I moved to a new state and started at a new school. I’ve been teaching for 17 years, and this will be my 4th school, so I’m not a job hopper. My interview was great – the principal and I really seemed to hit it off and had similar views on many things. But now that I’m here, I’m finding I’m a bit overwhelmed. There’s a lot I wasn’t told, and didn't find out in my long-distance search. I’m trying to give it time, but I had no idea it would be like this. Things are extremely regimented in this school. You are handed a master schedule and expected to keep it “to the minute.” Everything is dictated to us. We have to use specific teachers editions, but we are expected to read from them word-for-word. No deviations. For ELA, there are 7 different manuals I must read from each day. I’ve never taught like this before. I’m expected to keep the teacher’s manual on my lap at all times. I’m to spend 7 minutes on one manual, then switch for 10 minutes to the next, and so on. We have to use timers to make sure we don’t go over. Sometimes I get so confused I have no idea which pages I’m supposed to be on. I’m used to writing lesson plans, and teaching from the plans. Many times, the students have barely started and we have to move on. Many times they don’t “get it” but I can’t stop and teach it a different way. There is no flexibility allowed. None. We aren’t allowed to do centers or workstations. They are specifically banned. Students who finish early are only allowed to do one thing – read leveled books and write a reflection for each book read. For read alouds, I must use the one designated by the teacher’s manual. And those are not great literature, or even very interesting. Mostly it will say “read chapter 3" from this book or the next. They don’t even get a whole book! My reading groups are grouped for me by a computer program. My rotations are spelled out. There is no teacher choice at all. I have to follow the school’s discipline plan, and it is pretty harsh. I realize this makes it consistent for the whole school, but it doesn’t make any exception for students who have disabilities or who are struggling. In my 17 years, I’ve never had any problems with classroom discipline, and while this is a tough school, I’ve taught in tougher. There are a lot of rules I didn’t know about. No centers. No crayons. No coloring or illustrating. No prizes. No candy. No rewards of any kind. We aren’t even allowed to say “good job!” We are required to be “neutral” in our responses. No birthday celebrations. No holiday celebrations of any kind. No special projects or art work. Not even stickers! If it isn’t in the teacher’s manual, I can’t do it. No go noodle. No brain breaks. I personally don’t like basals, but we aren’t even allowed to use the brand new basal series or workbooks that are sitting in our closet. They are required by the rest of the district, but we are “exempted” from that requirement, and told not to touch them. They just sit in the closet. No worksheets of any kind. Our math curriculum calls for the use of manipulatives, and you’d expect that would be essential. But there aren’t any basic manipulatives available when I need them. No counters, no snap cubes, only a handful or random place value blocks. Since I can’t use worksheets, and I can’t use teacher created materials, and I certainly am not allowed to use TPT, and the manipulatives don’t exist, I’m struggling. I’m told to just have them draw it with a pencil. It’s hard to use a pencil in the place of counters on a tens frame, when your trying to do addition or subtracting. We draw a circle with an R in it for a red counter, and a circle with a Y in it for a yellow counter, but that just doesn’t help 7 year olds “see it.” And drawing snap cubes on the paper isn’t really much help either. I only have 1 student on grade level. All the rest are far below grade level. Eight are on a beginning kindergarten level. But we are required to teach only at a second grade level. We are supposed to “scaffold up” to bring them up to level. But we can’t adapt any of the teaching or lessons or homework. The students are beyond frustrated. I can’t say that I blame them. I feel sad all the time, and can’t imagine what the children are feeling. There is no joy left for me. I really miss that. I’ve always, no matter how rough things were, enjoyed teaching. I go home sad and depressed every night. There are several other new teachers on my grade level (everyone on my team is new except for 1), and they are expressing the same concerns. We all have more than 10 years experience. We all had the same positive interview experience. None of us had any idea of the rest of it. We’ve expressed our concerns, but have been told in no uncertain terms that , while they appreciate that we care about the students, this way works and we will not deviate from it. You can’t even “just close your doors and teach” because at least once an hour, someone comes in to check and make sure you are exactly where you are supposed to be. I feel like I’m always being watched – we all do. It’s done to everyone, not just the new teachers. I’m not sure I can do this, but I signed a committment for a year. I’m not sure how I’m going to make it. I have a Master’s degree and 17 years of successful teaching under my belt, but all I’m allowed to do basically, is read from manuals. How do you keep teaching when the joy is gone?