Trying not to be the statistic (warning: long)

Discussion in 'General Education' started by ebrillblaiddes, Dec 8, 2008.

  1. ebrillblaiddes

    ebrillblaiddes Companion

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    Dec 8, 2008

    It's been a while since I've been here...I've been dealing with, well, the stuff in this post. The standard statistic is that half of us wash out in five years, or seven years, or whatever it actually is. I'm in my second year out of college and in the teaching force, and starting to think I'm circling the drain.

    College was rough. The first half of undergrad, I found mostly mind-numbing--the simplified-overview-of-fill-in-the-subject-for-ed-majors classes bored me to tears. The last half, I basically suffered through to get out of there so I could go to grad school, because the school I went to for undergrad made people apply to a special program for the actual meat of the teacher training classes, and I, in spite of jumping through all their hoops and doing everything anyone suggested to try to get ready, didn't get in--they said they thought I would have too many problems with classroom management, because of my personality, or confidence, or something, I never did get a straight answer about what was wrong or what to do about it. Grad school was this "social justice based" program from which I got the message that anything the kids do wrong means they need something so we should spoil them. I look back at that time and I can barely find anything I don't regret, because if I'd done the right things different then, maybe I wouldn't be almost giving up now.

    The first district I worked in sold themselves as a great supportive district for beginning teachers. The induction program classes were a joke, my "mentor" was a nice enough lady but knew nothing about my teaching area and spent all her time with the younger kids, the parents were the demanding types that want to know why their A student got a B in the subject that they say isn't her strong point, the principal was a start-perfect-and-get-better type, and the district was applying an evaluation system that made 8-year veterans cry to everyone down to rookies. I got out of my contract mid-year, on paper for health reasons (my depression actually did flare up but I would have stuck that out if it weren't the job causing it).

    I got another job a month later; the rest of the year went OK-to-mediocrely, and mediocre was an improvement, so I agreed to go back this year. This year, they brought in a new administrator who I couldn't make happy no matter what, and the kids were objectively worse as compared to last year--other people thought so too. The new administrator's suggested technique of looking at gang members to get them to stop talking in class didn't work, so, after a few iterations of this, I was asked to resign or be fired. I went with the resignation because it seemed a little less bad. Either way, my resume is permanently trashed. I will never again be able to say no to the "have you ever been asked to resign?" question on a job application, and I can't help but think it's statistically inevitable that this will shut some door somewhere in my career.

    I'm subbing now, as of about a month ago. The going rate here for a sub is $90 a day, which almost pays the bills--almost. My parents are helping me out. Which is f'ing embarassing: I have $70,000 in student debt and all but the paperwork on a grad degree (I moved out of state before it went through and can't get a straight answer from my college's grad office about what I need to do to wrap it up), and I'm living off of my parents who have GEDs and drive a semi-truck. Not exactly proof that knowledge is power. I'm afraid to apply for a full-time position, not because I think I wouldn't get it, but because I just might, and I can't think of any reason why I wouldn't fail again. I think I could psych myself up to try but I don't think I could handle failing. One of my friends is saying that I should quit and do something else for a while; the one thing I'm sure about is that that would be a bad idea, because I'm having a hard enough time with the idea of walking partway back (from subbing), and if I walk all the way away, I don't know if I could ever make myself walk back.

    I've been having the exact problem that the undergrad school said I would, classroom management. Sometimes I think that they must have been right and I need to just give up because it was me all along. Sometimes I think that I'd be doing fine if it weren't for all that, and I'm only having so many problems because every time a kid mouths off I think it's my fault (as in the previous option), but since that's stuck in my head, even though I managed to get the training anyway they still might be able to keep me from amounting to anything. Sometimes I think, if I could just figure out what to do, get my crap together, pull out of the spin...but I don't see any way to make that happen.

    I'm out of resources and out of patience with myself. I've read the books, I've tried routines and time out and "if you can hear me say shhhh" and sending kids to ISS and the look-turn-walk over-write up progression and copying sentences and counting minutes for detention and calling home (the worst kids are the ones whose parents are calling the school asking how to raise them...) and seating arrangements and standing in front of the door so they can't leave early (they f'ing shoved past me! and I wrote them up! and nothing happened!). Everything in college was useless. I'm not picking it up from thin air. As a sub, now, I'm no one's priority (as I theoretically was in college) and I have no regular colleagues to talk to about it (as I did when I was in a full-time spot).

    I've always known that teaching is what I'm supposed to be doing, and I have no other real purpose in life so basically I wouldn't know how else to earn the right to take up space and oxygen if it turns out that I'm a lost cause, and I have to earn my air somehow, because I can't just jump off a bridge, because there's no one else to feed my cats. I know I have to keep the subbing going, because that's my only foot in the door, but I don't know how to use it, or what else to use, to fill in the things I have no clue about.

    I'm not even sure what I'm asking at this point, but I can't actually be the only person this has ever happened to (although I realize I have to be in a minority, with how long and how consistently things have gone wrong), so someone out there must have seen something work for someone (themselves or otherwise). So...thoughts?
     
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  3. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Dec 8, 2008

    First things first: my dear, I feel for you.

    I work with grownups (well, technically), so classroom management isn't my forte. But the two people I'd most like to get on this thread with you (yo! Aliceacc! mmswm!) both live on the East Coast and are doubtless already up even as I type.

    And you might - might - want to look at Power Teaching, which now has its very own area here on A to Z.
     
  4. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    Dec 8, 2008

    I wish I had advice, but I wanted to say it's funny, I was thinking of the same two people.

    I have heard wonderful things about Power Teaching, but I've been nervous to try it (I'm scared the "cool" kids won't cooperate and make me look like a fool).
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Dec 8, 2008

    Hi !

    I AM up, but need to run in a few minutes; my kids have been out sick from school and I need to write the absent notes before I get everyone up from school. So I'll keep this brief and come back later.

    For starters, what grade(s) do you teach? (I'm sure you've posted that in the past but it IS early in the morning :) )

    Also, tell us how subbing is going: are your sub classes generally pandemonioum or do some tend to be fairly well behaved?? For those that seem to be going OK, could you email the teachers and ask to observe their classes on a another day-- after Christmas of course?? Perhaps their classroom management techniques would give you something concrete to work with.

    Beyond that, you need to find a school where you're a better fit. Use subbing as a springboard to find administrators who seem to be kinder and gentler.

    Also, have you considered teaching in non-public schools?? One of the many things I love about my Catholic school is the way they support teachers. New teachers in particular have an amazing support system. While not all schools run this way, you might want to consider branching out from public schools.

    Gotta run and get back to those absence notes!!!
     
  6. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Dec 8, 2008

    I suspect that Power Teaching works in part because you get the kids in on the cosmic joke, as in We're All Fools On This Bus, People; but that's by no means the only way to go.
     
  7. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Dec 8, 2008

    Thanks so much, Alice.
     
  8. lemonhead

    lemonhead Aficionado

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    Dec 8, 2008

    I feel for you too. But you can't change all the stuff from the past nor can you put all the blame there. You had some bad luck but you need to move on, forward.


    It's possible by continuing to sub and really getting your name and skills out there, that you meet someone who may not think the resigning is a big deal.
     
  9. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Dec 8, 2008

    I'm up, I'm up...but not willingly. The kids are doing something that involves bagels and toasters, but I'm not sure what else.

    Okay, I'm going to parrot a little of what Alice said. I think your first position just simply wasn't the place for you. Every teacher has their niche...grade, district, socioeconomic status, ects. I think it's kind of amusing that the first people that others thought of were two teachers who teach in DRAMATICALLY different settings. Alice teaches middle class (or upper middle class) kids at a private catholic school in a decent section of new york, and I teach in a public school in the ghettos of Miami. Neither one of us would survive a year in each other's school, yet we both thrive where we are. So, you didn't find your niche on the first try. That's not a career ending senario. You just have to keep looking for a place that fits better.

    Another thing is that it seems like everything from your education program to your frist position dropped the ball with training. People don't fall from the sky with amazing classroom management skills. It's something we LEARN. Sure, some of have a better instict than others, but, with proper education and support, in a couple years, you can't tell the difference between the two groups. I'm horrified that your university would tell you what it did without giving you any real training (and that means in front of a classroom...there's certain things you just can't learn from a book.) How would they know what you would do in a classroom? I know teachers with completely different personalities, ranging from "Miss Honey", to "Sarge", all who have complete control over their classrooms, though in totally different ways. Beside that, don't we learn in our teacher ed programs to not label kids because if we do, the label becomes a self fulfilling prophesy? Shame on your university for doing exactly what we've been taught, and common sense would dictate, not to do.

    So, my advise? Take a good look at yourself. You've been successfull as a sub. That means you CAN control a classroom, and in a situation that's tougher than the regular classroom teacher. You have to go into a different room every day, with a bunch of kids you don't know and somehow get them to do what their teacher wants them too. That's a lot tougher from a classroom management perspective than the classroom teacher who has them day after day and can work with long term goals and solutions. You need to be more confident in what you can do, because you obviously can do it.

    With that in mind, go out and look for a full time job. It will be a little tougher since you left a position mid year, but you have an adequate explaination if you get asked in an interview (and medical issues that should not recur, is a good enough explaination). It's also a pretty tough job market right now, so don't let that blow the confidence you'll be building. Good luck, and I hope I've covered everything in this small novel :)
     
  10. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    Dec 8, 2008

    I'm so sorry you're going through this, life experiences teach us many things, be strong, learn from your past...

    The Power Teaching suggestions are wonderful for the kind of kids you have, but, it needs to be done day after day with the same group of kids. I suppose you could modify it for subbing where you'd at least survive.

    Shame on whomever told you'd have problems with classroom management, geez you had a professor who "gave" you a prophecy for you to fulfill. That's the first thing you have to get rid of. Shake that off!!! You have to start thinking "positive", you can manage a class and do it well. Start today, go in with a positive attitude. Don't wait for admin to help you, you'll be stronger for helping yourself.

    I'm limited on time too.

    Stand tall, smile, think positive. Kids know who they can buffalo and who they can't.
     
  11. Go 4th

    Go 4th Habitué

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    Dec 8, 2008

    I agree--I think it has become a self fullfilling prophecy. When something goes wrong, you hear that voice in your head telling you that you can't do it. I think that he really shot your confidence and now, when things aren't going smoothly, that is what you think of first. DON'T listen to that voice. Listen to the voice that first told you that you wanted to be a teacher. Confidence--or faking it really well--is about 90% of what I do every day as a first year teacher. Other teachers keep telling me that I am doing so great--that is because I look like it--if they came in my room, they would fall over laughing! :)

    Bless your heart! This is my first year and it is so tough--even somewhere that I feel comfortable. I can't imagine what you must have gone thru. BUT you've come too far, and have too much to offer, to turn away now. You've been in 2 not so ideal situations. That isn't necessarily a reflection on your teaching, it is a reflection of where you don't fit and where you don't have the support that you need.

    And gosh--if you can sub--YOU HAVE CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT SKILLS. Or they would never call you back. Subbing is hard work. I've been there. And I did it just to see if I could handle a class on my own, without being observed by the real teacher. Girl, those kids give you work out when you are a sub. I don't know anything about power teaching but if the others suggest it, go for it.

    I agree with the others on starting that job search. As a sub, you have a lot of insight into the schools. Find a school that fits you really well, that the teachers are supportive and encouraging, and then make it known that you want a position there.

    YOU CAN DO IT!! Be positive and confident in yourself. And remember to come on here for any support, advice, or just plain hugs!
     
  12. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Dec 8, 2008

    This is probably a copyrite violation, but I'm going to do it anyway :)

    Here's a post from a first year teacher on another thread. Note the HUGE difference in support systems:

    "UVAgrl928
    Rookie Join Date: Sep 2008
    Location: Virginia
    2nd Grade Teacher
    Posts: 22

    Back in October I started applying to counties out of my area. I am single, with no children, so for me, relocating was okay. I started to immediately get phone calls for interviews once I looked outside of my area. When I went in for an interview, I was called on my drive home, about 10 minutes after I left the interview, with the job offer, and I took it (I was one of four girls hired in one week at my school)! I am so happy I did.

    It's tough, because I had to move, so I am not near my friends, my support network, etc., but I am so happy I did it. I am grateful that I have a job, with a great administration, very supportive staff, and great students. Every single one of my team members stops by my room at the beginning and end of the day just to say "hi" and see if I need anything. One of my students had been sleeping on the floor, so three teachers rallied together (they didn't want me to have to worry about it as a first year teacher that started mid-year) and found him a bed and took it to his house. The staff went out for happy last night, we have a baby shower tonight, and a Christmas party next weekend. This makes me feel much more at home, because my biggest fear was moving to this area and not knowing anyone, and feeling very alone.

    So the moral of the story is be open to new/different situations. Start looking in counties that may be several hours from where you are currently living, because you increase your possibilities. I know it's not as easy for those with a family, but if you can, start searching elsewhere. I really regret having initially limited myself to where I was living.... because if I hadn't, I may have had a job back in August!

    If anyone is interested in VA... send me a message, and I can try to answer any questions. "
     
  13. Sheba

    Sheba Companion

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    Dec 8, 2008

    Have you thought about trying out a year or two in other country, either at an international school or in a country that hires foreigners for either public school or private academy teaching. Obviously most such jobs are TEFL but there are also lots of jobs for teaching regular subjects in international or immersion programmes (what is your subject area and age level of students, btw?).

    Obviously living overseas has its issues but it's a great way to figure out whether you have what it takes to apply your joy and passion for teaching. You have to be very careful when doing your research but if you find the right kind of gig you can kiss goodbye to most of the administrative BS that drags teachers down in the west.
     
  14. dr.gator

    dr.gator Comrade

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    Dec 8, 2008

    This post by UVAgrl928 is so true. When I first started years ago, I so wanted a job at the school in the town in which I grew up in. It didn't happen and I had to take a job about two hours from where I grew up at. I moved, made the best of a hard situation and came back the next year to a job about 45 minutes from home. The only good thing about this position was that it was closer to home and the job allowed me to grow as an educator. After 11 years, I moved on to another job which was what I thought fit me, but was a very bad move for me professionally. Nearly beat the mess out of me. Fed up and literally digusted with teaching I went in search of something new and different that would make life fun again. That's when I interviewed not once, but twice for a position at the same school I had initially wanted to work for right out of college. Same school, just a new principal at the time I interviewed. I am so thankful things worked out as they did. I know realize that I could have never worked for the initial principal that ran the school back when I first wanted to work there. I also now realize that I needed every experience along the way to appreciate where I am at now and to be the kind of educator I am now. What's that Bible verse about to everything there is a reason or season?

    Anyone who can stick it out subbing can teach. When you do find the right fit for your teaching style, you will know it, be happy with it, and look back at the experiences that made you the teacher you are. Stick with it. You can make a difference.
     
  15. stephenpe

    stephenpe Connoisseur

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    Dec 9, 2008

    Listen to the GATOR. Subbing is challenging and is proof you can handle kids. I wanted to teach in my hometown but it didnt work out. Turns out I ended up in the BEST job and school anywhere. I have seen many teachers pulled out of their comfort zone (they thought) and ended up happier and energized by the new job. Who Moved My Cheese is a book you should read. Best book about life and jobs ever.
     

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