The English Teacher

November 18, 2006, 12:52 pm
Filed under: Daily Life

Something happened at work the other day that left me feeling confused and angry.  Though it was a small incident, I can’t get over how angry I am.  In one of my classes, I have another teacher who co-teaches the class.  I use the word, teach, a little loosely since I am the one who is planning out the lessons and actually carrying them out.  This is partly my fault since I am somewhat of a control freak, but the other teacher has never really offers any input.  The one time she suggested something, she decided that it would be better if we just verbally reiterate the concepts the students had trouble with rather than plan a new lesson around it.  So when I planned a little review activity, which I did not even consider a full lesson, she seemed a bit put out.

The incident the other day, though, centered around a request I had made.  Despite the fact that I had about two hours of prep that morning, I had completely forgotten to make overheads until seconds before the bell rang.  Because the co-teacher was in the classroom, I thought I would ask her to make the copies for me so I could set up the class.  Imagine my surprise when she refused and snapped that she wasn’t an assistant.  When I fumbled for words and said that I just needed her help, she said that she could help in the class.  The reason why I wanted to stay in the classroom was that I had an activity up on the board and I thought that she wouldn’t be able to have it completed because this was something that we normally didn’t do in the class.  Plus, the fact that I was the one who had planned the lesson meant that I knew what we were going to do in class.  Luckily, there was not line at the copier, but if there had been, who knows when I would have been able to return to the classroom.  Since my co-teacher had no input on the lesson plan for that day, the class probably would have ended up sitting (or talking) for at least 10 minutes.  Once the class takes control like that, it’s hard to wrest it back again.  When I gave an account of this incident to another teacher, she agreed that it was strange, but suggested that the other teacher probably felt like my assistant.  This left me taken aback.  As I mentioned earlier, she never really seemed interested in taking control of the class.  Instead, I planned the lessons without any feedback from her and also engaged in much of the classroom management.  Initially, she had seemed to be content with disciplining the students, too, but lately, she seems to have lost interest in that, as well.  A couple of weeks ago, two male students were verbally sparring and I had to get them back under control because they were close to starting a fight.  During this entire incident, the co-teacher was sitting on the computer doing something.  She’s also constantly pulling one student out of the class to make him do….something so he almost always ends up missing a quiz or a homework assignment.  Of course, he never bothers to make up the missed quizzes or the missed assignments.

I don’t know.  Maybe I’m just seeking validation for my actions, but I don’t think I deserved that kind of attitude from the co-teacher even if I am a new teacher.  I later apologized and, truthfully, I was expecting her to apologize for her behavior, as well.  However, she replied to my email with a terse, “Ok, thanks,” and that was it.  What the hell?  I was hoping that my apology would offer some form of closure, but I find myself even angrier than before. 

Rising Action
November 8, 2006, 8:11 pm
Filed under: Daily Life, Future

According to studies (don’t quote me, I’m not sure what the studies are, but this is something I was told in grad school), newbie teachers go in with a sense of ideal enthusiasm and then get burnt out around now.  I’m not sure if I’m burnt out, but at a recent post-observation conference, I was informed that I sounded as if I was resigned to the fact that my kids can’t remember to bring their supplies, to write legible and coherent essays, to remember their major projects, to get their grades up, or to care about their futures.  I lied, I made up most of that, but the part about me being resigned is true.  It’s difficult for me to hold on to any hope and enthusiasm when I’m surrounded by jackasses who don’t make any conscious effort and constantly blame me for any failure on their part.  I can’t help getting frustrated when the kids turn toward me with big blank stares when I inform them for the nth time that they have a project that is half of their grade due at the end of the semester.  I’m literally living for the weekends and the days off when I don’t have to see them anymore.  Is this what teaching is supposed to be like?  If so, then I chose a bleak profession. 

At times, I catch myself daydreaming about jumping ship and getting into another career.  However, I don’t think I have the skills and qualifications to do anything else.  And honestly, I’m terrified.  Am I going to pass my observations and have my contract renewed next year, or will I do the whole job search dance again?  Considering how hard it was to get this job, I don’t have the confidence that I will be offered anything else anywhere else.  Am I going to be the bitter harridan who just counts down the days until retirement?  That would suck. 

There are some days when I do enjoy teaching, but I hate interacting with the kids because they can be little shits.  Don’t let others fool you because somedays, the kids truly suck.  Even the very good kids will have very bad days and they will be a pains in the ass like all the others.

Supposedly, I’m at the low point right now.  This is when the noobs realize that teaching isn’t all fairies and rainbowdust and they realize that teaching is hard work and most of that work isn’t even compensated (for instance, I’m supposing to be writing an exam right now and I sure as hell ain’t getting paid to do that).  One more week after this and then Thanksgiving Break.  A few more weeks after that and then Winter Break.  We’ll see what happens afterwards.