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DESPERATE MEASURES

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We knew that schools were having a tough time hanging on to young teachers, but in a thoughful post on the difficulties of new educators, Mr. Lawrence shows just how desperate the situation can be:


I know one young teacher (23?) who's actually trying to get pregnant just so she can get some time off. I know another who I see around town—and gives me plenty of information—and is trying to get into grad. school full-time just so she can quit teaching.

Mr. Lawrence believes that part of the reason for young teachers’ unhappiness is that they "leave college with an idealized vision of the classroom"—a surefire recipe for disillusionment. He postulates that it’s much better to go in, like he did, "with a kind of bemused detachment."

The question is how to work "bemused detachment" into the ed school curriculum.

3 Comments

Can ANY teacher really deny looking for ways to do less work? Of course it's most severe for new teachers, but in my 8th year, I'm still waiting for a real answer to how to be a high school English teacher and raise a family without 1) Getting less than 5 hours of sleep a day, 2) compromising my standards for either teaching or parenting. I think my grad program did a fine job of conveying the reality of the teaching life. What never gets talked about though, is that the reality of what the job asks is actually impossible...

As a first year teacher, and a career changer from the business world, I am experiencing the most difficult situation I have ever encountered...I thought getting through college at this point in my life (age 50) was the biggest challenge I would have. I find that, however, the teaching (or rather, discipline) issues I deal with each day, are the real test of all my strengths and weaknesses. Not only do I have the challenge of half a class of gifted or students being monitored for such, I also juggle with 8-10 students who need one-on-one support on a daily basis, one ESL student who is included in the classroom all day, and several who need to be told at least 3-4 times a day just to write down their homework in their agenda (4th grade). My class also includes at least 6 ADDHD students, some on medication, and some not, who constantly challenge me with crawling on the floor, under desks, violent outbursts, refusal to do their work, etc. Parents who want to see more challenging projects for their accelerated children, and parents who want me to solve the child's emotional and attitudinal problems, suggesting that it is my teaching methods. Two hour parent-teacher-principal meeings are common. WOW! This is what teaching is about...not just educating our children, but being counsellor, tutor, psycotherapist,conflict resolutionist, parental guide, and a host of other jobs. If anyone thinks a teacher has a "cake job", please offer to spend one full day in a classroom, and then make your decision based on the facts! There are days when I think I won't make it in this profession, but then remember being told that each year brings new students, and the first year is always the hardest. I'm hanging in there!

Five minutes to three. I sit at my desk piled high with uncorrected papers and stare off into space. I think that I am literally vibrating with left over energy from the day. By any standards it was a good one. In forestry we went to an active logging site and felt the earth shake as the trees hit the ground. In biology the students worked on explaining photosynthesis in an inquiry based lab. In aquaculture the students assembled pumps for the new tank we are building. At the same time I also escorted an angry youg man to the office after he threatened a bus driver, I dealt with total apathy in the face of my best lab, I swept up broken glass during a lab and collected abandoned assignments after it was all over. I cannot imagine an academic program that could prepare anyone for our job. I can however, remember the most useful bit of advice that I ever recieved... "maintain your sense of humor".

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