A common teacher to teacher

Greenpeace:

Thought I’d just start a new one.  Things are going well, although i am realizing that the longer I teach I am either growing more intolerant of 10th graders as I age or else they are getting much more impulsive, egotistic, and in general, dumber and are far less mature than when I stareted five years ago.  I was thinking that they just don’t have any clue about anything – current events, consequences of their stupidity, and awareness of their surroundings/environemnt and how they need to adapt their behavior to where they are.  Also, i have way more special ed inclusion kids in my class than before.  In one class I have 6 cases.  It’s ridiculous.  I can’t really “teach” in that class because I have to stop to deal with the kids with the behavioral conditions/emotional instablity evey five minutes and hold their hands through evey tlittle thing.  They have the skills of 5th graders.  They aren’t bad kids by any means, just lacking in skills and maturity.  I feel bad for the kids who are “normal” who have to experience the burden of being in mixed classes like these.  I honestly am a big supporter of tracking now.  We need to teach kids with the same skills in a uniform way, not teach to five different skills levels in one class.   Someone is always missing out in the latter.  I honestly think i’m going to ask to teach ap econ next year so at least I can teach kids who want to and are able to learn.

I was thnking about what to attritubute this to.  You see all this stuff out there about how schools, media, parents, society, are dumbing down america…well it’s true and you can’t put it on one thing.  TV is ridiculously stupid now, some parents don’t parent and only “friend” their kids and they have low expectations of them – they don’t push and challenge them.  They want it to be easy for these kids.  Schools – well mixed classes and no money don’t help anyone.  God – i can go on and on.

Aside from that though – I’m pretty happy.  Things are going well and i love having my own classroom.  Had a student teacher last semester and was glad to have the period off and was asked to take another one but turned it down.  I forgot how tiring a full schdule is.  No – we still don’t have any good/steady subs.  I’ve just been using whoever the system assigns.  has been hit or miss.  It’s great hearing the kids complain about the subs they don’t like, but at the same time I think it reminds them of how nice it is having a teacher who puts time and effort into what they do.  They always seem a bit more cooperative and focused when i come back.

 

Lyon Keating:

All that you say about teaching and education and politics is very similar to how I feel about things as well.  I don’t know if I told you this yet but I started a new career move into massage therapy.  I was realizing that I was stressing out so much day to day thinking about the teaching profession I was in and how I have never, and couldn’t see anytime in the near future, a time when I could really rely on education as a means of at least decent income and employment that didn’t wear me out.  I had to do something about it.  The only thing I can only rely on is the subbing world and the money I get from that, and even that is hard to find jobs for over here in Philly.  Either way, I had to find something where I could potentially control myself and make 500 to 1000 more a month.  Massage therapy seems to be something that I like, helps people, and is flexible and I’m able to dictate it and market myself for.  We’ll see.  It feels good to be doing something else that I actually like and see opportunity in and that works with me.

Ha, it’s funny that you said the more you teach the more you are growing intolerant of 10th graders or just that kids are getting more stupid.  I think it’s a little bit of both.  Teaching always seemed like such a fun thing for me to do when I was younger.  I liked the schedule as a high school kid, liked the sports, and why wouldn’t I do it when I was older?  Easy to say when you are in your late teens or even in your 20s.  I think it’s hard for people to gauge how they will feel about things when they get older.  I totally lose more patience as each years passes for dealing with the same shit and problems year after year.  It’s like ok, I am swarmed by adolescent problems everyday and just don’t really want to do it anymore.  In a way, it makes it feel like adolescence defines everything and, good god, I gotta get out of that mentality at times.  One has to be a zen master to do teaching with all the constant stimulation, busyness, and problems you face from day to day.  It doesn’t help either that you are literally 1 to 25/30 kids.  Maybe if it was more like 1 to 10 to even 20 it would be more managable.  Teaching is an exhausting profession as you are dealing with an insane amount of hormones and feelings and stupidity day in and day out!  And yeah I would agree kids are getting stupider.  Our educational systems are failing them and they are smart in one sense and arn’t going to care if they see society not investing in them.  They dive deeper into other things like smart phones and facebook and whatever and pay attention less when you are around in their presence.  I personally think each generation is vastly more capable than the next but, yeah, the effort just isn’t there and why should it be there when our society doesn’t put it’s effort towards them?  It’s a conodrum which also makes myself as a teacher question why I am involved in a profession that doesn’t seem like it’s really helping and putting out what’s needed.  I swear, so many days go by where I question whether I’m making kids stupidier.  It’s easy for me to think this because I am still a sub.  I don’t think I’d really think this if I was a full time teacher by ya know.  Classrooms more and more disgust me and seem like places where nothing really goes on and everybody is just mostly passing time compared to what could be done with the day.

Given your description it might be a good time to see if any private schools are hiring.  I’ve heard lots of people say that in private schools they get paid less but instead of doing 90% classroom managment they can actually do 90% teaching.  Money is always an issue obviously but maybe it would fit your life in other meaningful ways.  Either way, maybe you just had a bad day but based on your description you might want to consider something else in time.  Don’t want to turn into that shitty teacher who hates kids.  Ha, not that you are going to be that but it’s really an important thing for a teacher to keep in mind about their profession from time to time.  Oh, and I am right there with ya with tracking.  If they are going to make us teach 30 kids with no help then the kids better be about all the same skill level.

In Philly I would say the schools are atrocious and as if the ghettos of Hunters Point and Visitacion Valley took over SF.  If there’s one thing I would attribute it too it would be parents involvement.  When parents are involved and there is a somewhat good, caring relationship at home kids have a million times more of a chance to be good students.  When they arn’t around then kids don’t give a fuck and you as the teacher now has the ever horrible hard job of instilling discipline in them for one hour a day.  Maybe not bad for one or two students here and there but when half to seventy five percent of the class has this problem there is no chance (sidenote, I was in a school today where the kids would just start periodically jumping each other in the classroom.  It would start sort of fun but then it would quickly lead to mob mentality.  The kids didn’t give a fuck because they have no fear of anything.  I was appalled by this and there was no way I was going to stop this.  This was the closest I have ever been to being physical with kids and then I thought, what am I doing by involving myself in this, and then would just go outside with the door open everytime this mob jumping rule would dominate and look for security or other teachers).  So yeah, I would say parents have the biggest effect on if kids succeed or not but then again what happens when there are no jobs for parents and money for them to be good parents?  Perhaps adult education needs to be offered to parents.  Is it the governments and economies fault and also the individuals?  Yes yes and yes.  It’s all interconnected and people need help and also refuse to help themselves a lot.  Should we help people, should we not help them?  Should we help people over going to wars?  What is the limit for how much people would slack off and abuse their helpful situation if they got helped over and over again?  I generally think people would do the right thing if they felt supported and felt as if they were given a fair chance.  Everything would improve.  What would happen if we massively invested in education and had supplies for kids and small class sizes?  It wouldn’t cost nearly as much as we spend on other things.  That’s what makes this all so sad and depressing.  It is very much within reach but just not done.  One day it will be (hopefully) and you’d have to think we’d look back and laugh at the barbaric times when people weren’t educated and/or given a meaningful chance to make their lives better.

Yes I could go on and on too but I will stop as well…..It’s the plight of teachers.  They have amazingly meaningful things to talk about but it ultimately just gets depressing.  Seems to be the case whenever I meet teachers at parties and such, haha, oh well.

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