education, English teacher, Life!, public school, special education, special educator, teach, teacher, teacher life, Teaching, Uncategorized

Parents & Administrators: Teachers Need Your Help now More than Ever!

Image result for teacher entitled students meme

I have not always felt this way about students, let alone the teaching profession in general, but, if you do not mind me asking…What is up with high school kids nowadays? I wish I could blame the students for their sense of entitlement, lack of respect and misbehavior, but I can’t. There is, however, a very small percentage of students who are respectful, hardworking and well-behaved and us teachers are truly THANKful. The other percentage of students on the other-hand, well, sorry to say, I can thank their parents and the administration for their behavior. Yup, I said it. 

I never realized how much of an impact a parent has on their child’s behavior and education until I became a mom. I reflect on how I have always raised my daughter and provided her with lots of love. I do not mean to be bias, but she is the sweetest, most thoughtful, empathetic and kindest little girl, and I know I can honestly say, that my parenting has played a major part in how she behaves and performs in school. Now if only I could say the same thing about my students’ parents.

I have been teaching high school Special Education for the past 9 years and based on my own experiences, I have noticed that parents have become less involved, care less and enable their children. Parents support teachers less and less each year. In their eyes, their child can never do any wrong. This attitude makes teachers’ jobs very difficult, stressful and extremely frustrating.

This particular generation of teens lack work ethic, do not take ownership for their behavior and expect grades to be given to them. Why did I “give” you a 64 on your project you ask? No, I did not “give” you a 64, you EARNED it.  

The students feel entitled to run to administration with the belief that they can get their teacher fired or complain ESPECIALLY when their teacher is holding them accountable and have to face consequences for their misbehavior. Now you’re the bully. In their minds they genuinely believe, as do their parents, that they can do no wrong. They continue to believe that they deserve credit for work that they did not do and they KNOW that there are ZERO consequences for misbehavior. They honestly believe that the administrators are their friends and they know that they will only receive a warning.

Cursed the teacher off? Warning. Walked out of class? Warning. Slept in class? Warning. Misbehaved in class? Warning.  

Warning. Warning. Warning.

After school detention, Saturday detention and lunch detention have become a thing of the past. Community service has become an absolute joke and they are lucky if they  even show up.

I also place a lot of blame on the administrators for their lack of discipline, lack of support and their deep-rooted belief that the students are always right.

Ohhh, Jimmy..is your teacher really bullying you in class? Let me investigate this teacher’s behavior and question your classmates.  Let’s get to the bottom of this together.

Are. You. Kidding. Me. Right. Now.

Do you know what REALLY gets to me? Like REALLY drives me nuts? The fact that the administrators are afraid of upsetting parents, especially since the majority of the parents TRULY believe that EVERYTHING is the teacher’s fault.

I will give you a prime example behind the reason why administration are afraid of parents based off one of my encounters with a parent. This year, I called a mom because her child was on his cell phone and was texting another student in my class. My conversation with her went something like this:

Please note: The names that I am about to use are fake in order to protect parenting gone wrong.  #sorrynotsorry

Me: “Hi Mrs. S., this is Mrs.W., I just wanted to  touch base with you regarding Jimmy’s behavior in English.”

Parent: “Um, ok? This is the first time ALL year that I am receiving a phone call like this.”

Me:  *pretends like the parent did not just say that*  “I have noticed a change in Jimmy’s  behavior these past few classes. Today, he was on his cell phone, playing games and texting another student in the same class. He has not been doing his independent reading and his behavior has become very distracting to the other students. I had to redirect him multiple times. I eventually had to move him away from the other students and I took his cellphone.”

Parent: “Very sorry to say, but I find this VERY hard to believe. If this is true, then it is only in YOUR class. Did the other student get their cell phone taken away too?”

Me: *contemplates hanging up* Yes, the other student also received the same consequence. I was hoping you could speak to him regarding this behavior in class.

Parent: “Also, how do you know that he was not reading??”

Me: “Um… well, before I took his cellphone away, he was busy texting and the book was face down on the desk. I had to tell him a few times to put the cell away and read.”

Parent: “Let me ask you this…would YOU read if you were constantly nagged to read? I know I wouldn’t. Sometimes it appears that Jimmy is not reading, when he actually IS reading. How do you know he was texting another boy in class?”

Me: *still contemplates hanging up* *clears throat* “Well, I saw them texting and laughing. Thank you for letting me know how he reads, however, as I informed you, his book was faced down.”

Parent: “You seem very nervous and I can only imagine how you react to the students’ behavior. Don’t you think they are doing this to get a reaction out of you? I am looking at his cellphone bill right now as we speak and it shows that he was not on his cellphone during your class.”

Me: *Fights the urge to hang up* *Patience continues to dwindle* “ I understand your concern, however, I am only informing you of Jimmy’s behavior based on my observation in my class, and I  hope that you can speak with him. I suggest checking the cell phone bill tomorrow morning as it takes about a day to show activity.”

Parent: “Oh, I will and you will be hearing from me tomorrow.” *hangs up phone*

This was one  conversation that I had with a parent VERBATIM. Give or take some other snide remarks that were, I’m not going to lie, quite hurtful!

I am not sure why or when parents began to feel entitled to treat a teacher this way, but sadly, the reality is that 75 % of them do. I can understand why administrators have decided to become more “supportive” and “understanding” but they are truly enabling the parents’ behavior.

Now, I can and probably will eventually write a MUCH more detailed blog post about the how the administrators have contributed to this ongoing epidemic, but I will save you the headache and will only briefly touch upon it. It has become such a problem that I honestly do not know where to begin yet here is a prime example of a conversation I had with a vice principal.

Me: “I was just checking to see that you received my write up for *student’s*  behavior last week? I noticed that he has not received a consequence.”

Vice principal: “Yes, I did receive it and coincidentally just spoke with him today.”

Me: “Oh, ok. Great, thank you. How did it go?”

Vice principal:  “Well, I just gave him a warning. Now,  I know he was disruptive, disrespectful and walked out of your class, however, it could have been that he was having  an “off day. Oh, and before I forget, he said that he felt like you singled him out. Try to be easier on him and reprimand him in private. Let me know if this behavior continues.”

Rigghhhhhhhhhht. An. off. Day. You hit the nail on the freakin’ head.

Note to self: Writing a referral is a  Waste. Of. My. Time. 

Teachers: YOUR TIME IS PRECIOUS.

And THIS, my friends, is exactly WHY teachers are no longer respected, student misbehavior and sense entitlement continues to be an ongoing epidemic.

So, dear fellow teachers, first year teachers and those who are considering entering the teaching profession; it is NOT YOUR fault. You are NOT the problem. NEVER forget all of the reasons why you became a teacher. Most importantly, make it a point to thank the really great kids, supportive parents and administrators. We truly need them the most!

Sincerely yours,

A very frustrated teacher.

 

A.D.D., A.D.H.D, attention deficit disorder, disabilities, education, Life!, mental health, public school, special education, special educator, teach, teacher, teacher life, Teaching, Uncategorized

A.D.D. Has Ruined My Career

Image result for ADDI have been trying to convince myself that things will eventually get better for me, and that this is just a small “bump in the road.” However, it just has not gotten any better. It has gotten much worse. I have cried while on hall duty, skipped cafeteria duty to sit in my room in the dark with the lights off to recompose myself. I have cried to my husband, myself and my mother in law. I have driven myself crazy trying to figure out what it is that I did wrong.

I have slept for hours and have forced myself to finish my contract–this is for the kids.Then I realized that I feel so strongly that I am being wrongfully terminated. Yes, this is clearly what it is…..

I have been told by my supervisors, that I am charismatic, energetic, creative and empathetic. I have also been told that I am an excellent teacher and that I can connect with my students. They have even told me that I am dedicated and hardworking. OK, so… What is the problem here?? Aren’t these all of the qualities that make a teacher outstanding??? I guess all of that clearly does not matter.

Right before I found out that my contract was not going to be renewed, I put a lot of thought into this. A week or two prior to this, I told the director that I have ADD. You see, he was yelling at me on the phone that I do not listen, interrupt people and do not get along with coworkers. Yes, I have the tendency to interrupt and it may seem as though I am not listening, but I know I get along with my coworkers. And I do, in fact, listen. Don’t let me forget that I handed my time cards in late for tutoring, and was screamed at for that, even though I asked for extra time. All of these symptoms combined are a part of my ADD.They clearly just DO NOT care!

Well, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act, “An individual with a disability is defined  as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment” (www.ada.gov). I am an individual with a disability and it does limit me from being able to complete tasks at work at the same rate as other people.

The A.D.A also states that it ” requires that employers to make reasonable accommodations to the known physical or mental limitations of otherwise qualified individuals with disabilities” (www.ada.gov). Oh, really? Well, I have been denied being provided with accommodations such as extended time. And being that I am a Special Education Teacher who knows the laws that protects individuals with disabilities, all that I have to say is, they are screwed.

I am sick and tired of my principal saying “You need to listen” and “stop interrupting me.” I am sick and tired of it. I have worked so hard and am a well respected teacher, that I feel like that just does not matter at all.

You would think that a public school would be more understanding and willing to accommodate you, but no, they just look at you as a hindrance to their “business.”

A.D.D., A.D.H.D, attention deficit disorder, disabilities, education, English teacher, Life!, mental health, public school, special education, special educator, teach, teacher, teacher life, Teaching, Uncategorized

Teacher Appreciation Week My &@#$!!

 

I feel like this week should have been called “Teacher Un-Appreciation Week” It is usually during this week that teachers are given their notices of non-renewal or renewal, so why the HELL are they calling it “Teacher Appreciation Week??”

I feel unappreciated as a teacher because I was not only denied tenure, but they did not renew my contract. My district decided to show us just how much they appreciate all of our dedication and hard work  by giving us a bag of stale popcorn in our mailboxes.Just what I always wanted! How sweet. I am sure the birds will appreciate the taste of cardboard.

I have been working in my district as a Special Education Teacher at the highschool level for the past three years. I worked hard to get where I am and I absolutely love my job. I actually look forward to going to work every morning. That was until I received devastating news last Friday that I was not going to be granted tenure/renewed!

Now mind you, I have been picturing what it would be like to be awarded tenure, and in my eyes I undoubtably felt that I deserved it. I can genuinely say that I put all of my effort into teaching my students ,and that I was 100 % dedicated. That day will forever be engraved in my mind, and has left a bad taste in my mouth in regards to how the public education system is ran. It just goes to show you, that they do not have the best interest of the kids, especially when letting a good teacher go.

It is strange because I have never been fired before, but that day I could sense it, and as it turned out, my intuition was right. It all started when the Special Ed. Department was given their allotted budget to purchase materials for their classroom. I was the only teacher who was not provided with the paperwork. I asked my principal why and he stated “I must have overlooked you.”

Overlooked me? Yea right. I knew right then and there that he was lying and that something fishy was up. I hate bullshit artists.Later on in the day, my principal asked me to step into his office, and I knew that then and there that this was not going to be good. Anytime, you are sent to the principal’s office, you can never expect it to be good.

I was told that my contract was not going to be renewed for the 2012/2013 school year. My first thought: Are you %^&$%*# kidding me?  I started to hyperventilate and cry and I stormed out of his office. I know crying is a sign of weakness and all, but I think it is a sign of showing just how much you truly love your job. Of course, the news spread amongst the staff, students and parents because all that it took was one person to find out. I feel like as I walk through the halls, I get looks of pity and of disdain. I feel like I am wearing a permanent Scarlet Letter.

The even worse part of this whole situation is the fact that they do not have to give nontenured teachers a reason.  Non-tenured teachers do not have the same rights as tenured teachers. Tenured teachers have due process rights and can only be fired if they do something very bad. Now, in my district, I have no idea what they consider to be bad because we have teachers ,who,and  I’m sorry to say this, SUCK. We have teachers who show movies all of the time, come late to work, are always absent and are only in it for the summers off. This really makes me mad because I put so much time and effort into my job, and I am always there late. I have even  developed good relationships with the janitors because of this… I feel like sometimes, all of your hard work gets you no where, and goes unappreciated. Now I am back at square one–right where I was after I graduated from college.

Okay, so this whole “I’m sorry but we are not renewing your contract” thing was difficult enough as it is, but then all of the bullshit that goes along with it has made this situation that much more worse. Since I work in a very poor district where our budget never passes and has little to no money, my principal “suggested” that I resign. Hmmm.. I wonder why he would want me to do that? Are you trying to get me to not  collect unemployment so that the district can avoid paying me! Awesome… Yea, because I would do that… I have a mortgage to pay damn it. Then he tries to blackmail me with “Now if you resign, then you are more likely to get a letter of recommendation.” Yea right, like I am going to believe you.

Since I have not been told yet, why I am not being renewed, I keep driving myself crazy trying to come up with reasons. As a nontenured teacher, I have the right to request a letter from the Superintendent which states specifically their reasons for the nonrenewal. I can’t wait to open up that letter! Not.

After I receive my letter, I have the right to something called a “Donaldson Hearing.” This is an informal hearing where you can try to fight for your job. The number of teachers who actually get their job back after a Donaldson Hearing are slim to none. No thanks, why would I want to work where I am not wanted? And embarrass myself before the Board. My principal said if I do this, then I will not get a letter of recommendation. I feel like  I have wasted three long and stressful years of my life. Although I absolutely love my job.

What makes it even worse is that I have to finish working until the end of June to finish my contract. It kind of sucks having to work and when every memberl of the staff know that you were canned. What makes it even worse is students know, so at times, I get very emotional and start to cry. I know… I.am.ridiculous.

I have come to the conclusion that this job is very political. It does not matter that my students love me. Or that parents keep writing letters to the Board of Ed. telling them how crazy they are for letting a dedicated teacher go.  It does not matter if students are having a petition signed to try to convince them to let me stay. None of that matters.

What makes me livid is that I was never given a “needs improvement” in my observations (which is grounds for firing), nor did I get complaints about my classroom teaching. I received a parent complaint from a crazy parent who said I was defaming her son’s character by telling him to “step it up a notch.” I hate those “my kid is always right, no one can harm my child type parents.” Well, that was strike one.

Then, I had a parent complain who said I made her daughter feel “cognitively impaired.” Like, seriously lady, I am a Special Education Teacher, I would never do that. What parent keeps their child on home instruction for 3 years? And then has the nerve to complain  because she wanted me to provide Special Ed. services to her daughter who is an honors students.

Strike two.

Since I have ADD, I have a difficult time keeping up with organization and my time cards for tutoring. It is very time-consuming especially since I actually teach (and do not sit at my desk). I barely have enough time as it is for myself and for the work that my job actually entails. Since my husband gets laid off occasionally due to his type of work in the union, I decided to hold on to my tutoring time cards until later in the year, so then that way I could have the money for the summer.Well, it turns out that I made about $4500 dollars and the Board of Ed. was pissed. Now when I mean pissed, they were PISSED.

Lets just say that this was strike three.

I am not sure if this is directly related to my situation, however, I think that it might be. A  teacher who has bullied me for the past three years, posted some bad comments about students on her Facebook page. Then she was spreading gossip around the school that I was the one who printed the comments out and turned her in. No, sorry lady, I have better things to do with my life than worry about you. Maybe you should think before you post, and perhaps make your page private. Or maybe you should just delete your page altogether?  It is just a thought!!Did she think a parent was never going to do this? Like seriously??? Are you kidding me? Then you go around the whole entire school saying that I set you up! Go to %$##! If  I were that parent, I would have done the same thing!

I will soon find out what their reasons are once I receive the letter. I am really dying to know what their reasons are for not renewing my contract. I am also scared to read it because I feel like it will do a number on my self-esteem. But who would not want to know?I am sure that, whatever their reason might be, they are going to lie. I bet they have a family member who needs a job, and then they figure they would get rid of a nontenured teacher.

In the meantime, I am not sure what my future may  hold. This is probably a blessing in disguise, and I will realize this when the time comes. Maybe I was not cut out to be a teacher. Maybe I just was not a good fit. Who knows.I know I have many options open and I am going to start looking into going to back to school. I am not sure whether or not I am ready to try to get a new teaching job. I feel as though  I have been burned pretty badly. All I know is that it is their loss and they will eventually see that they made a terrible decision.