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Monday, November 16, 2009

Another One Bites the Dust

I found out yesterday that another teacher is quitting at our school. This one is from my department though, so it's a little more personal. We'll call her Ms. Bennett. She's a typical new teacher in DCPS: no prior experience, working on grad school after hours, eager to affect the minds of young ones. This one was particularly sad because I feel like she could have been pretty good if she wasn't thrown to the wolves in her first year. She was put under direction of our department head, who basically made her feel like the worst teacher ever every time we had a department meeting (I can only imagine how he talked to her one-on-one). She was put in, taken out of, and then put back in a classroom of obnoxious, malicious sixth-graders. She was given little to no support from the administration. And she was expected to be teacher of the year, just like every other staff member I work with.

I can see why Bennett quit. I'm glad she did - for her own good.

I had my second pseudo-nervous breakdown of the year this morning. I just feel the pressure rising during my planning period to be perfect, and I realize that I'm not. Luckily, being in my fourth year, I probably only have to deal with half the amount of stress that Ms. Bennett did. I have a decent handle on how to deal with the kids and how to structure my classroom. I, at least, have a life vest to cling to. She had her feet dipped in cement in the first new teacher training.

I do a tremendous amount of complaining on here, and I guess part of the reason is that I need to vent to someone, even if it is the faceless blogosphere, but another part of it is that I think it saves me from being an ineffective teacher in front of my kids. Despite all my complaining, I have to say that I notice that as soon as I shake the kids' hands at the door and I get class going, that's when I come alive. I still love that part of my job. I'm not bad at it. I get good evaluations and my kids respect me, even if they hate me. I do still love this job; I just hate all the bull that comes with it.

When I was in graduate school at the University of Tennessee, I thought I wanted to come to a system like DC or NYC straight out of college, and to be honest, I think I probably could have done it (my one-year college program really prepared me well), but I'm glad I spent a few years in a district that wasn't so demanding. My kids in Seattle could be tough at times, but I was never made to feel inadequate, or like I had to be superman at every second to be considered okay at what I do.

It's funny. I wanted to come to DC to improve my classroom management and see if I could really handle the classroom behavior. That's what I thought the real challenge would be. But my kids are what save me in this job. Yeah - they're tougher than I've dealt with before, but if it wasn't for them, I would have quit too. The real challenge is the administrative BS, and luckily I'm getting better at letting that slide off my back. But I've become that jaded teacher in the staff/SLC/department meetings who secretly focuses on something else while the admins talk because I know that if I listen to the BS that's coming out of their mouths, I'll just get more stressed thinking about how I could never live up to their expectations. I don't like that. I don't like being that person, and that's what will have me job searching in June.

Leaning that way more every day.

4 comments:

  1. I came to DC for the same reason. I'm a first year teacher. I was told by others that the first year teachers are thrown to the wolves by the administration because they think we'll all leave anyways. Thanks for putting it out there that I'm not the only one who feels like administration expects a level of perfection that leaves one feeling overwhelmed.

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  2. wow...clearly I need to pay more attention to my typing and less attention to the Office reruns. Sorry about the typos. =)

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  3. in my old district, the one where I had 4 superintendents, 2 principals and 12 different vice principals in 5 years of teacher, towards the end, when I knew I was leaving and faculty meetings had devolved into admin vs teacher slam sessions, once I closed the door of my classroom, it all went away and I was left with what made me want to be a teacher in hte first place: the kids. Outside was completely insane, but inside was totally mine to control, and it was the only thing that kept me going through that last year.

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  4. Yeah - that's pretty much how I feel, and I think if I can keep the BS outside my door, I might be okay. If I get really good at it, I might be able to stay around for another year, but in my mind that's stretching it for now.

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