I want to break my contract

Discussion in 'General Education' started by 2ndYearTeacher, Aug 27, 2016.

  1. 2ndYearTeacher

    2ndYearTeacher Rookie

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    Hi all. I am a 2nd year teacher, but this is my first year at a title 1 school in Texas. I'm in an urban area, and I was assigned to teach the only ESL K class. However, I did not get the full story because that also means that I get every single student with a behavioral problem, disability, extreme health problem, speech problem, etc. I have, officially, 8 of my 20 students who have files with serious issues. Yes, it's Kindergarten so some may scoff. However, the fact that it's Kindergarten compounds the issue as this is the first introduction to structure for the vast majority of my kids. Of those 8, the files on them do not cover all I have noticed in just the first week. In addition to those 8, I have spotted 3 more that I can see have yet undiagnosed behavioral problems. I have taught K before so my expectations of behavior are very realistic. I have not been trained for the health issues nor extreme behavioral problems. Two of my students appear to be on the spectrum, but I can only ask for help as I'm in no way equipped to make that judgement nor am I prepared to handle it in a way that is best for me nor my students. My class is a zoo, with chairs turned over, students getting up and leaving, physical scuffles, students climbing tables and bookshelves. I have to yell through my instructions because they simply cannot be quiet. Positive reinforcement has done little, losing privileges has done nothing. I know it's week 1, but I've never seen anything like this. Most importantly, if I had known this I NEVER would've taken this job. I have always said I cannot do a self-contained room with health, sped, behavior issues. I expected accommodations for maybe 2 to 3 students tops, but not more than half. I know my limitations. The students have zero fear. Some cannot communicate. One sweet student knows only a handful of words in any language. My other 9 students deserve an education, but they get so little instruction because my class is chaos. I can see their frustration and sadness in my class. I am overwhelmed, and I do not want to stay at this job. I have a family of my own and I cannot give my entire life over to my classroom. My own child deserves part of me.

    I want to ask to be released from my contract, but I don't know if my career will recover. I don't even know how to ask. I am asking for advice and I appreciate any input.
     
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  3. Luv2TeachInTX

    Luv2TeachInTX Comrade

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    Aug 27, 2016

    I would talk to your principal about your concerns first. Since you are experienced and know what to expect from a K classroom that should give your words some weight and authority. Ask if some children can be spread out so the responsibility is not on you alone. They cannot realistically expect one person to teach a population of students that are that severe. From your description it sounds more like a SPED class than a gened class. :(
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2016
  4. Teachertimes

    Teachertimes Rookie

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    First take a deep breath. The first week of school was hell for me. I have a difficult mix of kids as well. I don't mean this in a rude way at all. You say you are a second year teacher. Then say you have taught K before so your expectations aren't unrealistic maybe you just had a really easy going class. Title 1 schools get extra support for a reason, they need it. The first week of kindy they are still babies.

    I would not break your contract, especially since it doesn't sound like you have anything else lined up. How are your teammates? What kind of support system have you developed at this school?
     
  5. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    You've got to practice, practice, PRACTICE your procedures and lay down the law! If they don't do it right, you do it again, and again, and again even if it means coming in during their free time. Instead of recess, they can spend that time practicing sitting down and lining up... still getting exercise, it's just not as enjoyable. I had the same exact problem with my kids and that's exactly what I did. I COMMANDED it from them! They weren't going anywhere or doing anything, especially fun, unless they earned it. And then when that's made clear ("Oh s/he doesn't mess around" however they'd say it in Kinder - language), you can start to build up everything else. Remember you have to MODEL everything for them and make sure they practice the right & wrong ways. "This is how we do it," and "this is how we don't " and then they need to see and practice doing EVERYTHING! Don't assume or underestimate ANYTHING especially since they are really young and need to be taught how to act in a classroom for the first time. I wanted to resign, but didn't, and was glad I stayed.
    :)
     
  6. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Aug 27, 2016

    Was your first year in public or private?

    To be honest, it doesn't sound like your class has more problems than those kinder classes I know from schools with similar populations. Kinder teachers are worth millions since they often have undiagnosed students and are on the front lines. Could you ask if a para could come in and be another set of eyes?

    What do the other kinder teachers say? Do they have any advice? That would be my first thing to do. Ask the veterans of your building for help. If you have not taught this population, consider yourself as if you are a newbie and ask for help. No one will blink an eye at a second year asking for help. If you are smart, you'll always ask for help when you need it. I still go to colleagues and ask for opinions and many times, they have fewer years under their belts than I do. Getting another opinion is not a sign of weakness.

    I wouldn't resign if I were you unless you are in an urban area with districts that still have openings and they are desperate for teachers. If you are from an area like mine, it would be doubtful if you were hired in the area again. Ps talk. Once you get a bad reputation, you basically would have to move to another area of the state. It might not be fair, but you would have the rep of someone who couldn't hack it. Again, that may not be fair at all, but from what I've seen in the last twenty years or so, it's what I think would happen.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2016
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  7. minnie

    minnie Cohort

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    Aug 28, 2016

    I have taught kinder for 10 years. It's HARD, HARD work! Especially the first month. Here's what worked for me with behaviors:
    Kinders are babies when they come and most know NOTHING about how to behave in school. They're barbarians almost. They are major visual learners as we all know and even when I modeled good and bad behavior, they would still forget. So I went to Google images and found pictures of students not behaving (crawling under tables, throwing things, hitting, etc). I cut them out and put them on a poster board with a sad face above them. Then, I printed out pictures of students behaving (raising hands to talk, sharing, sitting at their table doing their work, etc). I cut those out and put them on a poster board with a happy face above it. I put this poster board right where our calendar activities are so they would see it first thing in the morning. Every morning I would point to those pictures and have the kids tell me why they were being good students or bad students. It worked well because they always had a visual throughout their day.
    Hang in there! The first month of kinder is difficult!!!
     
  8. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Awesome, straight forward instructions, minnie. I am considering that for my HS students who missed your lessons in kindergarten! ;)
     
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  9. Milsey

    Milsey Habitué

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    Why don't you have an aide in there? I would put them in some sort of a playpen until they can behave.
     
  10. ChildWhisperer

    ChildWhisperer Groupie

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    Last year was my first year with a lower income population after teaching in an affluent area with well-behaved kids for 5 years (didn't change grades, just schools/zip codes!). What really helped with the kids' behavior was a great assistant! My first one was never in the room, so it was just me and I didn't know how to handle these kids since I had previously only had kids who listened. Luckily she got a new job and they gave me an older, experienced lady as my assistant and that changed everything.
    I'd ask for an extra pair of eyes & ears (and hands)!
    I also looove minnie's idea. I might do that this year! I teach preschool so it's definitely their first time in a school setting.
     
  11. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    :eek: Sad.
     
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  12. mrsammieb

    mrsammieb Devotee

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    I know exactly how you feel. Remember that K is kinda a hot mess the first month ANYWAY! Just remember slow and steady. You'll be okay. Do you have help? If you have all those labeled students in your class it seems like you should be in a co-taught classroom?
     
  13. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Sep 5, 2016

    All I've gotta say is that kinder teachers are worth their weight in gold!

    During these first few weeks of school, my kinder team looks completely wiped out at the end of each day! I always remind them of the phenomenal strides their students make every year (they sometimes seem to forget that they take their kids from 0 to 60)!!!
     
  14. Teachling

    Teachling Groupie

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    Me too for my 5th graders! :)
     
  15. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    This is a good idea because those young ones don't know what's not appropriate. Also, I would just focus on routines and procedures before hitting the academics. You've got to get them to function as a class first before any learning can happen, so I'd make that a priority.
     
  16. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    How is it going? Any better?
     
  17. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    OP hasn't been back since the day of joining. I hope it's going better.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2017
  18. 2ndYearTeacher

    2ndYearTeacher Rookie

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    The other Kinder teachers are generally unhappy in their roles because of administration. For me, they think my class is a nightmare. They've added an aide and an interventionist. The kids are still the same. Someone came in to model lesson for me to show me how to keep them engaged, and the kids were still wild animals. The other teachers feel bad for me. I hear I'm either too hard on them or too soft on them. One kind teacher, to my surprise, spoke up for me to management and said she hardly survives 30 minutes with my kids and would never take my class.
     
  19. 2ndYearTeacher

    2ndYearTeacher Rookie

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    There is some improvement. One of my undiagnosed sped kids is getting assistance and I'm seeing real growth with him. For me, however, I am reaching a level of depression. This is a miserable career. Last year I loved teaching. This year I don't think I want to be a teacher anymore.
     
  20. 2ndYearTeacher

    2ndYearTeacher Rookie

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    I walk into other classes and they seem like heaven compared to mine. Kids actually following instructions, only minor disturbances. Teachers aren't pulling kids off the floor rolling around or out from under desks or chasing them down the hall or climbing furniture or chasing each other with math manipulatives SEVERAL times a day. I created a Calm Down space. My kids who need it just use it to throw things up in the air and destroy.
     
  21. 2ndYearTeacher

    2ndYearTeacher Rookie

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    I did get help finally, but I can tell they just think I'm incompetent. I told them I need help because I don't want to come back the next day. That's when they added people.
     
  22. 2ndYearTeacher

    2ndYearTeacher Rookie

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    I agree with that completely. However, there is direct pressure to stay on enforced lesson plans because the kids are low performing. We are observed regularly to make sure we're staying on task. I was told directly to stay on schedule and "I will be coming into your rooms and I want to see you on the correct lesson for each day." Despite fear of getting into trouble, I still spend my first 40 minutes just going over behavioral expectations and practice practice practice. If they mess up, we start over every single time. Most of the day is spent on behavior issues. A solid 9 of my students who are ready to learn deserve a good education yet are getting very little of it. Really, I think my class is an ugly place for children. If my daughter were in my class, I would pull her out and place her anywhere else.
     
  23. 2ndYearTeacher

    2ndYearTeacher Rookie

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    Hahaha! Thanks! I needed that laugh!
     
  24. 2ndYearTeacher

    2ndYearTeacher Rookie

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    I'm so sorry, I forgot to respond to your other comments. Overall, the teachers tow the administrative line. I can tell there's pressure there not to be a dissenter or be associated with someone who admin has decided is a failing teacher. However, 2 senior teachers have told me my class is unbelievably terrible and they tell me to just do my best, let it go, don't stress and begin looking for a better job in January. They both say this is no place for me, and they too are planning to look for other jobs. One may leave mid-year. Another 15 year teacher, who is a first year at this school, said she has loved teaching for 15 years but now hates her job. This all tells me that there is a bigger problem at this place, and I know that. The school has been failing for years, and they're trying to fix it by working the teachers like animals, with no breaks to even breathe. I know this is standard in teaching, but this school takes it to another level. Overall, I've heard through the grapevine that all the teachers new to this school this year have no plans to stay. I had another 25 year teacher tell me that if this is what teaching was when she started, she would never have stayed, but now she's close to retirement. Is this the new way of life in public education? Is it just this school (as other teachers are telling me)? I don't know. All I know is I'm so unhappy I'm tempted to just not go in most days. The only reason I don't do this is because I have a child to support. However, my parenting is suffering because I'm becoming seriously depressed. And it's only September.
     
  25. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Honestly, this sounds like some of our K classes. There is no such thing as a "special ed" program here - our kiddos are all in the classroom all day. And in kindergarten, we often don't get a 'heads up' about any potential needs students may have. We are working on that and have come a long way in partnering with families before the first day of kindergarten, which is in everyone's best interest! However, if you were a kindergarten teacher here you would likely be given an aide and told to practice, practice, practice those routines.

    I had a group like this in grade 1 one year. 6 students with undiagnosed needs (and I know that now, because they've all been diagnosed since then...). However, we survived and even thrived due to a few strategic moves:

    1. Establish those routines and be super clear about what you expect.
    2. Get parents on your side - if you haven't already, call each students' parents and tell them what you love about their child. You can find a positive in any child.
    3. Keep admin in the loop - I met with mine weekly simply to update them on the needs and progress in my classroom. No one was going to tell me I didn't advocate for my kids. I didn't schedule those meetings, I simply showed up in the office with a crazy look in my eyes...
    4. Keep your kiddos busy - short teaching sessions, lots of hands on experiences
    5. Find out what makes them tick. Turns out my super challenging class was SUPER artistic and amazing problem solvers. We painted every Friday because it was the only way to keep everyone engaged and happy. My colleagues thought I was CRAZY to paint with that class, but I managed to tie art into most of our curricular outcomes. They were also amazing problem solvers and curious little researchers. I kept a huge Rubbermaid tote of empty boxes in my classroom. Once a week I dumped all the boxes on the carpet and let everyone go to town on a project they wanted to work on. One group made an aerial model of our school out of cardboard. Another group researched semi-trucks and then made a model. One girl cut long pieces of yarn to measure everyone's head and then made everyone in the class a custom-fit crown out of construction paper. They covered so many learning outcomes!!
    6. Once you have parents on your side, keep them updated on their child's progress. Give them the facts about what you are observing and document, document, document.
    7. Find something you enjoy outside of school. I shopped... a lot... that grade 1 year! But I looked great, and it was better than some other addicting habits.

    "The school has been failing for years, and they're trying to fix it by working the teachers like animals, with no breaks to even breathe. I know this is standard in teaching, but this school takes it to another level."

    No, this is not standard in teaching. I have never felt like I was working like an animal - working hard, yes, but always treated like a professional. Kindergarten is a very challenging grade to teach! I always say that if I can get to Halloween then we're okay. However, you know what is best for your health and your family, and at the end of the day, that trumps everything.
     
  26. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    I understand how this goes, because one of my classes is still working on routines as well. Here's how we do it. Let's say you're practicing coming over to the carpet quietly. Ask a student or a few students to explain what that looks like. Then, slowly start to dismiss them to go to the carpet. Praise the ones who do it well. If anyone gets up and then starts talking, or crawling, or whatever they're doing, have them go back to their seats. Let them try one more time and if they can't do it the second time, they stay at their seats instead of go to the carpet. Continue this until everyone's seated on the carpet. Look at the group. Are they ready to move on? If so, good. But they might not be. You say, "Thank you __ and __ for coming to the carpet quietly. I hear a lot of talking, so we're going to try that one more time. Quietly go back to your seats." Repeat one more time. They may not be perfect, but hopefully by this point they're trying harder. Now, this time, look around the room. Again, they're probably still not perfect. Praise the ones who are doing well, if anyone is not doing well, give them a warning, then send them to their seats. Tell them you'll keep working on it tomorrow.

    Then start the lesson with full force and high energy. Most of them should be listening and looking at you. Quickly send the ones who are distracting you (talking loudly, hitting a neighbor) to their seats. If it's something you can ignore, try to, and praise the ones who are getting it right.

    My main point is, 40 minutes is waaay too long to be teaching procedures at this time of the year. Do still teach it, do still make it a big deal, but putting some academic stuff in there too will give a purpose to what they're practicing. They'll want to sit on the carpet because they'll want to participate in the lesson. If they're just practicing for the sake of practicing, they're going to get bored and misbehave.
     
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  27. 2ndYearTeacher

    2ndYearTeacher Rookie

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    I do these exact methods every single day as far as going to the carpet. I use something similar for lining up. Hopefully it will take eventually.

    With behavior, i try to make it active. We did a line walk practice through the school one day. Another day we model Yes, Davids and No, Davids. We spend time on practicing morning procedures and I included it in our writing class. I read funny books on good behavior. I do a lot of rewarding for positive behavior.
     
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  28. 2ndYearTeacher

    2ndYearTeacher Rookie

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    Thank you for the advice! I am definitely working on being better with #1 & #4. I don't know what to do with #5. I love that idea. My problem is that the school has made it clear they want us on the lesson plan every day, no deviation. I've brought that unrealistic expectation to their attention, but I have not gotten an answer yet. I would love parents to be on my side, but I don't really have that population with regards to the kids who need that involvement. I am a single mom of a young child, so that's my 'enjoy outside of school' lol. And I do enjoy that very much.
     
  29. DobbyChatt

    DobbyChatt Rookie

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    2ndYear, I too am planning an exodus in a couple of years. Try to heed this advice: Keep your head down, work hard, and try to finish the year as best as possible. I'm a "heart on my sleeve" kind of guy but sometimes you've got to fake it.

    Do your best for the kids and then get out when you're ready.
     
  30. 2ndYearTeacher

    2ndYearTeacher Rookie

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    Thank you for the advice. I'm so glad I'm not alone. I got some similar advice from another teacher. She thinks my class is overwhelming as well. She said for me to do my best and go home and enjoy my family - give myself a hard stop every day and not to worry, and then start looking for a better school in January. I can't win anyway. They've decided this is just my failure as a teacher no matter what I do. Half the criticism is I'm not hard enough and the other half is that I'm not positive enough. Yet the teacher in my position last year only lasted one year as well, and I've been told she cried often at school. 5 to 10% of my students having serious problems might be something I can handle, but 50% of my class is too much. If I'm just not a good enough teacher, then I'll take that title. Then fine, I'm not good enough. I don't want to do this anymore.
     
  31. 2ndYearTeacher

    2ndYearTeacher Rookie

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    Yes, I've read it. It's a good book.
     
  32. FaithDriven

    FaithDriven Rookie

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    I completely understand. I am in my 3rd year in a Title 1 school in Texas and want to leave. Its exhausting and discouraging.
     
  33. lark265

    lark265 Rookie

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