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Author Topic: I'm looking for another job UPDATE I did lose mine
Belle
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I haven't lost mine - not officially, though I did get a letter reminding me my contract was up on June 1. My principal apparently wants to bring me back next year, but I want to go elsewhere. Thing is, I feel kind of guilty for it.

I was told many, many times that it takes a certain person to teach in a high poverty, urban environment and there is no shame in admitting you cannot do it. Then why do I still feel a bit ashamed? I just don't think I'm cut out for it.

I don't expect some type of ideal where all my students love learning and I never have any discipline problems. I know that school doesn't exist. I would just like the occasional bright spot of a few students who care instead of the widespread apathy and contempt for learning that I see. Or, I don't know, a school where less than a dozen kids are on parole, or where drug busts are an unusual occurrence. Maybe one where we don't need to be given professional development in gang signs and how to recognize them or where we can schedule some parent-teacher conferences without making sure the police officer is available in case things get out of hand.

I have been sworn at and verbally abused...by parents, not just students. I had a parent come to me today and ask me what her daughter can do to pass - today is the day all grades were due. Where was this parent when her daughter was failing five months ago? (How about when I tried to call her multiple times?) She shows up now because she's just been informed how much summer school will cost.

I've been told to go back in and re-figure my grading because too many students are failing to the point that I had to doctor my gradebook so much I was passing students who never made higher than the 20's on any tests I gave. I was told my study guide was too "hard" for the students, and when I questioned what I was supposed to be providing, was told that I basically needed to give them a copy of the test ahead of time. It didn't matter - I did that the next time and my average grade was still 57%.

There's only so much I can take. I checked my integrity at the door a long time ago...and I want to teach somewhere else. If it's the same in another system, at a different school then maybe I just need to leave education all together. I have done things I swore I would never do because if I didn't, I would have lost my job. Well, apparently I kept my job but lost the will to do it instead. [Frown]

So Hatrack - does it make me a bad person that I'm throwing in the towel? [Frown]

[ June 01, 2010, 03:46 PM: Message edited by: Belle ]

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rollainm
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No, of course not.
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rivka
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NO. I've heard some horror stories, but yours is way up there. You have nothing to feel guilty about.

Good luck, Belle. I hope you'll find a job that makes reasonable demands, instead of unreasonable ones!

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Strider
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Belle, I'm sorry you've had such a rough experience. I can imagine how frustrating and heartbreaking that must be. My girlfriend teaches at an alternative school (she's actually a school to career coordinator), and all the students there have been kicked out of multiple schools and been in trouble with the law, gangs, etc...and she has a very similar experience. She works harder than imaginable trying to get these kids jobs or into college and they either don't care or are actively hostile about it. She's thinking of leaving as well (she also gets almost no support from the other teachers and staff). I don't know if she will or not (leave), but I know it's not an easy decision. She's trying to weigh her desire to help people against her sanity and happiness, while also worrying about her effectiveness in what she's trying to do. I don't envy that kind of decision. I know you don't leave lightly, and I don't think you're a bad person at all for wanting to make that change. Good luck with things.
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Belle:

So Hatrack - does it make me a bad person that I'm throwing in the towel? [Frown]

God no. I would be a worse person if I had stayed in the teaching jobs I couldn't stand. Who can you help if you can't help yourself? That's the first rule.
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AvidReader
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quote:
Then why do I still feel a bit ashamed?
Because you've still got enough idealism left to believe you should have been able to make a difference? Becasue we all buy into the movies where the right teacher steps in and turns the lives of their kids around? Because it's pathetic that we as a society have allowed things to become so hopeless in parts of our country that entire cultures have basically given up on the American dream?

If it's any of those things, it makes you a good person. And I'm right there with you. I'd have expected at least one kid to have responded or been inspired.

I don't know what the answer is, but making yourself too miserable to do the job isn't it.

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scholarette
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Horror story warning: My husband felt like you did after his first year in an inner city school, but he convinced himself that doing another year would be ok. After all, he was still a first year teacher so maybe having had a year of experience he could do it better. During the next year, he was physically assaulted, had numerous death threats and had his room trashed when he was out at lunch. He quit, got a job in the suburbs. Problem was by this point, he had developed PTSD (from the assault incident) and continuing teaching at all was extremely difficult. On the plus side, he now works as an engineer which gets paid a whole lot more and has better benefits and more respect.

So, my advice would be switch while you still enjoy teaching. If staying makes you so miserable, another year might be too much for you to enjoy teaching even in the idea circumstances.

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Teshi
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quote:
So Hatrack - does it make me a bad person that I'm throwing in the towel?
Certainly not. From what I've heard there are thousands of Student Teachers graduating and eagerly awaiting a space, any space, even if it's in a crummy school. They will come in with their own enthusiasm-- which will likely face the same basically insurmountable challenges that yours did. But when it's time to save your sanity, it's time to save your sanity.

It's natural to feel as if you failed, but it's a battle you cannot win alone. You've done more than most teachers will ever do (I know I would never survive in a school like that and I have to be careful where I end up) and that's given it a go.

[Smile]

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Tresopax
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No, it doesn't make you a bad person. I think what you are saying is completely reasonable.

There are people in need of help elsewhere too. Find somewhere where your talents fit in best.

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BlackBlade
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Of course you are not a bad person. If you aren't accomplishing your objectives as a teacher you're wasting time better spent elsewhere.

Your role as a teacher does not snuff out your needs as a person.

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The Rabbit
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No, it doesn't make you a bad person. I'm not sure what the solution is to the inner city school problem but I know that having dedicated people like you sacrifice their sanity and their integrity won't help.

When I was growing up in the Salt Lake area, there was one school known as the rough and rotten inner city school. Thirty years later when I returned, I was shocked to find out it had become ranked as one of the top schools in the country. The district turned the school around by changing the school boundaries. Instead of having one school for the wealthy professional neighborhoods and one for the poor neighborhoods, they had wealthy professional neighborhoods and poor neighborhoods in both schools. They made the former "bad" school the magnet school for the area creating an extended learning program at the high school for motivated middle schoolers across the district and they put the IB program in the former "bad" school.

I'm not sure how they sold it initially or the full timeline of events, but its worked spectacularly well.

I'm told that school is still somewhat segregated along economic and racial lines with kids from the better neighborhoods dominating in the advanced and honors classes. The level of segregation, however, is much less than before and the regular classes are much better and stronger than when it was a 100% inner city school for two big reasons. 1. They've reduced the fraction of kids who instigate trouble to a level that the teachers and administrators can control. As a result they've been able to turn around the vicious cycle that draws more and more kids into either trouble or apathy. 2. They are able to attract and retain good, dedicated teachers who don't get trapped in the loose/loose situation that Belle describes.

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The Rabbit
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Belle, I wish you the best of luck finding a new job. I've read that this is the worst market for teachers in decades. You worked so hard getting your degree so you could teach, I hate to think you were pushed out of the profession after just one year. From what I've seen, you have the potential to be a great teacher and I hope you get the chance.
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Geraine
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quote:
Originally posted by Belle:


So Hatrack - does it make me a bad person that I'm throwing in the towel? [Frown]

Not at all. If anyone is it is the parents that do not care about their children's education, and the administration for only looking at their numbers instead of the kids. Having you change your gradebook to pass a student is not helping the student. What happens if his other students do this?

You do what you feel best. If you feel you can better server your community and the children in that community if you are somewhere else, then please go. I can tell you really care about the kids, you might as well go somewhere that you can help them to the best of your abilities.

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Samprimary
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quote:
I've been told to go back in and re-figure my grading because too many students are failing to the point that I had to doctor my gradebook so much I was passing students who never made higher than the 20's on any tests I gave. I was told my study guide was too "hard" for the students, and when I questioned what I was supposed to be providing, was told that I basically needed to give them a copy of the test ahead of time. It didn't matter - I did that the next time and my average grade was still 57%.
What a great idea. Students can't pass classes? Change what 'passing' entails until they do!
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The Rabbit
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quote:
What a great idea. Students can't pass classes? Change what 'passing' entails until they do!
The problem, as I see it, is that we as a society expect the school system to be able to do the impossible -- leave no child behind. So school administrators are under pressure to produce more graduates, but there is actually very little they can do to accomplish that. For the most part, they are already doing everything within their power to improve the learning environment. The only thing more they can do is force teachers to pass more students. Teachers are then under pressure to pass more students, but they are already doing everything they can to get the students to learn more, the only option left is to drop the expectations.

Its easy to place the blame on the teachers, or the administrators, or the school boards, or the parents, and some cases those people do bare at least part of the blame. But in the final analysis, the root of the problem lies in the broader society that expects the schools to fix societal problems they can't possibly fix within the system we have created.

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scholarette
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Some of the students I tutor would have benefited by failing a class or two. I tutored a kid who had no understanding of algebra whatsoever, yet somehow I was supposed to get him through geometry. The parents knew the kid had huge deficits but just wanted us to find a way to make him pass. Whether or not he understood the material didn't seem to matter as much as making the kid pass. I imagine they are putting similar pressure on the kid's teacher and the principal. I would be surprised if the kid doesn't get a pass and the teacher is just glad she doesn't have to deal with him again next year.
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Launchywiggin
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Belle--I have little doubt in my mind that your time with those kids has been some of the most beneficial of their lives. You showed them someone who cares about them and their future. They might NEVER see that in other parts of their lives. The positive influence you had on them might not show up in the grades or even manifest itself for years--but they'll remember you--just like I remember every single one of my middle school and high school teachers.

I want you to stop looking at your moving on as "throwing in the towel". You have already succeeded far beyond what you can imagine right now. Believe that, accept it, and move on to something that fills you up rather than depleting you.

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King of Men
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quote:
Some of the students I tutor would have benefited by failing a class or two. I tutored a kid who had no understanding of algebra whatsoever, yet somehow I was supposed to get him through geometry.
It does seem to me that geometry is rather orthogonal to algebra, unless your 'geometry' curriculum has a lot of emphasis on trig. (I would consider trig a separate subject from geometry.)
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DarkKnight
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Belle - A lesson I have learned from rescuing dogs is that I cannot 'save' every dog, but I do what I can. When we go to a shelter to pick a dog we do pick an easy to medium case, rehabilitate and train that dog and pass it on to a good loving home. Under our present circumstances that is the best we can do.
You are still a teacher and can make a difference in the lives of children somewhere else. Every school has kids that need extra help. The school you are in is not a good fit for you. Find the school where you do fit.
quote:
So school administrators are under pressure to produce more graduates, but there is actually very little they can do to accomplish that. For the most part, they are already doing everything within their power to improve the learning environment. The only thing more they can do is force teachers to pass more students.
This is false. Belle has already pointed out one thing inner city schools can stop doing which is just passing kids along to grind them through the system and get them out. I work in one of those inner city districts and there are plenty of things that can be done. We choose not to do them. We receive millions and millions and millions of dollars in state and federal aid so money isn't the problem. The problem is Administrators who have no idea what is happening in the classroom deciding what is best for those in the classroom. Here's a hint... people do not achieve more by lowering standards.
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Uprooted
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Belle, sorry to hear that your first year has been such a letdown. Hope you can find something more satisfactory.
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scholarette
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Under the current curriculum, the course would have been better entitled trig. Also, the way they wrote the problem, just about every problem required algebra as well as the new skill. Texas also has dropped proofs from the curriculum in geometry (not really related, just an opportunity to gripe over that).
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Tstorm
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quote:
The problem is Administrators who have no idea what is happening in the classroom deciding what is best for those in the classroom. Here's a hint... people do not achieve more by lowering standards.
What Rabbit said is not false. What Rabbit said is definitely true, at least from a certain perspective. We, as a society, have legislated schools to not fail a single student. Well, they're responding. Schools are fixing the supposed 'problem' of failing students by passing them. Surprise!

Honest question, no sarcasm: Do you think that it is possible to construct an education system (assuming limited funds/resources) that can maintain high standards and not fail a single student?

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DarkKnight
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quote:
Do you think that it is possible to construct an education system (assuming limited funds/resources) that can maintain high standards and not fail a single student?
The second part of your question is one of the major problems in education today. The whole premise of the question is suspect as well. We are not struggling with that last small percentage of students who just can't quite achieve a high standard, especially in inner city schools. Inner city schools are struggling getting to 50%, not 100%.
How about this question: Do you think it is possible to construct an education system spending well over half a trillion dollars (not including all grants, donations, foundations, etc.) per year that can maintain medium standards and not fail more than 25% of students?

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Tstorm
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I think you can do that, if you can somehow reform the social values of those inner-city communities to value education. The schools are failing students at that rate because of more than just bad teachers or corrupt administrators.

But leave the dollar amounts out of it...we'll never agree on what's adequate or not. Let's just go with 'adequate' to simplify things.

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Sala
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I'm so sorry Belle. You are absolutely not bad. It's extremely difficult to stay in a job that you feel no reward or satisfaction from, and especially hard to stay when the job throws abuse at you, so it's a double negative whammy. I sure do hope you will be able to find another place to work that will be better suited to you. I know how hard you work . . . I'm in a 90%+ high poverty rate school with 70%+ minority population, though it's at the elementary level instead of middle. I sure do hope you can find something better.
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Belle
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There is a halfway decent chance the choice will be taken from me - we've lost some federal funding and positions have to go - I've heard estimates as low as two teachers and as high as 8. I'm the only non-tenured English teacher so I could be on the chopping block.

I have resumes out and calls out...but if nothing else materializes, I will come back next year. Ironically, my principal called me in to go over my evaluation and it was excellent. I was told that I did a phenomenal job and was one of the strongest first-year teachers they'd ever had.

I don't feel like I can do the job...but they seem to think I can.

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scifibum
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quote:
I don't feel like I can do the job...but they seem to think I can.
Whether you stay or not I think this is something to be proud of.
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rivka
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Absolutely agreed.
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Sala
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Ditto. [Smile]
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rivka
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An article I thought was relevant.
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DarkKnight
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Rivka, good article and it speaks to a lot of items I've been mentioning
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Belle
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Well, six people were given pink slips Friday...I was NOT one of them but I think it's just that the principal did not get to me. Another teacher let it slip that she was taking over my position and my room...and there is really no where else for me to go because I'm one of few non-tenured teachers. I can't imagine that I have a job unless they do something really weird. So, chances are really really good that I will be looking for a job through necessity, not choice.

I'm just praying that I will find something - it is a bad market and so many people getting let go makes competition for the few jobs really really tough.

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rivka
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Good luck, Belle.
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Belle
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I did officially lose my job today....a victim of budget cuts. So, no choice about it now I have to find something.
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The Rabbit
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I suspect the fact that you wanted to leave this job pads the blow of being laid off, but that won't make looking for a new teaching job in this market any easier. Good Luck job hunting, you deserve the chance to teach somewhere where your talents will be well used.
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Belle
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I was actually fine about it until I came out of the principals' office to be met by several teachers who were waiting on me in order to support me if it happened. They started crying, which started me crying, but I got out of there and came home. I started looking for other things and sent some reference requests but now I just want to forget about it for a while.

It actually may work out better for me - my principal said she already called the supervisor for my subject at the board of ed to tell her I did a great job and should be considered for any job that opens. She told me I would receive a glowing recommendation from her. So, it's all good. Bad market or no, someone somewhere is going to need to hire somebody....I'll find a job before school starts.

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Zalmoxis
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Best of luck. And I'm happy to hear that you are so well-regarded (even if I'm not surprised).
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