First Year Teacher - Reached My Breaking Point

Discussion in 'New Teachers' started by Midnight_Rain787, Oct 31, 2018.

  1. Oct 31, 2018

    This is actually my first time posting here...

    I recently got my BA and teaching credentials - single subject Art (preliminary) in 2016 and 2018 respectively. Shortly after receiving my credentials I got a long-term sub job to teach art. I was very hesitant at first, but I ended up loving my students and cried when I found out I would not be staying as their full-time teacher due to budget cuts/low enrollment.

    Then over the summer, I searched for teaching jobs. I accepted a job at a very new charter school. On the surface it seemed like the perfect job for me, the administration seemed very supported, the class sizes would be small, and it was part-time. I wanted part-time because I was afraid of getting burned out. Student teaching was extremely difficult for me and I nearly quit if it wasn't because of my supportive master teacher and supervisor.

    But this school I'm at isn't what I was promised (or believed to be promised). The school was very clever in never telling me I would be in two different classrooms and that other teachers would use these classrooms too. As an art teacher this is a problem because of the amount of materials we use. My classes are not small and when asked how I can be supported, I said I need another adult with me. To this day there has not been another adult helping me in my largest class. I am their first art teacher and they're clearly werent prepared what an art teacher needs. And since this is my first year teaching, I wasn't sure exactly what I needed. I don't have a mentor (they currently don't offer the Induction/BITSA program) despite I saying that I needed one.

    I could go on and on about everything I don't like with the school, but I feel as if this post is already getting too long. Bottom line, I know kids will be kids, but my biggest problem is I'm not getting the support I need to become a better teacher and this is no privacy. Every teacher has their desk in what was essentially the teacher's lounge. It is right behind the front office and students have incredibly easy access to it. There are students in the "teachers lounge" 24/7. As an introvert, this really affects my mood and health. After a difficult day, I can't just sit down at my desk and decompress in peace. I've already missed several days of works since school has started, my health is failing, and I'm scared of ending up in the hospital.

    Yesterday I had reached my breaking point. I had to stop teaching because kids weren't listening to me and this is not the first time it has happened. When class ended I went to my "desk" and cried, other teachers saw me, including other students. A staff member can to speak to me, said she would try to get someone to be in my classroom (particularly my largest one). But I felt like her words are a little too late.

    I decided to look for other teaching jobs. I know the pickings are slim. But I cannot teach like this when I have anxiety and depression and no support from the administration.

    I didn't realize how important it would be for me to have my own classroom, with my own desk, and a mentor.

    Now that I'm looking for new jobs, do I mention my current one in my cover letter? I've never done something like this before. How do I go about this situation?

    Please don't tell me to stick it out for the year. As I mentioned before, it's not just the kids, it the physical space (don't have my own classroom, deal with a lot of art materials/no space to store it or art projects, have no desk in classroom, no privacy) and not having a mentor/support.
  3. pommom

    pommom Comrade

    Jun 20, 2015
    Likes Received:

    Oct 31, 2018

    How many kids are in your room?
    The only time there are 2 teachers is if it is co-teach sped.
    Asking for another teacher to be with you for an art class was way of out norm.
    I do sympathize with you though. Teaching is mentally draining.
    If you are going to stay, have assignments that do not require extensive materials, just stick with basics.
  4. tchr4vr

    tchr4vr Comrade

    Oct 13, 2015
    Likes Received:

    Nov 1, 2018

    So, the bad news is this--it's not that unusual. Quite often, new teachers are roaming - they move from room to room as each class changes, so they may be in five or six differnet rooms. I didn't have my own room until year 6. It's a little more unusual for art, but in a new school, regardless of charter or not, the facilities may not be available.

    As for having your own space, a lot of schools do this--an open work room/meeting space, and depending on the culture of the school, sometimes students have access. I do believe that teachers should have their own student free space, so that is something that the school needs to create--that norm has obviously not been established yet.

    Mentoring is always nice, but it is rare that it's actually done well. Especially if you are the only art teacher in the building, it may be that no one really knows how to work with you. It is often a matter of finding someone who is receptive and going to them--ask them the questions, have the discussions with them. Find that person who is willing to be an ear or a support. Don't wait for the school to provide you one, especially since it's a charter school.

    The larger classes may be a result of you only working part-time. If the school is trying to get as many students possible into art, they have to make your classes larger to accomodate. Although you say you want to work part-time because of the stress, changing to full-time, if you can, may make your classes smaller and more manageable.

    Do you have a behavior plan, classroom management plan in place? If the students are not listening, what are you doing about it? Is the administration involved in discipline, if necessary, and do they follow through when necessary.

    You will not get a second teacher in your room unless, like a previous poster said, it is a co-taught or inclusion class, which tends to be rare in art. I have taught English with anywhere from 7-45. Always on my own, unless inclusion.

    What grade level do you teach? I sense high school, because that seems to be more difficult with art--they tend to not be as agreeable as elementary.

    And here's more bad news-I would stick it out until the end. If you leave mid-year, new jobs will ask why. You can say it was for health reasons, and they can ask nothing further for privacy reasons, but they may think that your health will affect your work, and may not hire you. There is reason many applications have how many days you have been absent. As you look for new work, try to spin your issues as much as you can--it wasn't a good fit, need a different challenge, something like that.

    You need to take care of your health--that is utmost. The first year is hard for anyone, but it sounds like you are struggling more than usual. You may want to rethink your choice, perhaps consider private school, or an art school, or something less chaotic. Don't want to crush your dreams, but if you are struggling this much with an elective class on a part-time basis, I do have legitimate concerns for your abilities to continue. Not to say that electives are easy, but generally, there are less discipline issues in electives, and the pressure for test scores is non-existent, so there is not as much administrative meddling as in a core class. On top of English, I have also taught speech, music appreciation, chorus, theatre and band, so I know what teaching electives is like, even as a roaming teacher (and I'm only certified to teach one of those)
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2018

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