Help, just can't deal anymore.

Discussion in 'Middle School / Junior High' started by ChanseyWMU, Dec 9, 2008.

  1. ChanseyWMU

    ChanseyWMU New Member

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    Dec 9, 2008

    Well, hi everyone. I respect those of you who have stuck this profession out for years a lot and know you're probably tired of hearing whining from newbies but I just am not cut out for this yet financial situations that prevent me from going back to school and the lousy economy not providing many job openings means I'm stuck teaching. Right now I'm in about my 9th week of a long term sub position. I am done with it a week from tomorrow but obviously I have to continue working so I will have to find more teaching employment since it's all I'm qualified to do.

    I started out two years ago with a pre-internship in 7th grade English in a small town that was mostly a positive experience. I liked the kids and thought 7th grade there was positive and enthusiastic.

    Then I had a student teaching experience in 10th and 11th grade English at an urban school in a mid sized city (Kalamazoo, MI) the staff besides my mentor teacher (who picked up interns for the purpose of roaming the school and gossiping and had a rep for it) was very helpful and although classroom management was sometimes difficult and lesson planning was hard due to my mentor never filling me in on what curriculum I was supposed to be using and our incredibly old texts (Dating back to the mid 80s) bored and confused the kids. I still came out of that feeling optimistic and went into day to day subbing.

    It was absolute hell every day, it was in the same district I did my internship in and the kids went wild. I had to write constant referrals, send students to the office, and saw behavior that was just beyond the pale of what I'd ever expect (a girl, provoked by a minor insult, stabbed a boy with a pair of scissors - they were dull and it didn't cause any serious injury or cut that deep but it's pretty serious and I was blamed for it - as if I expected *THAT* reaction and what was I supposed to do if I saw it? Block the scissors?) That led to a complaint being filed about me by that school's vice principal (who actually was mad that I felt that the girl was the one deserving the punishment, and not the boy who made a minor insult about her appearance) and I was put on a hold that kept me from work for about a week near the end of the school year where I desperately needed money and I think cost me a summer school position that I needed and was likely to get.

    Then I moved home to an upper middle class suburban area where I had worked on and off as a sub para for years, they removed me as a guest teacher after one week because they said I broke their technology agreement because I logged onto a teacher's computer using the password they left out due to a lesson plan that they left that required me to do so! Not to mention that I was told five minutes after I came in that I was subbing for a completely different grade and subject than I accepted the posting for which to me is completely unprofessional of the school and I should've been allowed to reject the job at that point.

    I bounced back from that and got a long term substitute teaching position for Spanish in an upper middle class school district nearby. The kids are spoiled, lazy, apathetic and rude. They're mean to each other, disrespectful and defiant of me and their unseemly glee at their full time teacher coming back really has me down after how nice I've been to them and how much work I've done. The administrator I liked, who hired me is out due to emergency knee surgery and now I'm working under this vice principal who I didn't meet until two weeks after I was hired. There was an incident that happened in my opened room (they encourage us to leave it open during lunch so students can drop things off) where a student was pantsed and ever since then she has been sniffing around my room and asking me a million questions. She doesn't understand anything about foreign language teaching or the pressures of being a long term sub who has no backup from the regular teacher - or any sympathy the fact that I'm paid a fraction of what even the starting full time teachers in the district make for doing the same job they do. I just can't hack it, the kids are snotty and bratty (I know every generation dislikes the one that came before it but I think this facebook/text messaging generation is going to cause us serious problems when they become adults with their need to be constantly entertained and lack of patience) and the administration doesn't back you up. Sorry for the long, whiny post and it feels hypocritical for how much I hate the whining from the kids but it seems like I went on this journey where I was a promising future teacher that all of my professors encouraged, who really wanted to work with kids to a guy who burned out on teaching in a few months, hates the paperwork, hates grading, and is starting to hate the kids. At least 7th grade. My 8th grade classes are mostly good if chatty and silly but 7th grade I can't handle anymore. They're mean and snotty, I have one girl who's been rolling her eyes at me for the whole time I've been there since the project that she wanted in her school portfolio was left in the full time teacher's car - which the full time teacher told me after I spent what felt like hours searching for it - and after all this work she blames me and I'm the bad guy. I've just had it with these kids and how they perceive me as a stupid jerk. I know I'm a capable teacher and I know some of my weak suits (long term lesson planning, managing a class during direct instruction [and really, how direct instruction are even veteran middle school teachers able to get in before the kids become restless and unruly?]) but it seems I just don't have opportunities, options, or help. My migraine problem with nausea/vomiting/vertigo that I have had mostly in check since *I* was in middle school is now back so I can barely stand up straight sometimes. I'm coming to you teachers because other teachers in other subjects are the only ones who have been helpful to me in this long, arduous year.

    I just want to know how I can start liking this again, how I can get my optimism back. Is it the school, the job, the kids, me? Am I turning into the kids where my perception is instantly my reality? If I was willing to work for so little pay in a field with few job opportunities than at some time this must have been something I was passionate about. Why do I feel like I'd rather clean sewage tanks?
     
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  3. Sheba

    Sheba Companion

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    Dec 10, 2008

    Why not try a stint at a school overseas for a while? Maybe it's just me and my ego but if I were you I'd line up a gig at an international school somewhere I thought would be interesting, go find that principal who blamed you for the scissors incident and give him a stinking telling off in front of his students, and then jump on the next plane to a place with hopefully much less BS. (Just do your research very carefully before accepting a job in another country).

    Oh, and from your writing I can tell you're intelligent and have an above-average IQ but do get in the habit of recognising what a coma splice is and remember that parentheses don't substitute for full stops or you'll look a lot less smart than you probably are.
     
  4. KateL

    KateL Habitué

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    Dec 10, 2008

    I feel your pain. I'm teaching 7th grade inner city kids this year. They can definitely be a handful! It got pretty rough around Thanksgiving, but it's getting better this week. I started giving the students participation grades of 5 points each day for basically doing what they should be doing in class. I sold it to them by saying if they have a C or a D now in class, by behaving in class they can raise their grade to an A or a B by the end of the quarter. The students have really settled down and it is so much better now.

    One of your other points caught my attention. My principal always says that middle school students don't have an attention span much longer than 15 minutes, so we should make sure we switch activities every 15 minutes in class. When I do direct instruction, I make sure I move to guided/independent practice within 15 minutes if not sooner. I also try to switch between active and passive activities, and between silent and group activities. Have you been lecturing for more than 10-15 minutes at a time?

    Keep your head up! I'm sure some of your problems are due to the fact that you're a sub. How much longer will you be their sub? You can always count down the days and just try to get through it in one piece.
     
  5. sk8enscars311

    sk8enscars311 Companion

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    Dec 11, 2008

    Are you in a district where you can be assured a different sub job everyday? If I subbed in my hometown I'd have a place to go every single day because that many teachers miss and because they don't have a lot of subs. Maybe you can just take short term jobs until you figure something else out. While long term subbing gives you a little bit of stability it also is probably the hardest of all teaching jobs. You're there long enough to put up with the crap but there's not a whole lot you can do about it.

    Is is possible to sub in a neighboring county that could use you on a day to day basis? Maybe try to sign on for several counties or districts and just hope that between them you get called. Obviously I'm not sure of your living situation, but there has to be a way to make this better. Can you sub for different grades and subjects? Maybe you could try covering classes of younger grades.
     
  6. ChanseyWMU

    ChanseyWMU New Member

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    Dec 11, 2008

    I'm counting the days and honestly I have very little of this left. I just feel like I'm looking down the barrel of a shotgun - this career is wreaking havoc on my health. I have had countless doctor appointments because my skin is broken out in hives and rashes, i have equilibrium problems and pain/headaches in my inner ear and vertigo symptoms along with my migraines. I think it's all due to the stress the kids are putting me through, and their constant complaints of boredom after having to do 10 minutes of work or listen for ten minutes really piss me off because of how bored and intellectually unchallenged I feel by this (I don't feel like I'm teaching Spanish since they don't seem to care about my subject and it goes in one ear and out the other no matter how much I think they're engaged: it feels like babysitting and some days I may have fallen into the trap of setting up a lot of independent work and treating it as such but hey, i'm a sub, if i was a day to day i'd spend most of the day reading books).

    When I'm done I'm back to day to day in the district that I'm working in now, work is pretty consistent from the experience I had prior to this job and they limit the subs they have so that the subs get work daily. However, I have certifications in two majors: I feel more than qualified for a full time job.

    Today I had this enormous headache because of something my vice principal told me to do (she's the interim principal)- I sent an email to a parent who's child has a minor heart defect, really, really, super minor: and he's been missing all kinds of time for it. I met her at conferences, and she's a single mother with a really blase attitude "I don't care about his grades in middle school because they're not going to affect his college". Well frankly he is not on pace to be college bound, he's missing large swaths of school and expects all of the adults in the building to molly coddle him and make sure he's caught up on every little bit. What's worse is when he's here all he does is talk and make trouble since he knows he's getting treated as an exception and can throw a big pity party for his health problems. High school teachers will have none of this and he's developing really bad habits. I suggested to his mother that he find reliable students in the class who can catch him up on work so he gets a complete picture of what's going on, but now I'm being "unreasonable" expecting the other students to help their friend: whom by the way they would. Ugh! It just pisses me off, "e-mail me the homework, I can teach him Spanish at home" -well take him out and homeschool him then! He's there more than he's here. "He had a doctor's appointment, his doctor wanted a blood test, etc..etc..." - Well A) Does his doctor know that children go to a thing called school during the day? B) Does his mother know there are doctors who are open after he gets out of school and she gets out of work? The whole situation just seems unacceptable to me and horribly unfair to the other students, I exempted him from tons of stuff that he should've been forced to make up just because I don't want to deal with this situation in my short term capacity. He seems like the only situation I talk about at lunch.
     
  7. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Dec 12, 2008

    This is an easy answer. Subbing sucks.

    I love my job as a teacher but any time I am asked to cover even a single period as a sub I know it is going to be trouble. You are either a complete ogre and Machiavelli the kids into submission or you put your fingers in your ears and pray for the hour to end quickly.

    The problem is, as you just said, you know your job is temporary so it changes how you deal with things and the kids know it is temporary as well so they won't fully take it seriously.

    Aim for a full time position and your outlook will certainly improve. For whatever reason it is simply different (and better) when they kids are "yours" and not just some you're watching over.
     
  8. DallasTeacher

    DallasTeacher Companion

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    Dec 31, 2008

    You're so right! My 7/8th graders turn to pure devils when there is a "sub." I've even had the principal come get me out of another classroom to "get my class under control." I've also had subs refuse to return to this class. The fact that this is a class of 24 males and 4 females, over 1/2 of which have been in legal difficulties, and 11 have done "time" in juvie doesn't matter. There's a fine balance in this class and the first week was pure he*l on all of us. They had to learn that I meant business and none of them scared me. It was my classroom, my rules, and my way of doing things and that I wouldn't hesitate to call their probation officer and have them removed. Once we all understood each other, things are wonderful IF I'm there. I also have a wonderful retired judge who volunteers and is serving as a mentor to some of the boys. Since I had to have surgery the week before school was out and won't be back for at least a week, he comes daily for this class. Yes, a sub also comes, but he is in charge of the classroom as he knows the personalities. I guess I was paid the highest compliment of my teaching career recently when one of the "worst" offenders, wrote on a card to me that his life was different because of me and my subbornness. He knew that he was responsible for his actions and couldn't continue blaming his situation on others.

    Look for your own classroom. You set and maintain the standards. These kids need consistency whether they want to admit it or not.
     
  9. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Jan 1, 2009

    I think a lot of teaching--including subbing--depends on your personality and the schools where you teach. I subbed both short term and long term and loved it. However, it was nothing compared with having my own classroom where I got to be the one to do everything . . . my rules, my schedules, my kids.

    Sure some days were better than others when I subbed, but that's the case with ANY job. And, yes, some kids are more personable than others . . . but when I'm working I have to like them all.

    People always told me that middle school was terrible, but that proved to be my absolute favorite, with 7th graders leading the list.

    I do, also, think that there are some schools that are just terrible places to work, and there are also some people who just aren't "teacher material".

    I'd say it was about 5 years before I was in the position that I really liked. During those 5 years I did day-to-day subbing at 8 schools, long-term subbing at two schools, and full-time teaching for three grades of high school and two grades/two subjects at middle school. I also did homebound instruction. I really liked that because I was able to teach, but I was also out and about during the day visiting students, and I liked working with them one-on-one.
     

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