Middle School Teachers, How do you do it

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-04-2003
Middle School Teachers, How do you do it
13
Fri, 01-15-2010 - 10:46am

So I've been subbing because even with two degrees now, I can't find steady stable work in Michigan, which is why I am so moving east. But anywhoo, I subbed for middle school for two days...

WTF??????? Now, I can recall being obnoxious and even a smart mouth but I'll be DAMNED if I was "academically challenged" on top of that?? And then when I was checked, I backed up and sat my but down.

This new group thinks they can get in your face, lie to you, lie on you, aggravate you and then don't know SQUAT. Now maybe this is a geographical problem. Urban setting and all, but wow. I've noticed that the papers are FULL TO THE BRIM with ads for middle school and high school teachers. If I had a secondary endorsement, I'd have jobs a plenty to choose from. But I'm an elementary teacher, less postings and a bigger pool of candidates.

Anywhoo, two days with middle school and I was physically and emotionally drained. I ached all over and woke up yesterday with a headache. Just two days. My best friend worked in middle school for 4 months and just quit yesterday. He told me he felt this way everyday. Again maybe it's particular environments that cause this type of stress but OMG, how do you survive it??

Cause I was so close to saying the wrong things to these children. Yes, I'm the teacher and I'm the grown up I know, but you take the high road, walk away and they keep coming at you. At one point I had to ask some of them to go somewhere else cause I felt if I wasn't left alone, they would get told off. That's how far some of those kids took me. I'm standing there praying in my mind and talking myself down.

I felt horrible that I would even think to treat a child that way but two of them were asking for it and asking for it HARD. But I stayed calm. Mainly because I knew I wouldn't have to see them again. If that was my everyday job, I know I would have slipped and been in big trouble for it.

God bless Middle and High School Teachers. I can say with all certainty, YOU ARE BETTER THAN ME. *bowing down to you right now*

GT38

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iVillage Member
Registered: 07-14-2005
Sat, 01-16-2010 - 2:11pm

I think you've hit upon partially why I'm having a difficult time stepping back up to a f/t teaching position w/our jr hi!! :) Hope you bear with - I'm having a hard time making this short - but I so hear what you are saying!!

I'm a good teacher & always willing to learn & share. All in all the kids, staff, & parents like & respect me. Most every parent that takes the time to come in & talk to me - usually beginning w/complaints, perceived injustices & problems - walks away w/a completely different perspective (& if the student has come in with, they have usually made concessions as to their role in it all!!). But it stresses me out big time, I'm pretty much always exhausted, plus I cannot DO anything else when teaching f/t. I even dream about it...

I've been subbing for over 10 yrs now. During that time I took classes & finally got a degree in education to become a teacher. (I have never in my life been paid so little for so much work & it cost me $$ to do this.) While subbing I figured out early on I would rather be in the HS classrooms than any so let it be known that I was available for HS & jr hi only. Being in a distance ed program, I had to take what was available, which was elementary education, so I had no choice but to start out at the jr hi & figure I'd work my way up to the secondary certification. Knowing our schools, I purposely took the Title 1 track C 7th & 8th math classes to start because I did not want to face a classroom of 30 or more students & those were capped at 20. They may be much "lower" in aptitude, ability & have many more problem behaviors - but it only takes the few trouble makers in each classroom to make it all about classroom management & I'd rather deal with less bodies from the get-go.

I gave them my 1st 2 yrs of f/t teaching to get thru the probationary status, took a year "leave of absence" to take 18 units worth of math credits to fill secondary math certification criteria - now it's passing the secondary math exam. We always have math openings around here, so it's really up to me if I'm ready for the challenge. I was so burnt out after the 2 yrs of f/t jr hi teaching & the yr of math classes I was ready to just take some time for me & mine when I had my car accident which basically forced me out of considering "whatever" teaching options last year anyway. Some days I wasn't even up for subbing. Tho I did take a couple "how to teach math" type classes in the Secondary Ed Masters program

This school year it was a definite conscious choice to not take the open 7th gr math spot at the jr hi. Tho I did end up taking a long term sub social studies spot that turned into most all of 1st semester. I was counting weeks - not only the stress of "learning" a new subject, standards, always new & more criteria required from administration, but the standard jr hi behavior plus the "sub thing" in "mainstreamed" classes of 30. The "new" 7th gr math teacher turned in his resignation effective end of 1st semester & I just couldn't step up for more this year. They did get a retired teacher to step in for the rest of the year, but I know they will have at least 2 jr hi math openings for next school year - an 8th math retiring & the 7th math - all I have to do is walk in & express interest & I'm back. I do prefer 8th to 7th - but like doing the loop of both also.

I'm just now starting the debate (w/myself) about whether I even want to attempt the secondary math exam again this year - the further away I get from doing math (especially the trig & calc) the more difficult for me to pass the exam. I missed the passing score 2 times now by 5 points. 1st time fresh out of the math course year I ran out of time & couldn't go back & complete problems I skipped to get thru. Second time was one year out from classes, at the time still on (& 8 months of being on) pain pills - I took one look at the essay & realized I couldn't remember the calculus set up tho I did recognize the problem so I just did the rest of the test. Tho I now have my secondary teaching proficiency passing score to add to my license renewal this year. Now I'm going into 2 yrs out of math, haven't even been teaching at the jr hi level & the annual local exam is looming sometime around March (I haven't even checked the official site yet because I'm not even close to ready); I know that there isn't a spot at the HS this year. With the economy the one teacher that is ready to leave the HS a couple years back is hanging on til things ease up back east - he has a job here! The rest are local & happy w/their spots for now.

So here I sit - my DH thinks I'm out of my mind for even considering the jr hi again. He's not happy seeing me stressed & exhausted all the time... Can't blame him, I'm not either!!!! :( I know what it's all about, and the reality is that is what we as teachers face here in a rural, transient, low economic area. Not only do we get "typical" jr hi behavior (there is something hard about just being that age - tho that alone I can handle :), we get the added bonus of what is indigenous to the area - education is not a high priority (thus a lot of disrespect & behavior issues) for most of our kids or their families so a high percentage of kids who are still testing somewhere in 3rd-4th gr skills & have trouble reading; plus we get it from the top down as our administration piles on ridiculous expectations as if that is what is required to "fix" our school - and being on the frontline, we all know it's the teachers who get the brunt of it. Gee no wonder our jr hi burns thru teachers on a regular basis...

Society in general has changed & our schools everywhere are kind of stuck in dealing w/it all appropriately, but where you live & teach does make part of the difference as well. I truly discovered that this year after many discussions w/our SS student teacher from rural Iowa & a visit to a small town Iowa jr hi this Fall. I am going to make it a part of our travels to different parts of the country in the future to do a short visit to local jr hi math departments to actually feel, see, & question the palpable differences in their halls & classrooms & talk w/teachers of their perspectives on expectations, methods, routines, etc.. (theirs, students, administrations, etc..). This is my own version of comparative education 101 to find out that it is not me personally doing something wrong as a teacher (except for possibly trying to please everyone & do everything expected - which is impossible!!), it is that intangible of the realities & expectations of where I teach.

Somehow I am looking for a happy middle ground, where I can put my talents of teaching to good use and still have my own life at the same time. I've not had the experience of teaching at the HS f/t outside a long term sub spot, but from what I have experienced, there is a tangible difference in how that administration deals w/the teachers, & each year difference in age gives kids different perspectives on who they are and how they deal as well - for the most part I enjoy HSers (tho yes some can be quite scary) & they still come from the same background.... The teachers I've met don't seem anywhere near as frazzled & I'm thinking it's more to do w/the squeeze of micromanagement (almost to the point of disrespect) our jr hi teachers are feeling from the top down as well as the student behaviors from the bottom up that makes the difference here.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 03-24-2003
Sat, 01-16-2010 - 2:13pm

I feel for you too! The sad thing is that they are pushing the best away and the mindless, out-of touch, stuck-in-rut group keep on doing their thing and no one cares.


They say that up to 50% of the new teachers leave the profession within five years. From my experience I know that some get through that can't cut it. However, many of the best find out that they can't make a difference and that the cards are stacked against them.


In K-12 you deal with too many parents that are

Sherry

 

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-24-2003
Sat, 01-16-2010 - 2:59pm

Very insightful, Jo. I understand your feelings completely. I know location has a lot to do with it, administration, the type of school, grade level, the socio-economic situation, cultural background etc.

Sherry

 

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