I don't know if teaching is for me...

Discussion in 'High School' started by TeacherNTurmoil, Apr 14, 2008.

  1. TeacherNTurmoil

    TeacherNTurmoil Rookie

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    Apr 14, 2008

    Hi all...
    I am a high school English teacher. I teach mostly 10th grade English classes. I am currently in my second year of teaching (in the same area as the high school I attended, but in a different district). I am astonished and deeply dismayed every day by two things about my students:
    1) The really low levels of skills of my students. I have students in their second year of high school who cannot read or write coherently or legibly (a large number), forget about being able to structure an essay properly or even write something that makes any sense...
    2) The horrendous behavior of kids nowadays. I have students who argue with me all the time, students who will not be quiet no matter how many times I send them out of my room or to the office, students who swear and vandalize my classroom, and students who refuse to do work of any kind.
    I know that English is not the most entertaining subject for high school kids, especially non-readers, but isn't there some basic level of human decency that these kids can show me?
    I have always wanted to be a teacher, but I come to work every day hoping that I can just make it through one more day. I know that other teachers at the school I'm teaching at are struggling with the same issues, but I don't know whether they are dealing with these issues on the same scale as me or not. Behavior is obviously a big problem at the school I'm currently employed at and there doesn't seem to be a remedy of any kind in sight. I have considered quitting mid-year many times this year and wonder what advice any of you may be able to offer me about what I should do in the situation in which I find myself...? Is this kind of awful behavior standard across the board, or is this school an anomaly...? HELP!
    TeacherNTurmoil
     
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  3. lemonhead

    lemonhead Aficionado

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    Apr 14, 2008

    Aw. This post is sad. I am sorry you feel this way and are experiencing this. I know it has to be disheartening. Have you considered other schools or do you think all schools near you have the same issues?
     
  4. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Apr 14, 2008

    Well, you've made it this far, and you can make it til the end of this year. Have you thought about trying to teach in a private school or even in another district? Most of the times private schools don't have the enormous amount of behavior since parents pay for their students to attend the school. Plus you get some more freedom with curriculum. You said your school is known for its behavior problems? Maybe going to another school or district close by will be a better experience. Good luck with whatever you decide.
     
  5. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Apr 14, 2008

    It sounds like a lot of the things you describe come from basic classroom management issues. Can you share more about your classroom management plan? What methods, techniques, and strategies do you use to help maintain an appropriate classroom environment? How did you set the tone at the beginning of the year? What are your expectations for students, and how do you communicate those expectations? What consequences do students face (both in your classroom and beyond) when they choose to display inappropriate behavior?

    I teach in an inner-city school with huge gang issues, violence, drugs, etc. I see the same behaviors you describe. For the most part, though, I've been able to work around those sorts of things in my own classroom. I'm happy to share what has worked for me so far.

    (And I teach Latin, which is, I would have to say, far less interesting to a high school thug than is even English.) :)
     
  6. scienceteach82

    scienceteach82 Cohort

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    Apr 14, 2008

    -hugs- I know it is hard...I am in a similar situation. Not every place is like this...have faith, and it will get better :)
     
  7. jennyscout

    jennyscout Rookie

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    Apr 14, 2008

    I have the same problems with my students.
    ((HUGS)) I also teach high school English.
     
  8. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Apr 14, 2008

    Some years are definitely harder than others. It sounds like this is a rough one for you. Have you considered changing schools or even grades? I started in Jr High and realized VERY quickly it wasn't the grade for me. I would at least try and finish the year. In the meantime, hang in there, relax when you can, find something outside of the classroom that you enjoy, and stay healthy. Good luck!!!
     
  9. iSaint

    iSaint Rookie

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    Apr 15, 2008

    I just had two straight days of incidents with students that refused to do as asked, and began to argue with me. I'm in a high minority, small-town high school. There are schools that are better, and I know I'm going to have to find one to survive twenty years in the classroom (I'm 45 and only two years into teaching).

    The problem with the private school in our area is that the pay is about half of the public school salary, the benefits are much less attractive, you have 3-4 preps, and the parents are all over you if their baby 'is given' a C or less!

    Of course, things to get better with experience, including classroom management. I know Cassie753 has a lot of wisdom to offer. I also realize teaching bell to bell helps your classroom management issues. But, I just can't accept the fact that a student can't work alone for ten minutes without starting a conversation with another student and getting half of the class off track.

    I think I'm ranting and not offering solutions. Sorry! I do love teaching and will stick with it, wherever I go.
     
  10. TeacherNTurmoil

    TeacherNTurmoil Rookie

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    Apr 16, 2008

    Thanks...

    Hey all! Thanks for the encouragement and for letting me know that I am not alone in the problems that I am dealing with. I've heard over and over that the first couple years of teaching are the hardest and that it will get better with time; I just hope that this ends up being the case for me. And with response to Cassie's questions from her previous post: I have a very structured classroom management plan (called the System of Behaviors and Consequences) in which misbehavior is recorded with a step-by-step set of punishments that go along with the behaviors. We have been using this plan all year and it seemed to be a godsend at the start. Recently though, I have noticed that kids find it funny and really don't take it seriously. Many students do not show up for the punishments they are assigned and the administration does little to nothing to make them follow through on their obligations. I have resorted to writing referrals for the students who continue to display the aforementioned misbehaviors, but this has not yielded any more positive effects. To boot, and when I really think about it, the central problem is the lack of any consequences for (or even interest in) student misbehavior by the parents of the misbehaving students. I get responses like "Well what would you like me to do about it?" and "Well he doesn't listen to me either so I can't enforce punishments", etc. etc. What is wrong with these parents?! If I had behaved the way some of my students behave when I was in high school, I would've gotten a royal a%* whooping...
    Hope that clears things up!
     
  11. JerseyEnglish

    JerseyEnglish Rookie

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    Apr 17, 2008

    I am a first year English Teacher as well....I feel the same way you do. I am not happy where I am teaching or the grade level. I took the job knowing it was for only for a year. I am so happy that it is! I slowly have become less and less of who I am. I think that I need to try another district or work at a private school. I currently teach 12th grade English and it is just too much. I didn't even send a resume to apply for another job at my current school next year because I know that this school was not a good fit for me. I am going to finish my year with my head held high and still giving a 100% for my students. Next year will allow me to have a fresh start! I'm looking to teach a younger grade as well. If you are unhappy it will show to your students and colleagues. As a teacher you have good and bad days, however you need to know when to walk away because as an educator we affect so many people. If you aren't happy start sending out some resumes to other districts...Remember if you work at a job you love you will never work a day in your life. :lol:
     
  12. Enigma_X

    Enigma_X Rookie

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    Apr 17, 2008

    TeacherNTurmoil-

    As Bob is my witness, I could have written your first post myself- well, except that I teach freshman English. I'm thinking very, very hard right now about whether I want to put myself through any more of this.
     
  13. TeacherNTurmoil

    TeacherNTurmoil Rookie

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    Apr 18, 2008

    Teaching Really is a Rollercoaster Ride...

    Well after all of the awfulness that was the last couple of weeks at my job, a light at the end of the tunnel! I had a fantastic week with my students this week: they were polite, engaged, and on-task aboiut 95% of the time (and without much pushing and prodding from me). Most students completed their homework and they participated in a very complex and productive peer review session with the last lit. analysis essay they wrote for my class! Are they all little Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hydes or what?! It didn't even phase me when my "favorite" student said f*&k you to me loudly in front of the class. While she didn't receive the kind of punishment I think that she deserved for something like this, at least the administration gave her a detention for it (something that very rarely happens). I also found out that I will still have my position at this school next year if I so desire it, although I don't know how likely that will be. I feel guilty in some sense for not at least letting them know that I may be leaving so that they can let one of the other teachers who were pinked a couple of weeks ago that there may be a job available for them... Am I worrying too much? I also just found out that the school I'm at is going to switch to a modified block next year (thank the lord!), instead of the 8 period a day, M-F thing. All that remains is to see what my teaching schedule next year would look like here... I wonder when this will happen? Do I sound confused? I guess this is just the ups-and-downs on the rollercoaster ride that is teaching...? So this has been a good week for me; who's ready for a cocktail?! :)
     
  14. Doug_HSTeach_07

    Doug_HSTeach_07 Comrade

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    Apr 19, 2008

    I'm glad to hear your week was better this week. You are absolutely right- teaching is one big rollercoaster ride sometimes.
     
  15. OrangeBlossum

    OrangeBlossum Rookie

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    Teaching is hard... It is so frustrating.... but if you can weather the storm, it is so rewarding.

    I just read a very short book called "The Last Lecture" and something he said really hit home, although I can't remember the exact wording, the jest was.... if you are corrected and riden hard by your educators, that is a good thing.... it is when no one says anything about your mistakes you should worry, because then they don't care anymore.

    Your first couple years anywhere, you are going to be tested and run into the ground. By your 3rd year, the kids and parents will know you and what to expect out of you. Respect will follow. It sounds like you are building a solid foundation... keep with it. Your frustration shows you care, and the kids appreciate direction and leadership even if some days they don't show it.
     
  16. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Apr 21, 2008

    I don't understand why teachers get into arguments with kids who won't work. Ask them why they aren't doing it. They will answer with:

    A) It is boring.
    B) I don't get it.
    C) I don't know.

    Note that A and B are in fact the same answer. Any kid who says something is boring truly means they don't understand what to do. Our brains naturally like to solve puzzles so if they knew what the puzzle was they'd do it.

    If they answer C you give them the simple suggestion "Then, how about you get to it?"

    If they don't, so what? If they choose to fail they choose to fail. They are the locus of responsibility, not you. You will lose your class if you are constantly fighting the few who won't work.
     
  17. Historyteaching

    Historyteaching Cohort

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    I had to learn this year NOT to argue, my nature can be confrontational and I had to step back and realize that by arguing I was giving them the limelight and attention that they need/want to really take over the class. Whenever, I get in that situation I abruptly say, Its my rules and I'm not going to argue with you, if you want to see me again next year, that's fine by me.
     
  18. smarkham01

    smarkham01 Companion

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    Apr 21, 2008

    Hang in there! Both of these problems existed when you were in school (they sure did when I was), you just didn't have to live with them.

    Look at the number of adults (lets say 35 and older) who can't read well and certainly can't write. Their teachers were just as frustrated at what they saw as you are. Discipline problems have spread over the past fifty years or so, but they have always been present. So have uncaring parents. The biggest difference that I see is management - in the past students were actually expelled, now they're sent back to the class room - a decision that can only be changed by electing people, at the state level, who understand that not all students belong in a classroom.
     
  19. CindyBlue

    CindyBlue Cohort

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    Apr 22, 2008

    Oooo, I'm so relieved to hear that my private school isn't the only one where "parents are all over you" if their child earns a C or less...I am experiencing this personally! You just gotta hope you have an administrator with, er, courage, to stand up to the parents...I don't where I am, and I'm getting a LOT of heat for sticking to my guns on grades...sigh...sure makes life miserable sometimes...
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2008
  20. CindyBlue

    CindyBlue Cohort

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    Apr 22, 2008

    Be careful what you wish for - the block schedule is not good, at least not for me. Think about it - now you'll have that class full of, let's put it politically correctly, "hard-to-get-along-with" kids for 80 or 90 minutes, instead of 50 minutes...believe me, it's not fun...
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2008
  21. TeacherNTurmoil

    TeacherNTurmoil Rookie

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    May 23, 2008

    Yeah but you also get a break from them on the days that you don't have that class... thats the sunny side of things regarding block...!
     
  22. kilgore_trout

    kilgore_trout Rookie

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    May 23, 2008

    :sorry: You sound like such an awesome, dedicated teacher -- I hope you have more and more of those awesome weeks/days, and find some place or way to make it more livable for you! My deepest sympathies!
     
  23. LA/FLnewbie

    LA/FLnewbie Companion

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    May 23, 2008

    I have the same kids for the same 90 minutes every day...it gets long.

    I worry sometimes that I somehow don't have the "right" personality to be a teacher. I'm not even sure what that means any more, though.
     
  24. TeacherNTurmoil

    TeacherNTurmoil Rookie

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    May 30, 2008

    Sometimes I wonder that as well... Is it the end of the year yet?! I feel like time is DRAGGING!
     
  25. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    May 30, 2008

    Today was my last day subbing at my favorite school, and I came THIS CLOSE to crying in my car. If I'm still subbing next year it means that my job interviews went horribly wrong, but I'm going to miss these children. They make so much of the bad stuff worthwhile.
     
  26. wunderwhy

    wunderwhy Comrade

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    May 30, 2008

    I know what you mean about the kids' behavior seeming atrocious compared to how you acted. The funny thing is that I never realized I could be teaching kids who weren't like me--that I wouldn't necessarily start out as a new teacher and get to teach all the honors/AP kids. I think our expectations are skewed because we were the good kids, not because kids have gotten worse.

    I teach 10th grade English too. Every year I feel like I "get it" more and more. I'm not a cult of personality type person, but I have worked hard to get the kids on my side so they show me what respect and decency they're capable of.

    Seriously, years one and two were pretty much a wash in terms of having positive memories of the classes I taught those years. I just wasn't able to plan engaging lessons, keep up with grading, capture the kids' attentions, and curb misbehavior well all the time.

    But I love my job now. It's so nice to be at the end of the year with kids (especially since tenth graders mature so much throughout the year) you know well.

    Have you heard about your teaching assignment for next year? Maybe you'll like what you get better, and if you the same classes, well less stress preparing lessons.

    It's very normal to hit the wall at the end of the year (if not before!). That doesn't mean teaching isn't for you.
     

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