Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ramble ramble

Today was genuinely an okay day. And that's an improvement!

Monday was pretty shitty. Too many kids are talking too much and being too disrespectful (guess all the signs about "work hard. be nice." aren't taken at all seriously), and I have too short a temper.

We didn't teach yesterday, and that always means a better day for me. (...I know.) In talking to a friend/colleague and my boss, I clarified some ideas for myself; in that I have them, not that I made any decisions.

Mainly I need to remember that I have choices: about how I react, how I think, how I speak; about working here; about teaching at all. I can take responsibility for what I do, and I can keep (trying to) urge my superiors to help reinforce the bad steps from the kids. So far that's not happening at all, even though it's been promised. I feel like they've given up on me, they don't speak to me, or try to help or anything. I stopped trying to ask because it's just been a waste of time. I'm doing what I'm supposed to do in terms of records and communications, but nothing is happening on their end.

I've been reminded about self-fulfilling prophecies, about my still-young age, about putting myself first.

I started a new incentive system today, with two rewards on the horizon (one a dated event and the other a farther-away privilege). It's my push to get myself and the good kids through the next two weeks.

Ultimately, and I haven't mentioned this here really, this job isn't healthy for me. At least not as it stands right now. For some reason I'm being really stubborn about facing this reality, because I don't want to let people down (the kids, my colleagues who'd have to cover me, my boss who wants me to stay, my boyfriend who worries if I could pay the rent). I know that these things don't matter in the long run and that my mental and physical health need to be a priority...but I'm having trouble accepting and acting on that. Plus I hate making big, important decisions.

So right now I'm giving myself a deadline--my birthday next weekend. Not that I expect things to turn around or drastically change, but since things (my management and their behavior) have been getting worse lately, I'm looking for incremental improvements.

Back to the beginning: today was okay. The behavior wasn't really better, but *I* was better, a little. I was able to stay calmer (...for the most part) and restrain the snaps. I experienced a few brief, shining, fleeting moments of silence and attention. I'm trying to hold on to those and build on them. The kids want better from me; I now have it in writing (they did a reflection this week). My planning has to get better. I'm not totally sure how to do that, or that I can do it effectively, because I'm still essentially creating my own activities for everything. I don't really think that is sustainable, especially since oh GOD there's so much material and we'll never get to it all!


Stay calm. Continue to reinforce the right things and reiterate the expectations. FOCUS.


Renee said...

I totally understand about creating your own activities. I started at a middle school three years ago and the former teacher left me nothing but the worksheets that go with the book. Since I had been in HS previously, little of my old material could be used directly. I feel your pain about that, but I will say that each year it gets easier because you can pull from the previous year and use what worked. I know that's not an immediate help, though b/c you have to get through this year! My suggestion is to try to create one activity per week on your own that is fun and meaningful. For the rest of your days, look on the internet for some resources for other teachers who have already created activities for your topics. You may not like them exactly as they are, but it's sometimes easier to alter someone else's work than to start from scratch. And, that way, you can spend less energy on those. Good luck!

Sarah said...

Seriously...Harry Wong. If you haven't read The First Days of School yet, you have to. Best decision I ever made. Changed my life.

ms. v. said...

hey there... let me say first that you should *never* sacrifice your own well-being for a job. life is far too short.

that said, my experience has been that the first few months in any new job are a very steep learning curve - and particularly in a school, where you have so much to learn, new adults to work with, and new kids who *definitely* test the unfamiliar teachers each year. it's still early in the year. there might be ways to protect yourself while hanging in there a bit longer.

give me a call if you want to have a coffee or phone chat. :) Kelly

Best Teacher EVER said...

I found your blog in the most random of ways. (I typed in Sarah Bird!) There are 4 fans on here who have her name on blogspot. Have you read her newest book? It is hilarious! Anyways, hang in there! I love teaching but I have been teaching for 8 years. I guess I have grown to love it. I am glad to have found your blog!

Always Learning said...

My fiance is so in the same spot as you! His school won't support his discipline either, and wants to coddle the kids until they turn 18 and get thrown out.
We talked to one of his advisors from college two weeks ago, and I find the advice pertinent. He said, "Don't feel bad about leaving for personal reasons. No matter where you go, there will always be kids, schools, and everything that goes along with them. The trick is to find a situation that includes both them and your mental health."
So don't be afraid to look, it doesn't mean you've made a decision. And don't feel bad about the kids, because it's not the end for any of them (or you) if you find something better.
We are looking, and finding things much greener in other places. Don't put up with an administration that won't support you. You deserve better.

Schoolgal said...

You should give it a little more time. I told you how with one class I finally found my grove around Christmas time. Any behavoiral modification trick you can use, do it!! I used many in my time, including great gifts when a child had received 5 Good Notes. Or, gave an ice-cream or pizza party when the class got 5 Stars in a row. Something about food and kids that gets them motivated.

I know I have asked you this several times, but am still not sure I got an answer...what subject are you teaching??
I know it's not ELA, so that leaves Science, History, or Math as core subjects, but I get the feeling it's something else.

Keep in mind that you always have options. And, never let the job take over your life.