I need advice

Discussion in 'New Teachers' started by butterflywoman, Mar 8, 2008.

  1. butterflywoman

    butterflywoman Rookie

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    Mar 8, 2008

    I'm a new teacher - first year special education and I want to stick with it. Unfortunately, my first year has not been strongly supported by my principal or the head of the department and I have been forced to turn in a letter of resignation effective at the end of my contract. I want to transfer somewhere else in the district but have been told by one person that since I was on a growth plan that I cannot. Another district person told me I could reapply with the district but she doubted I would get any offers. I'm filling out applications with districts I applied with before finding this job and don't know what to put on why I am leaving my other position? HELP! Also - can a principal be your mentor teacher? Can you be written up in the PDAS for students doing things in your class that apply to their accommodations and modifications if the principal doesn't know anything about your students and their special needs? Can you be told to teach on a certain grade level and not be provided with the proper materials to do so? Can you be told you have to have 90% of classroom time engagement by your students when they are special education students? I am totally lost and confused - HELP!
     
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  3. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Mar 8, 2008

    You've got a tough road ahead of you because of this. My suggestion is "look for the good" and use that. Think back to your major successes....the time Billy "got it" or that you managed to get Tina to follow her behavior chart. The positive experiences are where you need to focus right now.

    Other than saying "you didn't get the support you needed as a first year teacher" - don't speak ill of anyone.

    Start looking around for colleagues who think you do a great job, who you can use for reference letters.
     
  4. butterflywoman

    butterflywoman Rookie

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    Thanks for the information. However, you make it sound with the growth plan and resignation as if I will not be able to find another job. I certainly hope this isn't the case. I've worked too hard for my education and a job for this to happen and I have children of my own to support.
     
  5. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Have you turned in your letter yet?? ARe you a member of your union? One of the best pieces of advice I got from my mentor my first year teaching, was to NEVER go into a meeting with the principal with a union rep espically as a non-tenured teacher. You just don't know all the things that can hurt you in the end. If you haven't signed the resignation letter yet, you need to seriously consider the recommendations by Rainstorm - get something for agreeing to resign. I have no idea what things are like in your district regarding growth plans and resignations but you should speak with your union rep ASAP. Good Luck and I hope that everything works out okay.
     
  6. butterflywoman

    butterflywoman Rookie

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    I'm not a union member and I've already turned in my letter because I was told that it would be better to resign than to get non renewed.
     
  7. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Mar 8, 2008

    It won't be impossible, but you need to realize it can be very hard. When you are asked to resign, it is usually the same thing as saying "resign or we'll fire you." Potential employers know that. They know that if you resign while on a plan of action, it wasn't usually your choice.

    I don't think it is impossible. I think you may find others on here who have faced this hurdle and managed to find another position.

    But you also have to think clearly about it. Imagine that you have interviewed for aa potential school district. They have narrowed it down to three choices for a position -- a person with great credentials but no work experience, a seasoned veteran teacher who has moved to the area, and a person who resigned during their first attempt at teaching.

    You are going to have to come up with a "plan" on how to do "damage control."

    First thing, you have got to find out what your principal is going to say when he is contacted (and he will be) for a reference. This means you have to go to him NOW and find out. You don't want to learn later. If you know what he is going to say, you can undo some of the damage at your interview by bringing it up BEFORE they contact him.

    Some principals will work with you on this. Some are butt-heads. You need to know which one your are dealing with.
     
  8. butterflywoman

    butterflywoman Rookie

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    I can tell you right now that I believe I am dealing with a butt head. What he wrote in all of my paperwork was unbelievable and untrue. I can't trust at all that he will give me a fair shake on anything. I can't believe this is happening to me. My dream job that I worked so hard for has become a nightmare and everything that I have invested in becoming a teacher seems like it is being flushed down the toliet just because of this one man who has decided he doesn't like me.
     
  9. Ms Petunia

    Ms Petunia Rookie

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    Mar 8, 2008

    Don't give up. I feel bad that your first year teaching was a worst case scenario. Stand tall and proud, and believe in yourself. I think you should apply to other districts, but have a plan of action if you do not get a job offer. Keep working with children as a substitute teacher, take this as an opportunity to gain more experience. In my district special education teachers have difficulty finding subs, I believe it scares the unexperienced. This will give you the oportunity to shine in another district. It will also give you time to beef up your resume, letters of recommendations etc. Don't give up.
     
  10. butterflywoman

    butterflywoman Rookie

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    Thanks for the advice but I worked as a sub for four years before becoming a teacher. It took me 12 years to make it through college because I was going through a difficult time with a bi polar alcoholic husband and raising two children. I have two degrees and four certifications - I don't think I need that much experience. I needed support and guidance from my principal not the petty crap he's put me through.
     
  11. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Is there any one else at your school that would be willing to give you a good recommendation - an assisstant principal, any other special ed teachers, parents maybe. Like Rain said, you now should be concerned about damage control. Special Ed is usually always in demand so in that regard you are much better off than a gen ed teacher in this situation. When interviewing, you take the lead in explaining the situation however you MUST remain professional. Try your best to explain without emotion, blame or putting anyone down. Most people that have been in education for awhile understand that sometimes things just don't fit or work out.
     
  12. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Mar 8, 2008

    The only way potential employers will know if you were on a growth plan or the real reason you resigned is if you 1)tell them yourself or 2)they call the principal and he tells them. I was asked to resign last year, but I had the reason that I was pregnant and due early in the year so that wouldn't work for you. On applications I just put that I left because of distance and wanted something closer to home. That might be something that could work for you.
     
  13. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Mar 8, 2008

    Here is what will get you....

    I went and looked on our district's website, and on 2 neighboring districts.... their applications both contained this...

    Have you ever been refused a continuing contract? Yes No
    Have you ever resigned to avoid not being offered a continuing contract? Yes or No
    Have you ever been discharged from a teaching position? Yes No

    Here is the part that will get you.....

    References MUST INCLUDE:
    The names of at least three professionals must be provided and must include current employer if employed, or last employer if not currently employed.

    You must provide recommendations from principals
    and/or superintendents from all contracted educational work experiences within the past three years. If experience
    was not within three years, provide references from the last contracted experience.


    It also says that applications packages that do not include this, will not be processed or considered.

    You need to start looking very quickly at the applications from those other districts. Do they include wording like this?

    Like it or not, you are going to have to get a letter from THIS principal. Even if it isn't great, you may not even be able to apply for another teaching job without it.

    Without it, I can't imagine how you are going to get a job as a teacher.
     
  14. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Mar 8, 2008

    I see that you're in TX. I know in the districts that I've applied to don't ask those questions, but that's just been my experience. I wish you the best of luck. I know this situation stinks and not one that you were expecting.
     
  15. butterflywoman

    butterflywoman Rookie

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    I'm banking on my experience in special education most certainly and I do realize the shortage may be to my advantage but I'm sticking with special education because I've enjoyed my kids this year... even the trying ones. It's not what I expected and I know I don't know everything - I want to learn more.
     
  16. butterflywoman

    butterflywoman Rookie

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    Do I need to put down the principal or can I put down the district itself with the superintendent of human resources as the contact - she is one I met with when all of this happened. She said that I should stick with teaching and wished me luck but said because of district guidelines it really was up to the principal whether he wanted to keep me or not and that he didn't really need a reason - I know right now that I really can't trust anyone to be honest or at least that's what my experience has been - the head of my department is horrible about lying and right to my face about things - I just want to work and apply my education to what it's intended to be used for.
     
  17. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    I saw this on many application websites: When listing your references, please include administrators/supervisors for whom you have worked and who have had responsibility for observing and evaluating the quality of your work.

    I'm not sure how a superintendent who hasn't actually seen you teach could be a reference for you. Has she personally observed your class? If so, then maybe.

    Having worked in administration for over 12 years, and being on the hiring committee for 8 of those 12 years, I can tell you that nothing screams RED FLAG louder than not having your current (or most recent) direct supervisor as an enthusiastic reference.
     
  18. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Mar 8, 2008

    Butterfly,

    I realize that my posts may be coming across as negative, and that isn't what I'm intending. I think you are in a difficult situation, and it isn't going to be easy to "get out of this." Notice I said "not easy." I didn't saying "impossible."

    As I said before, I spent many years in adminsitration, and a great deal of that time in the hiring process. I've seen some things that do work to help mitigate these types of situations.

    First, put your direct supervisor's name on the application form. Anything less than that will seem like you have something to hide. Where it says "phone number" put an asterisk, and put "Please speak with me before contact my current employer." Most will just assume that you haven't told him you are looking for another job, yet. They won't think anything negative about it.

    When it comes to the part that says why you are looking for a new job -- put "see attached note."

    Include something like this.

    We have mutually agreed that my current teaching assignment is not a good fit. Looking back, there are many things I wish I had done differently. I was desperate to get my first teaching job, and took the wrong job. I didn't realize that I would be asked to "sink or swim" without the texts, resources and mentor-support I would need to succeed. I won't make that mistake again. I'm looking for an environment that is congenial, structured, and team-oriented, where my best talents can shine and were I can make a substantial contribution.

    And no matter what, no matter how tempting, don't speak negatively about your former principal or department head. Be a broken record of positive-ness. Talk about what you have to offer. Talk about how you want to succeed. Keep it all "you-focused."

    Good luck! Hope it helps.
     
  19. obro

    obro Rookie

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    What's a growth plan?
     
  20. butterflywoman

    butterflywoman Rookie

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    this really helps - I just couldn't put together the words that would reflect well on a new application but you said exactly what the situation is and wonderfully - thank you
     
  21. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    A growth plan is a list of things that a teacher needs to improve on and strategies for improving those things. At least that's what it is in my area.
     
  22. butterflywoman

    butterflywoman Rookie

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    Which is really funny because I did everything on my growth plan - it was really very vague and included what I considered to be my day to day teaching responsibilities to begin with but my principal said he saw no growth according to my plan and did not set foot in my classroom from Nov - Feb ??? I'm pretty much sticking with the belief that he just plain and simple decided for whatever reason that he did not like me and of course I can't do anything about that but I really hate that this is putting a negative against me my first year when I know it wasn't me at all. I get along great with the parent I have worked with in fact getting many wonderful calls and emails thanking me for all the work that I do - I get along with 98% of my kids - I can't say 100% because there is always one in the bunch that will be difficult and I actually have two but I've gotten great feedback from one of the parents - I love everyone that I work with except the head of my department and I don't necessarily not like her I just know what to say and what not to say when dealing with her. I want to thank everyone that has posted here. You have given me hope and great leads with what to write. If you don't mind, please pray that I find another job this year as I have put everything in God's hands with this - for Him to lead me on to something bigger and better - thank you again!
     
  23. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Mar 11, 2008

    Anything new butterflywoman? Have you started applying for new positions? Have you spoken with your principal?
     
  24. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Mar 11, 2008

    butterflywoman, the same thing happened to me last year (not my first year). The principal put me on a growth plan that was very specific. I did everything on there to a T. The P was supposed to come in 3 days a week to observe my classroom after making the changes she wanted to see. I never once saw her! The next time I did was in her office with her "suggesting" I resign. It wasn't such a blow to me at the time because I was planning on looking closer to home, but it still hurt especially since I had done everything, everything on the growth plan and worked my tail off to make those changes, and she couldn't break away and do what she said she was going to do in the growth plan. :mad:
     
  25. butterflywoman

    butterflywoman Rookie

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    I have not spoken to my principal for several reasons 1) he is being very childish right now and blatantly ignoring me in front of other teachers 2) I have tried talking to him in the past and was given a bunch of bs 3) I have pretty much given up getting anywhere with him and just want to move onward and upward. He sees things his way and only his way.

    I have no idea why he has decided he is not happy with me - I have wracked my brains trying to figure out what I did wrong but I can think of nothing. This is the same person that recommended me for another job in the district and said he was happy to do so because he felt like I would be a great asset to the district - my the difference a few short months make.

    I believe that he and the head of my department have someone else in mind for the job and I wish them all the best in finding someone - I'm sure there are qualified people out there but you know what - there are also wolves in sheep's clothing that interview real well but don't really know what they are doing - and while I may not have gotten a real strong start - it definitely would have been better had I gotten the right support.

    I'm a firm believer in what comes around goes around and you reap what you sow. I just got back tonight from meeting with several of my parents and they were all thrilled with the progress their kids have made. He doesn't know what he's losing but I'm sure some day he will.

    I am currently updating my resume and have had one fellow teacher already write me a recommendation and three others that have agreed to which I am waiting on - guess what - one is the head of my department - I'm not sure whether or not this person is still playing games or will actually support me in finding a new job - I'm hoping this person will realize what a mess they have caused in my life and will do what is right.
     
  26. butterflywoman

    butterflywoman Rookie

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    And they wonder what is wrong with our schools these days when we are expected to jump through hoops but no one wants to support us or be honest. That's what kills me. I was brought up to be honest and since this is my first job teaching - actually my first job in years and I'm almost 40 - it's difficult for me to understand all of this game playing. I'm just not into games - this is serious business for me, not only for the kids I am involved with at school but for my own family's sake.
     
  27. butterflywoman

    butterflywoman Rookie

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    I have put in applications with every district in my area. Nothing has changed with the principal. He won't even look at me when he walks down the hall and He hasn't set foot in my room since November.

    I have gotten 7 really wonderful letters of recommendation - including one from a district representative. I don't know how much that will count when people are looking at all my information, but I am praying that everything will fall into place the way God has planned.

    My students on the other hand are soaring and I'm getting such good feedback from them and their parents. I truly love my job and it hurts me beyond belief that I have bonded so well with many of my students but I will not be there to see them again. I know that's silly but I really care about the kids.
     
  28. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I'm sorry to hear all of this, and I know I'm late in the thread, but, one thought struck me. You say you're getting wonderful feedback from the parents. I think you should use that to negate anything negative from the principal. Make a copy of anything in writing...emails, letters, cards, ect, from parents and include them in your portfolio.
     
  29. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    So interesting- I've never heard of growth plans other than here on the forums...If a teacher is having difficulty and is a non-tenured teacher in my district, the administrators would talk to that person and offer suggestions for how to improve- the only place something might be written is under a 'suggestions' section on an observation. Also if someone is let go from my district that wouldn't preclude them from applying to other districts- there really isn't a 'death warrant' as there seems to be for teachers here on the forums who have had growth plans that didn't work out and who are asked to resing or are not renewed...so sad...it almost seems that those with growth plans have the decks stacked against them...
     
  30. butterflywoman

    butterflywoman Rookie

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    It feels like that sometimes. I keep wondering exactly how it looks when people are looking at my application - will they look at my resume and see what I am experienced in? Will they take an honest look at my references? My head is swimming with everything I have been through this year but... I've enjoyed my kids at school and when it all boils down to it - or at least for me, I guess - that means more than anything that the principal can say. He's been completely unprofessional all year long - it amazes me. He's so complimentary to the teachers I work with that don't follow district guidelines and have had numerous parent complaints but with me - he summed it up with one statement, "I don't believe you are providing your students with engaging activities!' That's a cop out!
     
  31. butterflywoman

    butterflywoman Rookie

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    Apr 23, 2008

    Okay - I really could use some advice and from some of the conversations going on here - I know many of you have the experience to help out.

    This is from one of the school districts that I have submitted my application with - could you look at the questions and the answers and guide me in some way, shape or form. It would be greatly appreciated. I can change the application if my answers are not suitable.

    Thank you all so very much.

    They did ask about resignation instead of non-renewal and unsatisfactory performance rating - this is what I wrote:

    Have you ever failed to have a contract renewed with a school system? No
    Have you ever been dismissed from employment with a school system? No
    Have you ever been asked to resign? No
    Have you ever resigned in lieu of non-renewal? Yes
    Have you resigned from, or otherwise left, any type of employment to avoid investigation for alleged misconduct and/or dismissal in Texas or any other state or place? No
    Have you ever had a certificate, credential, license, application permit or other document authorizing public school service or teaching suspended, revoked, limited, reprimanded, voided, denied, or otherwise rejected in Texas or any other state or place? No
    Are you now the subject of any inquiry, disciplinary action, review, or investigation, in any district, by a teacher-licensing agency, or in the courts of Texas or any other state in connection with any alleged misconduct? No
    Have you ever reached a settlement agreement with a former employer? No
    Have you ever received an unsatisfactory performance evaluation from an employer? Yes
    Have you ever been placed on disciplinary probation or been suspended from any position? No
    Have you ever received a dishonorable or bad conduct discharge from the military? No
    Were you ever subject to court martial? No


    Explanation for YES answers: My principal advised me that it was his opinion that I was not providing engaging enough activities for my classes and stated he would not renew my contract. I did speak to him about the activities that my classes took part in, which included working with the mobile computer lab, brain pop, united streaming videos, hands on activities, grade level novel reading, class discussions, workbook activities and whiteboard activites, as well as various other hands on activities between both my language arts and reading classes. I also discussed with him the positive feedback that I had received from my 'mentor teacher', a district Special Education representative and a district ELAR representative that had spent time in my room.

    There was no resoluation to the situation so I submitted a letter of resignation. The performance evaluation was my PDAS on which I was rated poorly due to several items that I did not understand. They included being reprimanded for students being out of their seats and students that were not on task or not engaged and students that wanted to always be called on to answer the questions at hand. I tried to discuss the fact that my off task student was having difficulty due to the recent separation of his parents, which I had only learned about after the day of my observation - the student always wanting to answer questions was an MR student who was trying very hard to take part in class and the two students out of their seats were vision impaired students that needed to see the board we were working on so their movement was part of their accommodations - there was no resolution to this situation either.
     
  32. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    EEEK, butterfly...I don't recall this many questions on any school app I've filled out...

    I think I would talk about a conflict of philosophies in your explanations...Talk about your belief in and use of hands-on engaging actvities which your administrator either did not notice or did not believe in. Talk about your philosphy of a child-centered classroom which respects all learners- this helps your explanation of the kids out of seats and the MR kid's need to participate. I think taking this approach puts you in a better light- as a child focused, empathetic and thoughtful teacher who happened to be in a school where your style was not a match for their philosophy...
     
  33. butterflywoman

    butterflywoman Rookie

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    I hate to ask this and I really hate to sound so pathetically sad but with that being said - this is my first year to teach and I'm 39 years old. I spent 12 years going to school due to taking care of a mentally ill husband and two children plus health concerns of my own. I've worked really hard for this and I don't want to let this one jackass stand in my way of the rewarding career that I have dreamed of - could someone please help me reword this - I've tried not to sound angry or accusatory - I'm not sure whether I succeed but I know it's missing something.
     
  34. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Apr 26, 2008

    butterfly, I only read the first page of this thread, but I understand how you feel. I was in a similar situation. At 31, I got my 1st teaching job & not just new to teaching, but special ed teaching. In Feb of that school yr, my principal lowered the boom that I wouldn't be rehired. I didn't like the school anyway, so I didn't put up a fight or even see if I could reapply somewhere else in the district. The district was so tiny (only 4 schools) & I didn't want to work at any of the other schools anyway. Even the union president said I was better off.

    The last two mos of that school yr, I was chosen as a juror & that was the best two mos of my life. The courthouse was 5 min away from my house, I got to talk w/ different people, listen to an interesting case, & still have my teacher salary, so I had no complaints! When the case was over, so was the school yr & I was free to enjoy my summer!

    Good luck! Things happen for a reason.
     
  35. mikaelab

    mikaelab Rookie

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    Apr 26, 2008

    Make sure that when you find a new job you join the union. Districts give a "choice" but generally if you don't join you still have to pay a large fee that is only al little less than union dues. It is worth it to get the protection if you can.
     

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