Sunday, October 01, 2006

A Shameful Confession

I had a really bad day at work on Friday. I had to write up two students during one class period. A boy was upset that I said it was his responsibility to be sure that I check his vocabulary work each day and tell me if I missed him. I don't care if students don't like that I make them responsible for those kinds of things--they are seniors and should be responsible. However, he spent the next few minutes mouthing loudly about how unfair I am and how it's my fault he made a 75 instead of a 100. When I told him the subject was closed, he finally shut up, but not before he said one more thing. So I wrote up a discipline referral on him. Then a few minutes later, a girl didn't like my response to her question, which she thought was "stupid." When I tried to explain my reply to her, she said, "Shut up. And don't say anything else to me." I immediately sent her to the assistant principal's office and went to the office to turn in the discipline referral on her.

Her father came up a little while later, and we had to have a conference in the AP's office. The father was a real jerk, wearing his insulated army coveralls--the temp on the Gulf coast on Friday was probably 90, not cool enough to need insulated anything. I'm sure he thought he would intimidate me, but he picked the wrong woman to intimidate. Of course, he thought I was at fault for the incident, and it didn't matter what I said he wouldn't change his opinion. The third time he said, "I know how teachers are. I know how the teachers at this school are"--said in a very negative tone. I told him that I would not stay there any longer and let him judge me based on some past experience he had had with another teachers, and that I would not sit there and let him continue to characterizing me or by co-workers as bad teachers and bad people. And I left the room.

In addition to these incidents, I had an email from a parent of a special ed student. She wants me to allow her son to not use electronic keypads to take his vocabulary tests because he told her that he was having trouble doing it. She absolutely refused to acknowledge that he made an 84 on the test before the most recent one. When I suggested that we encourage him to give the keypads one more time, she flatly refused sighting his special needs as proof that he can't be successful with the keypads. I just don't understand how parents think that immediately giving in to a child's complaint teaches them anything.

I am still depressed over these incidents as well as the realization they caused in me. I truly HATE being a teacher now. My supplies of patience, sympathy, and empathy are completely exhausted. I just can't care enough anymore about students who need special help. I know that this is a horrible thing to say, but I don't want to work hard enough to figure out how to accommodate the needs of special education children or underachievers. I can only tolerate teaching students who are average or above average. I think that many so-called learning disabled students are given too much help. I think that we, as a society, have enabled them to expect accommodations instead of teaching them how to cope and overcome their disabilities.

I feel like a fraud, and I'm not sure that I will be able to keep up the masquerade for the remainder of the year. Even when I have a good day at work, I feel the weight of my discontent in every quiet moment. I never want to go to bed at night because I know that the earlier I go to bed the earlier I will have to get up and go to work.

Sadly, even knowing that I am working on getting out of the classroom provides me with no solace. I have to find a new job. I wonder if I could get out of my contract in December. I have known teachers who have done that; maybe I will check into the possibility of doing that.


Valerie said...

Well, now I will sound terrible with you. I think that in many ways you are right about how we enabling students, especially special ed students. While many modifications are made with good reason and good intentions, schools are so scared of "getting in trouble" that they make it way too easy for those students. The students are not challenged at all. Teachers who really want them to learn something and to successfully face challenges, have to fear getting into trouble or being reprimanded.

The students end up not learning any life skills that they can use in the real world, where, unless their disability is physical, they are not going to get modifications.

I don't know if that makes any sense...

I'm sorry you are feeling so bad, and I know that this doesn't help, but your students are lucky to have you because you are a good teacher.

Penny said...

The worst part of being a good teacher is not having any one appreciate you. And having to put up with students who don't care, don't desire, don't know--about anything. Yuk. It saps all of the life out of you. It would be better if you did only have to teach the people who wanted to learn. They would actually learn something if there weren't a pack of fools around them dragging them down--and I don't specifically mean students with mods, but as you know, the worst fools are the ones who could learn easily and simply don't want to. Some students with mods actually do fall into this group, which doubly sucks the life out of you. But I am sick of worrying about other people's wasted potential. Whatever. It's their problem, not mine. Let them all fail.
The problem is that the system is set up to enable them to whine and you to have to work harder to accomodate every conceivable folly.
It's time to get out--because you ARE a good teacher. If you weren't, it wouldn't matter so much.

Anonymous said...

I am an elementary teacher in California and I feel your pain. I can tell you are a great teacher, but I sure do understand everything you are saying. This is my 10th year and I would love to get out of this profession at least in this state. I wish you well and hope you are able to muster up the courage to tell them goodbye. Life is too short and NCLB and everything else going on is making it impossible for teachers to actually teach and Heaven forbid you should ever be anything but a clone. I miss teachable moments, knowing my students without rotating for Language Arts in the third grade. Whoever heard of such a thing. It's called tracking and it is illegal and my district gets away with it because the students go to a homeroom and then rotate from there. High, low, lower.... Nothing but chaos and no chance for individualization of student or teacher. Students nor parents respect teachers..teachers are blamed for students low performance. God bless teachers and especially you. Hang in there, you are not alone.

Anonymous said...

Yesterday I gave each of my third grade students a coloring book, paints and a candy cane filled with m&ms for Christmas. Several of them started whining and saying, "What am I supposed to do with this?! This is for babies!"
I told them if they didn't like them to put them on the table and I would take them and give them to children who would appreciate them. (no one did) You know, that really bothered and sickened me that they would act that way. I don't know if it is because I work in an area where there is a lot of materialism and people have quite a bit of money or if children all over the U.S. would react that way. Has this happened to anyone else? Thanks