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"You taught me how to swim and you dropped me in the ocean. Now, I'm worried about the sharks."
-- a comment one of my first-year teachers, Fernie Salinas, shared with his education professor from college, reflecting with a heroic mix of weariness and amusement on the unpredictability of teaching before one actually goes into the classroom to teach a whole class on his own. Keep up the inspiring work, rock star. =)


That's EXACTLY the way I feel! (and I suspect the rest of my 5th grade team does as well!) I never know if the day will be shark-infested or not :P

Kids are usually pretty straightforward about how they feel about you. I once had one who announced early in the year that she would get my job and she did. But most of my kids have adored me. Inner city kids are especially loving and if you love and respect them, they will love you back. Their lives revolve around family, friends and church and basic survival. They need a caring, rock steady teacher who believes in them and tells them the good things about themselves that they don't get in the community. Black males are especially needy and often have no one to ask about important issues.

Suburban kids are more suspicious and less loving. They often think the world revolves around them and the teacher is just someone to keep it rotating. They usually get attention and the things they need at home and don't have as much of an emotional need for a loving teacher although they do need a quality one who will help them be all they can be. But if the parents are working three jobs in order to maintain a lifestyle they really cannot afford, they may be as needy as the poor ones.

Watch your back. If you do not feel a co-worker is trustworthy you are probably right, but try to find someone you feel good about. If you have a paraprofessional or a co-teacher work on an attitude of taking care of one another and keeping yall's business out of the street. Don't talk to administrators about your co-workers. No one likes a tattletale and you don't need a bad reputation.

Special ed used to have a Code that went. "Special Ed. takes care of Special Ed. Special Ed does not talk about special ed to people not part of Special ed." The highest compliment a regular teacher could be paid was, "She is good enough to be Special Ed." And a special ed. teacher who was not smart enough for us but was connected or "hot" (attractive to male administrators) was sent down to regular where they often ended up in administration.

When a teacher in special ed did something wrong, like when the APE refused to take my class bowling because they were "profound", I did not go to the principal. I called my special education coordinator. She handled it and the principal knew what he needed to do. The APE was at another school the next year. However, in Louisiana I had a coordinator who did not know The Code and sent my complaints about a co-worker mistreating the rest of us and the students and she sent it to the principal. What happened was not cute at all because regular education does not see things as we do and the co-worker was his pet.

Unfortunately, I have seen these generalists come in the last few years who do not seem to know our history or The Code. They don't remember the day when we taught in the custodial closet or the locker room.

Hang in there babies. Don't quit. It will get beter. Find someone older and more experienced to get you over the bumps.

Help create a family at you school. Teachers have to take care of one another and support one another. There is strength in numbers.

I was at a school where the year before the teachers got together with the parents and the union and got rid of the principal. She was apparently uncommited and a little screwy. Unfortunately she got sent to the alternative school where she sat in her office while the kids gathered under her window and smoked cigarettes and wandered off to go to the convenience store.

I know the feeling all to well. The same feeling I felt when my first class came in and sat down, the announcements were over and I saw all of their eager faces looking at me for instructions. I didn't know exactly what was going to happen that year. I definatly had good and bad days. I never knew what to expect from the students or parents. My experiences have definatly not been like those I was told about in college. They still are not but I just look forward to the good days and make the best of the other ones.

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