Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My Big List of Grievances

As a teacher in training, people tell you how hard classroom management will be. They tell you how hard it'll be to engage all your learners in a lesson on exponents. They tell you that the kids are way below their grade level in nearly every, if not every, subject.

Yes, all these things are true. And yes, all these things are hard to deal with.

But the real kicker is that while you are trying to manage a classroom, possibly with several ED or ADHD students (or just annoying children, especially 8th graders), when you are trying to plan fun, engaging lessons, or when you are trying to fill in the gaps of your little nuggets' education...

you get berated for not doing a kick-ass enough job. And furthermore, you get berated with negative comments (not positive/negative comment sandwiches) while receiving minimal support for the ridiculous job that you are trying complete with a smile and with a miniscule amount of optimism that you entered the job with. I don't mean to sound bitter, I'm quite thankful for this experience that I've had. I'm actually quite sure that I want to be a teacher for a LONG time and I'm positive that I love working with children. In fact, I'm quite sure that I am probably awesome at the latter and therefore the former is destined in some way, shape or form.

So this entry is not about how much I hate teaching or boo hoo how hard it is (even though, it is). This entry is about how there are so many UNNECESSARY obstacles to being a kick-ass teacher, even if you have it in you. And as of now, my main, unnecessary obstacle is: *drum roll* my administration.

Before starting teaching, I had read that it is the adults, not the children, that drive you crazy and make this job ridiculous and almost impossible to do well.

Oh, how I have never heard truer words. So now I will entertain everyone with comments from my administration that I have heard so far this year and conversations that I have had in passing/eavesdropping... (just kidding, I'm a professional! I don't do that!). The italics are accurately paraphrased as possible and change of meaning is minimal, if any:

My Big List of Grievances:

1. Administration telling me that my job is easier because I teach less children as a SPED teacher. I don't understand why you all send out so many children. Your classroom management should be better since you teach less children.

[At school, SPED teachers get every payday Friday off of co-teaching (1-2 MODs of 5) to do SPED maintenance] I shouldn't even be giving you guys off co-teaching. You guys have less kids so you don't have as many papers to grade, like the other teachers who have 20-some kids.

But my favorite has to be... Nobody forced you to teach SPED!

2. Administration yelling at me for things I didn't do. [One day, I came to school at 8:30 am.] Ms. FF, you know, it is expected of you to come to school by 9:00 am. Yes, I know, I was here at 8:30 today. (Which, might I note, was before this particular admin was at school.) Well, I looked out of the window at 9 and I didn't see you in your room. Yes, but, I was out there...

Ms. FF, you have been reminded that you have to be on duty at 9 am. I don't have duty (only for homeroom teachers)...

3. Administration sending me mixed messages. One told me that I am moving too slow for the kids. Another told me that I am moving too fast.

Regarding a particular worksheet with 8 practice equations, the latter administrator told me that I gave them too many problems to do and offered the advice: you should only have them do two equations for each operation (addition, subtraction, division, multiplication = 4 operations; 2 equations per operation x 4 operations = 8 equations).

4. Administration bad-mouthing other teachers to me. Yesterday, I observed a teacher and she planned lessons that were too low for her highest kid. That's why she has classroom management problems. (Because our school is small, it's not hard to know who is getting observed, and therefore, very easy for me to know who the said teacher was, without having to try to figure out said teacher - which I was not trying to figure out, but just knew).

5. Administration basically saying that our kids are not that hard to handle and then trying to reject/pardon them from after-school detention.

6. Administration promoting a sense of culture and community... but not really. Students who asked to fundraise for Japan were told they could only do so for a week. No announcements to support their idea have been made.

7. Administration talking about the best environment for our SPED kids and then going against it. Intensive kids --> co-teaching, co-teaching kids --> intensive; both for behavior/classroom management reasons and not ability reasons.

8. Administration using paraprofessionals as substitutes? Or people who organize the files in guidance because our staff is incapable of alphabetizing?

9. This is kind of back to #1: Administration giving co-teaching off more often for some teachers and not for others, despite teaching the same load.

10. Administration not knowing how to divide and prepare a bell schedule (for 1/2 days or 2-hour delays) properly. I kid you not, we have had schedules with some classes for 30 minutes and others for over an hour.

I'll stop there so I have some material for part two. And three. I'm off to do IEPs and powerpoints. Please let me reiterate that I love my kids. I love to teach. I even love to plan and prep sometimes, when it doesn't make me cry. But I don't feel the love or support from my superiors. Our school is a mess because our staff is a mess. We ain't got no rhythm!