It's my second year. Shouldn't I be a veteran now? :(

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by pinkcupcake90, Jan 31, 2017.

  1. pinkcupcake90

    pinkcupcake90 Companion

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    Jan 31, 2017

    Good evening, my dear friends!

    I hope you're all doing wonderfully. It's the beginning of the third marking period, but I am so ready for spring break. Lol!

    I'm a second-year high school English teacher. I had a catastrophe of a first year last year. (Remember my posts? Lol!) This year has been a lot better. I'm now teaching the younger kids: freshmen and sophomores. It's good because I don't have to worry about being close in age to the seniors.

    But today, some of my kids made me cry. I do EVERYTHING I can to make "The Odyssey" fun for my freshmen. I worked hard on creating cartoons for the kids to see as I read aloud to them. We act out the story with props: swords, togas, bows and arrows. I don't know if they see how much work goes into my lessons. One of my kids made me furious, and I actually spent my lunch period crying. "Grades don't really matter to me in a class I'm not even going to major in." He also questioned my job title, my entire profession, and my love for literature. You can insult me all you want, but don't hurt my books. :(

    Another kid really broke my heart during 6th period. My sophomores can be so lazy and so mean. I created class money called "Lucky Bucks." My kids earn them every time they volunteer to read out loud or get an answer right in class. If they give me a certain amount of lucky bucks, they can be exempt from my mean, 50-question tests! They can also use them for homework coupons.

    Well, the one day I assign homework, my sophomores start complaining, rolling their eyes, and calling me unfair. I have a mean bunch of kids this year that are just awful to deal with. Perhaps it's my district, but I don't know. I always get cursed with kids that are so ungrateful and snobby. I bring munchkins or lollipops at least once a week for all my kids, and they can only focus on the negative. :(

    I was so close to walking out the door today. I remembered that I do love this job, but for once, it would be nice to be around people that appreciate my zany passion for literature and the work and money that I spend on a substitute teacher's pay. (I'm filling in for a teacher on leave, but a contracted position will become available in June. Fingers crossed!)

    Am I really cut out for this job? Is it normal to cry during my second year of teaching? I feel like I should be an expert now. :(

    Any advice will be appreciated, you guys. Thank you so much. God bless. :heart:
     
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  3. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Jan 31, 2017

    I do think you are quite sensitive(which is not necessarily a bad thing). Many of the things you describe are typical teenage stuff. They can't admit that they like someone, or that school is interesting. They whine, complain, and *itch...because that's what children their age do.

    It is tough to work your heart out to provide an exciting education for your students, and then have some of the spoiled, ungrateful kids try to knock you down.

    You do seem more confident this year, and more capable, also. I think things will improve for you. You have a passion for the job.
     
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  4. pinkcupcake90

    pinkcupcake90 Companion

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    Jan 31, 2017

    Thank you. :( To be honest, I'm not sure if I'm really cut out for it though. A part of me wants to go back to graduate school for academia. I've always wanted to become a professor of English. I was just bullied and traumatized when I got my master's from this prestigious, hoity-toity school. I want to relive grad school, and maybe today was an indication of how much my kids hate me and how I shouldn't be there.
     
  5. miatorres

    miatorres Comrade

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    Jan 31, 2017

    Based on what you have said, I think that you would be a great asset to any class. This sounds like a really awful school, and I think that you should change schools. I can tell you from experience that some kids see their parents being disrespectful and acting like everybody owes them something, so the kids usually imitate their parents' behaviors. Now there are also some kids with disrespectful parents who wouldn't even think of acting disrespectfully, but they're the exceptions. Why do some kids say that they like one teacher but not another? I have seen that it's often because the teachers that they speak highly of don't seem to teach anything and instead show movies all the time with no follow-up work or discussions.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2017
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  6. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Jan 31, 2017

    Hi Pink,

    Glad to see you've stuck with it and this year is a bit better. One thing you need to work on is developing thicker skin when dealing with students. You shouldn't worry if a student says they don't care because they aren't going to major in it. Remember that a lot of your students won't major in what you teach. The best you can do is hope to engage them.

    It's my first year teaching high school, and I've definitely noticed that at least in this new area, high school students are super whiny about having to do work or think. (At least my freshman are). I just shrug and give it to them anyway. I often laugh when they whine and pretend to enjoy their misery (but maybe I actually do!). I think when I first started out this year kids HATED me, because I held them to higher standards than other teachers, and they really fought me every step of the way. I didn't let it get to me, and stayed strong. I think I've really cracked a lot of the tougher nuts, and have a good relationship with almost every one of them. They still whine sometimes or test boundaries but it's not as bad as before.

    One thing that is key to this in my opinion is being as emotionally stable as possible. I used to get flustered or angry if students misbehaved during my first years of teaching, and would resort to ineffective methods of behavior management such as arguing or yelling. In order to avoid that, I start every day with a mantra: "No matter what happens today, no matter how surprising, no matter how unexpected, or how students behave I will not lose my cool, and I will stay composed and calm." I imagine some examples of what could happen and just visualize letting it roll off my back like water on a duck, smiling calmly and moving on. I often pair it with a reminder to be consistent with my classroom management plan, but I think your focus right now should be getting control of your emotions.

    I am also a little concerned about your "Lucky Bucks" system. First off, classroom currencies like this are a little too childish for HS in my opinion but that's just my opinion. Secondly, while you may think it improves behavior the trade-off is that some kids don't have to do a hw assignment and get practice in, or take what might be an assessment that's useful for you to assess their learning. I could see that backfiring behavior-wise also.

    Oh, and no you should not be a veteran at year two. You are still considered a beginning teacher. I'm in my 5th year and I think some would still consider me a beginning or at least inexperienced teacher. But then again I also work with a lot of teachers who have been doing this for multiple decades.
     
  7. HSEnglishteach

    HSEnglishteach Rookie

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    Feb 1, 2017

    Cupcake,

    I agree with Peregrin -- you have to develop a much, much thicker skin. These are kids you're dealing with. They're teenagers! It took me three years to realize that it's very rare for kids this age to openly show interest or, God forbid, joy in the classroom. You just have to trust yourself and know it's there. And if it's not every single day, that's alright, too, as long as they're engaged. You're giving them the gift of education. My 2-year-old doesn't like to eat her vegetables, but I don't cry when she tells me they're yucky. I don't take it personally. I'm the adult, and I know better. That said, if students en mass begin openly complaining and distracting from the work at hand, you'll need to get a handle on that with a combination of conversation, practice, and sanctions. An eye roll and a grumble is one thing. But you can't let kids burst into a chorus of open complaints every time you assign homework.

    As for feeling like a veteran your second year, I certainly didn't. The second year is better than the first year, but you're still a baby in the classroom! Honestly, it took me four full years to feel highly competent and mentally feel 100% like the unquestioned leader of my classroom. In the years prior to year five, I was faking it.

    Part of what comes with being a newer teacher is being overly deferential to kids. I think that's where you are now. I don't mind the rewards system, but you have to be careful about the messages you're sending. You may without knowing it be telling your kids that you don't expect them to behave or meet your high expectations for them or that you don't expect yourself to be able to to manage them. You have to send them the clear signal that you are the leader of the room, and it starts with how you feel about yourself.
     
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  8. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Feb 1, 2017

    You switched schools, right? I'm in my eighth year of teaching but it's my first year at a new school. I'm starting all over again and it's gotten me so out of sorts! Thankfully, I have good insurance and was able to get a good therapist who is helping me get my head and heart back under my control.
     
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  9. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    You can't get bent out of shape whenever a kid insults your books. Not every book speaks to every person. Kids, like adults, are entitled to have an opinion about the books they read. Kids are sometimes less than eloquent about how they phrase such opinions, but that's sort of just how it is. The Odyssey in particular is very challenging for kids to read, especially if they are unfamiliar with the historical and cultural references throughout. I know a thing or two about the Odyssey and about how things were during the time it took place, and even I sometimes struggle with some of the references and flowery language (in translation).

    You simply must find a way to stop taking these things so personally. Instead of being emotionally devastated that your "lucky bucks" didn't go over as well as you had wanted, find a different way to get your kids motivated. It might take a few tries. Maybe you want to try "Schrute Bucks" instead. (Joke.)

    The Greeks didn't wear togas. I just really need to say that.
     
  10. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Feb 1, 2017

    I am in my 9th year teaching (4th year in traditional public school), and I still cry sometimes, but for different reasons, now. You do have to have a thick skin with HS students. They will whinge and moan about anything, and sometimes the more you give, the more they expect (and take). I would stop bringing in treats and stop doing "extras" for a while.

    I would also really warn against using behavior rewards in exchange for assessments -- maybe a homework pass here or there, but definitely not a test.

    Also, we have to remember that not only will not all of our students major in English, but some of them may not be going on to college at all, and that is OK. What does each of your students need to take away from your class? Perhaps not a deep love of classic literature, but rather the basics of punctuation, or how to stand and deliver a presentation to an audience.

    There will be maybe one or two students each year -- if you are so lucky -- who secretly want to grow up to be English teachers. We are a rare breed! And the ones who do will probably not want to let it show because, well, it's not "cool" (not to them, anyway!). We just can't let our job satisfaction be based on that.

    Instead, look for the little things when you can -- the little positive moments that do occur. The kid who finally gets there their and they're. The "oh!" moments when the lightbulb suddenly switches on for a moment. The beautiful poem written by the usually silent kid in the corner. Find the small victories and save them up for when you're feeling down and out. It does get easier!
     
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  11. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    You do not become a veteran by your 2nd year. Year 2 simply means things are easier. Year 3 a lot easier and by 4th for me it was pretty much smooth sailing (for the most part).

    You- as others said - have to a be a lot tougher. Find a mantra, you can repeat to yourself. Here are some I used:
    - I can't let a teenager ruin my day
    - I won't argue with a teenager
    - I will not take anything personally
    - I cannot fix the kids attitude, but I can fix how I react

    I stopped trying to make lessons overly engaging or fun. When I did that, put in a lot of time and effort, and expected equal amount of enthusiasm and appreciation and that never happens.

    I no longer care what the kids think. I do try to vary my lessons, some direct instruction, some cooperative work, art-related projects (creating a book cover, draw a scene, etc), showing them video clips, etc, but if they don't like it, oh well. I always tell them, I'm not here to entertain them, they don't have to like what they're doing, but they do have to do the work with a passing grade to pass my class.My lessons are engaging, but I'm not focusing on fun. I'm focusing on learning.

    Sounds harsh - and in reality I do care more - but I'm not going to kill myself to please the kids, when to a lot of them, it's just another class they hate but have to take. I no longer take their attitudes towards English personally.
     
  12. linswin23

    linswin23 Cohort

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    I agree with Linguist. This is something I've had to work on with myself over the years. You have to toughen up. I'm quite passive, soft-spoken, and easy going. I learned very quickly in my first year of teaching that this wasn't going to cut it working in secondary (I also teach English). Our job is to educate teenagers. Yes, they are going to say stuff that is hurtful, but remember that they are just kids. You have to act like you don't care when on the inside that comment might make you want to break down. This mental toughness takes time to work on and is a part of teaching that they don't talk to us about in college. I now have my "teacher persona" as I call it. I try to compartmentalize everything about teaching into one section of my brain. It's taken me a long time. I used to worry all weekend about the week ahead and now I am much better at going home and "switching off" and not worrying about the next day or what happened at school.

    You sound like a great teacher. You are differentiating and looking for ways to engage your students. However, you can't please every student. Your goal is to get them engaged, and have them learn English on a deeper level. That's your goal. Keep your head up and keep teaching. You've got this! :) Just remember that each day, each year is new. As teachers we practice. Teaching is an art that has to be practiced like a painter paints different paintings in order to improve. Instead of canvas, paint brushes, and paints, we have students, curriculum, and our pedagogy. Keep honing your art!
     
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  13. pinkcupcake90

    pinkcupcake90 Companion

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    Thank you so much, dear. From my heart, I truly appreciate it. :)
     
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  14. pinkcupcake90

    pinkcupcake90 Companion

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    No, I'm at the same school. :( I'm hoping to get contracted next year, God willing. But I'm also looking for different opportunities.
     
  15. pinkcupcake90

    pinkcupcake90 Companion

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    Thank you so much, everybody. You are blessings to me. It's been a lot better this year. I guess some students will occasionally have a bad day. :(
     
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  16. Secondary Teach

    Secondary Teach Companion

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    (You shouldn't be always passing around your "opinions" and telling people what they should and shouldn't do).
    And, stop being so sarcastic all the time!
     
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  17. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  18. MathGuy82

    MathGuy82 Companion

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    I can't say how much I like that you said! Some other teachers have told me in the past that I should do a variety of things to make things more "fun". In the real world, I don't get a game or special music tone when I pay my electric bill, or when I filled out applications for jobs. It shouldn't be torture to go to school but we also were never hired to be the student's comedian. I show enthusiasm and joy most days while teaching but don't go out of my way to spend 3 hours every night to prepare for a lesson. Thank you for saying this and I completely agree.
     
  19. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    I bring my love of my subject matter every day, to every class - that is my gift to them. I accept that they will probably not respond in kind, but it doesn't mean they get a bye, or that I let them slide. I work with truly troubled kids, but the best thing I can offer them is consistency, support, and high expectations. I may not be flashy, or use their slang, or "entitle" them to special treats with any degree of regularity, and that is important. They are students, finding their way to what interests them, and bribing doesn't cut it for me. I didn't bribe my own child, and I refuse to do it for my students. I do encourage thinking outside of the box, will tolerate thinking that is different from my own as long as scientific thought processes are in evidence. We have the duty to teach what they need to know, and they have a responsibility to learn to the best of their ability, or be OK with the resulting consequences.

    I don't waste tears for what they say or how they act, and I don't let them wear me down. My skin is tough, because I know that if they smell blood in the water, they will become ten times worse. Be consistent, care less about how they treat you, and make sure you are holding them accountable for learning the material. Not everything in life is fun and games, and I think high school is where they should start to realize that what they do or refuse to do will create consequences. Those may be good or bad, but the students are the captain of that decision.

    At the end of the day, I go home and seldom give my students a second thought. I'm not ashamed to say that. I give 100% throughout the course of the entire day, and then I turn off the light and return to my life. It is what keeps me sane and high functioning. For me, this works. I still take grad courses, mostly because I like to, and I need to be exposed to that atmosphere where everyone in the room understands the need for study, the concept of hard work, and the realization that their grade is directly related to the amount and quality of the work done. Academia is a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there.

    Only you know where you should be, but until you decide, toughen up.
     
  20. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    You could've told him "I know you are but what am I" -> just kidding, although that's something I'd say. I often use humor in tense situations, when they say something very disrespectful, I do make a big deal out of it, but if a kid called me irritating, I'd be thinking "good, that means my lessons are challenging enough" :)
     
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  21. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I'm going to parrot everyone else - you need to grow thicker skin. I cannot imagine a scenario where something a student said "at" me would cause tears. I literally cannot imagine anything. Now, I have cried for students because of bad hands they were dealt. But I was crying FOR them, not because of them.

    Stop wanting people to like you. Stop it. Stop worrying about acceptance. You're doing it with your students and outside of your job too. I promise you, when you stop letting others' opinions drive your life, you will come into your own. People will notice and by default, some will like you. It will happen naturally if you stop trying to force it.
     
  22. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Forgive my naivete...isn't the purpose of a forum like this to offer opinions??
     
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  23. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

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    ,
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019
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  24. renard

    renard Companion

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    Never, ever forget - teenagers are by definition, immature. They don't know who they are, they are testing their power, they need to exert some form of control over their lives. For some, that means volunteering at the SPCA (yay) and for others, it means cursing at a teacher. Even the good kids do it, in their heads, from time to time. It's OKAY for them to have an opinion that you, your classroom, and your subject sucks. Now, obviously, they need *guidance* to understand how to appropriately express that or restrain it. I would even argue that teenagers have an inherent right to appropriate expressions for proper development in conflict resolution as they get older. Do you see any irony in that?

    For what it's worth, I absolutely detest the Odyssey. I even studied Homer extensively in 4th year, as my degree is in teaching English. I also hated Chaucer, the Iliad, and Jane Austen - yet, I teach English daily. There is a really misplaced sense of self-importance by expecting others to hold your likes and values - it's unfair, isn't it?
     

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