When one day just dumps you in the dirt...

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by Peregrin5, May 5, 2017.

  1. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    May 5, 2017

    I was feeling pretty good this last week. The previous week I felt okay, because I had determined to be more positive. This week, I had determined to 'like' my students (remind myself that I need to genuinely like my students because it does make a difference), and I was feeling like my old teacher self for a while until yesterday, where I don't know what happened. It was just an off-day. I felt like all of the kids were super snarky, rude, and not outright disrespectful, but I could tell they were probably muttering disrespectful things, mainly because they think I'm a terrible person for making them do work in school.

    Then in one of my favorite classes, one of the students (albeit one of the ones who has made it clear he is not a fan of me) put another student in a headlock and wouldn't stop even after I told him to let go. I was having such a good week that this totally threw me off kilter because it showed that this student truly didn't respect me or the rules in my classroom. I felt like I handled it very weakly in the moment: saying things like "this is unacceptable in my classroom, I will not tolerate it again" all the while the student is like "whatever", when I probably should have said something like "you have a referral, get out." In retrospect, I have been giving too much leeway to this class because I regard them as one of my better classes who is able to handle the expanded freedom, but I can see little by little they are starting to take advantage of it and me. I sat for a while after class wondering what I should have done or what I should do now. I settled on sending an email home (I tried calling, and no one answered) and writing a referral after the fact. I hate writing a referral without telling the student that I am doing so first, but they were already gone.

    This sudden feeling that I went from a strong teacher earlier in the week to one that is not respected by my students put me down in the dumps. Not to mention it's teacher appreciation week, and I don't think there has been much appreciation by anyone to any of us teachers (students, parents, or administrators -- tbf, the administrators did buy our 60+ staff about 15 tacos for a "Mexican Luncheon" that was completely gone by the time most of us got there).

    All my negativity resurfaced, and I feel like poop. Do you guys ever have a day that you just feel completely crushes you?
     
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  3. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Absolutely! I seem to average one poop day every three weeks, which is waaaay better than when I started. With me, I'm afraid the other teachers don't respect my work with my homeroom / ELA students. Shake it off, and make it a fresh start each day with your students. You're in the final leg of this race. Don't cramp up now!
     
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  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    May 5, 2017

    Yes, I've had days like that. They're unavoidable sometimes, even in the best situations with the best students and the best admin at the best school. All you can do is embrace your inner Elsa and...
    [​IMG]

    I know it's not easy. Furthermore, there's not always a complicated, involved solution. Sometimes, truly, the answer can be found by zenning out and just accepting that sometimes this is how things are. We can't choose how or when it happens, but we can choose our response. We don't have to and shouldn't own our students' opinions about us, especially on these off days.
     
  5. HSEnglishteach

    HSEnglishteach Rookie

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    May 5, 2017

    I'm glad to hear you're feeling better about your job and your work, Peregrin! Here's another sign you should stick it out because you're a good teacher: you care enough to feel horrible when you know you haven't had a good day. Man, that's a sign of somebody who should be in the business.

    I feel awful when I have bad days. I dwell on them. I bring them home despite my attempts not to. It's because I care.

    You care. That's a good thing.

     
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  6. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Thanks, truly. I don't think teaching is in the cards for me in the immediate future for a while though. I just personally look up to the teachers who have worked a different career before teaching and come to teaching much later in their lives. I immediately started teaching out of college. I think the students innately respect these teachers more too, because they've proved they've actually worked in their field, and simply because they're older looking (I still get mistaken for a student regularly).

    After I've accomplished what I want to accomplish in life, I may come back to teaching K-12 and hopefully by then the public education system will become a little better, and I'll be older and wiser, and have a lot more to bring to the classroom.
     
  7. rpan

    rpan Cohort

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    It happens to all of us. Having the one bad day from hell doesn't mean you are a bad teacher or that the kids don't respect you; same as having the one best teaching day of life doesn't mean you're a great teacher. Sometimes circumstances just pan out that way for no rhyme or reason. Dont let it negate all the strength and positivity you've built up the past couple of weeks.
     
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  8. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    That meme will never get old! Lol! I think the student opinions of me (en masse -- if it were just one or two a day I don't really give a flip) did wear me down a little, but I think what was the straw that broke the camel's back was how unhappy I was with how I responded to it. I just felt I should have handled it much stronger than I did. I feel like I know what it is I need to do. I've done it before. But sometimes, for whatever reason, I just didn't do it that day.

    I guess I need to work on my growth mindset and remind myself that mistakes are okay and just to learn from them, but it's harder when I already know better than to make those mistakes and I make them anyway, for whatever reason.
     
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  9. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    May 5, 2017

    I look at it this way. Bad stuff is going to happen, period. I'm going to make the best of it. If I mess up, and I will, the best philosophy is oops! If I hope for a perfect day, I'll be disappointed, which can lead to anxiety, and that can eventually lead to depression. I remember from a class on counseling, rather than allowing our happiness to depend on circumstances, we decide to be positive. (Easier said than done on some days, true). I've decided when nice things occur, they add to our happiness: when bad things occur, we're honest, we don't enjoy those situations, we might even pout or cry, but we move forward. Several years ago, I was watching a PBS rerun of Lawrence Welk and the singer, Norma Zimmer mentioned, "Happiness is a choice, and I choose to be happy."

    How do I handle times when I am upset. I wait until I'm alone and then I lie down or sit in the recliner. If I need to make decisions to resolve the situation, I contemplate them, and then I eventually just relax. After my meditation, I figure I've done all that I can do, and I move ahead. I can't change everything and I don't bother to try. I work within my own sphere.

    I had a psychology professor who would constantly mention that the more we help others the less time we have to be concerned about ourselves. I find this true. I get great pleasure in pursuing happiness for others. In fact, when I'm feeling down, sometimes I'll purposefully look for something nice to do for someone else. I almost feel like I'm attacking my problem by making a counter move and saying, "There, problem. Take that!"

    Another philosophy, that took much time to apply, I don't get angry. Well, I am normal, I feel anger or discouragement, but I use that as an alarm and not a button to push me off my rocker. Feelings of anger are a problem to solve, much like a math problem; a great way to diffuse a volatile situation is to react quietly, with concern for the other person, not necessarily giving in, but listening and discussing. Anger is like the fire alarm at school. When it rings, we don't yell at it or hit it or stomp into another room, we resolve the situation by walking to our designated area. When my blood glucose drops, I don't throw my meter across the room; I take my glucose tablets.

    Another quick idea that I've also found useful, eating nutritiously and making time for it no matter what, with McDonald's as the exception rather than the rule (sorry Ronald) strengthens the brain for a positive attitude. Regular exercise, such as a couple of walks around the mall, is another brain strengthener. Oh, do I wish I'd applied that earlier in my adult life! But I have been for the last 10 or so years.

    Like I said, the above and the other aspects of my philosophy took years to apply as much as I do now, and I'm still growing and learning, and certainly far, far from perfect. But I thought this might be a good post to reply to so that perhaps what I've discovered might be of help to others.
     
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  10. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

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    May 6, 2017

    A student has a kid in a headlock. You instruct him to release the student, but he does not. What then?

    If you are not allowed to physically separate the students, surely you have an emergency call button with which to summon help from an administrator who is an expert in preventing people from killing each other?

    "Trained" administrators is a joke for another day.

    I have found that we are often guilted into our own misery. That we allow ourselves to feel personally responsible for the insanity surrounding us by buying into the lies and misconceptions our peers and supervisors feed us.

    Focus on your family. Be responsible for them.

    When the system does everything possible to ensure you fail while at the same time expecting you to succeed, the system is broken and corrupt, and deflecting away from its own ineptitude by assigning blame to the blameless.

    The faster we detach ourselves from the insanity, the sooner we will reach our own inner contentment.
     
  11. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I eventually got them to let go. The first thing I did was tell them to let go. When that didn't work, I ushered them outside (while still headlocked), after which I more forcefully asked him to let go. They did then. My guilt lies with the fact that it happened at all, and that a kid thought this was okay to do in my class or actually it's more like he knew it wasn't okay to do but he didn't care because he doesn't respect me or my rules. And also that he didn't immediately let go the first time I asked bothered me.

    Earlier that day I sent another student to the independent study table, and on his way over there, he swatted someone in the head with his paper. I told him to cut it out. He did it again to another student, although in a way that he was trying to get me to react. I kept him after class.

    This pattern shows me that kids don't care about my rules or consequences in the classroom. I've always been shy of writing referrals because I always believed that they were ineffective, and I still believe that. The last one I wrote resulted in the administrator bringing me and the kid in without debriefing with me beforehand, and automatically taking the kids side before he heard the full (and ridiculous) story. After which, he appropriately switched sides. (and this isn't the first time this has happened)

    Calling home rarely works because they rarely answer the phone, and when they do, they often become defensive and try to intimidate me into letting the behavior go (that's the kind of community this is).

    So I'm not always sure what an effective consequence would be, and I fear this indecisiveness shows in my teaching.
     
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  12. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

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    May 6, 2017

    Jesus. I think we work in the same school. :eek:

    Certainly for the same breed of nitwits.

    Our students are fast getting out of control. Some are at the point that yelling, screaming, office referrals, detention, and suspension are just a big joke. I can't tell you what one little snot did yesterday, but I wanted to beat him senseless. Noting we do affects this little deviant. Nothing.

    I say the faster you get such a problem out of your hands and into the hands of one of the administrators "trained" to deal with incorrigible students, the faster you can return to your happy place.

    I'd say the less we care, the happier we will be, but that is sad commentary on the entire state of affairs. Mmmm....guess I said it, anyway.
     
  13. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    This is a very sad state of affairs for both of you. It sounds like @Peregrin5 has an exit plan. What are you doing, @AmyMyNamey?
     
  14. AmyMyNamey

    AmyMyNamey Comrade

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    I'm going to my happy place, that's what!
     
  15. heatherberm

    heatherberm Cohort

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    May 6, 2017

    Peregrin, I'm so ready for this year to be over on your behalf! Like others have said, we all have bad days/weeks/years. Even the best teachers have to deal with behaviors like you've described, especially if you're pushing against the culture of the school as it seems you are. The administrator at my last school constantly reminded us that a student having one hour where the rules aren't followed, consequences aren't enforced etc. screws up the day for every teacher after that, and I think that's totally true. I'll just second what others have said and say that 1) I hope you consider sticking with teaching in another school and 2) if you don't, I hope you consider coming back to teaching at some point. It's obvious from your posts that you're a thoughtful, reflective teacher who cares about your students and their learning.
     
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  16. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    May 9, 2017

    You can't let something like this ruin your day. Remember: your students' conduct is not necessarily a reflection on you. Yes, the way your classroom functions is a reflection (do they follow the procedures in place, fulfill expectations, are they respectful, etc), but just because one kid wants to lose his mind and get down and fight or do something really stupid and childish, it has nothing to do with you.

    My P once told me this, and I'll never forget it: your students' relationship with their peers is always stronger than their relationship with you. I had a kid who was pretty cool, we had some deep conversations, he seemed really mature and was always respectful towards me. Then one day in summer school he just acted immature, looking for attention and was borderline disrespectful towards me and wouldn't stop acting like a clown, no matter what I said or tried. He was extremely disruptive and made my job very hard that day. I was shocked and kinda hurt.
    After talking to my P, and she told me what I just wrote above, it was clear. That day showing off and goofing off was still more important to him, because I'm just a teacher, but those are his friends, his peers, people who he will need to count on when he gets kicked out from home, runs away, need to stash a gun, etc.
    I totally get this now, and this is why I would never ever get involved in a fight, probably not even go as far as verbally trying to stop then, because at that moment nothing I say will matter.

    Your kid putting another student in a headlock would not stop for you or for any other teacher unless they realize a huge consequence is in place. This has nothing to do with you, so just let it go.
     
  17. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Lol, according to his parent it is, because apparently I put him in a position where he had no choice but to put this student in a headlock because this student flipped his phone (and what am I doing about that?), and because one time at the beginning of the year, he threw a temper tantrum because he wanted to work independently and I said he needed to work in a group because they were being graded on group dynamics. So of course the only option is violence approved of by this brat's parents and I'm the terrible one who "needs to stay away from her kid".

    Even
    though the activity we were working on where he put the kid in a headlock was one where they could choose where they sat (and he actually moved to be with this student and they always act like best friends) and he could move away whenever he wanted (in fact I recommended it and they refused) and he had the opportunity at any point to tell me he was having issues with a student, it's apparently my fault because I didn't clairvoyantly know that this student was going to flip his phone out of his hand. Also I only know about this issue with this other student from his "wonderful" mother because when I asked him why he did what he did, he only would say that he was "messing around" because the kid is a disrespectful little poop who decided he's always going to act like a brat to me and never actually communicate with me even though I've been nothing but respectful, kind, and friendly towards him.

    I am so done with this school and this community.
     
  18. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    May 9, 2017

    This is what you say to the parent:
    "ma'am, your son's actions are direct results of how you raised him. How am supposed to undo years of bad parenting?"
    or
    "ma'am, you had your son for 15 years, I only have him 1 hour a day for 9 months. How are you going to blame me for his actions? Take some responsibility"

    I would so use these replies if I knew I was leaving the school and the profession.

    You do not even need to justify what the kid did and what you said to him, etc. Obviously his choices were made by him and you are the last one to blame. Maybe blame the parent. ??
     
  19. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Haha! I wish. I'm not that ballsy unfortunately. But I have very satisfying responses to these situations in my head. lol.
     
  20. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    I had a parent tell me that I changed her daughter's personality in the 45 minutes a day that I had her in class. I told the mom that I had no idea I was so powerful that I could change a child's personality in mere hours a week so I should go into private practice and make loads of money.

    I found out later that this parent used that line every single year from kinder to senior year.
     
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  21. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Maybe her kid has multiple personality disorder. She creates a new one every year. LOL.
     
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  22. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    The mom is just nuts. :p
     
  23. GPC0321

    GPC0321 Companion

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    May 14, 2017

    Wow. I could have written this almost verbatim. The only difference is I haven't had the headlock incident, but otherwise, eerily similar. Even the taco lunch for teacher appreciation week, though I wasn't there for that because I was out the entire week dealing with extreme anxiety and depression brought on by family issues combined with school pressure and just being overwhelmed by life in general.

    I've got 15 years under my belt as a teacher, and the one thing I've ALWAYS been able to count on is that my students like me and my class. They're not always well-behaved, and things certainly aren't always sunshine and puppies in my classroom, but at the end of it all, I've always had a great rapport with my classes.

    Until THIS semester. I have a class this semester (of honors students, no less) that defies anything I've ever experienced in my 15 years of teaching. From day one, they've been difficult to reach, and the distinct feeling has been that they come in, invade my classroom, and treat me like I'm an outsider. The comment above about them caring more about their peers than their teacher is SO spot on with this group. I've never seen the "herd mentality" so strong in a class. They completely disregard me, almost like they resent that I dare intrude on their "social hour" in my class. And the fact that I make them do WORK? OMG! I'm the worst person in the world for that! Basically they don't want to listen, don't want to engage, and don't want to acknowledge my existence, so I give them their work and let them do it. Then they complain that I give too much "busy work" (because to them, everything is "busy work" since they don't want to put any effort into anything and just want to blow through it so they can get back to socializing).

    All of this said, I know I could have been a better teacher this year. It has been a slump of a year all the way around, but usually my STUDENTS are the reason I can come out of the funk and enjoy my job. When the students are open to me and we can have that good rapport, even the most mundane lessons turn out okay because we have fun together. That's just not the case with this crew, and it has really challenged me on many levels.

    So, I want you to know you're not alone AT ALL. I few days ago I was seriously questioning whether or not I could continue in this profession. And with 15 years (15.5 actually) in, and retirement inching closer all the time, I really don't want to change professions now. I AM a good teacher, even if this year hasn't been a stellar example of that.

    Yes. One day can do it. Heck, one snide comment can do it. I've spent my entire career hearing kids gripe about OTHER teachers, but I've never been on the receiving end of that griping. Being the target of kids in this one class has rocked my confidence, and it's not easy to shake off. But I'm going to! I came home Friday and started revamping how I'm going to do things next year. Because the truth is, I'm not happy with how I've been teaching (got moved to a new grade level last year), and there need to be changes. That's probably another reason I'm so sensitive to the criticism of the kids. Part of me knows there's some truth to it.

    You sound like a great teacher, Peregrin. I think the best of us DO get emotionally invested, and that does come with the risk of feeling down when things don't go well. Hang on! Summertime is coming!
     
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  24. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    May 14, 2017

    Thank you for your post! We are definitely experiencing the same things. It definitely helps to know I'm not the only one. In the past, I've had maybe one or two students really dislike me a year or something, but the rest of the class was smart enough to realize that these students were being unreasonable (getting angry for receiving consequences for disrupting the class or misbehaving).

    This year the students have made it clear that they dislike me because they don't want to "do work" like at ALL. In the past, I'd challenge my students mentally and they would appreciate it even if they might have griped a little in the beginning, they eventually got into the swing of it. This year, they just have such bad attitudes about having to work, like, do they think they just come to school to socialize? Also in the past, if a student wasn't receiving a high grade, they made the connection that it was because they weren't doing the work they needed to do, and either would make a change, or they would accept the grade that they had. They didn't "hate" me for "giving them a bad grade". On the contrary, I would often have great relationships with the students who struggled in most classes, and that would often lead to them being more open to help from me in raising their grades by helping them get work in. This year, if a student's grade drops because they didn't turn in a major assignment, or missed few days but didn't bother to come make up the work, I'm automatically an enemy (both to the students and the parents).

    On the same note, SO MANY of my students are skipping school because of anxiety and stress (with the blessing of their parents). I'm not a teacher that gives a lot of homework, and from what they describe to me, the homework they get from other classes isn't that much at all either. Something is going on with these kids that seems to make them expect that they don't have to fulfill their learning duties at school or feel any amount of stress. Maybe we've coddled them too much.
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2017
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  25. GPC0321

    GPC0321 Companion

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    May 14, 2017

    They ARE coddled too much, and that is a significant part of my group's problem. They are in the 10th grade, but they are more like 7th graders. They are very immature and needy, and when they realize they aren't going to get any coddling from me, they start with the histrionics, acting as though reading and answering some questions is the equivalent of giving up a major organ, LOL! One student, honest to goodness, beats a book against his head (hard!) whenever he finds out he has to read something in class that day. (In English class??? Reading!!?? NOOO!!!) This is an HONORS level class.

    But they have been coddled, and we were warned when this entire class came up to high school that they were doozies. I really thought that meant the few drug dealers and gang members in the class, not the HONORS kids. But I'd take a class full of the "bad kids" over this group any day.

    I used to hold the "when you're in college" thing over the honors kids' heads to remind them that no one is going to coddle them there. But from what I'm hearing from friends who teach at the college and university level, the coddling is creeping up into their classes too.

    Ah well. At the end of the day, we all have good days (or years, lol) and bad. That's one of the great things about this profession though. You always get a chance to reboot over summer and begin with a clean slate in the fall.
     
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