Saturday, October 14, 2006

That's It!

Strangely enough I didn't think about quitting until after Christmas break. During the first half of the year, I was so overwhelmed that I didn't really have time to think or do much of anything except try to survive. I don't know why it never occurred to me that quitting was really even an option. Some weird childhood lesson must have lingered in me. The second half of the year is where I lost hope. I tried so many different ideas, tricks, and strategies and part of me felt as if things had gotten worse. We had a different principal (even worse than the first one) and it was like starting over with the students. They had gotten away with too many things at the start of the year and with "fresh" meat to test and try they really starting running the school. All of those things aside, working and living in the Delta is quite depressing. I started to doubt that I was going to make this work, I regretted ever coming to Mississippi, and I really resented being treated horribly by students and "some" of the teachers and town members. Every time I thought I couldn't take it anymore, I watched the TFA promo video-- about the critical need for teachers and the desperation of students and I would cry and whine and get back to work. The worst part about being in a tough situation is you think you can overcome and "win." But when you grade a test in less than 50 percent pass, or have an unsuccessful lesson because there is a ___________ (pep rally, assembly, or any other nonsensical thing) you BLAME yourself.

Perhaps this is just my personality, but I thought it was a personal weakness that prompted my feelings of wanting to run away. It was an awful way to feel, and the only way out of it was to keep trying and keep keepin on. One thing that kept me from going was actually the other 6th grade language arts teacher-- she was terrible (and wasn't certified, etc.) I know it is a terrible thing to think, but, well, I told myself that "at least my students are learning something, at least I want and KNOW they can learn, at least I know my subject area, at least I can speak correctly, at least I do not physically beat them to make them behave, at least I am TRYING!" I know this is not a healthy way of thinking and it is pretty dirty-- however, imagine the substitute your students will get after you leave-- I guarantee the thoughts of leaving will vanish.

My advice to first years who are struggling-- it is okay and natural, do your best and DO not think less of yourself if your classroom isn't perfect. Of course don't accept things as they are-- it is your job to lead your students and to help them learn. But learning how to teach takes so much time and you only have to go through your first year once. If you leave your ego at the door, and throw your hands in and get messy, make mistakes, screw-up, and try until you find out what kind of teacher your students need for them to learn-- it will get easier and easier to do what you came here to do. Your students need you, and they will appreciate you (even if you think they hate you...).

2 Comments:

Blogger World Teacher said...

My name is David and I was in MTC in 2001-2004. I was just outside of the Delta in a rural school. I will tell you with absolute certainty that my second year was significantly WORSE than my first one. I took more emotional abuse and hits against my self esteem in Mississippi trying to help the "poor children". I had the rare opportunity in the MTC to have an excellent principal. I was the only one in our group that could say that, and it didn't make very much difference. The kids used most of their energy to systematically stomp out any ounce of kindness in my heart. Now I teach in Asia where children are taught to respect teachers. I wouldn't go back to Mississippi if they quadrupled my salary and threw in a BMW. Life is just to short, and there are too many people in the world who need help and who will show you appreciation and respect for your efforts. I'm not saying quit - you did sign a contract with the school but I am saying I understand how you feel.

6:06 PM  
Blogger Mr Khaki Pants said...

What a bullshit response, David In Korea [DIK]. If you joined MTC to be respected by saintly children who'd welcome you with open arms into their stable homes and efficiently run schools, then you're deluded.

"Life is just to [sic] short" is a load of shit -- an excuse one might levy against any effort-demanding task, least of all a commitment to a country's most neglected children. What a sad, sad sac you are. "Boohoo, life is horrible for me." You sound like a petulant child.

Gripe, stress, and toil for your two years in Mississippi (yes, clearly, the system is a mess), but for fuck's sake look at yourself! If your principal was so outstanding, then why did you suffer so? Ask for help! If the classroom is broken, fix it! Be the good teacher who wrestles for control!

In public education, people love to pass the buck; I guess you're just passing your share: Blame the kids. It's probably their fault that they're fucked in life.

Bitch less, work more. Enjoy the honeymoon in Korea, DIK.

RESPECTfully yours, KP

11:05 PM  

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