Saturday, August 21, 2010

My job is bipolar

Last year was incredibly wonderful and difficult at the same time. I think that's how it is with being a school teacher. For example I LOVED my students. My LitMag staff was the best I've ever had. My IB kids were incredible. My English IV students.. I really liked some of them. (and this is where in sitcoms you hear the needle getting pulled off of the record)

As much as my LitMaggers and IBers made me excited to do my job, the other classes were so difficult. Some of this difficulty was a result of the usual teaching obstacles: Too many students in one classroom; too much paperwork; too many responsibilities that extended beyond the actual job of, oh let me think - teaching; very little discipline; tons of micromanaging; irrational parents; etc.. But some of it was that I had a tough group of kids.

As often as folks get upset about inconsiderate drivers or rude customers, teachers are likely, if not certain, to deal with the worst of the worst every day. You're thinking that in your job this is true, too. However, teachers are expected to be more forgiving. It's like knowing every single day the same punk kid driver in his car that costs twice as much as yours will inevitably cut you off in traffic, flip you off, and then laugh at you while texting his cleverness to his friends. As a teacher you know this is will happen again, and it shocks you each time, yet you still hope that something you do or say might make the rude driver a little bit more compassionate someday. "Maybe tomorrow when he cuts me off and flips me the bird, he won't laugh as loudly," you think. "Maybe if I call his parents (who taught him to drive), I can get ahead of him or show him that what he's doing is abusive and humiliating."

Every year you are guaranteed to have one mean driver in your class. But some years you have twenty of them. Last year I had forty. (40 out of 120 is too big of a percentage) Contrary to public opinion, there is nothing to do about a student's lack of respect toward a teacher. Unless a kid actually becomes violent against a teacher, all she can do is file paperwork and hope for an understanding counselor or principal. Plus, changing a kid's schedule to get him our of a particular class means that you have burdened another on of your colleagues with another issue that they do not need or deserve.

My personality is not commanding or controlling which some might say is part of the problem. The few times I've tried to "rule by force", it comes back to get me and makes me feel horrible. Combatting the rude drivers by being an even ruder one is sort of ridiculous and leads to accidents. I'm more of a mutual respect kind of teacher. In other words, I hope that if I model integrity, patience, responsibility, good will, and generosity, the kids will mirror it. They do for the most part. We have open dialogue in my class. I am a firm believer in inquiry based learning. Sometimes, though, the students don't mirror me. That's when things get tricky.

Monday is the start of a new school year. I will meet my new classes and get a sense of what kind of drivers they are. I'm trying to be optimistic, but there is a whole car-load of anxiety that comes with the start of the year.

4 comments:

rainbow said...

Here is WISHING you to have great drivers in all your classes this year and you have a well published LitMus both semesters this year. You deserve it and so do your good students.r

Mimi said...

Hope directing traffic is going great...with all the changes this year (more paperwork, hehe *side hurts*), I am just getting around to reading this...

I read an article in one of those parenting magazines that young people are ruder and bully more because of a more recent trend of young people lacking in social skills. I know with every generation, the prior generation will inevitably say that the newer one is "worse" or "we were never like that" but seriously I am wondering if this techie generation with the lack of face-to-face communication has caused even the best, brightest, or oldest to have a serious lack in what some might consider "basic" social skills. Last year, we were talking about what you speak of in your post. I wondered how it was around the district. Last year was really weird though because we actually had more upperclassmen than lowerclassmen at the beginning and throughout the year...break in the trends. Best wishes this year, God willing... :)

K A B L O O E Y said...

II loved most of the kids when I tried to teach high school, but the bad drivers were so, so hard I didn't stick it out. I still feel bad about that, but hearing someone like you say there's really nothing you can do to stem that kind of disrespect makes me feel a little less like I failed somehow. Thank you. And I hope you have a a roster this year to more than make up for last.

Nemo said...

That and with disrespectful customers you can flatter them into submission. Doing that with kids would just make them lazy students.

And to run with the vein Mimi opened up, I definitely think there's been a drop in social ability. I can't even remember how many studies I've read on people in general losing the ability to cope with natural social anxieties because they spend their lives focusing on themselves on the internet. Facebook may call itself a social tool, but really it's just an excuse for people to preen like peacocks and beg for attention from people you haven't seen or cared about in the eight years prior to receiving a friend request...

But I digress....

Saturday, August 21, 2010

My job is bipolar

Last year was incredibly wonderful and difficult at the same time. I think that's how it is with being a school teacher. For example I LOVED my students. My LitMag staff was the best I've ever had. My IB kids were incredible. My English IV students.. I really liked some of them. (and this is where in sitcoms you hear the needle getting pulled off of the record)

As much as my LitMaggers and IBers made me excited to do my job, the other classes were so difficult. Some of this difficulty was a result of the usual teaching obstacles: Too many students in one classroom; too much paperwork; too many responsibilities that extended beyond the actual job of, oh let me think - teaching; very little discipline; tons of micromanaging; irrational parents; etc.. But some of it was that I had a tough group of kids.

As often as folks get upset about inconsiderate drivers or rude customers, teachers are likely, if not certain, to deal with the worst of the worst every day. You're thinking that in your job this is true, too. However, teachers are expected to be more forgiving. It's like knowing every single day the same punk kid driver in his car that costs twice as much as yours will inevitably cut you off in traffic, flip you off, and then laugh at you while texting his cleverness to his friends. As a teacher you know this is will happen again, and it shocks you each time, yet you still hope that something you do or say might make the rude driver a little bit more compassionate someday. "Maybe tomorrow when he cuts me off and flips me the bird, he won't laugh as loudly," you think. "Maybe if I call his parents (who taught him to drive), I can get ahead of him or show him that what he's doing is abusive and humiliating."

Every year you are guaranteed to have one mean driver in your class. But some years you have twenty of them. Last year I had forty. (40 out of 120 is too big of a percentage) Contrary to public opinion, there is nothing to do about a student's lack of respect toward a teacher. Unless a kid actually becomes violent against a teacher, all she can do is file paperwork and hope for an understanding counselor or principal. Plus, changing a kid's schedule to get him our of a particular class means that you have burdened another on of your colleagues with another issue that they do not need or deserve.

My personality is not commanding or controlling which some might say is part of the problem. The few times I've tried to "rule by force", it comes back to get me and makes me feel horrible. Combatting the rude drivers by being an even ruder one is sort of ridiculous and leads to accidents. I'm more of a mutual respect kind of teacher. In other words, I hope that if I model integrity, patience, responsibility, good will, and generosity, the kids will mirror it. They do for the most part. We have open dialogue in my class. I am a firm believer in inquiry based learning. Sometimes, though, the students don't mirror me. That's when things get tricky.

Monday is the start of a new school year. I will meet my new classes and get a sense of what kind of drivers they are. I'm trying to be optimistic, but there is a whole car-load of anxiety that comes with the start of the year.

4 comments:

rainbow said...

Here is WISHING you to have great drivers in all your classes this year and you have a well published LitMus both semesters this year. You deserve it and so do your good students.r

Mimi said...

Hope directing traffic is going great...with all the changes this year (more paperwork, hehe *side hurts*), I am just getting around to reading this...

I read an article in one of those parenting magazines that young people are ruder and bully more because of a more recent trend of young people lacking in social skills. I know with every generation, the prior generation will inevitably say that the newer one is "worse" or "we were never like that" but seriously I am wondering if this techie generation with the lack of face-to-face communication has caused even the best, brightest, or oldest to have a serious lack in what some might consider "basic" social skills. Last year, we were talking about what you speak of in your post. I wondered how it was around the district. Last year was really weird though because we actually had more upperclassmen than lowerclassmen at the beginning and throughout the year...break in the trends. Best wishes this year, God willing... :)

K A B L O O E Y said...

II loved most of the kids when I tried to teach high school, but the bad drivers were so, so hard I didn't stick it out. I still feel bad about that, but hearing someone like you say there's really nothing you can do to stem that kind of disrespect makes me feel a little less like I failed somehow. Thank you. And I hope you have a a roster this year to more than make up for last.

Nemo said...

That and with disrespectful customers you can flatter them into submission. Doing that with kids would just make them lazy students.

And to run with the vein Mimi opened up, I definitely think there's been a drop in social ability. I can't even remember how many studies I've read on people in general losing the ability to cope with natural social anxieties because they spend their lives focusing on themselves on the internet. Facebook may call itself a social tool, but really it's just an excuse for people to preen like peacocks and beg for attention from people you haven't seen or cared about in the eight years prior to receiving a friend request...

But I digress....