demands. If I don't love what I'm doing though (regardless of the profession), then it is very easy to become frustrated, resentful and burnt-out on the job when the security, pay and/or benefits stop meeting my expectations. And, in any profession, an unhappy worker is almost always a less productive worker.
     
  37. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    As with marriage, however, passion is not the be-all and end-all.

    Given a choice between the teacher with a passion for students who doesn't know the material and a teacher who knows the material and is conscientious but not necessarily a passionate teacher, let's go with the teacher who's knowledgeable and conscientious but not passionate. I've spent too much time repairing the damage done by teachers who were passionate but relatively ignorant to choose otherwise.
     
  38. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    Cerek, I understand that comparison. At the same time I think of doctors/nurses as jobs that are life and death. Passion is important there because you hold peoples lives in your hands. Education is important, but especially at the elementary level, it is not life and death. As long as kids are given the information they need, and they soak a significant portion of it up, they will move on to the next year just fine. We have different approaches in the classroom, obviously.
    It is not that I don't have a passion for kids, I do, I love kids (not all of them, but a good amount). What I love are not the aha moments that many teachers work so hard to create. Those are great and all, but I don't tell stories or brag about those moments. I love getting to know the kids, spending time with the kids. I like getting to know them as people, having them get to know me. Making a more personal connection with the kids. I use those connections to real students in in my classroom and help them learn. Does this happen with every student, no.
    I care that my students learn, that is the ones that try and give forth effort themselves. I have made countless connections with students over the years and have enjoyed seeing them grow as learners and as people. So, I do care about my students and how well they do. But in the end, it is still a job that I do to pay my bills. I have become burn out, less productive, less effective, but I still get atleast the minimum done for my job. I still give the kids most of what they need and they will move on to another teacher next year to get more added to that.
    In summation, I am not passionate about it, but I care about the kids. I don't get excited about ideas in the classroom, it is just more work to do to me. I am as effective as I can be each day and then move on to the next. I may not always give 100%, but unless you are in a life or death situation job, I think you should have opportunities to slack some days.
     
  39. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Apr 17, 2011

    Good point, teachers should, of course, be educated, intelligent and knowledgeable. That should be a 'given'...unfortunately that is not always the case. Careful hiring and mentoring are also key.
     
  40. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    My frustation is with people who have a skewed view of what public service means. Therefore, by your logic, I ought to be free to share my feelings. Feelgoodery is a two way street.
     
  41. timsterino

    timsterino Comrade

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    I disagree partially. We need teachers that have both knowledge and passion. In this day and age of iPads, internet, etc you need to have a knowledgeable YET passionate teacher in the classroom. Without BOTH, the students suffer.
     
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