My experience as a teacher here in the US

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by helloyou1234, Mar 3, 2016.

  1. helloyou1234

    helloyou1234 Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2016
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    1

    Mar 3, 2016

    Hello everyone,

    I am in a foreign teacher (comes from Europe) involved in an exchange-program and I teach in elementary grades.
    So far, I really dislike my experience as a teacher in the US. I will explain you why below. But the point of my post is I would like to know if the practice as a teacher looks like the same accross the country or if this is only in my school.
    Here are my reasons why I dislikes:
    1=> I have a tiny freedom in how I want to manage my classroom, cause of the heads.
    2=> If I teach something that doesn't please a parent, an email is sent to the director who looks at my preparations.
    3=> The "child comes first" mentality ( be very (too?) nice with the students and be marveled all day long by them)
    4=> Please the parents

    Conclusion: I really feel more like a nanny than a teacher.....
     
    Obadiah likes this.
  2.  
  3. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2010
    Messages:
    1,565
    Likes Received:
    743

    Mar 3, 2016

    Welcome, helloyou! My first teaching experience was in a European high school. I still think back to that time and how completely different it was from my experiences in American schools. I don't teach elementary, but I think what you're describing is fairly common, depending on the school and community where you teach. One thing that many non-Americans are not aware of is that our schools can be completely different depending on the state, county, and even district! We don't have a true national education system and much is up to local control, so what one school does could be quiet different from the school across town.

    What country are you from? What is teaching like there? I think it is important for us to be aware of the different realities for teachers around the world.
     
    Obadiah likes this.
  4. helloyou1234

    helloyou1234 Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2016
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    1

    Mar 3, 2016

    Hello MS.Irene and thank you for your answer.

    I come from France. Well, many things are different in France:

    1/ In France, the relationship with the parents is not so overwhelming. They don't have our email adress, and I don't see why they should have it. We, usually, clearly separate private and professionnal life. In the US, no. In France, if the parents want to talk with the teacher, there is a "school book" where they write down their requests in, and that's it. They use it if they want an appointment in most of cases. In the US, I receive emails because a student lost his pen at school. Seriously? Are we housekeepers too?
    Also, in France, I don't need to see the parents every single day: (usuallyI see them 2 or 3 times a year and that's enough for me). When the school is over, the students leave the school by their own and so they are not under our responsability anymore. In my US school, at the end of the school day, I have to welcome every single parent, every day in front of the classroom and say "Hiiiiiiiiiiiii :))), How are youuuuu? Jordan your mom is there". Seriously?

    2/ Also In France, I have a real break, like 2hours and a half. In my school, I am always with kids, even during the lunch time. This is a straight work day with, maybe a 10 min break.

    3/ In France, I make, with the students, my own management rules. We agree on what they can do and what they can't, and they decide by their own what is the sanction related. The sanctions are like: go to the director office, or write 50 times "I do not swear", some things like that. In my Us school, the only "sanction" is "You gonna have less recess"........WoOoOoO so dissuasive !

    Here are the main points on what I really dislike in my US school now.
    I used to travel and work a lot accross the world, but this experience is really not attractive for my self fulfillement
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2016
  5. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,507
    Likes Received:
    1,482

    Mar 3, 2016

    It doesn't sound very far out of the ordinary to me. Makes me want to go to France and teach there, for the breaks alone!
     
    Obadiah likes this.
  6. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2015
    Messages:
    1,358
    Likes Received:
    840

    Mar 3, 2016

    Hello, helloyou1234! First of all, welcome to America and to this discussion group! Concerning one of your points, I agree, teachers need much, much more control of how they teach in the classroom, and some private, charter, and even public schools are moving back into that direction. The teacher is the professional and best knows how to provide for his or her own class. Children learn more from a variety of approaches from different teachers. You reminded me of my first job interview, where the principal (no exaggeration!) told me that at this elementary school, the teachers were required to lecture verbatim from the teacher's manuals, include all illustrations in the manual on the blackboard, etc. In other words, do not add, altar, or amend the manual. Then he told me, "You know, everything you learned in college about how to teach was just a waste of time. The only skill you really need as a teacher is to keep the class behaving." I'm glad I didn't teach at that school!
     
  7. helloyou1234

    helloyou1234 Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2016
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    1

    Mar 3, 2016

    Lol Bella84. And wooo Obadiah....it's surprising how the school's policy change up to the heads. I'm glad we have a national educational system. Oh by the way, I broke my 3 years contract and I will take back my job in France in September. Now I am just waiting for the end of the school year. I can't stand babysitting anymore.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2016
  8. helloyou1234

    helloyou1234 Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2016
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    1

    Mar 3, 2016

    And I'm glad to see that big lines are common in many schools not only in mine, even if it has its own practices. First, I wanted to change school, but I see that what I dislike is cultural and we can't change that, and i don't want to either.

    When I chat with my colleagues in France about my daily here, they are like "Really? I don't envy you at all".
    Usa for vacation is awesome but for work as a teacher, never ever ever again.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2016
  9. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2010
    Messages:
    4,858
    Likes Received:
    1,056

    Mar 3, 2016

    I feel your pain, because I'm from Europe as well (Hungary). I never taught there, so I only have the student perspective, but I remember everything very well.
    In Hungary (and I assume in Europe most places), the teachers don't rely on the parents, they discipline the child at school, and the parent disciplines the child at home. However the parents fully respect the teachers and back them up with follow up at home. And yes, there are some parent- teacher conferences throughout the school year, but there's no more contact. No phone calls home, etc.

    Just keep in mind, as others said, there can be a lot of differencesw among schools, areas or states, so there's a big possibility that you will find a school you will like, but it will help you if you don't compare it to France. The European school system is so much stronger there than here in the US (no matter what country) so comparing them will just make it harder.
     
    helloyou1234 likes this.
  10. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,507
    Likes Received:
    1,482

    Mar 3, 2016

    helloyou, can you share what exchange program you are involved in? Truth be told, I've considered - dreamed about, really - moving to Europe before, as I hold dual-citizenship in an EU country (but I don't fluently speak the language of my other country, unfortunately). So, I was only halfway kidding when I said that I'd love to go teach in France! I'd be interested in learning more about exchange programs that might get me over there. I tried to send you a private message, but I think you're too new to A-Z for me to do that.
     
    dgpiaffeteach likes this.
  11. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2010
    Messages:
    1,565
    Likes Received:
    743

    Mar 3, 2016

    Helloyou, I was an assistante d'anglais in a French lycée (near Montpellier)! I now teach French and English. It was a wonderful, eye-opening experience that made me want to become a certified teacher, although my experiences as an American teacher are so different from what I experienced there!

    I remember talking to the French teachers about life in an American school, and I am pretty sure most thought I was exaggerating! Things that stood out to me about life in a French school (high school):

    1) Lunch was so long! Teachers had at least one hour, often two. On the days where they "only" had an hour, they would complain about not having enough time to get a coffee after lunch!
    2) Teachers taught many fewer hours in front of the students. If I remember correctly, they had 20-25 hours of classroom instruction, and no expected duties before or after school, and no extracurriculars (clubs, sports, dances, etc) to chaperone. When I mentioned that American teachers usually have between 30-35 hours per week of instructional time, they were in disbelief!
    3) Classrooms were bare-bones -- teachers moved from room to room and carried their papers around with them. There were no bulletin boards, room decor, or organization to worry about.
    4) The whole country, including our school, went on strike from February-April of the year I was there (2005-6). There were no buses running to take students to and from school. Even the students went on strike eventually. I remember hearing what sounded like thunder as they all ran out of the classrooms at the same time! I really only taught a few hours a week most of that year.
    5) Cultural differences...too many to name! The other teachers were very warm and welcoming and curious to know about me. But yes, in American culture, we have this overwhelming pressure to be "social butterflies" with a huge smile, greeting our adoring public, etc etc, that I noticed was not present to the same extent in France. To be honest, I was almost more comfortable with this even though it was different, but I could see how it could be hard for someone to conform to our American expectations of "friendliness" and the pressure to be "on" socially all the time. It's draining for many of us American natives, too!

    There was so much more, these are just a few things that stood out to me. I hope for you that at least you will go back to France with an appreciation for how things are there for teachers, and also to spread the word about how hard we have it here!
     
    helloyou1234 likes this.
  12. helloyou1234

    helloyou1234 Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2016
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    1

    Mar 4, 2016

    Hello MS.Irene,

    Thanks for your message ! I clearly recognize our system, and it makes me smile.

    I'll comment some of your points:

    2) Teachers taught many fewer hours in front of the students. If I remember correctly, they had 20-25 hours of classroom instruction, and no expected duties before or after school, and no extracurriculars (clubs, sports, dances, etc) to chaperone. When I mentioned that American teachers usually have between 30-35 hours per week of instructional time, they were in disbelief!

    Now it's 18h per week in secondary school if you are a certified teacher. If you are a "agrégé" (I don't know how to translate this is english), it's 15h per week. In elementary school, it's 27h. And yes, no duties after or before school. For the clubs and so on, the gorvernment hires people only for this. We only teach, which is our only job actually......

    4) The whole country, including our school, went on strike from February-April of the year I was there (2005-6). There were no buses running to take students to and from school. Even the students went on strike eventually. I remember hearing what sounded like thunder as they all ran out of the classrooms at the same time! I really only taught a few hours a week most of that year.

    Haha :joycat:. Usually when French people are not happy with some government decisions, they do a strike. But let's face it, we are known accross the world to be complainers. Instead of the US, strikes don't lead to lose your job. When you are a teacher, you will never lose your job because you are involved in a strike. Do a strike is a right.

    5) Cultural differences...too many to name! The other teachers were very warm and welcoming and curious to know about me. But yes, in American culture, we have this overwhelming pressure to be "social butterflies" with a huge smile, greeting our adoring public, etc etc, that I noticed was not present to the same extent in France.

    Yes, I'm sick of faking that fantasy face when I see parents and students. It doesn't mean I'm an angry person. It just means that it's draining to always to act like a fantasy person. Now I'm at the point, that I don't fake anything. I am always polite, but no more any marveled behavior:innocent:. Seriously, I'm done:neutral:.

    [/QUOTE]
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2016
  13. helloyou1234

    helloyou1234 Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2016
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    1

    Mar 4, 2016

    Thank you very much for your answer. And yes, this situation is painful for me, because everyday I feel drained, nervous about this situation which makes me feel not good in my skin. I'm always tired and I have sleep problems now. Each vacation, I go back home, even for 1 week.....

    Usually I really love my job, but there I hate it. Sorry, Americans. No offense.
     
  14. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2010
    Messages:
    1,565
    Likes Received:
    743

    Mar 4, 2016

    I am so sorry to hear you are having this experience. It is painful to find yourself in a place where you don't feel good in your own skin! Is there a French community in the area you could connect with -- is there an Alliance Française, for example? There are outposts in many cities that host social events for francophones.

    To be fair, though, I just wanted to add that we are talking about American culture in very broad strokes, of course! The school I am at has a reputation of the staff being "unfriendly" because it is a huge campus, huge staff, and we are all too spread out and busy to spend a lot of time socializing. I actually appreciate the collegiate, cordial-but-professional atmosphere here, but I know it has been a turn-off for some. So although it sounds like you are not planning to look for a better fit, just please keep in mind that school culture can vary widely from site to site.
     
  15. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2007
    Messages:
    6,824
    Likes Received:
    192

    Mar 6, 2016

    Hello! I am from the US but teach down in Mexico. One of the many things I LOVE about teaching down here is the support from admin. Students with behavior issues are put on plans and we are not expected to just manage. If their behavior is so difficult, we even require their parents pay for monitors who stay with them all day long. We are looked at as the experts and respected as such. Schools differ greatly within the US, but many teachers feel the frustration you feel, which is why there is such high turn over. Some districts are great, but many are not.
     
  16. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2007
    Messages:
    6,824
    Likes Received:
    192

    Mar 6, 2016

    Let me add one little caveat to this: I am teaching in a private school in Mexico. I do not sense that this is true for the public schools in Mexico.
     
  17. lucybelle

    lucybelle Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2012
    Messages:
    1,841
    Likes Received:
    51

    Mar 6, 2016

    I taught abroad at a private school in Central America for three years. I actually found that the culture difference was opposite what you are saying. I was expected to treat my students like my children, and that just never happened. I was told I was too cold and distant, when I felt I was keeping an appropriate relationship.

    But with all that- I certainly loved the fact that I could leave whenever I was done teaching for the day. One day a week I finished at 12pm and so I went home at 12pm. At my current school I have my last period planning and I sometimes sneak out 15 minutes early but I know if I were to get caught I'd get in trouble. Which I think is silly. If I'm done with my work there's no need for me to sit around and do nothing.
     
  18. helloyou1234

    helloyou1234 Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2016
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    1

    Mar 6, 2016

    Thanks again for your answer.
    Yes, the school's policy is up to the heads. But some points are cultural and can't be changed. And I don't want to either. For example: Email from parents. I think 99% of us school use emails to communicate with parents. To me it's overwhelming and I don't feel comfortable with that. Also, I miss my freedom. Surprisingly in France the director of our schools is not our boss. He doesn't hire or fire and has no right to force us to say or do what we don't want to. Our boss is what we call an inspector. We see him every 3 years. So...
    I may sound defensive and not open minded but these cultural points are too draining for me. That's why I don't want to find another school in the us. And I also discussed like a lot with my French colleagues working in us schools and the big lines are the same.

    And for my social life I hang out a lit with my French colleagues whom I have a very great relationship. I'll miss them for sure.
     
  19. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,813
    Likes Received:
    52

    Mar 6, 2016

    I teach 7 hours a day with an hour of planning. I pull duty before school, lunch, and after school. I have a lot of freedom on what I teach and how I teach it. My principal hired me to do a professional job, and she leaves me alone to do it. I do feel that the hardest part of my job is parents. I refuse to give my phone number or personal email to parents. They can contact me through my school email. I also refuse to meet with parents without a prior appointment. And my principal supports that.
     
  20. jadorelafrance

    jadorelafrance Cohort

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2015
    Messages:
    620
    Likes Received:
    255

    Mar 6, 2016

    I actually teach less than 20 hours a week (about 4 hours a day with one day of the week only 3), but I do have a duty (3-4 hours a week) but I can do planning/grading during my duty. I feel as if I'm well compensated for my region. I know I am an anomaly in the education world and I am pretty lucky. I am bound by contracted hours, so I have to be at school for 7.5 hours/day and sometimes longer if there's a meeting. I would love to be able to leave after teaching for the day, but then I wouldn't be available after school for extra help and makeup work everyday.
    I am not expected to do any extracurricular and I don't really do them. I do attend specific events and have run trips, but I do not coach or run a club.

    I'm pretty familiar with the French system and have colleagues/friends in France, but I do think there's pros and cons to both systems.
     
  21. helloyou1234

    helloyou1234 Rookie

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2016
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    1

    Mar 6, 2016

    Seems you feel fine in your job. I am happy for you.
    I am not a teacher to do duties before or after school, I am not a club animator or a person who has to do after or before cares.. I am a teacher and that's it. Even for the emails. It doesn't matter if this is a professionnal or personnal email. No emails.
    My personnality doesn't fit with the US system. I had this experience here and that's ok.
     
  22. a2z

    a2z Maven

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2010
    Messages:
    5,888
    Likes Received:
    1,809

    Mar 6, 2016

    Welcome, Helloyou. Thank you for starting this thread. It has been very interesting. As others have said schools can be different in many ways in the United States. I, for one, have never heard of parents coming to the classroom to pick up their child except in daycare or preschool settings and only in private ones, not pre-school grades that are in the public schools.

    I do agree that many parents take an active role in communication with their teacher. This was not always the case in public schools in the United States. This started changing in, I believe, in the late 80s with more notes to school and by 2000 e-mails were going strong. Society in the United States changed a lot from the 70s until now. Citizens started questioning authority more. People started questioning everything more. Even a trip to the doctor now requires the patient to make sure that they help drive the medical care. So, you see this same behavior when it comes to parenting. The other big change is that expectations for student achievement changed and the blame game is very strong. Parents blame teachers when the student isn't learning (and sometimes rightly so). Teachers blame parents when the student isn't learning or needs additional behavior support in the classroom. The other big change in society was that people started suing people and organizations over so many things. Administrators became concerned and made decisions that are out of fear instead of out of logic and support.

    So, here we are. Expectations for learning are high so some administrators control the school with completely. Parents are responsible for their child's academic learning so they intervene and sometimes too much.

    I'm sorry you aren't enjoying your experience. I wish you well. Thank you for sharing.
     
    Linguist92021 likes this.
  23. Leaborb192

    Leaborb192 Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2016
    Messages:
    2,407
    Likes Received:
    1,180

    Jun 18, 2016

    ,
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. dr.gator,
  2. komal
Total: 475 (members: 3, guests: 447, robots: 25)
test