I'd scream, but I have to make sure everyone else is doing it too.

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by miss_ali1984, Aug 11, 2010.

  1. miss_ali1984

    miss_ali1984 Companion

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    Aug 11, 2010

    Okay.

    I met my new grade level team at my new job recently, and I was slightly dismayed. Several of the things they are doing are developmentally inappropriate for first grade IMHO and more importantly, their discipline system is old school and not based on research.
    During the meeting, all of the girls were asking if we could use the EXACT SAME centers pictures and the EXACT SAME charts and the EXACT SAME books. My team lead seems to prefer that we are all the same, but I am a first year teacher and DESPERATE to do some things on my own. Especially if I feel that the practices in question are inappropriate.

    What do I do? Is there anything that I CAN do?
    Thanks in advance!
     
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  3. TiffanyL

    TiffanyL Cohort

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    Aug 11, 2010

    One of your priorities, if you are passionate about this career, is to ensure that you do a good enough job this year to be asked to return next year.

    As a first year teacher, walking into a school climate and acting as if veteran teachers can all learn from you will be a big mistake, IMHO.

    Whether they can modernize their practices or not, your approach should be to listen and learn at this time. If, for some reason, you are viewed as difficult, inflexible, or unwilling to learn, your career will certainly be short-lived at this school.
     
  4. janney

    janney Cohort

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    I would not be too quick to judge or write off the ideas in classroom management and instruction that your team has. They may do things a certain way because that's what works with the school and community climate or what is mandated by school or district.

    That doesn't mean that you have to do everything they do. You can surely try out your own ideas and see what works and what doesn't. I know that on my team we often end up doing things very similarly and sharing pictures and things for the classroom because teaching is a lot of work.
     
  5. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    Aug 11, 2010

    AMEN, sister! Please be careful of thinking everything you learned in college is correct. Most of those classes were taught by college professors that never stepped into an elementary classroom.
     
  6. ITeach4Him

    ITeach4Him Comrade

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    Aug 11, 2010

    With all due respect, I felt just like you during my first year of teaching. I felt like I had so many wonderful ideas and I couldn't wait to use them. However, please don't overlook the fact that the veteran teachers have great insight and things that are tried and true. Sure, you can always add your own flair, etc., but you'll also see that sometimes it's not worth driving yourself crazy trying to make something work that they have already figured out didn't. Just keep an open mind and realize that we all have our own teaching styles and you will know yours better after this first year (or couple of years). I'm beginning my 5th year this year and I'm finally feeling like I know my teaching style and how to adjust it to the kids you get. We all know that the kids are different each year and that makes a huge difference too. Good luck to you!
     
  7. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Aug 11, 2010

    Sometimes the research is wrong.
     
  8. WindyCityGal606

    WindyCityGal606 Enthusiast

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    Aug 11, 2010

    My first year was filled with please and thank you's and lots of smiles and agreeing. My ideas would not have been welcomed. There is a pecking order in education. When we are brand new, we are to listen and learn. Like someone said earlier, veteran teachers are not necessarily wrong in their practices. Each school has a certain climate and following the way things are done is your best bet this year. You don't want to be that teacher who has lost control of her class or who is not a team player. My department works as a team to make sure our practices and procedures are consistent. We sometimes disagree but we've worked together for a few years and we know which of us is usually right when tweaking things. There are times when I have to bite my tongue still because it is the professional thing to do. I value my job. LOL
     
  9. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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    Aug 11, 2010

    I am afraid that you need to smile, smile, smile and bide your time. You will get opportunities to shine and do your own thing. This is your class and these are your students. Many times the reason that grade levels want things to seem the same on the outside so that parents are not thinking that one teacher is better than another. Your time will come. But like others suggested, you also want to ensure job security.
     
  10. Yank7

    Yank7 Habitué

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    Aug 11, 2010

    Hold on,you are heading for disaster as a first year teacher who condemns your veteran teachers before even knowing what the classroom is like. Theory in college and research sounds great,but sometimes the reality before live bodies in your own class requires help and guidance far beyond what we learned in college. Believe me,I've been there.Step carefully,accept ideas and help and slowly mold it into your own style,without offending your fellow teachers. Good luck in your new career.
     
  11. Lynnnn725

    Lynnnn725 Connoisseur

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    Aug 11, 2010

    We have to use the same work station icons in k-2 at my school. The kids will be familiar with the icons no matter what room they are walk in for those years.

    We use a lot of the same books. We plan together. Can you also add in some books. Do those same books and add in some you'd like?

    What can you do? Show that you are a team player. If, after this year, you find this is not the right school for you, you will want a good recommendation...

    Just go with the idea that your team is aiming for consistency...
     
  12. tgim

    tgim Habitué

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    Aug 11, 2010

    :eek: Thank you for the reminder that my team needs to be sure to solicit ideas from our new team-mate. We are very good about sharing our ideas, but need to be sure to ask for her input, too. :eek:
     
  13. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Aug 11, 2010

    Ditto, Ditto, Ditto.

    During my ST, I was fortunate enough to be granted an interview for a position that became available at my school. One of the questions asked during the interview was "What subjects or issues do you feel you could conduct an inservice on for other teachers?"

    WHAT?!?!?!?! I'm still a runny-nosed ST and you want to know what I could teach educators that have been doing the job for 20+ YEARS? How about NOT A DANG THING!

    I actually chuckled at the question, then diplomatically stated that I really didn't feel qualified at that time to offer any instructional advice to veteran teachers. I understood that theories I learned in college looked great on paper, but experienced teachers had been doing the real thing a lot longer.

    The committee member knew me personally and suggested I might be able to do an inservice on ADHD students, since my own son had this condition. I thought for a moment, then said "I didn't think of that. You're right, I would feel comfortable offering insights and research on how to work with these students effectively."

    Since then, I've also began researching (and practicing) WBT and would list that as another possible subject for an inservice I could do.
     
  14. Bumble

    Bumble Groupie

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    Aug 11, 2010

    Everything I learned during my ST was not realistic. Our climate is way different. Maybe there is a reason why the veteran teachers do things a certain way. You are a new teacher, so open up and learn. :)
     
  15. eddygirl

    eddygirl Companion

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    Aug 11, 2010

    My motto for my first two years of teaching (and this was at 40 years old) was, "Keep my eyes and ears open, and my mouth closed." My friends and family thought this was so funny, especially at my age, but I think it set the tone for my relationships with my colleagues. All the fancy alternative assessments and cooperative group projects I learned in college went right out the window when they threw me 5 classes totalling 150 students and 3 LA textbooks per class (I was told I had to completely cover them by the end of the year). My colleagues were my lifesavers who helped me learn how to plan for that load, cover what needed to be covered, and fill in some fun or interesting things around them.

    You have been given some great advice by the PP's. As much as you'd like to "get to it" and put some of those great things you learned to work, please remember that you are "the rookie, the freshman, the new kid on the block" (there, have I covered enough cliches?? LOL!)
     
  16. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Aug 12, 2010

    Good tips above. It's perfectly fine to want to bring your ideas to the table, but don't argue with your new teammates and cause a wave ESPECIALLY in this economy. PLUS, you will learn a ton from your veteran coworkers.
    Ever since from year one, I really listened and observed my coworkers. Always asking for ideas/advice/tips/opinions/etc. I also brought a lot of my own ideas and shared them with them. One idea that I brought to my school has been passed around and a TON of veteran teachers are doing it now!

    So, do what they ask of you, but don't be afraid to share your own things too! :)
     
  17. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Aug 12, 2010

    I agree with the above comments. If this is your first year, you have a great opportunity to learn from your coworkers. Now, that doesn't mean your ideas are no good, but that your work and efforts should be a collaborative effort.
     
  18. Erin Elizabeth

    Erin Elizabeth Groupie

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    Aug 12, 2010

    I think it's wonderful that your team is willing to share with you. When I started teaching, I was handed my keys and told "Good luck." The other 3 teachers on the team taught with their doors closed and never shared anything, and I was too intimidated to ask for their help.

    Are you required to use the same discipline plan as they are using?
     
  19. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    Aug 12, 2010

    I agree not to look like a know-it-all, and...

    ... I also believe I'd be just as dismayed as you are if I had to do things the EXACT SAME as all the others, and use an old-school discipline system.

    My advice, as always: smile and nod.

    You will find ways to try your ideas without giving the impression you are Right and "they" are Wrong. You will be able to speak up for change in others later after you have experience. Meanwhile, try to find something to learn in every situation, and try some of your ideas in the relative safety of your class.

    Hang in there!
     
  20. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Aug 12, 2010

    I know how exciting it is to contemplate standing in front of your VERY OWN class. You have ideas and plans that you have been thinking about for years and you want to implement them right now! I have been a teacher for over thirty years and I still get that special feeling that first day of school. I am also still learning from my colleagues. Every single year I learn new techniques, get new ideas to teach certain lessons, etc. I don't know many professions where you are both a student and a teacher for your entire career. So, enjoy your first experience and learn as much as you can so you will ultimately be that veteran teacher helping a first year colleague.
     
  21. Miz_Aich

    Miz_Aich Rookie

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    Aug 12, 2010

    My first year, I was the smile-and-nod teacher for the entire first semester. When I couldn't take it anymore and I broke down in a "I can't keep quiet anymore, so here comes everything I've been holding back" tirade, the principal called me into his office and explained that I needed to speak up more because well balanced buildings use a mix of the tried and true and the new and innovative. It wasn't until I started speaking up more that he told me he was on the verge of recommending non-renewal on my contract because I was too willing to do what I was told and he needed to know that I could come up with my own ideas.
    So, I guess my advice is to figure out when it's appropriate to smile and nod and when it is appropriate to speak up and ask questions or offer ideas. If there is something you really want to implement in your room, ask if it is possible. If there is something you are told you can't do and you don't understand why, ask. If you explain that you want to be the best teacher you possibly can be for your students, I can't imagine a fellow teacher or admin coming down on you for your comments. Again, heed the advice of the previous posters and don't question EVERYTHING - don't even question MOST things because then it will look like you just took the job to have a job and didn't know anything about the district/building you accepted the position in.

    Will you have a mentor teacher who can help you understand the what/how/why of the building? If the district does not give you one, go to one of the teachers you think would be open to the idea and ask if you can pick her brain about some things.
     
  22. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Please - listen to what everyone is saying. Listen to the veteran teachers at your school. If the school is mandating all teachers do the same thing, do it. There's always a little bit of wiggle room, but the basics have to be in place.

    I'm going into my 5th year and still seeking advice and wisdom from the veterans.
     
  23. webmistress

    webmistress Devotee

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    Aug 12, 2010

    Exactly.
    You definitely should choose your battles, but if you smile and nod at every single thing that is thrown your way, it can work against you. It depends on your environment, but some will begin to see you as a push over, with no confidence and no backbone.

    Being too agreeable and always biting my tongue, nodding and smiling, and never wanting to ruffle anyone's feathers or make waves worked against me as a ST and teacher. I will certainly speak up in the future, depending on what the issue is of course.

    My best teacher friends/(adopted) mentors are veterans, they love the way I teach and have told me how I can speak up for myself...even to the district, principal or whomever, they have given me advice on how I can speak up for myself, follow the rules, but still speak up for yourself, and be my own person, first year teacher or not.
     
  24. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 12, 2010

    I think that, as is so often the case, you need to strike a balance.

    School hasn't even started. You haven't met the kids. You've just barely met the other teachers. You haven't yet gotten your feet wet on your very first year of teaching.

    It's a little early to start making changes.

    I dont think anyone means to suggest you should be a mindless puppet; that's not why you were hired.

    But this school survived last year, and the year before, and the year before that. They taught kids who took standardized tests. They graduated kids who went on to middle school and high school and college.

    They're doing some things right.

    And, after one day of meetings, you're probably not in the best position to judge exactly what those things were.

    As the years went by, they tried all sorts of things that other new teachers suggested. Some went well, some didn't. So they kept the first and dropped the others, until a new suggestion came along.

    What you call "old school" they call "time tested."

    So here's what I, and I think a lot of others, are suggesting:

    Go into this with an open mind. Try it their way first--the way that apparently has worked perfectly fine up until now.

    If you find it doesn't work, ask for a meeting with whoever decides this stuff. Bring along objective evidence that it's not working, along with a proposal.

    Some times you'll get your way, some times you won't. That's how it is with jobs; sometimes you do it the way the boss wants it done.

    But, before you start insisting on changes, wait and see. You may find, as so many of us have, that a lot of what we learned in college makes for a great theory but is incredibly ineffective when it comes to real live kids.

    And the suggestions that you do make will ring truer, because you'll have evidence-- real, practical, "here's what our kids did" evidence.

    Ultimately, you'll be taken far more seriously. And those veteran teachers are much more willing to offer real help the first time the research-based info from college collides with a real, live 6 year old.
     
  25. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Aug 12, 2010

    Just smile and say "thank you" when they give you something, and don't use it. Or, put some stuff up and use your things, as well.

    My first year teaching (2 years ago), my team members didn't force anything on me, but I felt the same way as you: their ideas were "old" (which I know is not always bad!) and against most things that I learned and believed. I used some of their ideas my first year, and quickly realized that they weren't working for me. They have worksheet driven "centers"-I do the Daily 5. They use the "stoplight system" for behavior management-I'm trying the Responsive Classroom approach. They follow the basal exactly-I use it as a resource and also create my own lessons.

    However, be very cautious when showing them something you use or created. My team members act annoyed when I show them something that works well for me. I'm just really excited, and need to share it with someone. However, I learned that they don't always want to hear it. If this is the case, find someone at your school (for me it's my lit specialist) who you can run to when you are so excited about a lesson that when well.

    I would definitely encourage you to use new ideas and resources that you are anxious to use. Just close your door, and incorporate some of their ideas.
     
  26. MzMooreTeaches

    MzMooreTeaches Cohort

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    Aug 12, 2010

    I'm going to take a slightly different approach to respond to your posting.

    This is also my 1st year as well. And I am working with many veteran teachers as well. The most important advice I have recieved is to be a sponge. Soak up everything I can! Curriculum, scheduling ideas, blending Montessori curriculum with the Standard Course of Study.

    Really be an observant. I'm still excited and fresh and have new things that I want to try an incorporate in my classroom. I try not to discount the "old ways" of doing things... but rather merge everything together.

    Now on the opposite side. Keep in mind that during your interview your Principal could have hired you for your new fresh inovative ideas and want to see you come in and shake things up. Really try to feel things out... perhaps see if you can observe in there classroom for a few minutes to see how the old ways work.

    Good Luck!
     
  27. Kate Change

    Kate Change Companion

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    Aug 12, 2010

    My first year, I came in sure that I knew what was going on. I stepped on a lot of toes. Sometimes I was right and sometimes I was wrong, but I am still rebuilding the relationships I damaged and my reputation.

    As it is, I have a reputation for being determined to do what I think is best, working hard to get good results, getting them, but being very difficult to work with. This is NOT the reputation I want. It's hard for me to work with other teachers, since they hear these things and it becomes a self fullfilling prophecy. I wish I'd tread less heavily my first year. It's taking a long time to fix my reputation. If my students didn't test so well and I wasn't as good with their parents, I'm sure I'd be out of a job right now.

    Please be careful. I wish I had.
     
  28. TiffanyL

    TiffanyL Cohort

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    Aug 12, 2010

    Kate Change,

    What a wonderful post! You are clearly passionate about your students....which may have also led you to these circumstances.

    Nonetheless, you are reflecting and taking ownership of what you could have done differently. Kate, that is a very important trait that many people do not possess. You see your weakness and you are working to improve upon it......the rest will come.
     
  29. DocuiSedecim

    DocuiSedecim Rookie

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    Aug 13, 2010

    Miss_Ali,

    I am a third year teacher surrounded by veteran teachers that are at least twice my age. It can be difficult walking into an environment where you are expected to be seen, but not heard. The school I was hired at is very low academically; the principal hired me with the understanding that I was going to do things differently than his "veterans." He has stayed true to his word and supported me. Within the year I had given classroom management seminars in our district, and now all the teachers at my school have begun to change their methods. Bide your time.

    I quietly taught my class my own way. I did my best to allow the others to teach they way that they saw fit. Many of the older teachers did not like that I was unwilling to try their methods, but I refuse to continue to work with a broken system. Education in America is declining and charter schools are increasing, because too many people believe that they should learn from the veterans. Do not get me wrong, many veteran teachers are full of great advice and wonderful methods, but do not assume because they have been teaching for thirty years that they are amazing teachers. Even worse than worn out veterans that believe they are masters, is depending on research. Find a teacher that you feel is amazing, watch, learn, and your own ideas. As long as you are passionate and care, you will do well.
     
  30. trayums

    trayums Enthusiast

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    Aug 13, 2010

    I agree. I was craving help and suggestions my first year!!!! I am interested to know what behavior management system they use?
     
  31. TeacherApr

    TeacherApr Groupie

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    Aug 13, 2010

    Hold the boat with that thought of how their discipline system is "wrong". Classroom management is a broad spectrum of things each designed to fit individual teachers and classes.
    As far as curriculum, there is no issue with using all the same centers and books, in fact, a lot of schools REQUIRE it. Slow down there and do as they say then after you have been there awhile you can voice opinions and give suggestions.
     
  32. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Aug 14, 2010

    Okay, so this isn't the point of your post, but I'm curious... Do your first graders travel from room to room? Is that why they want all the centers and such to be same, as to not overwhelm the students?
     
  33. Starista

    Starista Cohort

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    Aug 14, 2010

    Hello & Welcome to the Wonderful World of Education! :)

    I am going into my 10th year teaching, so I'm not quite a newbie anymore but also not quite a "seasoned veteran."

    However, I am starting the school year at a new school. I am following the suggestions of the 2nd and 4th grade teachers as there's only one class per grade. They know what works and what doesn't at their school, not me. :hugs:

    It's wonderful to see so much passion and excitement in a new teacher, but I strongly caution about wanting to dismiss the procedures of the more experienced teachers.

    We all have a lot to learn from each other, indeed, so share some of your ideas and opinions.

    I'd encourage you to strike a happy balance between the two. :)

    Best wishes for an awesome 2010-2011 school year. :love:
     
  34. collteach

    collteach Comrade

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    Aug 14, 2010

    I swear that most of my classes in college taught us to reinvent the wheel. I felt that I had to enter my first job and do everything NEW. I quickly realized that as a wife who wanted to still have a husband at the end of my first year, I had to balance my new, "innovative" ideas with those shared with me that were tried and true. It saved me so much time when I realized I did not have to make every lesson into a circus act with fancy teaching. Sometimes, the basics really work. When I had time, or found something I really wanted to devote tons of planning time to, I would use my creative ideas.

    When I moved from middle school to elementary school, I was the "veteran" teacher on a 2 person grade level. I had no one to ask for advice, no one to share ideas with, and it was a LONELY year. The other teacher was brand-new and wanted to do things all on her own. She wanted to do NOTHING together (she was not renewed at the end of the year because her way was not necessarily the best way). When I moved a few years later, and suddenly had a collaborative team again, I was so happy! Yes, they had all been teachers for 20+ years and some of their ways were not right for me and my teaching style, but a lot of what they shared made me a much better teacher.

    Good luck! I completely agree that you need to find a balance. Definitely do NOT compromise your beliefs or teaching philosophy, but have an open-mind and do the best you can to work well with your team.
     
  35. miss_ali1984

    miss_ali1984 Companion

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    Aug 16, 2010

    To those of you who thought I was under the impression that I knew more than the veteran teachers - I didn't SAY that, so please don't get that impression. And I am certainly not trying to "buck the system" during my first year.

    I do think that my ideas should be welcomed as one part of a new team, even if they are rejected. I do have a desire to do things similarly to the rest of my team, just not exactly the same.

    For instance, if there is a discipline system that I don't like, and I have one that I DO like that is a "three-strike" system like the other one, I'd love to be able to use that. It's basically the same. See what I'm saying?

    Anyhow, many of you have had great advice. I find my new team to be wonderful and friendly, and I have been following their lead while adding my own touches if allowed. Thanks to all!
    -Ali
     
  36. teachinVA

    teachinVA Rookie

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    Aug 16, 2010

    I agree with this completely! This is the beginning of my second year at my school and I had a pretty rough experience. My grade chair wanted us to do everything just like her and criticized EVERY thing we did. She'd criticize our lesson plans without ever looking at them:dizzy: Then she'd tell us we had to do it her way but never showed us how.

    I'd offer up a suggestion or share an activity I was trying and it would be rejected. Never once did she like any idea I had, not one! Even though my principal and AP really liked some of my ideas and had them implemented through out the school. It seemed like she took the year to make me look bad in every way she could. I had to learn to just shut up around her and just nod. Then walk into my classroom and teach the kids the best way I could. I believe in guided reading while she didn't.

    I got awesome evaluations last year and didn't have any single issues with parents or my admin. My grade chair was my only issue.
     
  37. UVAgrl928

    UVAgrl928 Habitué

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    Aug 16, 2010

    I think it would be good to try out a lot of the curriculum and things that they suggest. You do not know how the students at that particular school will act, what levels they will come in at, what works for those students/teachers, etc. Luckily my first year I had a teammate that was also a first year teacher that started late in the year (we both started in October). Our team was very open to hearing our ideas, but they rarely used them. I feel like I learned a lot from trying things out their way as they had been teaching way longer than us.

    My second year, we had a huge change in our team. Six teachers, all with less than 1 year on the grade level (4 with less than a year of teaching experience). All of our veteran teachers were gone. With this shift in the team, we were able to adjust a lot of our curriculum and policies. I was looked to as someone with a lot of advice and ideas. But, I don't think that we would have been able to try this different things without trying them the other way first!

    And I still go to my informal mentor ALL the time from my first year of teaching. She is now on the other side of the building in a different position, but I know that she had 25 years of experience on the grade level at the school... she knows WAY more than I do. Yes, maybe everything she did was not exactly how I would, but she has a lot of great ideas. And I can always tell that it makes her day when we still ask her for help :)
     
  38. webmistress

    webmistress Devotee

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    Aug 16, 2010

    Not all veteran teachers know best. My teammates demanded that I do these things:

    --If a student made a mistake on their writing assignment, in preparation for the state writing test, I should tear their paper up in front of their faces and in front of the class.

    --If their desks were sloppy, I should drag the desk into the hallway, dump everything out, and make the student go in the hallway and clean it all up.

    --If a student is misbehaving, they suggested that I needed to get all the way in my students' faces and make them think I am going to hit them. They thought it was a good idea to remind the students of how well they (the teachers) can fight because they (the teachers) are also from the rough hoods.

    --They told me, in front of my entire class, that my good excellent-behaving students were going to turn against me
    if I didn't punish the good with the bad, and make them all write the school rules for 2 hours straight. (Some of the students were loud that morning).


    --One teacher told me that if one of my students hit me, I should beat her down, all the way to the ground until she could not get back up.

    Anyway, I have 4 (adopted) veteran mentors, who do not work in that school, and they back up my decisions and completely understand why I went against the grain in that school. And took it further and resigned because the environment was hostile for me plus my horrible health issues. Tried to report the issues to the superintendent of that school with no success.

    I have a lot to learn, but my students responded to me extremely well. So did their parents. I was able to "get along" with parents that they were not able to.
    Can't count how many times I was called best and favorite teacher. When I resigned, one of my troubled girls went back to her original teacher (a 30 year veteran) and cussed her out. I had never seen that side of this girl before.

    This is the girl who later committed suicide. These are the same veteran teachers who knew about her suicide notes. She was constantly just dismissed as "crazy."

    Anyway, I'm sure the OPs situation is not this extreme, but it's just not always as cut and dry as 'the veterans know best, you're new, so listen to everything they have to say.'
     
  39. Lynnnn725

    Lynnnn725 Connoisseur

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    Aug 16, 2010

    I think as you begin the year, to use what they use. As you get a feel for your school, admin, parents, curriculum, etc, then you might be able to differ a bit. I wouldn't right from the start though.
     
  40. mhcooley

    mhcooley Companion

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    Aug 16, 2010


    What a horrible way of thinking. :eek:
     
  41. Bumble

    Bumble Groupie

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    Aug 16, 2010

    Oh my gosh, webmistress! That is horrible! In your case, I would go against my grade partners too.
     

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