The Elephant in the Room

So, most of you know I switched schools and there is such a stark change in the environment and leadership, you would never know that both schools serve the same demographic.

Some choice facets of my old school

– Teachers never had a chance to talk to each other

– Principals/teachers yelled at their kids (and swore)

– Punishments included hour-long detentions, which students could receive in multiples if “necessary.”  (Necessary = not wearing a belt?  talking back?  incomplete homework?  Rolling your eyes? Tardy?)

– If a student was sent to the office (highly discouraged), they were most likely scrubbing windows, writing lines, or walking around with a sign around their neck.

– Random overhauls in curriculum announced mere weeks before the expected implementations

– Quarterly benchmarks, weekly tests, etc.

– “After school program” = poorly chaperoned time for kids who don’t do homework to stay until 6pm to “do homework.”

– One in-house tutor stretched across grades 6-8.

– no access to parents

New School

– Reflective process where students learn to reflect, empathize, and figure out how to give back to make up for wrongs.

– Curriculum is ultimately agreed on by the teachers

– Pushback is permitted without fear of official or unofficial retribution (aka cold shoulders, blacklist, etc).

– Project-based learning encouraged over assessments

– Consequences fit the problem (usually in 20-minute increment, lunch-time detentions – that the PRINCIPAL oversees).

– Partnership with groups to leverage social-emotional learning, psychological therapy, and academic supports

– Sick days and personal days, pension, and transparent pay scale.

– NATURAL camaraderie between teachers and admin due to official and unofficial gatherings, meetings, etc.

– Parents are involved!

Sounds like a total 180 right?

It’s actually pretty amazing, in a sense. I am no longer teaching all four subjects.  I am no longer staying at school past 6pm.  I am no longer locking up at night in creepy East Oakland all by myself.  I even get a new-teacher budget and there’s lots of books!  And yet..

I have never cried soo much or felt so futile in my life.

Who would have thought that the kids would be so difficult?  So. difficult.  No, I’m not talking about language barrier or academic difficulties. I’m talking about their lack of desire to do hard work and their constant attitude and entitlement. It’s astonishing. And draining. And it makes me not want to continue for the second semester.  And it’s a weird feeling.  Because despite the garbage and practically/technically/actually illegal things that went on at my old school, I came back everyday for the kids.  I never considered leaving mid-year.  It would be so bad for them! It’s better for them to be used to you, no matter how awful you are, than to suffer through subs, and a haphazardly placed new teacher, right?  Also, who’d want to hire you if you quit midyear?  All these arguments right now, is falling flat against a cold stone heart.  blergh.

It’s really hard right now.  And there are no articles that circulate about — excuse my French — cruddy kids.

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