Jacksonville Journey

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 27 2012

Scary October?

I kept hearing how horrible October is (No 2 day weekends) (honeymoon period is over) (kids are tired of routines), but in reality- it’s no harder than any other day.

I finally feel like my tolerance level is through the sky. The kids don’t bother me as much as they used to- not because their behavior has changed, but because my tolerance level has changed. I can put up with a lot of disruptive students and a lot more talking and not paying attention than I could before. The management is still non-existent. No matter how many veteran teachers, mentors, or administrators I ask for help, nothing works. The kids just don’t listen to me. At all. I hate to chalk it up to the fact that I am white, but everyone keeps telling me that contributes to it. My mentor said something the other day that made me feel better- You’ve been given a lot of quick fixes, but I will look somethings up and then come back to you with something else. (That and the new teacher with 18 years of experience and a former principal is have the Exact Sam Problem!)

I finally feel like I have a grasp on how to lesson plan effectively (a little). And I think that I will be getting even better as I work to plan backwards from a standard more effectively. I had not considered seeing how the test specifications were written to see how they would be asked to give the answer to “compare.” This take a lot more time to do, but I hope it will be more and more effective as I go on and keep learning more about the best way to have everything given to one daily objective. (Rather than assuming the textbook authors know what they are talking about!)

And I have finally learned the secret no one wants to tell you: you will not be told anything you need to know about your school, your district or the children you will be teaching. Your administration is not there to support you, but rather to fact check you and to make sure all of your “i”s are dotted and all of your “t”s crossed. Regardless of what you keep asking for help with. You will be held responsible for everything, regardless of it is your responsibility. You cannot really trust the other teachers, because everything is a battleground where you need to be one better than the next person.

The most important lesson I have learned this 9 weeks: Duval Co Public Schools has almost no expectations of success for their children. Children have to pass, or you will get yelled at as a teacher if they are failing- because-hey- it is your fault as a teacher that your students refuse to turn in their homework or classwork. And thus their test grades are bad, because they do nothing to attempt to help their learning. But hey- why would you? You know as a student in DCPS that your teachers are prohibited from failing you. What incentive do you have to do any work?

Another important lesson that someone shared with me, and this one comes with a story. In an interview with Ryan Seacrest, Michelle Obama was asked about how President Obama is at home. She says that when he comes home, he comes Home. He leaves the work at the office. She was surprised to learn sometimes, of what he does at work that day. Then someone commented that we will burn ourselves out because we are doing too much. TFA has a lot of people who leave because they get burned out. If President Obama can come Home, why can’t we? We are simply teachers!

And with that, on a Friday night at 9:30 pm- I sign off….to go to bed because I am exhausted!

2 Responses

  1. Tee

    This is great, and it is so relatable. I love the part about going Home. I still don’t think I’ve reached that balance. Maybe one day.

  2. Despite claiming that October isn’t so bad, your description of it sounded pretty awful. Your kids are not learning much, your admin doesn’t or can’t help much and you feel like you can’t talk about it with other teachers at your school.

    To top that off you realized that kids pass because teachers feel like they have to pass kids to preserve their own jobs and sanity.

    The only part that sounded good was that your mentor teacher is helping you and that you are continuing to learn about being a better teacher and have hope that this is going to work.

    My first year I struggled with an odd mix of caring so much about my students and having to develop a tolerance for failure and disaster so that I could really go HOME and relax enough to regain my health.

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