A “bad” teacher confesses. More pressure, worse teaching.

over (Medium)I give a lot of credit to New York City special education teacher William Johnson for his candid op-ed in The New York Times,  “Confessions of a ‘Bad’ teacher.”

In his op-ed, Johnson writes about the challenges of larger class sizes, fewer support staff and more students with severe disabilities.

He writes:

On top of all that, I’m a bad teacher. That’s not my opinion; it’s how I’m labeled by the city’s Education Department. Last June, my principal at the time rated my teaching “unsatisfactory,” checking off a few boxes on an evaluation sheet that placed my career in limbo. That same year, my school received an “A” rating. I was a bad teacher at a good school. It was pretty humiliating.

I had a conversation this weekend that relates to the question of good and bad teachers. A friend who is often in classrooms told me about a teacher he considers one of the most effective and dynamic he’s ever seen. But when he first encountered this young teacher three years ago, he thought she was terrible and the students in her class were being shortchanged.

But it was the teacher’s first year, and she had no idea how to manage her classroom and spent most of her time trying to maintain order. Now, she has control of her class and has had time to hone her teaching practices and is a wonder to behold, according to my friend.

One of the other participants in this conversation was a woman who trained as a teacher in Europe. There, she spent a year observing and working under a master teacher. And then she taught in a classroom paired with a master teacher. She talked about how vital it was to have that time to watch and learn. I know that more schools have adopted team teaching, but still wonder if new teachers have enough supports in place and enough time to observe.

Here are excepts from the NYT piece by Mr. Johnson.  (Please click here to read his full piece. It is worth your time this morning.) Also, take a look at this other Get Schooled post from today, which also relates to this issue.

Like most teachers, I’m good some days, bad others. The same goes for my students. Last May, my assistant principal at the time observed me teaching in our school’s “self-contained” classroom. A self-contained room is a separate classroom for students with extremely severe learning disabilities. In that room, I taught a writing class for students ages 14 to 17, whose reading levels ranged from third through seventh grades.

When the assistant principal walked in, one of these students, a freshman girl classified with an emotional disturbance, began cursing. When the assistant principal ignored her, she started cursing at me. Then she began lobbing pencils across the room. Was this because I was a bad teacher? I don’t know.

I know that after she began throwing things, I sent her to the dean’s office. I know that a few days later, I received notice that my lesson had been rated unsatisfactory because, among other things, I had sent this student to the dean instead of following our school’s “guided discipline” procedure. I was confused. Earlier last year, this same assistant principal observed me and instructed me to prioritize improving my “assertive voice” in the classroom. But about a month later, my principal observed me and told me to focus entirely on lesson planning, since she had no concerns about my classroom management. A few weeks earlier, she had written on my behalf for a citywide award for “classroom excellence.” Was I really a bad teacher?

In my three years with the city schools, I’ve seen a teacher with 10 years of experience become convinced, after just a few observations, that he was a terrible teacher. A few months later, he quit teaching altogether. I collaborated with another teacher who sought psychiatric care for insomnia after a particularly intense round of observations. I myself transferred to a new school after being rated “unsatisfactory.”

How, then, should we measure students and teachers? In ninth grade, my students learn about the scientific method. They learn that in order to collect good data, scientists control for specific variables and test their impact on otherwise identical environments. If you give some students green fields, glossy textbooks and lots of attention, you can’t measure them against another group of students who lack all of these things. It’s bad science.

Until we provide equal educational resources to all students and teachers, no matter where they come from, we can’t say — with any scientific accuracy — how well or poorly they’re performing. Perhaps if we start the conversation there, things will start making a bit more sense.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

43 comments Add your comment

Just A Teacher

March 5th, 2012
11:45 am

I was once told that a 15 year old student punching me in the nose caused doubts about my effectiveness as a teacher. All I had done was walk over to the boy’s desk and ask him to be quiet, but his action made my principal doubt my performance. I certainly never asked him to hit me, so it made no sense to me that I would be held accountable for the boy’s actions. That’s like blaming a mugging victim instead of the mugger.

Another Teacher

March 5th, 2012
12:06 pm

Mr. Johnson’s comments show the difficulty with teacher evaluations. As a teacher, I, too, have been sent mixed messages about my performance. I’ve been told my students “don’t feel the love” from me, but yet students want to hang out in my room before and after school. I’ve been told I need to teach to the high achieving students while addressing the achievement gap between student groups.

No wonder so many teachers are leaving the profession. No other profession is as vilified, and at the same time, celebrated as today’s teacher.

Beverly Fraud

March 5th, 2012
12:12 pm

When the assistant principal walked in, one of these students, a freshman girl classified with an emotional disturbance, began cursing. When the assistant principal ignored her, she started cursing at me. Then she began lobbing pencils across the room. Was this because I was a bad teacher? I don’t know.

EPIC fail by an administrator. When a child can feel COMFORTABLE cursing an ADULT AUTHORITY FIGURE, in the presence of administration, you don’t fault the teacher, you fault the ADMINISTRATOR for creating a school climate that TOLERATES disruptive behavior.

What this administrator did was no less than give her TACIT APPROVAL to a student, then blamed the teacher for HER gross incompetence.

The proper response was for the administrator to SUPPORT the teacher with the child’s IMMEDIATE removal from the teaching and learning environment. Period. The End.

HS Public Teacher

March 5th, 2012
12:26 pm

Everything is always the teacher’s fault. No one else, INCLUDING the student, the parent(s), or the administration, is ever held accountable for anything at all.

A student bites – it’s the teacher’s fault.

A student doesn’t do homework – it’s the teacher’s fault.

A student fights in school – it’s the teacher’s fault.

Is there any wonder at all that very few today want such a career? And for those that “beat the drum” for those Teach for America kiddos….. Notice what was said about a first year teacher. These TFA folks have absolutely no idea what they are in for and it they wind up in a class like the one described, then watch out!

HS Public Teacher

March 5th, 2012
12:27 pm

A problem with the teacher evaluations? How about letting these STUDENTS evaluate us!

LOL!!!!! Yep – that is what the good ol’ State of Georgia is going to do. Can you imagine? These biting, fighting, pencil throwing, cursing students will actually impact the careers of professionals.

Wow.

Ron F.

March 5th, 2012
12:32 pm

Beverly: I’m a little surprised by that too. I know the admin. was there to evaluate the teacher, but that crossed a line.

The important idea to be gained from this is that teacher evaluations, as is the case in many professions, are not objective. They can’t judge student interest, they can’t judge teacher compassion and devotion, and they can’t remove the human element of the observer and whatever preconceived notions he or she might have. I remember being observed by a former colleague who had “moved up” to the front office, and she had struggled to maintain classroom control with some of the same kids I could get to do anything with a smile. That was the one time I really understood how the predjudice of the observer could affect an evaluation.

Joy in Teaching

March 5th, 2012
12:35 pm

This may be the year that drives me out of teaching. Every single class has over 30 students, some of whom are reading on a 3rd grade level even though they are in 7th grade. My administration also has a “you must follow the accepted discipline policy and document, document, document” while the administration themselves do NOT follow the accepted discipline policy.

I was observed a couple of weeks ago during the last 20 minutes of the day. The barometer was going crazy and my students weren’t transitioning well nor would they be quiet for any reason whatsoever. One actually told me (in front of the administrator) “I can do whatever I want and there is nothing you can do to stop me.”

The administrator told me, “your class obviously has no respect for you, especially that young man.” My response? “That young man has served over 20 days of ISS this year. He has no respect for YOU as you aren’t following through either.”

I think I’m just going to throw my career away because I can no longer put up with useless administrators, students who do not try, parents who point fingers, and the public who has nothing good to say about teachers. I’m also tired of using my dwindling paycheck to buy school supplies for other people’s children, paper for use in classrooms to copy text books because we do not have enough, etc.

At least they can hire my replacement at half my salary.

Happy Kine and The Mirth Makers

March 5th, 2012
12:40 pm

If Mr Johnson cant stand the heat he should leave the kitchen. Sounds as if the TSA is in his future.

@RenPrep

March 5th, 2012
12:45 pm

It’s sad that teachers are always the one forced to shoulder the blame for a crumbling educational system.

I certainly believe that teachers should be evaluated using a variety of sources and types of data (peer observation, administrator observation, student and parent feedback, and some sort of quantitative performance data) because accountability is important…but TEACHERS should have a good deal of input with regard to designing those instruments.

Good teachers exist as do poor teachers…but ignoring the very real differences in access to resource, support from internal and external partners, and student readiness is far from acceptable when evaluating a person’s professional performance.

Personally I’d like to see teachers be more proactive and forceful about coming up w/ solutions. Instead of just talking or writing about a problem, work with other educators at a variety of levels (pre-service, classroom, administration, central office) and create an alternative that can be displayed and/or demonstrated to parents, policy makers, and other stakeholders.

Don’t just call a thing unfair. Do something proactive to right the wrongs that take place in our profession.

Just my 2c

Beverly Fraud

March 5th, 2012
12:49 pm

The administrator told me, “your class obviously has no respect for you, especially that young man.” My response? “That young man has served over 20 days of ISS this year. He has no respect for YOU as you aren’t following through either.”

And this is EXACTLY the type of thing we (this newspaper INCLUDED) don’t want to talk about FIRST and FOREMOST. Because THIS is an example of the ROOT CAUSE of our educational woes. Not bad teaching (not that it doesn’t happen) but LACK of administrative support.

No wonder Fled fled.

WAR

March 5th, 2012
1:02 pm

to everyone here please pay attention to the following:

classes may have 30 students and one or two act up, right? we cant focus on those one or two. we have to focus on the other 28 who need us and want us to teach them. the administrators are wrong when they say “the class doesnt respect you.” one apple does not spoil the whole bunch. we are necessary. we are teachers. no one can come to success but through us.

WAR

March 5th, 2012
1:04 pm

the other students in the class need us.
the other students in the class need us.
the other students in the class need us.
the other students in the class need us.

[...] Also, here is a new post on teaching that ties into this one. [...]

Lee

March 5th, 2012
1:15 pm

Anyone else see the irony of educators, who are supposed to have competency in evaluating and measuring student achievement, seem to have a difficult time doing the same to themselves?

Devil's Advocate

March 5th, 2012
1:46 pm

Not really Lee. Teacher evaluations are not peer reviews are they? An assistant principal is not a teacher. Could be a former teacher but is not a current one.

Joy in Teaching

March 5th, 2012
2:26 pm

@ WAR The primary objective of schools in our country is NOT about actually educating the child any longer. That’s why we see students in the middle grades who are reading on a third grade level, why we see students who do not care about education because they are passed on anyway, and why we are seeing the “entitled class” in our country grow. Everything is given to them from an early age. Every single thing.

These days, the primary objective of schools is to meet the demands of ridiculous laws passed by a Congress who knows nothing about kids, the pedagogy of education, or of how the front line of defense (the teacher) is being belittled, downtrodden, and worked to death. These laws that are being passed do nothing to improve education or student learning and are all about making sure the correct paper work is filled out, the EQ is being addressed on the board, and someone’s a$$ is covered.

Meanwhile, little Johnny is falling through the cracks. And no one seems to care except his parents and teachers, but their hands are being tied by the system.

Brandy

March 5th, 2012
2:52 pm

I have been in this teacher’s shoes.

My first year teaching (a half year, actually, the later half), I was “paired” with an experienced teacher. Rather than provide any guidance or support, she promptly began missing work on a regular basis and took a two week cruise. The students we out of control and I had no idea how to get them under control so that I could reach and teach them. The administration was aloof and unsupportive, but somehow I managed to survive and my students did well. My evaluation was miserable, but when I was at the district job fair (my current school was having significant job cuts so I wouldn’t have a job there next year) my principal saw me, turned to another administrator, and told him I was the best teacher she had ever seen. Mixed message, much?

I ended up moving on to that same district’s “premier” K-8 school. I was energized and ready, with a head full of great ideas and plans. Yet, from the moment I stepped in the school for pre-planning I was belittled, harassed, and confused by administrators. On the same day, my teaching assignment was changed four times in a row. When I set my desks up in one way, I was immediately told that “they don’t do that at this school” even though the teacher across the hall’s classroom was set up the same way. I was yelled at by administrators in front of students. I had a severely disturbed student try to choke me (I was not her classroom teacher at the time, I was just in the hall as she walked by) and was told it was my fault. I was constantly belittled and forced to attend more training, more professional development, more, more, more. I had 35+ students in every single class and at least two of my four classes were entirely made up of special education students, though there was no special education support provided. The only technology I had access to was an overhead projector and a broken screen. I had to bring my own computer to work with me. Because I didn’t have tenure yet, I had to provide my own email account. My students would not bring pencil and paper even when it was provided for free. Homework was not allowed to be assigned. The curriculum was extremely scripted (down to what page we had to be on at a precise time), but my administrators went back and forth on “teach to the curriculum” vs. “teach what works for your students, be creative”.

Every time I tried to implement the classroom or behavior management strategies I was being told to use, if they did not work immediately, I was yelled at and told to do something different. Of course, my evaluation was low. And yet my students’ test scores shot up while I was teaching them, despite an extremely scripted curriculum, lack of resources, and the most advanced technology being an overhead projector and broken screen..

At the same time I was at this school, I watched the administration treat another teacher (also new, also white) the exact same way. She buckled under the pressure and quit over Winter Break.

I resigned at the end of the school year and took a job substitute teaching in the neighboring district. While I was told and had become convinced that I was the worst teacher ever, as a substitute (yeah, just a substitute) I realized that I was in fact able to control a class of students, provide appropriate instruction, and keep students engaged.

Out of touch administrators with agendas of their own are not infallible and are capable of making mistakes in evaluating teachers.

another comment

March 5th, 2012
2:58 pm

Does anyone know what has happend at Campbell High School is Smyrna last week. My daughter tells me that Denise McGee the over promoted Middle School Principal from Campbell Middle School has been treating them like middle school studends. Hall Sweeps, late tradies is you can’t make the 7 minutes between classes ( it took me 10 during parent night to go from the 2000 building to 100 cooridor, with emptry cooridor). One late tardy between classes result in Saturday School. The switch between the first and second classes resulted in 200 of the 2200 students being marked tardy ( there is no way anyone could go to the bathroom, you can not make it if you are stuck in the 2000 building where all the Lit. Classes are. Next she turned off all the snack machines during school hours. Then the edict that anyone who had accumulate 4-5 tardies could not attend and would not get a refund on the Jr./Senior Prom, resulted in riots, that the Smyrna Police had to be called to. That night robo call to parents to support her, my understanding is that parents were like no way. Our Seniors especially are not missing the Prom for your new policy issues March 1. 2011. My daughter is trying to get a boy from another school to invite her, to his prom, since so few boys can meet this requirement.

Then on Thursday the student body is planning on Marching in Protest like they did whe Grant Rivera fired 10 or 17 Math teach under guise of the Rift, only to bring on 8 of his South Cobb buddies. Denise Magee is a no show. Then Friday, Denise Magee is a no show again. But the new Principal all day long is Supt. Hinjosa himself. Then along come the drug dogs. 27 arrests were made, including at least 1 star player. Despite Supt. Hinjosa being there all day, the students went on to have two food fights one in B lunch and one in D lunch. My daughter asked me when she got home after the 11:00 news if this all made the news I said no, too much weather. She said this was the biggest day in Campbell History.

We are all wondering if the over her head Denise MacGee who was promoted by a dead weight Sanderdon out!. The School has wonderfull teachers but you can not have two sets of lousey administrators in a Row, 1’s Rivera, who luckily is now Westlakes, problem then an over promoted MaGee who can not even make the parent Robo calls herself.

Frankie

March 5th, 2012
3:20 pm

wow….the amazing part about all of this is that administrators and non-teachers are making policy and conducting theevaluations…
most of these administrators have spent little to no time in the class room…but yet they want to tell you how to teach.
Yes we do have bad teachers, those are the ones that go on to be worse administrators….

Ever wonder what happened to the superintendent who was over the Clayton County accreditation debacle…well she is the superintendent of Greene County, making the same amount for a smaller amount of students.
She is a classic case of an administrator who shuold be put out to pasture….
Home Schooling is becoming a better idea every day….

C Jae of EAV

March 5th, 2012
3:53 pm

@another comment – It would seem that there is alot going on in Cobb County at Campbell High. Drug dog sweeps, 27 arrests were made, including at least 1 star player and little to no local news coverage.

I wonder if the incident you described occurred at a high school in APS or Dekalb would it have recieved more news coverage?

Beverly Fraud

March 5th, 2012
3:59 pm

I have been in this teacher’s shoes.

@Brandy, what these politicians don’t get and WON’T address is that UNTOLD THOUSANDS of teachers have been in these shoes.

And THIS more than ANY other factor is what’s negatively affecting education.

Dr. Proud Black Man

March 5th, 2012
4:03 pm

@ Brandy

“Because I didn’t have tenure yet, I had to provide my own email account.”

Please excuse me for not believing you.

Brandy

March 5th, 2012
4:18 pm

@Dr. Proud Black Man, I was teaching in Baltimore City which still has this as district policy.

Dr. Craig Spinks/Georgians for Educational Excellence

March 5th, 2012
4:28 pm

Brandy, Beverly and Mr. Johnson,

Your experiences are consonant with my experiences and resonate with me, a vet of more than forty years working in and advocating for publicly-funded education in our state.

At risk of sounding like a shameless shill for my friend and colleague John Trotter, we teachers must join together to defend our kids and the profession which helps prepare them for satisfying, responsible, civic-minded lives. Don’t deceive yourselves that your local school boards’ attorneys, GAE, PAGE, Sis Henry at GSBA, Herb Garrett at GSSA, GAEL et al. will protect our kids’ futures and the future of our state’s teaching profession. Get MACE. Don’t go anywhere near a publicly-funded school without it.

Tad Jackson

March 5th, 2012
4:53 pm

Later in the day I got an e-mail from Lurlene about my recent announcement about how you’d get an automatic F if you forgot to bring in a writing utensil on the day of a test or quiz that I thought was a real super great idea that promoted responsibility under pressure.

Here’s her e-mail message …

Employee:

I would like for you to reconsider the policy you have for automatically giving a student an “F” on a test or quiz for forgetting to bring a writing utensil to class on the day of a test or quiz. That strikes me as outside our mission and too punitive. I think the smarter and less negative approach would be to reflect the lack of materials on their daily performance sheet, which is what it is for. I am uncomfortable with the idea of tying a grade to no pencil. Either just have a stack of pencils or let them return to their lockers. If you have someone who is a constant offender, then let’s deal with that person individually. Remember, if you, as an adult, needed a pencil, I would give you one without penalty. Please feel free to discuss this with me further until you see it my way.

Your Boss, Lurlene Brownlow, Principal, All Knowing and Always Right

I stared at the e-mail a long time. Then I blinked. Then I laughed. Then I felt swoonish.

Now, just three days of school are in the history books and I’m already wondering about the quirky academic motivations of certain kids, and the subtle, sneaky wittiness of my principled boss. She really does know how to write memorable performance reviews.

But at this early point in my rookie teaching career I honestly don’t feel like I’m in control of anything yet, except turning the classroom lights off.

Before I run out.

http://www.adixiediary.com

Archie@Arkham Asylum

March 5th, 2012
4:53 pm

In the early 1990’s, We had several Teach For America volunteers in our rural South Georgia school system. Very nice, polished, intelligent kids for the most part. Only one made it through her two year “hitch” during the time I was there. These kids had their “basic training” in inner city schools but the dynamics in a rural school system are somewhat different. Like regular teachers, the first year was “make or break.” They learned all the social work that goes with the job dealing with problem students that just happen to have problem parents. They often bought their own school supplies on a starting salary that would have qualified them for food stamps because they were only “provisionally certified.” They had to attend ongoing classes to qualify them for full certification. Some of them seemed to be there as much for a “cultural experience” as they were for teaching. That much, I would say they pretty much got! South Georgia was a “cultural experience” for me, a native Atlantan!

Dr. Proud Black Man

March 5th, 2012
4:57 pm

@ Brandy

Brandy
March 5th, 2012
4:18 pm

“@Dr. Proud Black Man, I was teaching in Baltimore City which still has this as district policy.”

Hate to say you’re lying but you’re lying. According to Baltimore City Schools new teachers are set up with an email account within 10 days. I specifically asked if you had to be tenured to have an email account and the lady laughed. Call for yourself if you don’t believe me…smh

Phone: 443-984-2000

Brandy

March 5th, 2012
5:29 pm

@Dr. Proud Black Man,

What I stated was my experience and that of many of my peers. It was also what was stated in my last teacher contract from Baltimore City (2008-2009). And I quote: “Teacher email accounts are to be provided at will by schools and to all teachers with three (3) years of experience.” If North Avenue has changed that policy, good, but that doesn’t mean I was lying. I simply was incorrect as to current policy. While I was teaching for Baltimore City, some new teachers were lucky enough to be at schools that automatically assigned all teachers email accounts. I was not at those schools. Nor was the lack of email account the point of my post, it was just one factor that I felt important to understand to better understand the issues a “bad teacher” might be facing.
You may (or may not) have be “lucky” enough to teach in a system as disfunctional as Baltimore City. In my experience with that system, much of what North Avenue says, does, or publishes as policy is not enacted by or in practice at the local schools. I am only speaking to my experience and I would hope that you would respect that fact, as much as I would respect your experiences even if I found them unbelievable or laughable.

Brandy

March 5th, 2012
5:32 pm

Pardon the typing error. The sentence should read “[sic] it was just one factor that I felt important to better understanding of the issues a “bad teacher” might be facing.”

Dr. Proud Black Man

March 5th, 2012
5:58 pm

@ Brandy

No I realize the “tenured” email wasn’t the gist of your rant but it was the point in which you stumbled and now are attempting to spin your way out. I work in a poor rural title I, one HS district and even the custodians can get a school email account, if they choose. We teachers have to put up with a lot of crap so why try to “impress” each other with horror stories of what we went through. I’m sorry but your credibility is shot with me but who am I?

ScienceTeacher671

March 5th, 2012
6:30 pm

@Tad Jackson, I like your pencil policy. For several years now, I’ve wanted to implement it in my classroom for the EOCT. I’ve had classes where 80% of the students couldn’t be bothered to bring a #2 pencil for a test that was 15% of their final grade.

Brandy

March 5th, 2012
6:51 pm

@Dr. Proud Black Man, I’m sorry if my personal experience doesn’t live up to your barometer of truth. I will reiterate that I stated my personal experience (shared by many peers in the same district) and I stand by the honesty of it. I don’t always agree with your posts (I’d say we have different political opinions on many issues), but I do still respect your credibility in regards to your personal experiences.

SEE

March 5th, 2012
6:53 pm

I agree that a failing grade for not having a pencil is extreme. I have a stack of pencils, and I make my students pay for one if they need it…or they can have one of the many pencils I pick up off the floor at the end of the day. Most students are happy to pay for one (at a Title 1 school, I might add). Some students beg one off of a friend. The unlucky ones have to take the stubby, broken, no eraser pencils I found on the floor. It works.

Tad Jackson

March 5th, 2012
6:53 pm

Be strong, ScienceTeacher671! Be strong! Usually, when you hear the whining you know you’re doing the right thing!

http://www.adixiediary.com

Brandy

March 5th, 2012
7:28 pm

Unless it is a standardized test, I like to keep a box of crayons on hand for this purpose. Middle schoolers in particular will remember to bring a pencil next time if they have to do their work in red or purple (pink, the dreaded pink!) crayon.

ScienceTeacher671

March 5th, 2012
8:09 pm

Brandy, I’ve been known to give them a crayon also if they didn’t have anything to write with.

However, when they know the test is 15% (now 20%) of their grade, and they don’t bother to bring the pencil they need to complete it (or a calculator for that matter) it makes one wonder how much they even care.

Joy in Teaching

March 5th, 2012
9:06 pm

@ScienceTeacher671

A few years ago, I loaned a “darling” student a pencil as he never had one. He broke it in half and threw it in my face.

Of course I wrote him up.

The administration’s response? Why didn’t you give him another pencil?

The student laughed at me the next day…as he borrowed another pencil. I really hate what is happening to our schools. I’m always reading responses to these blogs telling teachers “if you don’t like what is going on, then change it from the inside.” It’s obvious they have no clue about how little power and influence a teacher really has inside the school.

Dr. John Trotter

March 5th, 2012
10:11 pm

Thanks, Dr. Craig. You and Beverly Hall are right that the treatment of teachers is the key to improving public education. When we respect, esteem, and empower the teachers in the classroom as far as academic and behavioral decisions are concerned, then we will have entered into a serious attempt to improve public education. Otherwise, it’s just spitting into a hurricane. Mr. Norreese Haynes and I just made another edition of MACE LIVE TV, and we started off talking about returning power to the teachers. This is truly a “live” MACE LIVE TV!

http://www.theteachersadvocate.com

ScienceTeacher671

March 5th, 2012
10:48 pm

Joy, one year I sent a 9th grader to the office for sticking a pencil in an electrical outlet on the lab table after I’d warned the entire class about it (it wasn’t the first time it had happened that year)

And the AP sent the kid back with no consequences because “he didn’t know any better.” REALLY? You are a teenager and you don’t know that it’s dangerous to stick things in an electrical outlet?

I’m betting that if the same kid had done the same thing again and gotten burned or electrocuted it would have been MY FAULT, though.

NW GA Math/Science Teacher

March 6th, 2012
6:10 am

Rep. Lindsey, are you still reading this?

TimeOut

March 6th, 2012
12:06 pm

I have advised all of my children that they should not consider teaching as a career. I have asked my spouse to accept a position in another state, where I will receive a 15% raise (Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX) I had a master’s in the languages that I teach. I chose to return to school prior to the ‘fast-track’ option. Hence, I spent a year taking education classes and completed student teaching prior to making the career switch. The student teaching experience was highly valuable. The university education classes were a waste of my time and money. I had zero assistance during my first three years as a teacher and made more money every one of those years via my part-time job as a server in an upscale restaurant. At my own expense I returned to school during the eight-week summer breaks to add new fields, at my employer’s request. I received no additional remuneration, but it did enhance my employability. I was able to switch to a teaching position in a school were the teachers received more support, more respect, and more money. I have enjoyed helping students to succeed and I’ve seen five of my former students become language teachers as well. I have ambivalent feelings about their choice. There have been many rewarding experiences, but far too many moments that were unnecessarily ugly and brutal. I still do a great job in the classroom. I receive much positive feedback from students, parents, and colleagues. Nonetheless, I am weary of our second-class citizen status. Too many, who have reaped the benefits of this society, do not value our work. They dismiss us as unimportant, easily-controlled ‘drones’ that they can replace with ease. Maybe they are right. Maybe teachers are stupid. We did not add a diploma-mill degree in the laughable field of ‘leadership’ and exit the classroom after the minimum of three years and then do the bidding of those above us so as to keep our higher-paying positions based on years of service, level of degree (forget its quality), and number of underlings supervised. The way to ‘make money’ in the education systems in Georgia is to stop teaching as soon as possible and start telling those who do teach, how they should do it. This makes perfect sense to those who run the show in this state.

good ones and bad ones

March 6th, 2012
2:50 pm

Teachers must all be perfect. You never hear from any teachers that say ‘yes, there are some bad teachers that need to be fired’. Like every profession, the 80/20 rule applies. 20% of the teachers probably aren’t very good and should be fired. 60% are mediocre. 20% are top performers. Identify the 20% that should be fired and get rid of them. Why is it a shock to some people that some teachers shouldn’t be teaching our kids? Are they all perfect?

Sarah Simmons

March 6th, 2012
5:23 pm

This is a great simple book for getting a handle on your class. It’s on Amazon Kindle
The Top Ten
Things I’ve Learned
About Being a Teacher
That Have Nothing to Do
With Two plus Two