T Nation

Teaching UPDATE #2

Sorry I didn’t respond to posts in last week’s thread, but a lot of things have happened. I found out that I’ll be let go because of various reasons. Short story, the teacher I’m replacing who was on maternity leave is coming back. Long story, my supervisor decided that after 11 weeks I wasn’t good enough and has been planning to let me go since Novemeber. And she is trying to get rid of Italian by canceling Italian 1 next year, even tho there are 96 kids currently taking Italian 1-3 (and there are many italian-americans in the district). Also, she may have been planning from the beginning not to keep me around, by state law I was supposed to have intensive mentoring and after-school classes to help me (since I’m not certified). Guess what? I receivd 40 min a week from a 3rd year teacher who was also coming in alternate route and didn’t know much more than me. Technically, without the mentoring and classes, it is illegal for me to be in the class. And she didn’t allow me to take any night classes in education, which may have helped somewhat. Well fck her, I went to a job fair and already have a school interested in me. What I’m trying to figure out now is what to do from now til June. I need to take Education classes, because I have no credits, and I also need to take 2-3 Italian classes. Should I sub and take night classes this semester? Should I sub and wait to take “compressed” summer classes at Rutgers, where I can earn 3 credits in 2 weeks? Should I take day and night classes now? Lord, I have so many things to think about. And I have to worry about various tests I need to take to get certified.
Anyway, so far this semester my main problem has been writing the lesson plans and maintaining class discipline in my Italian 2 class. I have the worst kid in the sophomore class, who is disruptive, a class clown and an attention hog. Nothing I say or do to him affects him, because he is failing every class (he failed 7 out of 8 last year)and knows he’s going to summer school. He is a druggie, and is simply in school to have fun and pass the time. I’ve yelled at him, had quiet talks w.him, embarassed him in front of the class (he enjoyed it because he was the center of attention), had him sit outside for entire classes, wrote him up…nothing seems to work. He is a spoiled b
tch w/ wealthy, permissive parents who don’t discipline him. I hope that 1 day he gets busted w/drugs and gets sent to Juvenile, where he gets locked up with hardcore niggrs from Paterson and Newark, gets btch-slapped, pushed around, molested, and goes to bed every night crying for his mommy. You know why? Because that’s the only thing that will change him. (BTW, I don’t mean niggrs as a racist term, just to imply rough kids from the ghetto who will scare his snowboarding a**). Either that or maybe forcing him to join the US Armed Forces. But it won’t happen cuz his Dad’s loaded. -Rant over- So what happened in this class is that slowly, most of the other kids started misbehaving because I was focused on him. Its at the point now where 1, maybe 2 students behave the way they ought to. The other kids, though they’re good people, simply do all sorts of things that I just can’t seem to stop. I know that class discipline is the hardest thing for teachers to figure out in their first year or two, so I’m not too worried about it. It doesn’t help that these kids are for the most part spoiled and that they are friggin pampered at this school. There are almost as many counselors as teachers. In fact, my whiner cuts class 2-3 times a week and uses her counselor as an excuse. Not only does she have her regular counselor, but there’s the Crisis Intervention counselor and the Family counselor. You know what? Fck it-before I leave I’m going to these counselors and give them a piece of my mind. These kids use the counselors as excuses to cut class and as justifications for behaving the way they do. The counselors don’t reprimand them , don’t call them out for being lazy and whiny, they just sit there, with big puppy dog eyes and listen to all their troubles and tell them “Maybe you should try harder”. I swear, how are kids supposed to know that people expect a lot out of them when nobody gets angry at them and calls them on their lies and excuses? I’ve already had my supervisor tell me on 4 different occasions that the kids complained to their counselors about me. I ate an apple in class, I was sarcastic, I was angry, I called her a liar -WTF? Why is the counselor even mentioning this to my supervisor? You know, I DID call this girl a liar, to her face, because she is. She missed a test and missed 4 FRIGGIN’ makeup dates in which she was supposed to take it! And each date was one that she told me she could make! I didn’t impose a day on her. What am I supposed to do? Say “OK sweetie, no big deal?” She has continuosly showed me she has no respect: no respect for me, for my class or for her own word.
Man, I’ll stop here because the venom is flowing and I don’t want to give the wrong impression. Thanks for your feedback and please, keep your stories and suggestions coming, I save them all.

Sucky story, Sonny. Sorry to hear it. Counselors almost universally seem to be douche bags. You are there to get the kids ready for life, the counselors are there to shield the kids from it.

Sorry to hear that. But you should be able to find work in NJ. We need good teachers… By the what did your Union rep say about the lay off? Since that they knew you were going to be laid off in November but didn’t tell you till now?

yeah man that sux. I am currently going to school in maryland to become a teacher, and there is all kinds of hell they put you through. thats besides the point though. while I was doing some in class observations, one of the kids who was giving the teacher a lot of problems that day got rather angry and yelled “Why do you care if I do my work any way?!” Ms. Fonseca, the most amazingly beautiful math teacher you will ever meet then replied. “Listen, I care about you doing your work, because when you grow up, I don’t want my tax dollars to go toward paying for your stupid ass and the five kids you are gonna have with some bitch on the street. I want you to make something of yourself so the gov. doesn’t take more of my money in order to pay for you to live in jail because you F—ed up!” I wanted to clap. Ms. Fonseca had just made my day and given me hope in the teaching profession. my point is, when you teach, impart your life to the kids, the shit that you had to learn on your own because no one gave a rats ass enough about you to teach you. that will win their respect.

Doogie-that’s a good way of putting it. In fact I was considering spending a lot of time over these last few weeks talking about life and lessons learned. I was even considering writing something out for them. I’ll still do it in my Italian 1 class, I don’t know about my “bad” class. Like I said, I have a hard time controlling them and a couple of kids hate me, so I don’t know if my words will have an effect, because of the lack of respect. I may take 1 or 2 of em aside and talk to them 1 on 1, but other than that…
Fitone-my union rep is a clueless old lady, she wasn’t much help. And they can do anything they want to (basically) cuz I’m not tenured. I will say this-they did give me 2 months of notice, so I will have a few weeks (once this semester ends) of either staying at home or subbing. Its better than being canned w/1 weeks notice!

Ms. Fonseca sounds like a great lady. Like I said to Doogie, I’m not sure if I want to spend time w/my bad class teaching them the little I’ve learned about life. Maybe I’ll just suggest they read “Tuesdays w/Morrie” aka TC’s favorite book. :wink:
Plus, these kids are well off, they’re not going on welfare. They’ll be mooching off mom and dad’s mutual funds.
BTW my fellow teacher just moved here from COlumbia, MD, she taught outside Baltimore for a few years. She said it was a rough school, mostly black, but she enjoyed teaching them more. Here the kids question every little thing you do, they expect everything to be handed to them, they think they’re in charge, they talk back…you get the point. Different attitudes.

Quick note: I made most of the kids in Italian 2 (the problem class) go into a corner and we formed a huddle, then I called the play: told them their behavior was unacceptable, emphasized we only have 7 days of school left and that if any one of them misbehaves in the 7 days we have left of school, they all get a pop quiz. And another if they continue. And so on. Then I made them say, on the count of 3, “Behave!”. We’ll see if it works.

I understand that your ticked at being laid off, but given your rant about your bad class, why is it you want to teach? You will run across this type of class every year. There is always that one bad class we all have to bear–every year usually. Eventually we hope we will have class discipline down pat, but you never really know what kind of idiot is going to be allowed to remain in school. Although I understand that kids these days come from troubled backgrounds and homes, they have a lot of issues they need to deal with–I still maintain that schools are NOT the places where all of these issues and problems need to be solved. That is not our job. That is the job of psychiatrists, parents, social service people, etc. We are here to teach. If we can impart social skills, morals, good basic living tips,–that’s great. Too many people feel that teachers are there to solve all the problems that the kids bring with them. We are not qualified to do that. That’s not what we have been trained to do. If we do it, it’s a bonus. I honestly feel that the students are allowed way too much lenience by the systems that govern our schools. Although tossing out social misfits does not benefit society, perhaps if the consequences to improper behaviour in schools were more severe (expulsion), we would have fewer discipline problems to deal with. Maybe that sounds extreme, but I really resent the kind of behaviour that some of these kids feel they have the right to bring into our classrooms. I resent that I have to deal with it, and I resent that other students’ learning is curbed because teachers must be dealing with the idiots on a daily basis. No tolerance for idiocy should be the policy. If you can’t behave with respect and common decency–get out on the street. If you really, really want to teach in high schools these days, go for the courses. Otherwise, I would suggest trying to get into adult education instead. At least those people come to your classes because they want to–and hopefully have a grip on their behaviour. Good luck!

Don’t worry, I’m not quitting teaching. Like I said, the venom just happened to be flowing that day. I agree w/ your post completely and I do wish that schools could expel kids who really have no desire to learn and only disrupt the class. What I started doing w/ him, since as mentioned before, nothing worked, is send him ouside to sit in the hallway. I give him 2 strikes and then he’s out. What drives me nuts though is this 1 girl, who has the worst grade of all the kids who are passing, complains and stands up for him and says things under her breath about me. This girl, who is nice but definitely not the brightest bulb in the closet, is too dense to understand that HE damages the whole class, but especially HER since she isn’t that smart (they are friends, and he often distracts her). If he wasn’t causing such a disruption, then I could teach the lesson more effectively and spend more time HELPING her instead of yelling/keeping an eye on him. Maybe I’ll try to explain it to her politely 1 day after class.
Anyway, the kids were much better today. I waved the quiz at them when they walked into class and that seemed to help.

If you are in NJ. your district did not folow the law. They are required to give you a 20 day mentor (with you all day for 20 days) and a year long mentor. At the same time you should be enroled in alternate route training. My district did the same two years ago and they got sued. Now they follow the rules. If you want to get them in huge trouble call the state dept. of education .

KK, you da man/woman! I just had a thought- maybe I could blackmail them into paying for my clases this coming Spring semester. And the Summer semester too. Hmmm…I have some thinking to do.

Im not a teacher but just wanted to say best of luck to all of you. Im 25 yrs old but when from what I hear about the kids of today. They are all stupid and just going down hill. I was lucky enough that in my school when I was there, the worst trouble maker shut up when the teacher said so. Then in Highschool they had a “special” building to teach those kids who where considered unteachable. Guess where it was located? It was in the same building that was converted into police station. I could see the teachers saying “Leave the room and go straight to the sheriff!”. I was wondering is it illegal if you make the kid do push ups. If he acts up you make him go to the back of the room and do push ups till you get tired. I sometimes think it be best if they made kids wear uniforms and had a more military structure you know. Heavy on the discipline. NO gym teacher instead a drill instructor lol. Nothing breaks a will like brutal exercise. Did for me when I wrestled in high school.

A uniform would be nice, but only if it is an enforced, proper uniform. My school has what they call a “dress code”–meaning the kids are supposed to wear a white shirt or turtle neck or top that is appropriate and black pants that are not jeans or track pants. The school has a sweatshirt, polo shirt, and cardigan sweater, and these are supposed to be the only warmer things the kids are allowed to wear. No hats of any description either. Being an inner city school they are trying to avoid the gang color issue and are trying to equalize the kids because of poverty. However–because this is dress code and not uniform, the kids try to get away with pushing the standards everyday. So–what happens is that the teachers have one more thing to harrass the kids about. A formal uniform would be wonderful, but our loosey-goosey system makes it harder. As for push ups. I really don’t know if it’s legal. They do it in sports practices. I think as long as you don’t touch the kids, it should be okay. In one of my current classes, however, this would add amusement to the class and create even more behaviour issues because all the guys would want to get in on the act–or at least comment on the poor sap who is having to do them. Then, there’s the issue of trying to enforce such a punishment. If you are a large, built male, they may listen. As a smaller-framed, female teacher, I don’t have that scary look about myself. I don’t think my administrators would appreciate my sending students to the office because they didn’t listen to me when I requested 100 push-ups. Could be fun, however!


Sorry to hear about your situation; too much bullshit and not nearly enough money. I’d definitely look into any sort of legal action you could take, but only if there’s a way for you to really profit from it(any lawyers here with an opinion??).

In the meantime, you might want you consider something I had posted to you earlier about doing some private teaching. I don’t know what your background is or how many languages you speak, but there is a high demand for foreign language teachers these days, especially in the smaller, richer, private schools. Spanish is obviously the most sought after, but I’m sure you could find a market for Italian too(or you could learn spanish although Italian is just similar enough to REALLY confuse you–at least it did me). Give the schools a call even though they most likely won’t want anyone new this late in the year, it’s still worth a try.

Another option is tutoring small groups of kids wherein each person is billed individually and you make a killing for an hour of work. I said this before but it bears repeating: one of my student’s mother tutors spanish and does it for 2 hours a day a few days a week, and makes more than a full time teacher!

Another random thought–if your pronunciation is flawless or close, contact nearby music schools/conservatories and see if you could offer private diction coachings for singers. I know it’s a bit of a long shot, but maybe it’ll help.
Good luck man!

Ok, ok you convinced me, I’ll look into tutoring groups of kids!! BTW, i am currently tutoring the Editor-in-chief of men’s health/runner’s world as well as his wife. Now if I could only tutor TC…
Where do you teach, if I may ask?