On the fence.... subbing at a tough school and they offered me a job... objective input needed!

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by NMtoChicago, Dec 10, 2015.

  1. NMtoChicago

    NMtoChicago Rookie

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    Dec 10, 2015

    Hi!

    First of all, thanks in advance for advice and honest feedback. This is a long saga, but hopefully someone will read and give me some help deciding what to do.

    Background info: I taught for 11 years in what I thought was a "tough" school in Albuquerque, New Mexico, seventh grade language arts. It was considered the "worst" school in Albuquerque for the usual reasons, but I ignored all that and loved it. I loved my students and the people (most of them) I worked with. But around year 10, I started to get burned out by the move away from actually teaching to running a classroom in order to keep your job. Teaching scripted material, emphasis on test scores, etc. You guys know the story. I had ignored it for years, but it began to really get to me.

    Our family moved to Chicago, and I decided to take a break from teaching. So for a year, I worked in a hospital and thought about being a nurse. But I missed teaching. A lot. I had been subbing on the side since moving to Chicago, and worked in a lot of special ed classrooms. i discovered I loved it. So over the summer I worked on sped endorsement for middle and high school.

    Sooo, this year when schools started I went into the year in the mindset of returning to the profession I missed. The second day of school, i subbed at a school on the far south side of Chicago. Now, this was a TOUGH school. The kids ALL on some level were going through some trauma, Almost ALL had obvious signs of needing the basics -- clothes, food, hygiene. Because of this, and for reasons no one coming from my background could fully comprehend, they were pretty wild. It made my old school seem like a private school. I did okay, and the principal came up and talked to me after the day was out. She asked me if I was a certified teacher in SPED. I said I had one more class to finish up. Then she asked if I wanted to continue subbing in what was a vacancy until I was endorsed. I was reluctant. I really didn't feel I could really do well in this school. But she was convinced. I said I would think about it. Later, she emailed me my schedule and it seemed manageable. Two pull outs and the co taught.

    It was tough from the start. But I was pushing through. Then another SPED teacher quit. The rest of us had to take on those extra students. Now I pulling three groups, and co teaching two. My caseload went up to 42 kids. Then the doozy really happened. The math teacher quit. The students that probably pushed him over the edge included 12 of my pull outs kids. Even veteran teachers struggled to maintain any kind of control. a month passed and they still can't find a teacher.

    So in the hallway, just passing by me, the principal tells me that I am going to take my pull out kids and bring them in the math class, and teach math. Yeah, I am not certified in math. I am not good at math, PLUS these kids are gone. They haven't had a teacher in a month, and they were tough from the start. So now my schedule is one pull out two co-taught and two math classes.

    And I am doing all this on sub pay. My husband is telling me to leave. Many teachers at the school are telling me to leave. It's crazy. But I stay. I still have another few weeks of my final class and for some reason I feel completely committed to these kids, even though they basically ignore me through the entire class (math class). My other pull out and co taught are fine.

    My breaking point comes in the middle of one of the math classes I am "teaching". One of my pull out kids is crying. I ask him why. He says because he can't learn anymore. Because he is stuck in there, instead of being pulled out with me. I see tears on his paper. My heart sinks, and I feel tears coming from my eyes. The kids, who most of the the time basically ignore they fact that I am there, suddenly sense I have lost it and go crazy. They are gathered around me, either confused or seemingly enjoying the fact that I am quietly crying.

    I talk to the principal and tell her it isn't working. She says that she would rather have me teach 50 kids and not just my 18. I tell her that I am not the person for this job. I can't turn these math classes around. She says it will take time and following through, but it can be done. Over the next few weeks, up to now, I see changes happening for the better. Tiny ones. But the overall situation is the same, and the toll it is taking me and who I am at home is crazy.

    NOW: I have my endorsement. I told the principal I would think over xmas break (coming up in a week) whether I would take the job. I don't think my job description would change, but there is a chance they may find a math teacher, as one did a demo lesson yesterday. But I feel broken at this point. Even if I got my kids back... I wonder if I will have anything left to actually teach them.

    I am going on a couple of interviews over the next two days. They are at schools closer to home, with less intense populations. But part of me feels pulled to stay at this school. Why? I have no idea. NO idea. I was the veteran teacher at my old school in Albuquerque. People left in the middle of the year there all the time. Even two weeks in. Most maybe made it a year or two.

    So I guess after all this writing, my question is... should I take the job at this school where I have been subbing or move on?

    I know this is an intensely personal decision but maybe what are some steps I could take to make a rational decision? If you took out the kids I would be gone in second. Last year she gave EVERYONE in the school developing (sub proficient) on their evaluations. That makes me nervous. And getting thrown into situations I can't teach in make me nervous (i.e. the math class). But I feel terrible and heartbroken at the thought of "leaving" the kids.

    HELP!
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2015
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  3. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Dec 10, 2015

    I hate the fact that this situation exists. There are so many different levels of problems going on, and none of them is your fault or anything you have control over. I hate that this is my advice, but you need to do what is best for yourself, over the long term. Think about your health, mental and physical, and whether or not you would be able to hack it there for another year, three years, however long you hope to stay in a job.

    Remember, where ever you go, there will be kids who need you. It just might not be as obvious as it is in this school. I teach in a solid middle-class community, and I still come home with a broken heart for my kids too many days. There is so much need no matter where we are.
     
  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Dec 10, 2015

    I wouldn't take this job if I were in the situation you've described.
     
  5. cupcakequeen

    cupcakequeen Comrade

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    Dec 10, 2015

    On the one hand, I want to say don't do it. Don't take the job. But on the other hand, I completely understand wanting to stick it out in a job you hate because you feel like you have a responsibility to someone, or you feel guilty about leaving others and moving on. I've been there, not with a teaching position but with the job I had waiting tables in college. Not the same thing, I know, but I worked there way longer than I should, in awful conditions and for a psycho boss, because I didn't want to feel like I was letting other people down or being "a quitter."

    I do think that ultimately you need to do what's best for you. Worst case scenario, could you handle another semester if they don't find a new math teacher? Do you want to handle another semester of that? I know I wouldn't. I would be too stressed and lack the confidence to really make a difference for those kids, as much as I would want to.
     
  6. NMtoChicago

    NMtoChicago Rookie

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    Dec 10, 2015

    Thank you so much for your thoughts. They help so much. I think, for me, I often can't see clearly when I am in the middle of an intense situation like this.

    There is also a BIG culture at the school to tear down anyone who suggests that they want to transfer schools or people who have. Not teachers, but admin. There is a lot of guilt put out about abandoning the kids. And on some level, I agree. It has to be hard on them. You don't want to do anything for these kids but lift them up. The disparity, the huge obstacles dropped in front of these kids, is just heartbreaking, and maddening. There are two, TWO! teachers in this whole school who have made past two years! One, who must be the greatest teacher who ever lived, has taught there 20 years. And the other 6 years.

    The thing is... when I left my job in albuquerque, I knew someone would come and take my place. There are 12 vacancies at this school. People don't come in and fill that place. They don't.
     
  7. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Dec 10, 2015

    I think you want to save these poor kids because you are compassionate and you've seen firsthand the desperate situation. But, are you the best person to do that? You don't have to solve the problem, the school does. I think you should look for a better fit.
     
  8. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Dec 11, 2015

    It sounds like your compassion and drive to succeed make you the perfect teacher for this school, but on the other hand, it sounds like the administration, or at least the district, lacks that drive. You are trying to make a difference, but they are trying to continue the same old stuff that doesn't work. You see the students as students: they see the students as statistics. If you can stay, just your presence in the classroom could make a difference in the lives of these kids, even your tears that one day surely had a positive impact even though the students didn't show it outwardly. But you and your family are just as important. If you would stay, I would advise a plan to handle the emotional pressure, perhaps professional advice. A person can only handle so much; we are like a pot of water. We can only hold so much water to boil.
     
    Upsadaisy likes this.
  9. NMtoChicago

    NMtoChicago Rookie

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    Dec 11, 2015

    Thank you.

    I go on one of the three interviews I have today, and just waking up and knowing I didn't need to go in was a huge relief. The more I think about it, the more what you guys are saying makes sense. Admin needs to solve some of these problems not expect the teachers too. And once I got hired I can't imagine how illegal all of this is. My kids aren't getting their services for one. And that's because they put me in a class that I am not certified to teach. I am sure this sounds petty, but the "instructional coach" who is supposed to be this amazing teacher, could teach the math class and then my kids would get their services!!! But all I see her do is sit around at a table on the hall and eat. When I asked her to give me some advice on what to do that might work better she answered -- while scrolling through FB -- that there was nothing that could be done. I wanted to throttle her.
     
  10. MikeTeachesMath

    MikeTeachesMath Devotee

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    Dec 11, 2015

    Have you looked into teaching opportunities for nurses? My brother-in-law's wife is an RN and she teaches classes at the local community college at night.
     
  11. Culturanta

    Culturanta Rookie

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    Dec 15, 2015

    I live in Chicago too. Since you mentioned "demo lesson" and based on the location, I am assuming this is a charter school. PM me if you like, I am familiar with the charters in the area. If it's one of the names I am thinking it could be, a) I may have taught there in the past b) it may be slated to close as of fall 2016.

    If neither of the interviews you mentioned at different, perhaps better, schools pan out, I'd take the position to gain experience and demonstrate to future employers that you are willing to take on a tough challenge, and can deal with this kind of environment. However going into it with an "I'll save these precious babies" mentality is going to burn you out quickly. You'll need to be realistic, pragmatic and in some eyes, even harsh in your thinking about the realities of the situation - the students' social issues, the cauldron of dysfunction that is admin. The reality is, "good" jobs (ie; with functional admin and well-behaved students) are extraordinarily difficult to find in our city unless you are related to someone who is already in the building. I have been teaching six years; five of them in underperforming inner city charters. I got into the suburbs this year for the FIRST time.
     
  12. NMtoChicago

    NMtoChicago Rookie

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    Jan 8, 2016

    Ok!

    So I told the principal I was not going to take the job and my last day was the day before xmas break. I never felt so much relief.

    So more advice needed. I finally got my demo lesson scheduled! It was yesterday and it went really well. The AP said it was brilliant, pacing was spot on, etc. This is a CPS high school btw. So the Principal offered me a position contingent on my references. They said they would need to speak to a supervising AP or principal at the school I just left on the south side, and my previous school out of state. So of course, they can't get a call back from principal on the south side. I emailed and called both the AP and the Principal asking them to call the new principal and they don't reply. I am not sure what to do... I don't want to lose the chance to get this job. Any thoughts? Thank you!!!
     

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