Reconsideration

Photo by h.koppdelaneyTeaching is hard. For those of you who haven’t been inside a classroom, it’s not just about delivering material.

You have to plan your lessons. You have to motivate your students. You have to find ways for them to practice the skills you are teaching.

But you also have to deal with kids refusing to pick their heads up off the desks. Sleeping. Refusing to take a test. Refusing to make up a test. Refusing to do homework. Refusing to do classwork. Refusing to put the phone away. Refusing to come to class. Refusing to anything other than sit in the classroom and stare at the teacher, and then wonder why they still aren’t learning.

Because actually doing something would mean effort. Coming in after school when a student doesn’t understand a concept is unheard of because sports/jobs/television takes priorities.

Unfortunately, these are the bulk of my students.

Oh, and the failures? Including the students that don’t show up all quarter? Or that are suspended for weeks at a time? That’s the teacher’s fault. When you have an absentee rate of 30-40% each day, you are still supposed to find a way for those absent students to pass, without any effort on their part, like makeup work.

Then mix in the disrespect. The rudeness. The swearing. The violence to other students. The threats against the school that the administration does nothing about.

And I’m in a “good” school.

Yep, it’s hard. So I’m reconsidering.


 

And there is no job in the world that can’t be made worse by inept management.

As a new teacher, I know I have to grow. I know I’m not at the top of my game. I came into this year knowing only theory and with the experience of teaching adults.

Administration? Well, they decided to put me and the other brand new teacher on identical performance improvement plans. Bringing HR into it. “It’s not supposed to be punitive.” “But it needs to be done by 4/22 because they decide whether to renew contracts on 4/30”.

And instead of helpful, measurable goals? 40 vague bullet points that are neither actionable nor measurable.

Oh, yes, and I have to do it all on my own. I am supposed to ask questions I don’t even know how to formulate, or in some cases, I suspect, even know I need to ask.

I now have to turn in 6-8 page lesson plans, 2 per day, every day. It’s not a document I can teach from, because it’s convoluted and lost in meaningless details. Creating these plans adds 2 hours per day, every day, to my work. On top of writing warmups, notes pages (because my students won’t take notes unless it is fill in the blank), activities, exit tickets and assessments. And let’s not forget wrestling with the photocopier.And the calls home, and the referrals, and the detentions, and the makeup work. Oh, that’s right, and the teaching.

So yes, I am reconsidering.


I wanted to give back.

But apparently what I have to give isn’t acceptable.

Funny that the turnover rate in this school for teachers is near 30%, and no one is looking at that. The district can’t find enough math teachers. Apparently staff growth and retention don’t come into the picture.

So yes, I am reconsidering.


It’s not all bad. I have had multiple students tell me I am their favorite teacher (and not for brownie points). I had one student name me as his most influential teacher for an outside leadership conference. I have students that thought they could not do math making genuine A’s in my class. I’ve seen the lightbulbs go on. Even the students who are taking my class for a second time (because they failed the first time) know their stuff better than their peers from other classes.

But all the negative is outweighing the positive.

So yes, I am reconsidering.


Would it be a failure if I left teaching?

No.

I have gained patience, tolerance and compassion in these past few months. I will take that with me no matter what. I have a perspective of what teachers do, and what they have to put up with, that I could never have gained other than through living it.

So yes, I am reconsidering.


Photo by h.koppdelaney

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