How to make a teacher “love” their job

I would hope you can all sense the sarcasm in my voice as I write this post.

Lately, I have been less than pleased by the education system as well as by my school’s procedures on certain things. As teachers, we are here to help brighten the minds of our future. However, lately, all I feel is the collar around my neck being pulled tighter and tighter.

Thanks to that lovely feeling, here are some ways I have found that truly make teachers just love what they do…and never want a career change.

1.Have a horrible disciplinary system.

There is nothing worse than knowing that your students know that you hold no authority when it comes to discipline. At my current school, this is without a doubt the case. I can write a kid a referral and all they get is a slap on the wrist and a “you do better next time.”

What a joke.

And to make it even worse, the district has cut back DRASTICALLY on the amount of days per semester that we are allowed to suspend a kid out of school. Use to be, you punched a kid or got in a fight…automatic 10 day OSS (Out of school suspension). However, now, if Johnny punches Joey in the face, he only gets a day or two because suspending a child for more than 2 days at a time needs to be “approved” and we can only suspend kids out for 10 days total a semester.

Seems like the kids are really learning their lessons, right?

2.Walk-throughs at the beginning or end of a class period.

I recently had a district walk-through. My counterpart and I had a GREAT lesson, so I was feeling confident and knew they would be impressed. However, they decided to walk into my 2nd period class with less than 10 minutes till the bell rang. So, obviously my class was putting things away, collecting projects, talking to me about their grades…normal end of class stuff.

The lovely district ladies wanted to come back, but nope..our awesome Literacy Coach decided it would be a fantastic idea to stay for the class transition AND the first 20 minutes of my class. Freaking fantastic. Thanks so much.

Needless to say I was not thrilled. I pee in between classes so the kids have to wait outside the room, I did not have bellwork and I had to B.S. my way into my lesson so they would at least see something of use.

So, a round of applause for making a teacher’s life more stressful than it already is. Really appreciated!

3. Having everything you do questioned.

I won’t rant about this one because every teacher knows this too well.

Every little thing you do is questioned like we have no clue what we are doing. “So tell me how you plan on chunking your lessons to help students process”, “and what exactly will this look like in your room?”, “how do you plan on proving that the kids are accurately tracking their own process”, “why do you breathe?”.

Let us do our jobs without being critiqued and perhaps the kids would learn something. If the political side of education would get its big, hairy nose out of our business the school system might actually stand a chance.

4. Being indirectly told to “fix” the amount of failures you have every grading period.

My school has just finished up the first quarter. Meaning, grades are due and I am getting to see how awesome (or not) my students did.

Every year it is the same. 8th grade shows HUGE amounts of Ds and Fs for final grades, the teachers get talked to and questioned about why this is happening, our lesson plans get critiqued and we indirectly get told that we have too many low grades and we need to count our big assignments for less to fix the problem the next grading period.

I have a better idea. Why don’t we STOP lowering our expectations for students and make them step up their motivational level.

And the we wonder why we have so many kids today who think they automatically get an A for sitting in class everyday. Obviously teaching students that they barely need to try to pass a grade level will really help them in the future. I can’t wait to see what type of future we have based on the lazy, unmotivated students I have. Should be great!

At the end of the day, the turnaround for teachers in my county is awful. Most new teachers will change their career within 5 years due to the many problems we face in the education system.

Sometimes, loving the children is not enough to keep you happy doing your job…isn’t that something we should think about when looking at our education system.

Without good teachers, how do you ever expect students to improve and meet their full potential?

Scales, scales, Marzano and scales

Every year there is something new that the Department of Education decides to stress on that is supossedly a “new strategy” that will make our education system better.

My first year it was board configuration (which kids never look at..but they NEED it.) Last year it was Common Core. *punches self in face* This year, our district decided to put stress on teachers about Marzano and scales.

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158133005Let me talk about Marzone first. Marzano is my county’s new way of evaluating teachers. However, when we were given the information we were told “This is not to judge you, this is for you to help while teaching the kids.”

Please, don’t make me laugh.

Marzano is our new teacher evaluation rubric and it’s unfair to all those involved. However, if our county wants to show improvement in a couple years…they will do a proper job of making all our teachers look ineffective with this new evaluation scale.

I’m not saying it is completely useless. I am just saying that observing teachers for 15 minutes, 4 times a year does NOT give anyone a proper insight to how that teacher teaches.Which seems silly when a teachers evaluation can make or break their job.

Doesn’t seem fair, now does it?

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Now let’s talk about scales, scales, and more scales.

Scales look like a rubric, but a rubric for the kids to know how to achieve mastery of a standard.

I do actually like the concept of scales.

Kids can track their progress on a standard every day and reflect on things they need to continue to work on before achieving mastery.

However, leave it to the education system to take something good and over do it so teachers hate their lives.

They want us to have seperate scales for every text you use. At the moment, we have one per standard since the standard is the same no matter what text you are working with.

Ain’t no way I am going to waste my time, paper, and copies to create a scale for EVERY text we read in class.

As if teachers don’t spend enough time planning out their lessons around the multiples of tests, evaluations and district given lessons…

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Why is it our education system can’t figure out the facts. All this ridiculous evaluation changing and writing every little thing out on our board is NOT going to improve education.

I don’t see why we don’t look at other countries way of teaching and gain some of their knowledge…

Don’t you think it’s about time we stop worrying about the politics of education and actually focus on the education of the children who are our future?

Red flags when picking a sub

substitute-teachers_o_1464061I have recently come across a very frustrating, ridiculous dilemma at my school.

Our subs are technologically stupid challenged,make my kids hate their lives and overall make my life harder to miss a day than it should be.

Why would you sub now-a-days if you can’t work a Powerpoint? Or you don’t know how to turn on a smartboard? Or you clearly dislike children? This baffles me.

As a teacher, getting plans ready for a day absent is challenging enough, let alone getting a sub who won’t do a lesson because they can’t work a computer.

So, here are some red flags to know your sub kind of sucks…

1.If your really good students say the sub is mean, or that the sub is horrible, then it is probably true.

When I have my amazing ducklings getting in trouble or telling me how the sub let kids play on their phones all day, then I tend to believe them over the little rugrats who are always in trouble. Now, I do check up on my darlings’ story, but I do tend to listen if they say a sub was horrible.

2. You find out the sub can’t work everyday classroom technology. RUN!

This is my pet peeve when it comes to subs. If you can’t work a laptop, elmo, or powerpoint…go work somewhere else. Why are you subbing if you can’t do things that are necessary for a teacher’s lesson plans. Teachers don’t just make up lesson plans for a sub to throw them in the trash. Seriously. Perhaps it’s time to have a career change.

3. Kids skip your class when certain subs are there.

Now, I know some kids skip…all the time. However, if you have multiple children finding other classes to go to during that period and they will gladly make up or receive a zero for the work, then I would say there is something wrong with that sub.

4. They manage to get ZERO of your lesson plans done.

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t spend a couple of hours creating sub plans for my sub to ignore it all and for the kids to learn nothing during that class period. That is more work for me when I come back because I am having to reteach what should have been taught by the sub. I really appreciate the extra work, thanks so much.

5. You come back to your classroom being a WRECK!

Why is it some subs leave your desks like a maze, paper and books all over the floor and desks, and somehow all the teacher supplies on your desk manage to disappear? When this happens I automatically don’t want that sub back again. This shows me the sub had ABSOLUTELY no sense of classroom management and my kids took full advantage.

substitute-teacher_o_758053Again, these are some things I see as red flags when it comes to picking a sub. Luckily for me, I have searched high and low to find an amazing sub for my classes (especially since I will be on maternity leave soon).

I love a sub that completes the lesson, leaves me emails/notes about how my kids did, and doesn’t leave my class a MESS.

Is it that much to ask for? *le sigh*

Guest Speakers: Aren’t they just adorable?

Just the other day my school held a “title one” training. We had a guest speaker who was from some North Western state and use to teach.

He spoke to us about the new Marzano evaluation standards and did some activities with us that we could do with our class….supposedly.

No offense to the school district, but why is it we bring in guest speakers and “education experts” from other states, who clearly have a different demographic than our school, and expect their strategies and experiences to work on our students?

1385471This guy was adamant that no more than 20% of the students in a class can be the ones unengaged and be the behavior issues…Please sir, if you had come sit in my 8th period class last year…I would say your percentage was extremely incorrect.

It just seems silly to pay butt-loads of money out of our school’s title one fund to have a speaker come in and tell us things that we can’t really take away with us at the end of the day.

Don’t get me wrong, the information he gave us about the new evaluation scale (which I will save for another post) was helpful. I like knowing just what I will be evaluated on. However, don’t try to relate to our school if you have not experiences it first hand.

Yes, the way I connect and deal with my students would vary if I taught on “the other side of the tracks” as the speaker so nicely put it at the training. But let’s be real. I don’t teach at a school that has amazing parent involvement and student engagement. I teach at a turn around, title one school where a majority of my students come from low-income families who, at the end of the day, don’t care about their education.

I would love to have a guest speaker who understood the school I was working at and the students I was teaching and could give me some real-life examples of strategies and activities that made gains as well as built that student/teacher relationship.

Because at the end of the day, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. I can attempt to add more rigor to my curriculum, but if the kids can’t even grasp the basics, how do you expect them to do anything on or above grade level? bullying-teachers

The entire training this guy was attempting to tell us how to become a 90 percentile teacher… well, hate to break it to you sir, but unless you have students who can actually perform on grade level and fart candy, I just don’t think any teachers at a rough school could live up to that percentile.

Thank you though, for 7 hours of training and making me feel worse about myself as an educator, it was super cute how you tried to relate your experiences and “expertise” to what we are going through at my school. Hope you made some good money adding to the list of reasons why I dislike the education system.

The joke known as “summer school”

 Let me just enjoy this moment in venting about the uselessness of summer school and how much of a complete joke it is.

First off. Why do we lower the bar for our students in such a way that they only come to summer school if they LITERALLY receive all F’s, but one D will gladly make them pass to the next grade.

Also, you can attend summer school even if you failed 3 out of 4 of your core subjects.

To me, as a teacher and a summer school (glorified) babysitter, it seems like the education system is saying to these kids, “Oh, you slept through the entire school year and failed miserably, please come enjoy summer school to make up your credits (for math, science, English or social studies). Then, go on to 9th grade and stop being our problem.”

As if we don’t lower the bar enough, then we allow students to do a credit recovery program for summer school. This program is on the computer and suppose to catch kids up on the standards they were meant to learn during the year.

Here is how the program works. Kids have multiple modules for each subject they are needing to take. Each module has anywhere from 2-5 mini lessons.

Kids start off each lesson by taking a pretest. If students manage to get an 80% or higher on the pretest, they no longer have to complete the lesson and move on to the next. Perfect. If kids do poorly on the pretest they have to work their way through the lesson, which has mini quizzes along the way. These quizzes don’t really count, so most just guess their way through it.

Finally, after each lesson there is a post test. Students CANNOT move on to the next lesson without passing the post test. You need a 70% to pass and are allowed two computer attempts. And because all the children in summer school are so fantastic, they all try their hardest to pass the posttest…HA! Instead, when they bomb twice, the fun begins for me.

Being an English teacher and hating the laziness of the students, I make the students go back and take notes on the lesson they failed (twice) and then print them a copy of the test. This way I am able to see what they are missing and help them out.

The program itself is not too bad, other than you get some children flying through and finish in two days. Which, to be honest, is a bit of a slap in the face to your teachers.

We spend all year preparing lessons, grading papers, and teaching the students in a way that makes sure they are ready to succeed in next grade…and then they fail, causing them to go to summer school which is so easy that it is not even seen as  a punishment.

Don’t get me wrong, I am glad we have a program like this to help out the kids who are just not getting it and need the extra help before going off to the next grade.

However, for those students who are lazy, unmotivated, and disrespectful throughout the entire school year and then come to summer school, sleep and (attempt) to play on their phones and they get to still pass…

Seems legit, right?

Things I learned in my 2nd year teaching

So today was the day. The last day of the year and I couldn’t be happier.

This year has had ups and downs. I never thought this year could be tougher than my 1st… I was wrong.

However, live and learn is a good motto to live by. Here are a few things I learned this school year.img_2974

  • When mistakes happen… Sometimes you can’t control their outcome. 

This year I was in charge of the yearbook for the first time. I figured it wouldn’t be too bad.

It was HELL.

I found out (important) things last minute and we ended up accidentally publishing a photo with a few kids giving the camera the middle finger (yup..not good)!

We ended up fixing it…but it added so much extra drama that was unnecessary for the end of the year.

But hey, The cover turned out pretty amazing! No big deal.

  • You win some, you lose some. 

Not all children will connect with you. Some will despise you, and even without a good reason.

This year I had a harder time connecting with some of my kids.. But some kids don’t want to connect with teachers.

I got over it quickly. Especially when kids are jerks for fun.

  • District standards > your standards

So you expect students to pass your class with a C or higher? Well, with our great grading system..

Kids can FAIL 3 out of 4 quarters, get a D in one of them… And PASS the class!

Are you kidding me?!

Nope, no jokes here. So, expect the kids to know the minimum they can do to pass and not see your face again.

  • Summer school. To work or not to work.

So, you apply to work summer school because you like the idea of getting paid $25/hr to babysit the darlings you failed…

Plus, what does summer school really teach them? Oh hey kids, you can slack off and fail all year…just show up to summer school, finish the online credit recovery program in three days, then you are free.

I am really sure they learned the skills they needed to be successful in high school. *Claps for this brilliant system*

Well, this one is your choice. I am hoping I don’t regret my decision to give up my summer for the extra cash.

Although being the smirking face students will see in the morning will be fun. Should have passed my class the first go-around!

  • The education system is ruining lives and it doesn’t even know it!

Our education system passes kids who won’t succeed in the next grade, wares out its teachers, and is too political.

And we wonder why the USA has one of the worst education systems in the WORLD!

We over test our kids, and for what? Useless data that inaccurately measures how the kids are learning… Because no kids ever “Christmas tree” their exams. *Laughs*

We underpay and don’t support our teachers. We tell them they are not effective at their job to “show improvement” but then continue to overload classes, turn a blind eye to behavior problems, and expect teachers to not give up the fight because they LOVE the kids.

HA! Get real!

After all that we then pass students along until they fail so badly they give up and drop out. I had students who are 14 and read at a 2nd grade reading level! You really think they are ready to be successful in high school?

Why is this even happening?!

With all the things I have learned this year, I realize more and more how much teaching is not for me…or for anyone when you think of it.

However, luckily I have a soft spot for the kids I teach, they are the only reason I stick with it for now.

I promised to get my babies (you know who you are) through middle school…and I will! They make the crazy days, drama and stress worth it 🙂

Bad luck: Story of my life

Yup…sounds about right.

A Blonde's Point of View

Not saying I don’t just LOVE teaching, but with my original degree being journalism…it would be nice to get back into my first chosen career path.

So, a friend sends me this great job opportunity for a morning show host at a really good radio station in the area. Of course, I update my resume and apply! BAM! So proud.

I type up a nice cover letter, attach my newly refurbished resume and even attach my Westside Radio air check that I made a couple years back.

Send the email…

That is when I realize I was on an ex students email address. I had forgot I had saw her Friday before break and she wanted to show me her scholarship essay to help start working on funds for college.

Crap though. Send of a job application in a students email.

So, I logged into my email and sent all…

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