My job is killing me, and I don't recognize myself anymore.

Discussion in 'General Education' started by StarryEyedMess, Oct 8, 2019.

?

What should I do?

  1. quit despite the repercussions.

    33.3%
  2. ride it out for the year

    66.7%
  3. leave the field altogether and cut your losses with student loans.

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. StarryEyedMess

    StarryEyedMess Rookie

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    Oct 8, 2019

    I am in an odd predicament. I thought I had finally arrived when I accepted this job at an "alternative" art middle school. I was going to be a great way to fulfill my internship to complete my master's program and get my preliminary credentials. I was told the class sizes are small. Approximately 12-20 students per class. Man, my recruiter couldn't have lied as good as this principal.

    Four weeks in, I am dreading waking up every morning. I question why I bother going through the motions, pouring my heart and soul into lessons that will never be completed. Why? Because my students are completely out of control, and it takes 40/50 minutes to even get them all settled enough to start addressing them. Classroom management was never an issue for me. Management was never an issue for me. But it's as though for the last 9 years, these kids have been living in the woods where no rules or social graces
    exist.

    As the days pass, I just feel the life draining from me. I am so mentally and emotionally drained. It's hard for me to do anything outside when I finally do get off work. At work, I feel like I have kind of stopped trying because I don't see the point. Nobody listens to me. Nobody hears me. My class is like an abusive relationship. I feel ignored, neglected, beatdown, disrespected, and mostly, worthless.

    Within the matter of weeks, I feel like I have lost all my self-esteem. I stay awake at night and cry in frustration. I have panic attacks when I wake up in the morning. It got so bad that I was hospitalized last week for three nights due to chest pains. The worst part? My principal is treating me like I am faking my illness just to get away from work. I am more stressed out sitting in the hospital answering her emails than I would be if I was at work dealing with those nightmare children of mine. Now she is harassing me and belittling me, insinuating that I am a bad teacher.

    I didn't want to comeback before, but I have to. I need to fulfill my internship. However, the atmosphere now feels so toxic, I really don't want to come back, and I am anxious just thinking about dealing with her on top of the rowdy students. Does anyone have any insight? What am I doing with my life?!
     
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  3. JesusIsMyTeach

    JesusIsMyTeach Rookie

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    Oct 9, 2019

    I am going through the exact same thing!! You are not alone and I'm so sorry you are going through this. I know what it's like waking up and wishing you had any other job but this one. Like you, classroom management was never an issue. I too spend the majority of class getting them to learn that it's not polite to talk when the teacher is giving instruction. I teach part time so I have four class periods. Two of my classroom periods are learning that I'm not budging from my expectations. I had a good talk with all my class periods and I told them that they don't have to like me but they will respect my classroom. I didn't yell, I just simply stated how I believe they have a lot of potential and that my expectations will remain high because I believe in them. They were very quiet. I also tried to build a rapport with them. I have built it with some and some are just not having it. You can't win them all. :neutral:

    Keep in touch and let me know how you are doing. :hugs:I'm planning on not returning back to this school next year. It's just not a good fit for me and it's not good for my health either. It gives me something to look forward to.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019
    Tired Teacher likes this.
  4. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Oct 9, 2019

    Your health is most important. Stress is beneficial; you can build upon it the same as exercise builds your muscles. But just as over exertion can be detrimental, so can stress when it overwhelms us. I would recommend seeking a professional counselor who could advise healthful strategies in dealing with the stress.

    For the classroom, the students are habitually misbehaving. This is a Skinnerian effect. It happens. I've experienced it, and so have many, many other teachers. I'd recommend journaling (as time allows) at the end of the day what occurred and what occurred prior to and after the misbehavior. Look for patterns that might have stimulated the misbehavior.

    Realize that there is no magic, instant solution to misbehavior, however, at this point, I would recommend banking upon the students' plasticity to adapt to necessary situations. It might be helpful to discuss the purpose of expected behaviors and discuss how the students can assist in producing an effective learning environment. It might be helpful to include the students' ideas in this discussion. In other words, this is more of a teaching situation rather than a "I'm the boss, now shape up or ship out!" situation. They need to learn how to behave.
     
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  5. StarryEyedMess

    StarryEyedMess Rookie

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    Oct 9, 2019

    Thank you so much for reaching out. It makes me feel a little better that there are other people dealing with this and I am not going out of my mind. I think it's messed up that teachers are bound by contract because it could force us to be exposed to any kind of abuse at the hands of the system, administrators, and students.

    I tried talking to them. I really have. For weeks. Nothing. It's like these kids have never been in a classroom before and they are in 8th GRADE!

    Now I am getting harassed by my principal over my absence when I have done nothing wrong. Apparently a hospital intake and discharge forms for is not enough proof for her. To make it worse, I am an intern teacher, so I NEED to do well this year, but with this hostile environment, I honestly would rather die than go back on Tuesday...
     
  6. StarryEyedMess

    StarryEyedMess Rookie

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    Oct 9, 2019

    We have tried that for weeks... We talked and talked, we had class forums, we signed agreement papers, I've run students through the disciplinary process as a last ditch effort to regulate my class, and nothing. I am currently trying to seek mental health care because it is just not happening. I can't rely in admin because they are against me and more scared of parents' complaints than they are of the actual happening within the school. It's asinine how incapable they are at supporting their teachers and doing their administrative duties...

    I can tell you the only pattern is that it is constant. There are a few students that will make it worse, but even on days they were not there, the rest of them are completely incapable of self-regulating. I don't like ripping on my students, but I've never had a bunch like this, and it baffles me that they were let by in school (especially since this is a k-8 and they've been here their whole school career) acting like this.
     
  7. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Oct 9, 2019

    When I had problems with the entire class, or most of the class and it lasted a long time (maybe got better but then got worse and I didn't really have control) I used extreme measures: the entire class was to be quiet the whole time, and do independent work. Copy down vocabulary words, read silently, answer questions, everything was at a level that they could all do.
    These classes went really well, because complete silence was expected and if someone was talking, I noticed right away, they got a warning and after the 2nd, they got sent out. Of course established all expectations and rules in the beginning. Because I wasn't "teaching", only monitoring behavior, my energy wasn't scattered and I noticed that smallest things.

    Like I said these classes went really well. All work was done, and almost no one got in trouble. Of course this is not how I want to teach, but I had to establish "law and order" and only then start to actually teach and then the kids can learn. This never went on more than a few days.
    After that if things got really bad, I could go back to this for 1 day, and that handled it.
    The kids realized it's no fun learning this way and they actually do a lot more work, so they tried to do things my way.

    This worked in high school and in middle school when I was student teaching. I assume it would work in some of the lower grades as well.
     
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  8. StarryEyedMess

    StarryEyedMess Rookie

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    Oct 9, 2019

    I was trying to do this, but they still wouldn't be quiet! And it's not just like one of two, but usually half the class! I'm teaching 8th graders. Did this eventually work for you? How did you get them to silently work? Honestly, if I could get them to do that, I would be happy. Thanks for you reply!
     
  9. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Oct 9, 2019

    How many students are in your classes, and how many classes do you have a day?
     
  10. StarryEyedMess

    StarryEyedMess Rookie

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    Oct 9, 2019

    33 students in 6 classes.
     
  11. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Oct 9, 2019

    33 students in each class?
     
  12. StarryEyedMess

    StarryEyedMess Rookie

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    Oct 9, 2019

    Yes ma'am.
     
  13. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Oct 9, 2019

    If I may ask, how was an alternative "art" middle school described to you?
     
  14. StarryEyedMess

    StarryEyedMess Rookie

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    Oct 9, 2019

    It was described as having a curriculum that integrated the arts, generally speaking. This is not the case. We barely have a curriculum let alone an art based one.
     
  15. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Oct 9, 2019

    Integrated the arts with everything else? Generally, in education, anything that begins as any form of "alternative education" means students who have reasons for not being in a regular education school.
     
  16. StarryEyedMess

    StarryEyedMess Rookie

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    Oct 9, 2019

    Yes, integrated in everything else. Our school runs like a completely normal school. There's nothing alternative about it, which brings us back to the question. I have worked in "alternative" education when I was working in the juvenile court systems, but this is just like any other school you'll ever go to.
     
  17. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Oct 9, 2019

    I wouldn't go so far as to say that, since they seem to be running rough-shod over the teachers.
     
  18. StarryEyedMess

    StarryEyedMess Rookie

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    Oct 9, 2019

    I think that is a vast understatement! but yes, you are definitely correct in that sense.
     
  19. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Oct 9, 2019

    Start over. Reteach procedures and expectations. It’s going to be super strict and not fun for anyone, but eventually they’ll get with the program.

    I have 8th graders (up to 35 in a class) and last year they were great. I rarely had to revisit procedures or hand out consequences for not following procedures. This year is another story. Every day. Every class. Reteach and practice. Every. Stinking. Day. Parent contacts, detentions, and limited freedom. One class has two adults and it takes every single bit of our energy to keep them in check.

    Crack down and hope for the best.
     
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  20. StarryEyedMess

    StarryEyedMess Rookie

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    Oct 9, 2019

    Thank you so much for reaching out and sharing your experience. This is what I am looking for. How long did it take you? I feel like since the third week of school I have been doing this, and it's really period by period. I don't mind doing it, but I just want it to be effective!
     
  21. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Oct 9, 2019

    We just finished our first quarter of the school year, and I’m still reteaching and practicing procedures. Two classes are pretty decent. One is always squirrelly. One is pretty much right at the edge of unraveling all the time. No single class is out of control, but every class has at least one kids that requires too much attention.

    This class has been a thorn in the side or teachers for years, apparently. We just keep being consistent and work on.
     
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  22. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Oct 10, 2019

    I'm starting to get a picture, here. Are these kids who are just dumped there because they have to be in school somewhere? And rather than provide a differently structured environment, the teachers are basically babysitting? And are the 8th graders 13-14 years old, or 15, 16, and up? Concerning parental complaints, do the parents really care about their child's education? Often it's the least concerned parents who squawk the loudest.

    I'm reading between the lines here, so I might be totally missing the target, but I'm picturing students who struggled in elementary school. The teachers assumed that "they could do the work if they just tried". Some were never diagnosed, at least not properly, of having a learning difference, or possibly the IEP was not adhered to. Other possible scenarios: the students were language deficient (not hearing enough words spoken to them from birth to age 3), the students' brains were starved from necessary nutrients (feasting on fast food rather than plant based foods), the students' home behavior was "disciplined" by cussing and yelling and possibly even abuse rather than by instructing in proper decorum, the students were drinking alcohol during elementary years (and given the alcohol by their parents), and the list can go on. Also, very likely, they do not habitually read; a library has been an anathema to them, but video games which encourage stealing and killing to win (sold in Walmart, by the way) were their prized possessions which they addictively practiced day in and day out. I wonder how often they've heard "I love you" (not a quick, compulsory "luv ya") but an honest expression of affection from their parents, or was it just a constant "f-bomb". If these scenarios are the case, no wonder they are the way they are! No one can survive such mental programming without serious damage, and these are the very kids that criminals prey upon. At this age, some if not most of them have regular contact with adult criminals, possibly within the drug trade.

    I write this to say, it's not you. Teachers can only do so much. We are not wizards at Hogwarts.
     
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  23. JesusIsMyTeach

    JesusIsMyTeach Rookie

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    Oct 10, 2019

    I've had that too with former administrators. I understand how you feel and it does get better. :)

    Some ideas:
    I agree with others to go over procedures daily. When my classes start talking over me, I stop and tell them I will not allow them to talk over me while giving instruction. At the beginning I was doing this every day. Now it's less frequent, thank God!

    Also, I put up stars on the board. If they get stars added (for good behavior and doing their work) at the end of the week they get a piece of candy. They lose stars though if they get off task.

    It's not easy but this week has been so much better. I praise God for this! He gets the credit.

    Try some stuff first. Have you contacted parents? I make phone calls to parents and that usually does the trick. Usually lol! It was a really rough start though!

    Are there any class periods that are good or getting better?
     
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  24. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Oct 10, 2019

    Obediah, I've not heard a single word about how many of these students have IEP's or 504 plans, and in the most normal of all schools there is going to be a certain number in those categories, and this doesn't address ELLs, who are also going to require adapted instruction. When I say ELLs, I'm not talking about newcomers, but more about the ELL who has BICS, but lacks CALP. When all they have is BICS, they will do almost anything to not venture into areas where they need to have, understand, and use academic language proficiently. I'm going to state right here that I don't know how CA deals with ELLs, whether every teacher is supposed to be able to create lessons and teach them, whether ESL teachers are supposed to be on staff for these students, etc. In NJ, all teachers who have students with IEP's are supposed to read the page on accommodations and sign off on the IEP. Schools here generally send out pages on accommodations for students with 504 Plans.
     
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  25. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Comrade

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    Oct 11, 2019

    I'd leave asap. That place is not good for you. It may have even caused your hospitalization.
     
  26. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    OP, what are the repercussions of leaving an internship without finishing out the assignment? I've not heard of interns around here, so I really don't have a clue.
     
  27. Milsey

    Milsey Habitué

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    Oct 12, 2019

    I had an 8th grade class like that my first year. I mean, I could not get through a page of a story without interruptions. One day I was trying to do a grammar lesson and literally no one was listening. It was so loud at times in there I could not hear myself. They would leave a mound of trash , and one student left an opened condom on my chair. Someone else drew a dick on my family photo. It was horrifying, and I felt so violated. If it were not for my mentor teacher, Mrs E, I would have quit. I would just hang in there. Maybe admin will come to its senses, and have a security guard come in for that worst class, or another more experienced teacher or aide to support you.
     

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