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Teaching is a Grind.

Blogger's Note:  The Center for Teaching Quality is planning a major initiative for Teacher Appreciation Week (May 5-9) that is designed to raise awareness about the complexities of the teaching profession.  Called the #TeachingIs project, I'm sure that it's bound to be a wonderful celebration of the difference that we make in our communities.

I wanted to make a contribution to the conversation.  As a glass half empty kind of guy, though, I wanted to be sure to bring a bit of pessimism to the party.  My goal isn't to be the dark cloud to anyone's silver lining.  My goal is to simply ensure that people realize that there's more to teaching than shiny red apples and classrooms full of smiling children.

Hope you can appreciate that.

__________________________

Teaching is a Grind.

I'm sitting in a dirty McDonald's restaurant right now.  It's the same dirty McDonald's restaurant that I've spent the better part of the past 15 years sitting in.  Stop by and you are almost guaranteed to find me in a booth near the back -- next to the filthy bathrooms and just inside the door where the sketchy teens are chain-smoking Marlboro Reds.

I come here after school and on the weekends to crank out writing for part time projects.  Sometimes I'm blogging.  Sometimes I'm putting together #edtech or #ccss lessons that I'll use in my classroom AND in professional development workshops that I deliver during  those legendary "vacations" that teachers get.  Sometimes I'm answering emails sent by school leaders who need a bit of advice on how to move their buildings forward.

Always I'm tired.  Finding energy AFTER a full day at school ain't easy.  

I walk into my classroom at 6 AM every morning and spend the first two hours planning, grading and answering email.  From 8:00-1:30, I work with 140 of the most engaging eleven year olds you've ever met.  They are simultaneously beautiful and demanding, though.  Meeting needs, answering questions, calming worries, celebrating successes and soothing hurt feelings are all wrapped around delivering the content in my curriculum.

#whirlwind

I spend the last two hours of my day in meetings -- with parents, with peers, with special educators, with principals, and with professional developers.  On good days, I might even get a few more minutes of planning before picking my daughter up from school.

As soon as my wife gets home at 4:30, however, I head to McDonald's to start my second job.  Most nights, I work until 7:30.  Most Saturdays and Sundays, I work from 6:30 until noon.

Always, I'm worried about making ends meet because my family literally relies on my part time income to pay our bills.

Living in a state that ranks 46th in the nation for teacher pay -- a full $10,000 behind the national average -- means I've GOT to generate part time revenue in order to financially survive.  If the content that I create on nights and weekends doesn't resonate -- if I can't convince SOMEONE to buy my ideas or my time -- we'd be flat broke.

The hacks that harp on the horrors of the public education system would probably revel in this reality, wouldn't they?  They'd argue that the stress of my poor salary has pushed me to be a better teacher. "Competition blah-blah-blah.  Pay for performance blah-blah-blah.  Cushy teaching jobs blah-blah.  Wasting our tax dollars blah-blah."

And in a way, they'd be right:  While a part of me is constantly improving my practice because I know that improving my practice means improving the lives of my students, I'm ashamed to admit that I'm also constantly improving my practice because I'm hoping that someone will see me as an expert and hire me as a consultant so that I can cover next month's day care bill for my four-year old daughter.

Long story short:  Teaching is a grind.  

On a good day, the grind feels like a noble sacrifice because I know that my work has made a difference for the kids in my class and the families in my community.  On a bad day, the grind feels like professional masochism.  I guess that's the uncomfortable truth for those of us who have chosen a career that has always been undervalued and -- more recently -- been unappreciated.

The question is how long can I keep on grinding?

__________________

Related Radical Reads:

 The Straw

Saying Goodbye to Maria

A Profession That Doesn't Give Back

 

24 Comments

Lalla Pierce commented on April 23, 2014 at 10:23pm:

Thank you

Bill,

Thank you for your honesty. "On a bad day...the grind feels like professional masochism."

I am almost always always doing something teaching related, unless I am eating, sleeping, or indulging in an hour (on a really good night) of sitcom induced laughter. There are never enough hours in the day! 

Do you ever wonder what it would feel like if you could strip away the things that are seemingly unnecessary "tasks" that come with the job? For example, moving desks back and forth multiple times this week to prepare the room for state testing and then prepare the room for group work again; any money related forms (forms to collect money, forms to sell things, forms, forms, forms), arranging field trip busses, etc. That's when the "grind" starts to get to me--when I have to expend precious energy on something that doesn't feel meaningful for students.

Thank goodness the "noble sacrifice" days by far outweigh the "masochism" days. But I feel you. Really.

Lalla

Bill Ferriter Bill Ferriter commented on April 24, 2014 at 6:52am:

Lalla asked:

Lalla asked:

Do you ever wonder what it would feel like if you could strip away the things that are seemingly unnecessary "tasks" that come with the job? 

-------------------------

Yup.  I get the same feeling when the internet doesn't work at school or I have to spend time fighting to get the two computers in my classroom up and running too.  Or when the photocopier is jammed and I need a handout to guide student thinking in class.  Or when I have to run to the store to pick up supplies that my school couldn't afford to buy but that I want to use in a lab or in a lesson.  

All of those things are time sinks for sure.  They make it feel like I'm fighting against the very system that I'm supposed to be serving.  

#sheeshchat

Bill

Elisa Waingort commented on April 24, 2014 at 8:05am:

Bill, 

Bill, 

The question at the end of your post really resonated with me. I think you need to keep it front and centre every day. 

George Couros commented on April 24, 2014 at 1:21pm:

Move to Canada :) 

Move to Canada :) 

 

#justsayin

Bill Ferriter Bill Ferriter commented on April 27, 2014 at 8:01am:

Working on it, George. 

Working on it, George.  Literally working on it. 

Paperwork to apply for citizenship is in my backpack as we speak!

#sheeshchat

Bill

Dave Orphal commented on April 24, 2014 at 10:03pm:

Amen!

My Goodness, Bill, you've really hit home with this post.

Like you, my friend, I'm at work at 6AM, preparing lessons, grading, and answering e-mails.  From 8-3 I'm working with my own set of wonderful 10th graders, this year including James, Sophie and Lindsey, and Daijah.

I try desperately to get off campus at 3PM, a full five minutes before the final bell rings and the parking lot is cut off by the fleet of busses that take our 1700 children home to all parts of Oakland.  The last period of the day is my preparation time, and I'm often so tired, all I want to do is get home for a few minutes of rest before starting one of my extra jobs.  I often say a little prayer, "God, forbid that some self-styled educational reformer catch me now and assume that leaving five miutes early is somehow a reflection of my committment to my kids!"

After those few blessed minutes of repose, like you Bill, I'm back at it.  I'm writing for my blog, or helping out with a webinar.  

These days, a lot of my evening hours are spent begging ideas about language development so I can help my new student from Vietnam, Ngoc, writing my school's annual accreditation report, or reading grants from other teachers across California.  On the 9th, I'll spend the entirity of one of our weekends, serving on a grant selection committee for the California Teachers' Association.  

Like you, Bill, I do this because teaching is my calling.  Looking at my students, far too many of them using all thier grit to survive and trive in neighbors with persistant poverty and oppressive violence, I am constanting wondering, can I do more?

Where am I going with this comment, Bill?  Now, I'm not entirely sure...  I think I want to borrow some of the language from my 12-Step program and talk about a Higher Power.  In my personal journey, and because of the spiritual tradition I come from, I call my Higher Power, "God."  I've met other folks in those meetings who didn't share my belief in God, and instead saw that the group of men and women in the meeting as thier Higher Power.  For them, it was all of us, together, sharing our experience, strength, and hope that was a "Power greater than themselves."

I guess that's what I'm trying to say, Bill.  I'm offering you my hand, and my support.  I'm reaching out my hand to you, and all our other wonderful colleagues, for thier support as well.

"And we find that together we can do what we could not do before."

Angela Riggs commented on April 29, 2014 at 5:43pm:

Love Your Perspective!

 I'm offering you my hand, and my support.  I'm reaching out my hand to you, and all our other wonderful colleagues, for thier support as well.

Love your perspective! This is how educators can continue to grow, develop, and create positive change!

Mary Trist commented on April 24, 2014 at 11:25pm:

Try Canada!

You will feel much more appreciated here! It's a guarantee. Don't get me wrong, we still have the people who say we have too many holidays and we don't work hard enough, but we as a country continue to value education as a whole.

I also want you to know that I enjoy reading your posts. They really cause me to think, reflect, and question. Thanks for that, and as my Dad always used to say, "Chin up Duckie!"

Bill Ferriter Bill Ferriter commented on April 27, 2014 at 8:04am:

Mary wrote:

Mary wrote:

I also want you to know that I enjoy reading your posts. They really cause me to think, reflect, and question. Thanks for that, and as my Dad always used to say, "Chin up Duckie!"

 

---------------

Thanks for that, Mary! 

You made me smile this morning. 

And no kidding:  You should be proud of and thankful for the continuing support that Canadian educators receive.  Run with it, too.  Create something remarkable.  I'm often jealous of the opportunities that all y'all have. 

Bill

Mary Lou Buell commented on April 25, 2014 at 9:16am:

Thank you

Bill,

Thanks for this and every other post over the years. You are literally the first person in my online PLN - I discovered your blog before twitter! It was 2007, I believe. I have learned much from you over the years, but am most thankful for posts like this )and the formative assessment one a few years ago) that make me feel less alone in my endeavors. I, too, want to do what is best, for my students, family, and self, and often face the "there aren't enough hours in the day" syndrome. I am fine with people outside the profession not really understanding what we do, but sometimes even colleagues (and admins) look at me like I have 3 heads when I articulate the number of hours I spend planning lessons.

Reading your blog makes we feel less crazy!

P.S. It is ironic that folks tend to overestimate the amout of time I spend on my other jobs (both paid and volunteer), and always underestimate the time it takes to be a teacher. I also get some "you slacker" looks from people when I admit to taking the whole summer off.

Bill Ferriter Bill Ferriter commented on April 27, 2014 at 8:08am:

Mary wrote:

Mary wrote:

P.S. It is ironic that folks tend to overestimate the amout of time I spend on my other jobs (both paid and volunteer), and always underestimate the time it takes to be a teacher. I also get some "you slacker" looks from people when I admit to taking the whole summer off.

---------------------

What a great point, Mary -- me too! 

People really DON'T have much of a sense for what it takes to teach.  That's a barrier that we need to cross if we're ever going to see support build for a more professional profession. 

That's one of the reasons I write -- I figure that if we can raise awareness about what our profession is really like, maybe be can get people to actually embrace the changes that we need in order to improve the work.

Glad  my content resonates with you.  Always jazzed when something I've written makes sense to someone else. 

Be well,

Bill

Sylvia Umstead commented on April 25, 2014 at 9:11pm:

Unhappy

You seem so unhappy.  Why didn't you leave years ago?  What is keeping you in this profession? 

Bill Ferriter Bill Ferriter commented on April 30, 2014 at 5:46pm:

Sylvia wrote:

Sylvia wrote:

You seem so unhappy.  Why didn't you leave years ago?  What is keeping you in this profession? 

-----------------------

A bit of pushback, Sylvia:  What if we reframed the question and asked, "What have we done to turn teaching into a profession where it's difficult for people to be happy?" or "What would we do if we wanted to keep teachers in the classroom instead of encourage them to leave?"

As for why I didn't leave years ago, the grind of teaching has been largely balanced in the past by the appreciation and respect that came with being a classroom teacher.  It's easy to  make a noble sacrifice when you feel appreciated.Here in North Carolina, however, the teaching profession has been under legitimate attack for the past year. 

We've seen our tenure protections stripped away, we've seen our evaluations change to tie every teacher to a test score, we've seen a new pay for performance plan introduced that literally awards bonuses to only the top 25% of teachers, we've seen pay raises tied to masters degrees removed, and we've seen another year go by without any kind of cost of living adjustment or salary increase for the vast majority of our practitioners.

Tie this to a very public shaming campaign led by the leaders of our legislature, and the balance from noble sacrifice to professional masochism has tipped in a very short period of time

The simple truth is that teaching isn't all that attractive a profession on a good day.  Compared to professions that require similar levels of education and that come under similar scrutiny, teachers are paid a wage that's not competitive at all.  On top of that, education constantly shifts as new politicians are elected with new plans that we have to implement with little input.  Finally, there's no career ladder at all -- which means there's no room to advance without leaving the classroom.

Those of us who have stayed for a long period of time have stayed because we enjoy the recognition and respect that came with being a teacher.  We love teaching little brothers and sisters.  We love being recognized in the grocery store and at church.  We thrive off the intangible rewards that have always been a part of our profession.

But I'm starting to wonder whether those intangible rewards actually outweigh the increasingly negative climate that we are forced to work in.

Hope this helps,

Bill

 

Cristina M. Fernandez commented on May 3, 2014 at 9:29am:

Intangible Rewards

Those of us who have stayed for a long period of time have stayed because we enjoy the recognition and respect that came with being a teacher.  We love teaching little brothers and sisters.  We love being recognized in the grocery store and at church.  We thrive off the intangible rewards that have always been a part of our profession.

But I'm starting to wonder whether those intangible rewards actually outweigh the increasingly negative climate that we are forced to work in.

My high school required students to complete 75 hours of community service each year totally in 300 hours before I graduated.  Then, in college, I racked up another 300 hours while working with my sorority.  These hours made me feel so good that sometimes; I almost felt ashamed.  I loved the feeling of helping others, and I felt that I liked that feeling a little too much.  I often feel this way about teaching.  

I love when they tell me that I'm their favorite teacher or that they learned so much in my class.  I love when they come to visit me after they graduate.  I love hearing my name being called at the mall when I walk by a group of my students (well, maybe not always, but most of the time).  Sometimes, I think that it makes up for all the crap that Bill is describing.  Sometimes.  

But, when the bills start piling up, when there are not enough hours in the day to get things done, when I hear someone complain about how spoiled I am to get a summer break, I have to force myself to remember why I love what I do.

It's not a job; it's a way of life.  And after many years of watching the profession deteriorate, it begins to wear you down.  

Deidra Gammill commented on April 27, 2014 at 10:30am:

The Catch-22 Profession

Bill,

Okay, I'm a glass is half-full kind of gal. All Southern women are raised to be this way; optimism is the only way to survive the "you eat dirt, stay barefoot & pregnant, are racists, are illiterate, and ride around in pick-up trucks decked out with the rebel flag and a shotgun" stereotypes that seem to define Mississippians to the rest of the nation. So it may surprise you to hear that your "glass half-empty" post really resonated with me as well.

Why? Because it was so amazingly transparent and honest. And that's one thing teachers are rarely allowed to be, even with each other. The nation that values education but disdains the educator has made our profession a perfect Catch-22.

If we raise our voices against the intolerable status quo, we are complainers; we don't really care about our students; we're just in it for the money and the vacation time (what a joke!). Plus we risk the wrath and disrespect of other educators who seemingly have it all together; who have the right to judge us for not "doing it right" if we have any negative feelings about our profession (or, God help us, about a particular class or set of disrespectful students who make us pray each day that we won't say something that gets us fired or lands us a spot on the nightly news - but maybe that's just me).

If we suffer in silence, as we have mostly done for generations, then we risk becoming the bitterly bummed-out (to quote Jim Carrey's version of The Grinch), the burned out, and even the bumped out, if our scores aren't high enough.

But you know all this. And yet you still were brave enough to write the truth. You have my applause and my respect. I'm not so brave. I've posted several #TeachingIs snippets and pictures to Twitter, all of them upbeat, happy, and hopefully inspiring. And they were all true. But just as true would have been the #TeachingIs "embracing your short-term memory loss because it means you are willing to come to work each day" (something I say to my students on really bad days; they laugh, having no idea that part of me really means it), or #TeachingIs "wondering if you can sue your alma mater's College of Education for not preparing you for the disrespect and disillusionment you face more days than not."

No, I'm not brave enough to post those hash tags, even though I've felt them. Do I hate my profession, hate my students? Not a chance. I love what I d and where I work. I know I'm in my classroom for a reason (actually over 100 reasons). But I'm just as human, just as frail, just as pessimistic as the next guy. Only I work really, really hard not to let it show.

I'm right there with you, Bill. As are many others, judging from the comments posted. For years, I've gone to school an hour earlier than others in order to keep detention - doesn't pay much, but every little bit helps. Two nights a week, I leave my classroom at 4 pm, drive to the alternative school, and "teach" a group of 7-12 graders, mostly boys, in one room until 9 pm. Am I altruistic or a self-made martyr? Nope. Just trying to make ends meet. I just finished a terminal degree in education, only to realize that I should have paid attention in math class; my meager pay raise for the degree isn't enough to cover my monthly student loan payments. Talk about discouraging!

Teaching IS a grind. But it's a grind that brings us joy and a sense of doing something worthwhile most, if not all, days. I don't think the same can be said of digging ditches or flipping fast-food burgers in a filthy franchise (can you tell I'm an English teacher?).

So, I'll raise my half-full glass and toast yours that is half-empty, knowing they're really one in the same (and probably both full of Red Bull to keep us going). That we're in an occupation that others may never understand, never respect, never value. But we know what we're worth, what we do, and why we do it. And that's something to celebrate. :)

Bill Ferriter Bill Ferriter commented on April 30, 2014 at 5:52pm:

Deidra wrote:

Deidra wrote:

But you know all this. And yet you still were brave enough to write the truth. You have my applause and my respect. I'm not so brave. I've posted several #TeachingIs snippets and pictures to Twitter, all of them upbeat, happy, and hopefully inspiring.

----------------

First, Deidra, I loved your comment!  Made me smile from top to bottom.  You write really well! 

And thanks for your kind words about this piece.  I get into a lot of trouble sometimes for showing the darker side of our profession.  I think it runs contrary to the image that we all have about happy, smiling women in holiday sweaters dishing out love biscuits all day long. 

But in a lot of ways, I think that when we pump those stories about our profession, we're shooting ourselves in our own professional feet.  Because those notions feel good and feed the public's perception of teaching, when we promote them without giving a clear look at the challenges of our work too, we tie ourselves to the very misconceptions that cause people to drag their feet when considering whether or not to support changing our profession. 

Does this make any sense?

Don't get me wrong:  I could fill my blog with happy stories about the connections I have with kids too. 

I just want people to realize that there is more to it than that -- even if it makes people feel uncomfortable.

Bill

Deidra Gammill commented on April 30, 2014 at 6:26pm:

Come to the Dark Side ... We have milk and cookies!

Ok, I'm still chuckling! Love the image you invoked of smiling women in holiday sweaters dishing out love biscuits! Have you met my 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Kirby? That was her in 1977!

I totally get what you're saying. And I agree. But I'm Southern, so I'm obligated, by law, to pat your shoulder, tell you it's going to be alright, and try to offer something positive, bless your heart, whether you asked for it or not. :)

So, why is it that there seem to be only two speeds in how we share our stories? Either we're being all "upbeat, warm & fuzzy, I do this for love, not for money, no, I never really, really, really dislike any child who enters my room - ever" OR we run the risk, as you aptly note, of making people uncomfortable by sharing that there is a dark side to the teaching profession?

You nailed it - we shoot ourselves in our feets (our foots? Gosh, I hate grammar) when we play Pollyanna and cheerfully insist that the "glad game" is our all time favorite thing to do. The world needs to know what #TeachingIs - the good, the bad, and the ugly. Only the world doesn't want to know. As with every other moral and ethical issue, if we KNOW, then we are RESPONSIBLE. That's about as much fun as standardized testing.

I saw a t-shirt once that said something to the effect of "Come to the Dark Side. We have milk and cookies!" Do you think there's some way to marry smiling women in holiday sweaters dishing out milk and cookies with the reality of what our work actually entails? Maybe the History Channel could do a teacher version of "Deadliest Catch" and "Ax Men" combined? Who knows? It might actually boost our ratings and bring us significant pay raises, book deals, and millions of Twitter followers! I can't imagine it making things any worse!

The good news (seriously) is that things are changing. Teacher Leadership is the new black. We just have to make sure we grab on and steer the conversation, and the reforms, in directions that benefit our profession and our students. No one's going to give us our due. And we can't demand it without looking like Mrs. Fields gone psycho. But we can be subversive. We can change things from the inside out. We can make sure the next generation of teachers and legislators and parents actually "get" what #TeachingIs.

Rich, respected experts built the Titanic, and look how that turned out. Maybe teachers should take notes from Noah. Subversive, under the radar, poor, often disrespected ... and the guy who saved the world.

Thanks for being real. It's what we need, now more than ever before. That and really ugly holiday sweaters ;)

Angela Riggs commented on April 29, 2014 at 1:30pm:

Teaching is a grind. And

Teaching is a grind. And teaching is a noble sacrifice. These outlooks are not mutually exclusive, but rather - as you've pointed out - two sides of the same coin. I actually don't see this post as a pessimistic view, but as more of a realistic one. I wish teacher prep courses would offer a more realistic view into the classroom - it wouldn't have changed my mind about teaching, but I would have been better equipped to handle the disappointments and the challenges that occur.

Teaching is demanding, challenging, heartbreaking - and it is fabulously fun, joyful, and heartwarming. Teaching is all of these, and more. It's a complex occupation, where we not only answer to the children below us, but to the layers of administration above us, much of which we have little sway in. It can be supremely frustrating, and I think that forums like CTQ are where the positive changes are starting to happen - especially with honest, thoughtful conversations like these. If we close our eyes to the real world of teaching, we cannot move beyond the current boundaries and improve. Thanks to Bill for sharing some of his teaching world with us!

Bill Ferriter Bill Ferriter commented on April 30, 2014 at 5:55pm:

Angela wrote:

Angela wrote:

I wish teacher prep courses would offer a more realistic view into the classroom - it wouldn't have changed my mind about teaching, but I would have been better equipped to handle the disappointments and the challenges that occur.

------------------

This is such an interesting point, Angela. 

I wonder if a part of the reason that turnover rates in education are so high in the first three years are because new teachers realize that the profession is more grind than they ever realized -- and if we would see less turnover if people recognized the truth before graduation.

You've got me thinking...

Bill

 

Angela Riggs commented on May 1, 2014 at 12:37pm:

I absolutely think that the

I absolutely think that the disconnection between teacher prep and the actual classroom contributes to the turnover rate of new teachers. Teacher prep courses focus on the general methods that work in an "ideal" classroom, but many professors - who are still passionate about kids, who I know were wonderful classroom teachers - just haven't been in a classroom setting for a while. And so they focus on the textbook classrooms, and they have pre-service teachers break into groups and act out student-teacher environments, but it's not real. I had a whole course in classroom management - and the methods are good, they work, but it's all about theory - not the practical application.

Yes, I know the theory of extinction, or proximal praise - but the teacher prep course didn't tell me what to do if the student can keep up the increasingly distractive behavior longer than I can ignore it! That $300 textbook (which is its own problem!) doesn't help me out when I have a kid hitting and kicking me because his parents are going through a divorce, and he's acting out.

Yes, I know that I need to acknowledge and encourage diversity in my classroom - but I didn't learn what to do when my students start talking about who boys and girls can marry. 

Yes, I know that I need to plan curriculum that's interesting yet adheres to the standards (and by the way, there's this new thing called Common Core that won't be addressed at all in your college career until a few months before you graduate) - but I'm a new teacher. I don't have filing cabinets and Pinterest boards full of ideas. Where are my resources? 

And I had a fantastic senior internship. My teacher became a mentor to me, and really took the time to make it a learning experience. She was great at modeling, and we had daily talks where we discussed my methods and made plans for improvements. She was also willing to work the internship so that I essentially took over her class about halfway through - even leaving the room for long periods so that I would be able to really get a taste for how it would be. I know some pre-service teachers who were not able to get this range of experience, and I'm sure that their first teaching job would have been somewhat of a shock.

Even with my great experience, there's still such a difference between one semester of student-teaching, and having to be in total control of your own classroom - including 25 students. I think it would be great for new teachers to still be able to have a co-teaching experience for part of the time. 

Teacher prep courses definitely need to address the "grind" side of things. And I don't mean that in a negative way. Teaching, like any profession, has its good points and not-so-good points - but the grind, the hard work, the frustrations - are glossed over. They simply aren't addressed. If we want incoming teachers to have a strong voice, to have the kind of character that can stand firm and push for change, to make it through the hard stuff sucessfully - we need to offer them a way to build their voices and their character. 

Jeanne Schleicher commented on May 3, 2014 at 4:42pm:

Hang in there!

Angela, 

I hope you hang in there - teaching is a wonderfully rewarding profession and clearly you will become a great teacher!  

I have to say it's distressing to hear you echoing the exact same issues I remember articulating when I was a first year teacher in 1976.  I can't believe they are still teaching "extinction" to pre-service teachers.  Not possible in a classroom of 25 kids who are NOT ignoring the behavior.  The most affective approach I found over the years is to talk to the child privately and listen, trying to figure out what the root of the behavior is.  Sometimes this snaps the child out of it as it sends the message that you care.  If it doesn't the root may be in either not understanding the material or not being challenged as well as significant problems outside the classroom.   If it's academic, you'll learn over time how to adjust instruction to meet their needs.  In the meantime, find a trusted mentor to help you make a plan. If it's emotional, helping the child understand that it's safe at school and you are not going to let him/her fall behind just because the world is unfair, will go a long way.  The most important thing is not to allow any excuses.  Kids will love you for it. 

The other issue you mention is the disconnect between college classes and the real world.  My experience tells me the problem tends to be the overall culture of schools.  Once you're in a classroom, you have to follow the structure already in place as determined by a couple hundred years of practice.  The textbook cements that structure.  I encourage you to work hard, read a lot, become an expert and find a great school with a culture of lifelong learners.  There are other structures that work and great administrators and teachers who will help you find them.

If you give it a couple years, I know you'll fall in love your profession and join the league of teachers who truely make a difference.

Best wishes!

Renee Moore commented on April 30, 2014 at 12:45am:

Grace (but find a cheerier place)

Grace = the God-given ability to do what He has purposed you to do in spite of ________ (fill in the blank).

When teaching gets to be a grind, and sometimes it is, remember all those moments and students that make it so worthwhile. But the real shame is that it shouldn't be a grind, and we shouldn't have to move to Canada (lovely as my Mama's country is) to be treated and paid like the professionals we are. That's why some of us fight the good fight right here, for our sake and for our students', --our working conditions are their learning conditions. And they shouldn't have to be in the grinder either.

Meanwhile though Bill, I hope you find a brighter corner of NC to do your creative work---surely there's wifi farther from the bathroom (try a Wendy's).

Bill Ferriter Bill Ferriter commented on April 30, 2014 at 5:58pm:

Renee wrote:

Renee wrote:

Grace = the God-given ability to do what He has purposed you to do in spite of ________ (fill in the blank).

----------------------

Dude, I needed that.  That's for the share.  I've got to find that grace, that's for sure.

 

Renee also wrote:

Meanwhile though Bill, I hope you find a brighter corner of NC to do your creative work---surely there's wifi farther from the bathroom (try a Wendy's).

-----------------------

So here's the truth, Renee:  I work in this dump because it's close to home and I don't want to spend extra time commuting to my part time work.  My goal is to get as much work time in as I can and still make it home in time to put my girl to bed.  That means compromising on the quality of the joint that I work in.

(Think about all that is wrong with that statement.)

Be well,

Bill

Sandy Merz commented on May 1, 2014 at 6:50pm:

Different glass, same problems

In the movie Stigmata a woman (Patricia Arquette)  asks a priest (Gabriel Byrne) why he became a priest late in life and weren't there a lot of complications - an unveiled reference to the sexual tension that was building between them. He said he saw it as changing one set of complications for another. 

That's the way I see teaching. If I had stayed in my original career, hydrogeology, I probably would about as happy as I am now. I would have a different set of rewards to cherish and a different set of grinds to bemoan, but the difference would be of type, not degree. 

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