First Year Teachers, Take a Breath, and Take a Read For an Honest Take

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Jack Stories, Jun 21, 2020.

  1. Jack Stories

    Jack Stories New Member

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    Jun 21, 2020

    Going into teaching I wasn't REALLY sure what I was getting myself into. I'd seen teachers from cartoons such as Hey Arnold, Rocket Power and sitcoms like Boy Meets World (FEENEY), and I obviously remember the teachers I had. One thing to know about me is that I love the school environment. I never missed a day of school in my life. I got an award for it and $100 (which ended up being keg money for prom weekend). It's a melting pot of emotion, ideas, and just a general sense of beauty, in the form of diversity. So when I met with the superintendent of schools and he brought up my salary I realized that I had got the job.


    Now, my school is very unique, it is an all 6th grade school, in a melting pot town. There are "nice" and "wealthy" areas of this town (which is a very small percentage) and there are "not so nice" and "poverty stricken" areas (large percentage) as well. Growing up in a melting pot of a town as myself, I am (now) well aware of the luxury of seeing and spending time with all sorts of people of all shades of color. My town, however did not have any poverty stricken areas. Me, being white, however, was not used to seeing an African American dominated school. But, I was very excited regardless, for my first year teaching.


    So my first day in November finally came and you can imagine my excitement if you're a teacher. I finally got to meet my students, check out my classroom, the whole dance. The first thing I did was give them a Facebook Page worksheet so that I could find out more about them. I was a bit nervous about handing this out, I thought it was kind of dorky, but I learned something VERY quickly.....middle school students are the most egotistical human beings on this planet in the best way possible. They want you to know EVERYTHING about them and they also want everything to BE about them.


    Now after a few months, and my first two observations, I was in a little over my head. My observations had not gone too well, I was quite lost with the style of teaching I was asked to do. Im used to the "I do , we do, you do" style of teaching whereas now, I had to learn how to teach by being a "facilitator". This type of discovery learning meant that the students would discover new ideas on their own and I would move around the room to help out whoever needed it by scaffolding and using differentiated instruction. It sounds easy, but man is it tough to implement, especially never actually using this style of teaching before. Another quarry I found myself in is that, well, I'm not very good at math (whoops). I actually went to summer school for math and science my freshman-year of high school. You're probably wondering how I got this job, it really was through networking and a kick-ass demo lesson. Now, not only did I struggle with first year teacher duties, I also struggled with the content, double whammy if you will. I started to wonder....."can I actually do this?" "Everyone is so much better at math than me." (This was true, I had to reteach myself a lot of what I was actually supposed to teach, but as they say, teachers are lifelong learners). I would stutter a lot if students put me on the spot. Sometimes I would actually give incorrect answers or shoot down students who did the problem a different way, instead of celebrating and using it as a teachable moment. I was always nervous as hell. My anxiety was not forgiving in any way shape or form.


    I was also worried WAY too much about being friends with my students, and worried less about actually teaching them. I am a child in disguise. I wanted SO badly to be the "cool" teacher and be accepted by them. I would let A LOT of things slide (except for bullying, I was very adamant about that). My classroom management and procedures were non existent, and a lot of the teachers on my teaching team knew this, as well as administration. So some advice for you new teachers....DO NOT worry about being the cool, hip, young teacher. It will come naturally once you are comfortable. Now, if you can naturally be a cool teacher while also teaching the hell out of these kids, then by all means, throw on the sunnies. I also learned quickly that kids are mean. They are flat out mean. Theres no way around it. The majority are in that phase where they "know too much" for their age and not only do they know it themselves, they also want to show the WORLD! My first year, there was literally a group of girl students who would watch porn in the hallways. One of my students tried to metaphorically use the N-word in algebra. Thankfully I caught that one RIGHT away and nipped it in the ass on the spot. They realize they can wield this power.....this power of writing.....of speaking.....of showing......and the majority use it for good...while some......let me explain.


    About 4 months into my first year teaching I knew my students well. I know who I could trust, and who I could not trust to keep it simple. So around February, my grandma was in hospice....She lived a long full-filling life, but that was something I had to deal with in the classroom. So in order to keep getting updates on her I had to put my phone in a specific place in my room to get service. There I was teaching away. The bell finally rings, and I walk over and, "well my phones gone" I say to myself. I look high and low, I tear my classroom apart. I even looked behind the bulletin board paper and outside my windows. I could not find that phone for the life of me. I thought to myself, "no way a kid took it, theres just no way"....I thought better of my students. When I realized my phone was actually gone I had my teacher team send me three kids who were sitting closest to where the phone had been. One of these students, of course, was best friends with the principal (in the sense that she was in trouble 24/7). I said to these three students, "Hey guys, so my grandmother is in hospice and I am getting updates of her on my phone. Now I am by NO MEANS blaming or assuming any of you took it but you did you see it or have any idea where it could have gone?".....These 3 students looked me dead in the eye and said "no, we have no idea where it is." The honesty in their voices and the expressions on their faces made me realize that A) Either they really didn't take it or B) It's unsettling what children have become.


    At this point I went to my principal to explain to him that my phone went missing. I will mention that at this point I was not exactly my principals biggest fan. He seemed very aggressive and authoritative in the adult sense. His way or the highway kind of guy. But man, did I have a new respect for him after what he did next. He called down my entire team of students to the auditorium. It must have been about 160 students. Now as you can probably guess, my principal is intimidating. Hell, if I ever hear him yelling at a kid I actually get goosebumps myself. No way around it, he knows how to make his presence known.


    He shut the doors to the auditorium and started to speak. "Mr. Jack's phone went missing 5th period, does anyone know what happened to it?"........*crickets*...... He then decided to do things the "hard way" as his voice got louder and students slouched in their seats. He was damn ready to keep these kids in the auditorium until nightfall. He then passed out a piece of paper to each student and asked them to write down their name if they knew who took it.......Students began to write. These kids were scared shitless, honestly I was a little scared myself. I had never seen my principal this angry.


    The students finally handed in the piece of paper. It was so quiet you could hear the flag waving in the wind from outside of the school. I looked through them with the assistant principal and we found the girls who I had questioned prior to this meeting. One girl, we'll call Anabelle, said she knew nothing about it. Anabelle is best friends with the principal. We read another response from a girl named, for now, Leah. Her response gave me a sense of satisfaction and relief. Her response also gave me an uneasy feeling in my stomach. Leah wrote down that Anabelle took the phone....


    I then waited while the assistant principal went to her locker and, low and behold, found my phone. I felt embarrassed, weak, abused........by little 12 year olds. I felt like I couldn't return to work the next day. Is this what being the cool teacher meant? That I would get my possessions stolen from me? Is this what teaching is?


    Now some of you may not agree with my word choice for this next part. I thought about Anabelle recently, which is why I'm including her in this post. I thought about her antics, her style, her as a person. The fact that while a grown man was on the verge of tears, pleading for his phone so he can check on his ill grandmother, this f****** child sat there, with a straight face, and said "I have no idea what happened." I'm sorry Anabelle, I know you're 12 years old, but your future honestly scares me. Anabelle needs saving and I hope she finds it. This bitch (Im sorry I had to, sue me) has no regard for authority and I worry for her future. I tried to help her along with the counselors and her other teachers to no avail. She didn't show one ounce of remorse for what she did. I got no apology from her. She played it off as if nothing had happened. I'm sorry but if that doesn't frighten you.....I get the shivers just thinking about it.


    Now fast forward to my Annual Performance review. I was considered for continued employment. Thats all fine and dandy, but I had that thought.....that title thought....."what the actual f*** did I get myself into". My biggest takeaways from my first year are as followed in no particular order:


    1. First year teachers have absolutely no idea what they are doing, and thats perfectly ok. Just finishing year 3 (yes in the same school) it gets SO much better.

    2. Kids are mean

    3. Kids are also nice

    4. Do not try to be the "cool" teacher

    5. You need need need need to set expectations and procedures early otherwise those kids will trample all over you

    6. My principal cares

    7. You will get shot down, brought to your knees, cry. These are all normal happenings of a first year teacher and in life in general

    8. You cannot save every kid. Please give it a try, but do not waste too much time because you have 80 other minds to mold
     
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  3. Jack Stories

    Jack Stories New Member

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    Jun 21, 2020

    Any comments or questions message me idividually!
     

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