Teacher in despair, advice please!!!

Discussion in 'V.C.'s Parlor' started by Stratlover84, Sep 12, 2019.

  1. Stratlover84

    Stratlover84 Squier-Nut

    Jun 16, 2016
    So I've been less active on ST than I was before... I knew eventually I'd feel the need to share my story with everyone here, especially the fellow teachers. @Eddie I thought of all your prior teacher wisdom and had felt it was time.

    After 4 years of dedicated service at a private school, I was let go of back in June, just as everyone was anticipating a much deserved month of vacation after 10 months of grueling work. Some teachers were ready to call it quits from what I remember. It seemed every year got harder and more and more was expected of us, with little compensation, not to mention the dirty side of administration and authorities - but in the end, it's the passion for teaching and helping students achieve their goals that drives us.

    Because of the negative experience I had working at this private school, I doubted if I ever wanted to work in that type of environment, almost a 1000 students and 200+ personnel between teachers, administrative staff and maintenance workers. Fussy coworkers were not easy to deal with, and the good teachers always got stuck between a rock and authorities/parents/school psychologists/students/department of education, etc. etc.

    Following two months of vacation and a decent severance pay, I decided enough was enough and that I wanted to work at a school again. After all, what I enjoy most is working with and teaching kids. My resume and cover letter needed some updating, so once that was done, I began responding to several ads online from local private schools. I felt like I had put out my intentions to the universe and the universe responded within days: my wifes' cousin who coincidentally began working at my old school as the Doctor, told me about a job opening at a school 10 minutes away. Since I recently moved out of the city and into the valley, this was great.

    Getting to the point, I got interviewed, offered a nice salary and began working there as of last week. I was painted a picture that seemed attractive, but was not realistic. After a week of being there, I realize I may have made a big mistake. The school, nor the authorities, are very supportive when it comes to basic information about how the school runs, its documents and formats, etc. Some teachers quit during the first week and now us new teachers have been given crazy schedules and none of the older teachers care to even acknowledge us, much less help us in any way. The few who are nice, look like they live in constant fear and stress. My coordinator cannot be counted on, and after asking for certain information, not receiving it and going straight to the higher ups for help, she has become resentful with me. The ladies in accounting are less than nice.

    Classes have no computers, no speakers, no curtains. The projectors, if the class has one, are faulty and turn off after 5 minutes of operation. Others have vga cables that no longer work. There are no printers for teachers, and everyone must bring their own printed documents/worksheets etc. and buy a laptop if they don't have one. As well as speakers. Oh yes, uniforms are not cheap. A good chunk of my first paycheck will be going to uniforms and a laptop, if I decide to buy one. I used to work until 2 and now I work until 4. We've been told we have to work a few Saturdays in the year, and since I study on the side, it is really difficult to adapt to this change.

    Today there was a meeting with the principal and vice principal and initially I thought it would make things clear and help. Now, I am confirming that I have made a big mistake and there is no turning back. I am not a quitter, and the kids are the only redeeming factor in this entire crazy illogical equation. I want to give it a chance, but don't think I can survive for long with such unorganized, unstructured people.

    If you even got this far, I appreciate your time. But if you have some advice for me, I'd appreciate it much more! Rant over.
    zammie, WNCStratman, Eddie and 9 others like this.
  2. squierbilly

    squierbilly Dr. Squier

    Apr 21, 2013
    sunny phoenix
    Wow i felt compelled to answer your plea even though i dont feel i can be of much help..
    The only advise i have for when you feel overwhelmed is

    Cut off your hair,, the problem lies in your curls.. :)
    That 10 minutes a day you save grooming can now be spent on guitar.. :D
  3. IronSchef

    IronSchef Dr. Squier

    Jun 18, 2012
    Flew here on my Dragonfly
    yuk - I feel for u :(

    I have no words of wisdom or advice - but I applaud your efforts to help shape our future (those kids), despite the obvious lack of support from your school system.
  4. dbrian66

    dbrian66 Squier-holic

    Jul 14, 2017
    Maryland, USA
    I am not a teacher, so I don’t know the ins and outs of what you do, but one piece of advice I can give you that applies to everything we do in life, is only worry about what you can control, you and your actions. Deal with everything else as it comes at you. When the bad stuff (all the BS your dealing with) starts to outweigh the good stuff (your desire to teach) in any situation, it’s time to start looking for something new.

    Hats off to you and all the teachers in the world. You guys deal with a lot and never get much credit for what you do. Thank you!
  5. dlew919

    dlew919 Squier-Meister

    Apr 22, 2018
    Leave. Seriously, the kids will be fine, and there are other kids out there who need your help and skills. It won’t get better, it might get worse.

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
  6. strat_strummer

    strat_strummer Squier-holic

    Nov 24, 2018
    Crappie fishing is coming...
    Terrible story and I cant offer any advice other than, I've often thought teachers have to have the worst and sometimes most rewarding job there is. That isn't the only teaching job in the world, find a job that THEY deserve you. Sounds like you have more to offer than they do. My hats off to any teachers and you all fall in that "thanks for your service" category....
  7. Luvs2yoko

    Luvs2yoko Squier-holic

    Jan 19, 2014
    I would stick it out if possible.If you still feel the same quit when the school year is over.
  8. archetype

    archetype Squier-holic

    There is no good alternative. They all have a downside. My suggestion, though, is to resign with a concise letter stating the reasons. Also, in the letter, sincerely wish them well and hope that issues will be resolved for the students' benefit.

    I've been there and done that with a project management gig. It's the only professional position I've resigned from in my career. The company was focused on selling the products, then manufacturing them to order, but organizational disfunction thwarted my implementation of the products in all ways. Like you, I saw no path to success. I resigned before the work took too much of a personal toll on me.
  9. TimTheViking

    TimTheViking Squier-holic

    I'm not a teacher but work for a public school system in IT. I don't envy teachers in the least. What little control they have in the classroom when it comes to student behavior, parent behavior and the like makes them like a ship without a rudder and driven by the wind. While a teacher can make a dramatic impact on students lives, it seems a lot of the time it's a small number of kids that a teacher actually has a major impact on. We all remember the teacher that everyone in the class looked up to but it's only a handful out of dozens. But need for that teacher is in any school in any city. Every class has kids that need a dedicated teacher that they can look up to as a mentor. If it were me, I'd go to a school where I could focus on that. If you leave, you won't be able to help any of the kids you leave behind. But if you find a place to call home, you'll be able to have a much greater impact on many more kids as you won't be focused on and frustrated with administration and you can focus on the kids. You'll leave a few behind who you may have been able to help but will gain many, many more. It's a trade-off that only you can choose. Best wishes @Stratlover84 .
  10. so1om

    so1om Squier-Axpert

    Feb 10, 2010
    Chicago now Sarasota
    I've been an adjunct instructor for nearly 20 years at a community college. Because I am essentially there "only one day a week" all my work is in the classroom (with a meeting here and there and maybe going in another day to help a student or do admin stuff).

    So I am sheltered from the day-to-day and the politics. It's also a community college so sure I get some 17 year olds, but I also get so me 70s. It's a whole other vibe.

    In the last couple of years I have subbed for my dept chair or have gotten more into course work development. I am ASTOUNDED about how poorly run my own bosses classes are. He doesn't know or understand the material or the application. I've had students beg me to come back the next week or if they could sit in in my class (they are always welcome). As I teach SolidWorks (a 3D modeling program.. kinda like AutoCAD), those who take my basic class will ask what other classes I am teaching or sign up when they see my name for advanced or intermediate. I never thought much of it. I run a pretty chill class, people are engaged, they learn, they laugh, I received good evaluations.

    Only in the last few years have I began to understand.

    My oldest daughter had be diagnosed with what was called Aspergers, general depression and anxiety just before 6th grade. She aced through grade school as a top honors student, won our city's scholarship going into high school, no issues. She had a basic 504 plan where she had been allowed an extra set of books at home, teachers were asked to check in with her to see if she understood material and focus. Great.

    For high school she went to the same high school I did. She was very motivated, wanted to sign up for 100s of clubs, wanted to pursue theater, some arts. The school agreed to the same 504 plan she had in grade school.

    [EDIT: This high school is one of the richest in the state and considered to be one of the best in the state. It is also the primary reason for our relocation to a whole other state and it pains me that our younger daughter started going here and we haven't moved yet.]

    It was an absolute disaster that drove her to attempting suicide and hospitalizations. She barely made a year an a half before becoming a recluse. Simply, no one gave a S***.

    We couldn't find out why because we'd have meeting after meeting with the school. Our daughter was saying that she was agreeing to what they wanted, but then asking for help. They denied things, they said they did things. Cutting to the chase, after we received some pro-bon legal representation, a motion of discovery of their emails showed the counselor covering up emails and gaslighting her (and us). Some teachers showed great concern of "how troubled she is in her writings" asking if they could meet with us or even come to our house or create an independent study -all buried and kept away from us.

    But other teachers said "well if she's in class I will encourage her" So.. um.. Your job? Another theater teacher was ecstatic saying "OMG! her and I would be best friends in college. she is the type of people I would hang out with." ANd he did absolutely nothing, he couldn't be bothered.

    I haven't even spoken about the things security, the nurses and the school psychologist did..

    Even though she legally had access to a 504 plan and an IEP, they flatly REFUSED to offer help or give in. It took nearly 20 more months and the special education director and their lawyer screaming at the 3 of us (wife, daughter and me) that "she is the way she is because of you". Finally a threat of goign to the large Chicago media outlets and a lawsuit did they finally give in to online classes at home.

    To this day the doctors and therapist talk of PTSD symptoms, her lack of trust, confidence. When people are confrontational, it all comes back.

    My point?

    While in the midst of all this, I had a student who was more on the Autism spectrum. He would hum loudly, blurt our movie quotes, repeat lines of commercials over and over. Very nice guy, smart guy too.

    Who is his champion? Who is watching out for him? I don't know. But I know how other courses in my department are a mess and disorganized. I know how my daughter was treated and dismissed So I became the exact opposite.

    I knew a few of the things that my daughter liked like checking in with their work. Speaking quietly, allowing extra breaks. Taking an interest in something that you have no idea of what they are talking about. There is a SolidWorks-sponsored certificate that after taking my class you can attempt this exam. I even set up an entire semester for him to practice and he succeeded.

    Last semester I had another student that also has similar diagnoses to my daughter. He advocated for himself and explained he wanted to take my class but he was going into an intense mental health program. He didn't know If he could both so he had to drop my class.

    I refused. I didn't want to be the one to dismiss him or thing no one has his back. "well you got your thing so you're on your own dude." Since all of our stuff is online, in addition to the class instruction, he had access. I pared down the material so that he could work independently. I was clear and concise in the instruction as his mind works in a linear, fact manner, no room for misinterpretation. I just issued him an A for the work he did.

    The main thing is connections and these kids. If you are a good teacher and they like you, THEY are going to learn, be excited, know that someone cares. Because it the school is as bad as the things you have mentioned, this is the time to do it for them.

    I have a complete hatred of those memes and things I have read where there are "this is MY class room, YOU need to prepare, YOU need to be on time, YOU need to do the homework.." I forget what some of these things say.. Because it's NOT about the teacher and the students are there to conform to your world. YOU are their for them.

    Not everyone learns the same way, not everyone has the means or the understanding levels. Some kids have no parents, parents that fight, parents on drugs, they come from no money and they themselves have jobs after school. Or they don't have time to study because their grandmother is very sick and they are caring for them. Or baby sitting siblings while mom is at work. You just don't know.

    So really... stick with it for the kids. YOYU can be making all the difference in the world to them because you are a constant. They see you each day, they know how funny you are or you talk about music. There are countless reasons. And kids are smart -they may see the school isn't that great, but in YOUR room, it's the best place ever. You never know what kind of impact you are making.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2019
  11. Luvs2yoko

    Luvs2yoko Squier-holic

    Jan 19, 2014
    My wife is a special education teacher, and Our youngest daughter is autistic. It's great that you make accommodations for students that need help.I'm sure you are making a difference. Great job.
  12. so1om

    so1om Squier-Axpert

    Feb 10, 2010
    Chicago now Sarasota
    Thank you. Rarely do I ever talk about my work or teaching in such ways. It took me a long time to understand and to learn and I am still learning. I hate speaking about it to be all showy "look what *I* do".

    But even in every day life, you never know what impacts you may have on someone. Helping someone may not change the whole world, but you may change their whole world.
  13. SoleilSF

    SoleilSF Squier-Meister

    Mar 1, 2019
    San Francisco
    First (just) a statement:
    - Teaching is a very honorable profession. Hard work... and much more needs to be done to support our teachers (public, private... all teachers, better pay, etc.
    Perhaps a Finnish model?).
    - Public Schools need to be supported and expanded.
    Public schools are truely what makes America, America!!

    I'm a product of public schools, and then private university for undergrad and grad school (MBA).

    If anyone has seen the 'Breakfast Club'... Well yeah, that's my high school (and experience) for sure.

    My parents always made sure we lived in areas where the public schools were top notch. We did not have a lot of $$.
    I can remember my dad's car gas line freezing in winter (several times every year) because of a lack of gas in the tank... and the pay check wasn't for another few days...
    (and my dad has a PhD in chemistry)

    Wow, did I (my public schools in New York state, in suburban upstate NY, not NYC) have some really, really, really, good teachers, principals, facilities... And it was, to reteriate, the 'Breakfast Club' .

    The area where I lived, sure some people sent their kids to private schools, but most, even those with lots of $$$, sent their kids to the public elementary, Jr High School, and High school.
    The schools were that top notch.

    (full disclosure: I do have friends who are teachers at private schools)

    I'm really grateful for the public schools I went to... AND for THE TEACHERS, principals, librarians, facilities, etc.
    Really, really, really, grateful.

    From amazing San Francisco,
    Just learning how to play guitar dude,


    Pictures 1, 4 were taken by me. Pictures two and three were on the web somewhere.



    Last edited: Sep 13, 2019
  14. BuddyLee

    BuddyLee Squier-Nut

    Aug 30, 2019
    Liberty SC
    I don't envy daycare workers/teachers. I think the entire system is garbage. I was in GATE and the public school system burned me out. I don't believe in public education. It should be abolished. My sister runs a very lucrative Grooming studio from home and my mom and her both homeschool my nephew. Sissy basically never stops working. The kid is very bright too, and doesn't need a degree to be successful in life. I was called "gifted" by my teachers, yet I dropped out and started working with my hands at 16 and never looked back. And all those teachers who told us we would never use algebra were liars, because as a Carpenter Foreman I used algebra and geometry everyday.

    Do what makes you happy and don't get an ulcer over bologna. I make good money building tractors now and have just about everything I need, and a lot of things I dont.
    WNCStratman and Stratlover84 like this.
  15. Eddie

    Eddie Squier-Axpert

    Nov 5, 2016
    New York
    Schools are bastions of chaos and insanity ... especially the public schools.

    But if I can help, just take things one day, one period at a time. Don't think too far in advance. Don't sweat too much. Just get Monday's lessons done and ready to go. Don't take any work home. Make sure to have your own time to yourself.

    It's been a busy first two weeks for me. I haven't been on ST much lately. I haven't touched a guitar in almost three weeks.

    Principal and admin are throwing tons of stuff at us on top of our normal routine.

    But don't think of it as a mistake ... take it one day at a time. Get lots of sleep. I'm in bed at 9pm and up by 6am. If you can get to school a little early to prep for your day ... that time to savor some coffee is irreplaceable.

    The toughest part of being a teacher is the stress. Don't let it get to you. Do your best but know that nothing is perfect.

    Good luck. But HAVE FUN !!!
  16. Eddie

    Eddie Squier-Axpert

    Nov 5, 2016
    New York
    If you need help with supplies, set up a teacher account on donorschoose.org

    Things won't change overnight, but I've gotten Chromebooks, laptops, PC's, printers, copiers from Donorschoose over the years. I'm as self sufficient as possible.
    dbrian66 likes this.
  17. strat_strummer

    strat_strummer Squier-holic

    Nov 24, 2018
    Crappie fishing is coming...
    Very cool pictures. My grand father lost a finger building the Golden Gate Bridge. That isn't something to be proud of mind you but the picture brought back memories. They were from Clear Lake Oak Cali and I was born in San Bruno Cali.
    dbrian66, Eddie and SoleilSF like this.
  18. TheKurdtz

    TheKurdtz Squier-holic

    Sep 13, 2017
    having been a student for most of my life, i would like to get out of school ASAP too because i don't feel like the things that are mostly needed in the area i want to work in are being teached, i think education overall has really gone down the drain over the last few years, or it could just be that i might be insane
    dbrian66 likes this.
  19. surf green

    surf green Squier-holic

    Jul 15, 2014
    Forgetting the old job was a good thing. No looking back, you moved forward with the new school, that was a good thing also. Now you realize that you were mislead, they are not what they promised, they are evidently "broken", and you got dragged in. Thinking that will all change for the better, is not going to happen.....it will probably get worse. Thinking that you can change them, isn't going to happen either. None of what's happening is your fault, you are not a part of it. You made a mistake. Get out, time's a wasting. Start looking for another position, you're too good for this one.

    Oh, am I a teacher? No. I'm just a know-it-all, who has been around long enough to be able to say "been there, done that" and "you can't save everybody, so save yourself". @Stratlover84 , you can't save everybody either, you tried Man, so save yourself. Good luck, S
    Stratlover84 and dbrian66 like this.
  20. Eddie

    Eddie Squier-Axpert

    Nov 5, 2016
    New York

    The tricky thing about the teaching position is that unlike other jobs, it's impossible to look for another position any time you want. Education has a hiring window ... usually between April and late August. By then, almost all openings have been filled. There are some last second spots in early September ... but those are few and far between.

    If Stratlover84 quits now, he's not going get another teaching position until September of 2020. If he quits, there's no unemployment. That's a long time to go without pay.

    Stick it out for the year. One day at a time. Do the best you can. If things really are intolerable, look for another gig when the hiring season starts again in April-ish of 2020.

    If the long days are interfering with your own studies, maybe think about taking online classes.
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