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How would you feel?
Old 12-29-2019, 09:47 AM
 
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I switched schools, district, and grade level in mid October. The people are helpful and ultra nice. I have a challenging class and have never taught this grade before. In general, the kids roll their eyes at me, wear their hood every day (even though it is a school rule not to), blurt out bad words, doodle when I am teaching, leave the room without asking and cannot go farther than about 10 feet in the hall without talking. It often takes us 5 mins. To get downstairs since they talk so much and I stop and wait for them. Some kids have scored zero on every math quiz or test.

I have worked with the team, instructional coach, reading teacher. I have reached out to other teachers and families for advice. I have done brain breaks, talk time, lots of read alouds, as this is it when they are best.

The day before break my P kept me after school to tell me that she didn't know if my kids were going to make as many gains as the other teacher's kids. Well, she has been teaching at this school and grade level for over 10 years.

She also said that several of my kids seem more depressed this year. I can totally see that. I think she was implying it was my fault.

I left and cried my eyes out. I feel like a failure...again.


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You did not
Old 12-29-2019, 10:43 AM
 
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Fail those kids - the system did. Clearly you have done all you could. You have gone far and beyond. Now is the time for you to say, enough is enough. Stop feeling like you are a failure. Remember, you have to come first, even before the kids. This is just my humble opinion. We, as teachers, have come to accept as norm what has been unacceptable even a decade ago. There must come time when we have to stop and realize whatever happens happens. You are not a magician, but only human, and, as you have mentioned, have done everything humanly possible. I wonder how many parents feel like failure. I can tell you, NONE.
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Some P's are odd ducks...
Old 12-29-2019, 10:50 AM
 
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I have no clue why she would feel the need to point out to you that your kids may not do as well as another teacher's kids. It was thoughtless or mean. I'd seriously ask her if she pulls something like that again, "Is there a reason you are telling me this?" ( about testing)
AS for 2 kids being depressed this year, I'd take it as this: I should take some time to try to get to know the 2 kids better. I'd see if I could make some kind of deeper connection w/ them to see if they are doing OK. I'd maybe spend some more time w/ them.
Maybe she was implying it is your fault..., but if you can just take it as a head's up to be aware and try to help them out if you can. Are they 2 who have never passed a math test?
There is no need for you to feel like a failure at all! Your 1st yr at a job is always tough ( for most) and it sounds like you have already gotten some tricks up your sleeve w/ what is working w/ your kids. Some classes are definitely tougher than others.
I wish you the best!
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Old 12-29-2019, 11:54 AM
 
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How would I feel? I would feel angry and upset at what the principal said. You came into a very difficult situation, have only been there for a few months, are trying your heart out, and she says these things to you? If she felt you were struggling, she could have asked how you felt things were going, and brainstormed with you ways to help and things that would be supportive to you, or simply given you encouragement. It does not sound like she did that. She said some inflammatory things that weren't helpful in any way.

I actually think this is a big red flag that she's a problem principal and that she is not supporting you. It sounds to me like a warning that she might be non renewing you for next year. If I were in your spot, I'd start applying for other schools for next year as soon as they are posted (they often post in February). I'd finish out the year, but get out of that school ASAP.
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Old 12-29-2019, 12:07 PM
 
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I agree with Teeny. You're probably not getting renewed. Polish up your resume and start applying everywhere. Especially now, because you can truthfully say you weren't fired or resigned instead of non-renewal. Check your physical mailbox. My first public school job, they fired me with a letter in the mail, but I got it the day break started


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Old 12-29-2019, 12:34 PM
 
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How would I feel? I'd feel that the P is being unreasonable and unprofessional. It's the P's job to offer constructive suggestions to improve your instruction. I doubt things will be perfect if the P was teaching this class.

Of course, your partner may have higher scores... 10 years makes her an expert while you're new!

How on earth are you responsible for depressed kids in your class. That's crazy!

Keep reaching out to coaches and have them follow up with you. Ask for them to model lessons.

I remember that you have challenges at home with your four kids so you have a lot on your plate. Would it help to get some support through counseling to help you deal with all this pressure?


Don't give up! You can do this!
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In October
Old 12-29-2019, 12:45 PM
 
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Switching schools after classes have started may mean you were given more difficult students than many of your colleagues. If a new class was formed from "overflow," teachers may have chosen their least successful students to form your new class unless your admin was very careful not to let that happen. That is how I interpret your P's comment.

My first year of teaching I was hired at the last minute. That year I had a very challenging class which I imagined was normal. I didn't know any better. My second year I was commenting to a colleague about what a very smart class I now had. She looked at me and said, "No, now you have a NORMAL class, unlike the one you were given last year when you got dumped on." It shouldn't happen but sometimes it does. I hope your next year will be better.
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Old 12-29-2019, 01:32 PM
 
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You are not a failure! You have only been working with these students for 3 months. I suggest that you work on building relationships with the students and get the counselor involved for those who seem depressed. Give positive verbal feedback to those who are following directions. You are taking lots of steps to reach these students and the principal should have recognized that. She also should have given you suggestions. Iím not sure why she would have said what she said to you. Please keep us updated. You have support here!
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Old 12-29-2019, 08:07 PM
 
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So many years ago (my 3rd year in a district) I was transferred to a new building 3 weeks into the year. The principal of the building I was moving to told the other teachers on team to "pick the kids they wanted to go to the new teacher." You can imagine the kids in my class. It was a horrendous year. The principal told me she was nonrenewing me a month after I transferred without observing me, talking to me or anything else. Just randomly decided to fire me. It was quite a year.

And then there's my class this year. I've talked a little about it. Worst class I've ever had in 16 years. Everything that's happening is my fault, despite the fact that they have problems all over the building. Despite the fact that I've never had classroom discipline issues. Despite the fact that all my problem kids have had problems in past years.

Some years you just can't win. You can't take it personally. Just know it isn't you despite what other people tell you or don't tell you. Your P was unprofessional and unsupportive.

I would start polishing off your resume and sending it out NOW! Whether or not you finish out the year is up to you, but I would certainly do yourself a favor and not return next year. Good luck. Feel free to PM me if you need to talk. I know what you're going through. I have both been there and done that.
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Old 12-29-2019, 08:09 PM
 
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Honestly, I would ask to meet with her. Calmly let her know it confused you and you would like to discuss some comments in more detail.

It will either force her to be more straightforward about any concerns or she was not clear about the intent of her comments and you can get a better understanding.

We are not supposed to just criticize students without offering some positives or ways to grow. Teachers should get the same respect. Best case, she did not mean it as it sounded. Some people just don't know how their words are taken by others. Worst case, you know that putting out apps will be a priority next semester.

Good luck, coming in mid year is never easy.Go through positives you have accomplished and keep your head held high. Teachers are not miracle workers.


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Old 12-30-2019, 05:14 AM
 
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What are the consequences for the student behavior? Will admin support you being tough?

Starting after the year started is awful, in most cases. However kids should not be putting hoods on if it's a school rule, so I'd want to know school level consequences I'm allowed to use.

Doodling while you teach is not an issue in my opinion.

Leaving without permission is an issue. What are the consequences for doing this?

Bad words I'd ignore. I know it's going to be hard, but that's the least of your worries.

Taking a while to move throughout the hallway is a good consequence for talking. The more they talk the less time they have at lunch, etc.

I do think the P is an idiot for the way she handled things! This would be a red flag for me to move on. I'd want a supportive P. If she can see kids are depressed then she needs to get them into the counselor's office. A total disservice on her part to just tell you.

What grade is this?
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Old 12-30-2019, 06:55 AM
 
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I have watched this scenario play out time and time again and it infuriates me! New teachers are often placed with the most difficult students because grade level and school teams created class lists together before hand. Then when the new teacher starts and has issues with the students, no one steps in to help the new teacher. I see this as a SCHOOL WIDE FAILURE (NOT the individual teacher's failure!!!) Principals and school leaders need to step up and provide resources, interventions, etc to assist. It boggles my mind why classes of students which prove to be challenging can't be redistributed as needed when personalities between students prove to be a negative majority in one classroom. Schools need to be seen as teams.....which involve every grown up in the building. Too many times classrooms are compartmentalized into groups with only one person, all year long, and then judgement and competition overrun a school building. The most successful schools I have observed have principals who take credit for successes and challenges in the building and provide leadership to all teachers. They are the coaches who coach the whole team and inspire and stand behind all teachers. They are in the role because their inner purpose is to make the whole collaborative school community better than it was the day before. After reading your comments about your principal, it seems as though she does not have those qualities. Leadership at the top levels of schools create the atmosphere within. DO NOT feel like a failure. This is your school and district's issue...not yours.
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Non-constructive criticism from admin...
Old 12-30-2019, 08:33 AM
 
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I hate the power these administrators have with their clueless and insensitive words. Starting in October with a challenging class and a new grade level is a difficult task at best. You have certainly reached out to school resources and have taken advantage of what those people have to offer.

I also hate that you are being made the potential scapegoat for what gains these children do or do not make. There are so many factors--home lives, especially if they lack parental support or respect for teachers, and other things that contribute and the skills of the teacher, while a large part, is not the only part.

Not sure of your relationship with the other teacher at your grade level, but maybe you could do some co-planning. That way, you could point out to your administrator that you are doing what your colleague is to maintain consistency and to work together collegially so everyone hopefully achieves more.

As for the depression part, it is totally unfair of her to even mention that to you. She is not a psychologist, nor are you. If she is so concerned, maybe she could have conversations or lunches with anyone she feels might be at risk for any reason, and refer the to the counselor. Unfortunately, even young students bring a lot of baggage with them to school these days. Laying a verbal guilt trip on you, whether that was her intention or not, is not helpful.

Finally, I would meet with her again and possibly ask her to model a lesson for your students. That way, you could sit and observe your kids and see how they behave when she is in there working with them. If they do rise to the occasion, , it might give you some insights and strategies as well as points to praise when she is gone. If she fails, she will hopefully see what you are dealing with on a daily basis in there.

Good luck to you. I feel terrible that you are so upset (understandably so) and you are NOT a failure.
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Old 12-30-2019, 09:48 AM
 
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I'd be pretty darn upset - and pissed!

First of all, you're new at this school. The kids know you don't know the way everything works and they are testing you. Although I'm an experienced teacher, I'm new at my school this year, too. It feels a lot like my first year.
I'm confident next year will be so much better in the kids and behavior department.

I feel your principal made a very inappropriate comparison, in expressing her prediction of test scores. You need to pin her down with some very specific questions.

1. Is there an expectation that my students' scores should be better than any other particular class or better than all other classes?

2. What, if any, consequence is in place for a teacher whose class doesn't outscore another teachers' class scores?

3. What supports will you provide?


And in regard to the comment about depressed students...

1. Which students specifically do you deem depressed? On what basis are you diagnosing the depressed students in my class?

2. To what do you attribute this disproportionate number of cases of depression?

3. What supports are in place for my students?

4. What supports are in place for me? `

5. Have you contacted the parents of these students with your concerns?

If she is going to make these generalizations and somewhat veiled blame statements, she should be held accountable for them. Her drive-by implications are begging lots of questions. They should be asked. After all, they're her students too.
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