Not to offend anyone who teaches this subject and enjoys it, but this has been one of the worst decisions of my life. Near the end of last year, the Principal told me that he did not have enough students signed up for my design classes to give me a full day. He asked if there was anything else I could teach. I had passed the CSET in Biology the summer before, so I told him that. So I ended up with two life science classes at the end of each day.
Some days these classes are not horrible. Today was not one of those days.
I haven’t really talked too much here about my bad experiences at the high school. I didn’t want someone I teach or work with to read it and share with others. But it’s been truly awful. And I’m leaving on June 12th.
I feel some days like I work in an insane asylum. Most of my students are respectful, and most of my design students in particular are doing well in class. However, Life Science is for the kids who don’t do homework, and who are not apparently destined to go to college. Few of my science students are passing the class. Most of them, on the other hand, are failing most of their classes.
I am supposed to be shadowing another teacher who has allowed me to copy her curriculum binder and sit in on her class, but that’s about it. I have found her to be very unapproachable when I have questions or want suggestions as to how to deal with this population of students. I once asked her how it is that more of her students are passing than in my classes. She said, “I help them.” That was not especially helpful to me, and most of my students don’t even get started on their work to begin with. Anyway, this is not a rant about her but it just adds to my frustration and bewilderment in dealing with these kids.
It’s not so bad that they choose to fail. I’ve made my peace with that now, in spite of my earlier optimism and persistence. What is true torment is their behavior in class. It only takes two or five or eight kids to conspire to play havoc, and your day is ruined. I am continually surprised by the degree to which these kids show defiance and disrespect to their teachers at this school. I have tried being polite, I have tried being firm but polite, I have tried yelling. I have gone to seminars that coach you how to manage the classroom. Theses technique might work with other kids. I don’t claim to know all the tricks to work with teenagers but I was trying. Every time, I seem to hit a brick wall of lunacy. The kids I’m talking about, the awful ones (I’m not going to hippie this up by calling them “misunderstood” or something), never learned personal responsibility, character, and reasoning. They hate you and ridicule you if you try to teach them these things at this late stage.
Below is a sample of the things students said to me during class time today. These are things even the worst kids wouldn’t have dreamed of saying in front of a teacher 25 years ago when I was in school. I may add more later to get these things off my chest.
• Me: “S****a, sit down.”
Student: “Shut up.”
• A student chants in the back of the room, “She ain’t got no kids…miscarriage” (I had told the class about my miscarriage last semester when we were going over DNA mutations).
• One student to another: “Hey, do you want your guitar?” She then mimes as if to lift it and throw it at me. She says something about “the last day of school,” and based on her previous physical intimidation of me I’d guess she was telling others she means to harm me.
• A number of student simply ignore me when I tell them to remain seated or put away their phones.
Yes, I referred each of these students. But it makes no difference. Calling their parents makes no difference. Detention makes no difference (they don’t show up). A rewards system makes no difference. Giving and revoking privileges makes no difference. Friendliness makes no difference. Dignified assertiveness makes no difference. Yelling like a drill sergeant makes no difference. Every time I address the students I am repeatedly interrupted with some sort of disruption. When the hell can I simply TEACH?
I was doing well in the design classes this year. I used to have a pie-in-the-sky dream that my students would love my classes and make me proud. Many of my design students do. Some don’t. Some cause problems there too, but it’s rare. Most of them seem to enjoy being there.
The successes in the morning fade away. Every day after I’ve dealt with life science, I feel like my students hate me. That nothing makes any sense in this environment. All is craziness and bile.
What kind of job is this where there the people you dedicate yourself to, hate you?