23 October 2006

My current state of mind

It's sort of pathetic to me that I have been teaching for almost ten years but still seem to have trouble accomplishing what I want with my students. Lately I've been getting increasingly frustrated with the lack of guidance that we get from the administration. Not so much the principal and assistant principal, but the lead teacher and coach. Granted, the principal and A.P. should give the L.T. and coach more direction, but as a former coach I can say that Mr. P and Ms. A.P. generally trusted me to do what I was supposed to do.

I don't even feel like I can approach the L.T. or coach. For one thing, I seldom see either of them. And I hate to be negative (since it seems like I am so much more negative than I want to be) but the L.T. seems to be permanently out to lunch and I don't think the coach knows much more than I do. The few times I've asked questions I've gotten very vague answers.

Last year I used to write the units for the teachers, leaving them open-ended enough for the teachers to select the content and specifics of assignments. This year, we've been writing the units as we go along, but this meant that October's unit wasn't ready till two weeks into the month. I'd already written units of my own, but I elected not to share. Maybe that was childish of me, but my input wasn't really requested and I am not going to carry everyone else.

And it hasn't mattered that I've been doing my own thing, because neither the coach nor the L.T. has visited either of my classes. I really got off to a great start, but now my energy's definitely waning, as is my motivation.

I do need help, but there just doesn't seem to be a good source of it. One class has only twenty kids, but I have a huge range of abilities in there, one level 4, a handful of 3s and 2s, a few 1s; a very bitter holdover who is determined to get to 8th grade by the second marking period but is more interested in writing gang codes than essays; an African kid who speaks very little English, can't read in his native language, who should be getting ESL but isn't; one utterly obnoxious kid whose mission in life is to draw as much attention to himself as possible and one seemingly happy kid who just revealed herself to be suicidal.

That classroom is also a hovel- it is staggeringly full of crap and garbage. The homeroom teacher does not teach the class, and has another room to maintain. So I've taken it upon myself to clean and organize, because I am in there three periods a day and I can't stand it. I've been chipping away a little at a time, and at this rate it'll be ready by February.

I was better at dealing with the overwhelming-ness when I was newer.


Schoolgal said...

It's amazing that this role of "lead teacher" wasn't so well defined. All we know is that they make more money than we do.

I was a staff developer but decided not to go for the Literacy Coach position because they were required to work 1/2 extra a day. My replacement came from the UFT Teacher's Center and according to all the teachers that have contacted me, she does not know curriculum or new methodologies.
Yet she got the job.

NYC Educator said...

Sorry to hear you're feeling that way. I don't know how many years ago I decided to give up utterly on administrative support, but I can tell you I've had markedly less disappointment since doing so.

Keep trying to whip them into shape, and refer the kid for both ESL and special services if you're sure he can't write in his own language.