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Never Again


What went wrong in your class this year? As the school term screeches to a close, here's your chance to share without shame what bombed in your classroom this year for the benefit of your peers.

Was it a history unit that made everyone's eyes glaze over? A science experiment that set the room on fire? An awkward disciplinary moment?

Tell us your worst—someone might learn from your mistakes.


I have always felt that teaching Animal Farm was a necessary thing. This year, my students HATED Animal Farm. I am not sure that next year this novel will be dusted off and put into play.

I'm ending the worst year of teaching. The chemistry of the PM core is awful with students' schema for polite behavior nonexistent. Yesterday, without plans, several students began reading the current novel ala Readers' Theatre. WOW! Hooked! Sometimes the unexpected is the best! We'll finish on a certain upbeat!

Maybe you need a break from routine also.
Try "The Giver" by Lois Lowry

I have been teaching for 14 years, each year brings new challenges. My students are lacking in important life skills. What's up with the lack of manners and respect for each other. The transistion from 20 students in 3rd to 34 students in 4th has been a struggle for many. What can you do about all the distractions?

I, too, am a 4th grader teacher complete frustrated by students' lack of common manners and courtesy. This has been a simply awful year with disrespect and bullying rampant. My only solution has been to keep them constantly engaged in some kind of structed activity. I swore I would never become "queen of the handouts" but it has literally saved my sanity and kept the class relatively peaceful.

I'm finishing my second year of teaching, and I cannot control my class. No matter what I do, these kids will not respect me or my classroom norms. It has been a wasted year for them in my class and an emotionally draining year all around for me. I check the classified ads every single day. I despair of ever making a positive impact on my students. Next year, I will probably pack it in.

This year my nightmare was the parents. I really love parental support however, demanding, overbearing parents are another issue. I had a parent who believed that her childs needs had to be met immediately. She came to observe the class afters her child went home with complaints of not understanding the assignments. She did not like the structure of the centers nor did she understand why they were necessary. She wrote a two page letter to the administration detailing how her childs needs were not being met through centers. She felt that it did not give her child enough individual instructon. It amazing what you can observe in two hours.

I have decided that I want to switch from teaching at the high school level to teaching adults;specifically ESL. A year ago, I had my worst teaching year ever & so this past semester I taught ESL classes at the community college. However, I'm having a difficult time making ends meet with only a couple of classes at the college. Does anyone know some possibilities for how to make the switch to teaching adults and still be able to make ends meet?

This is my fifth year teaching. And I love it. What really helped is that I always explain to my children all the rewards that are possible to achieve in class/life, then I explain my rules/guidelines for achieving them.That motivates them more than anything in the world and keeps them in line.Children, I've found out respond better when given all choices and allowed to chose their on their own what to do.

I teach at a small school. Becuase I've delivered great English scores (best in the state), the administration won't allow me to teach upper-division courses. Consequently, I've been passed over for teaching other classes, namely American or British literature. I'll graduate with my second master's degree in literature this summer, and I'm ready to move on to more advanced content. When I asked about the teaching assignment, I was told, "That's the way it is - if you want a job here, you'll teach the class." Am I wrong to seek other opportunities? Thanks for your comments.

RE: Being good has tied me down.

Coming from corporate America, unfortunately this seems to be how the system works. You have a greater chance of advancement and getting the job that you want if you leave and work someplace else and then come back. Sorry to know that people done appreciate and value what they already have.

I've been teaching at the high school level in a special ed context for L.D. students but I really want to change to the reg. elementary educ. classroom level. Time for a new change. Any thoughts on making that move? Thanks!

I am a mid-life career changer leaving health care and going into teaching. This is my first year and I wasn't hired until 2 weeks before school started. I had quite a challenging year especially with discipline and apathy from my students. One student even told me that he shouldn't have to open his book to get an A. He was doing poorly because I wasn't teaching it correctly! My goal is to get my masters and maybe move on to the college venue. Believe it or not, I still enjoyed this year.

I'm just finishing my 2nd year & will also be the new area chair starting next year. I am back at school to get my level II working towards a Master's. My plate was full before the year began. I'm also a mid-life career changer. The students are awesome although had some challenges with understanding the concept of respect. My SDC classes began with 22 students & it took a while to balance to 17 students, which is still too much as far as I'm concerned. The biggest mistake I made was not being organized to start. Today I'm finally sorting through stuff I should've done much earlier. I also had my hard drive crash a few weeks ago & didn't have my assignments or grading info anywhere other than the computer. I thought we had a back up system in place, but found out differently. I will be keeping a book on all of my assignments for next year.
Overall I have never been in a more amazing field. I've been everything from a travel agent to a medical office manager and THIS is the most rewarding on a regular basis. Enjoy!!!

RE: Anonymous Special Ed Teacher with classroom control issues

Your comment is heartbreaking, but I hope you try not to despair. It sounds like you have no support from your department head or administration. Perhaps a fresh start in a district where they know how to support new teachers...

It seems that several of the posts here reflect the fight I am in right now -- I am struggling to get our school district to put some $$$ into character education. They've paid lip service to it in the past, with an outside instructor who visited classes once a week for 30-minute sessions for a total of 4 weeks.

Now they're talking about "life skills" classes utilizing the same delivery method. I would encourage teachers to learn about "Character Counts" and their methodology where "character education" is defined by six "pillars of character" (trustworthiness, which includes academic honesty; respect; responsibility; fairness; caring; and citizenship) and is integrated into the curriculum throughout the day. Values are caught, not taught. Having an outside instructor appear a few times won't cut it, especially with older students who demand that teachers demonstrate their credibility.

Character Counts also asks that the whole community - school, home, everywhere - embrace the concept and celebrate different aspects of good character, one per month, throughout the year. The statistics concerning the drop in disciplinary actions and academic improvement is staggering!

One 4th grade teacher who responded here mentioned that her class was lacking in "life skills." If I hear or see that term again, I may scream. Character qualities are not skills, they are values and principals that guide our actions. Cooking is a life skill; interviewing is a life skill; driving (or reading a bus schedule) is a life skill. But trustworthiness is a character trait. It is not an action, but an attitude. It informs a person's behavior, but in itself, trustworthiness is a state of being and the reputation that results from living according to that nature.

Thousands of schools who have embraced 24/7 character education report an incredible reduction in discipline cases, suspensions, substance abuse, and conflict. Now wouldn't that make every teacher's job a whole lot more enjoyable?

Yes, your plate is full. Yes, there is already a laundry list of requirements that need to be met. But if you are willing to work a little harder for one year (the first year is the most difficult and you will meet with great resistance), the rest of your career could be more enjoyable!

I don't work for Character Counts or the Josephson Foundation. I'm just a volunteer on our school PFO, site council, and in the classroom. I have a gifted 3rd grader who is extremely sensitive. I've been fighting the ridicule and bullying since she was in kindergarten. Good character education may be the only thing that prevents me from suing the district for not providing an emotionally safe environment.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE TEACHERS. BE the passionate advocate for good character education. Think of it as enlightened self-interest. Character Counts has a website if you're interested. Just do a search on their name.

Anybody have specific classroom tactics or strategies that went over like a lead balloon?

Inquiring minds want to know!

A classroom tactic I have been using now for 3 years is stamps. This is how it works. I teach high school and I require the students to have a binder for my class. Everytime an assignment is completed in class, they get a stamp for it. I use a different color every six weeks and a different message (Great job, Awesome). I know it sounds elementary but the students love it. They work so hard to complete assignments (no matter how hard or long the assignment is, they are busy). They are required to have 10 stamps by the end of the six weeks each stamp is worth 5 points. The other 50 pts are other notebook requirements. They can get more than 10 stamps, each additional is 1 point. Their binder is like a treasure. They know it has to be organized and they know exactly what assignments I am looking for.

Yesterday I was a teacher. Today I earn $6.15/hr as a dishwasher/food prep guy. I can't begin to explain my downfall in this limited space. I blogged the whole thing (as it was happening) at

Like Daniel getting thrown in hte lion's den, I took over, for the second time in my young career and the kids just never liked me because they got away with doing nothing before I arrived.

They complained bitterly to anyone who would listen and as a result of my being very structured, though no hard, I was not invited back after being at the school, less than two months.

Now I understand why the other teacher gave up. Why do administrators expect new teachers to know how to do everything without training. THen they are quick to dump you and make you feel absolutely incompetent in the human relations arena.

I think I'll head back to my former career or go overseas, where kids have a better appreciation for education and learning.

I am saddened to read the comments from many entry-year teachers who have felt unsupported or perhaps unprepared for today's students. We have several things happening at once in schools. First, mentoring of teachers and administrators often occurs in name only. Often mentors are formally assigned; however, they are either unavailable or uninterested in handling the important responsibility. My doctoral dissertation found many entry-year administrators experiencing the same frustrations as entry-year teachers. The difference is--when administrators are unhappy they can leave a district and go somewhere else much more easily than a teacher. Second, our colleges and departments of education are not focusing on "people" issues. Curriculum and testing are the hot topics. While serving as a lead mentor for a school district, I found teachers doing fine in curriculum but really struggling with "people" and "culture" issues. I have experienced and research these areas and have much to offer. Schools and universities have placed "people" education on the backburner. Third, most colleges and universities in our area hire retired or former administrators to supervise student teaching for universities. Most of these administrators have not been in the classroom for years and are "clueless" about today's kids. Kids have changed--society has changed. My suggestion: seek out an experienced teacher you respect and have them be your informal mentor. They can make valuable suggestions and more importantly--let you know someone cares.

I am really interested in reading articles about projects to improve my way of teaching English .I usually teach teenagers .I am from Venezuela.Please help me improve.Thanks a lot.

My7th grade Language/Lit block fell apart in the last 5 weeks of school. Over the school year we had studied research, essay writing and non-fiction literature. The final project for the year was for the to complete all the steps learned in research, including copyright laws and plagiarism, in a final research writing project. Students had previously demonstrated competence in the various skills, so the final project was culmination of all they had learned. From week 5 of the final 9 weeks, the students were to complete research, outlines, rough drafts and either a PowerPoint(r) project or a written paper. I don't know how it happened that the majority of the class did not complete the steps on the dates required nor did they complete the projects as required. The final projects I received were almost all plagiarized, complete opposite to what they had been taught. I felt like the entire semester had been a failure.

I have just completed my first year of teaching, and my thoughts about the experience are about 60/40 (positive/negative).. which I guess isn't so bad for a 1st year.

Truthfully, the entire year was very stressful as I was struggling to create lesson plans, activities, tests, etc. and to find means of successful communication with my students and to earn and maintain their respect.
The lack of respect as well as lack of interest (ie. boredom) were two of the most challenging issues I had to deal with. It is hard enough as it is to teach for the first time, but to be able to come up with lessons and assignments that spark the students' interest and keep it is a great challenge.

I've noticed that those plans that were successful resulted in better behavior.

I work in a small school, and I like all the people there. However, I feel that the support I had (ie. mentor) was not helpful to me at all. I literally spent all year searching for teacher resources, classroom management for high school, good lesson plans, etc. online. I feel like I've tried them all, and still haven't been completely successful.

If there are any HS Web Design teachers out there that are reading this, I would appreciate any advice you may have!

Thank you so much! Good luck to all of you..
And have a great summer!

I have been teaching 8th grade for 10 years and share many of the same stories from the responses I have been reading. The best thing we can do as educators is learn from our experiences and continue to collaborate with our peers. I have learned some valuable lessons over the years and the most important one is to never say anything to a student unless you mean it. If it is when an assignment is due, or a consequence to a behavior or a reward, I back up what I say. This will take care of the respect issue and support from the office. (calling home doesn't hurt either)

Another lesson I have learned is to plan meaningful units that involve hands-on at some point in my lessons. As a Social Studies teacher, I have a hard time gaining the attention of my students. So this year, I included art as often as possible. We created Native American medallions, stamps of Thomas Jefferson, African quilts and even honored a Civil Rights activist with an art piece. The students loved it and asked me frequently what our next art project would be. Allowing the students to do art took the burden off of me, they did the research and demonstrated their knowledge in a creative way. The best lesson I learned this year - do what works!

My students also hated Animal farm! I'd much rather rewrite that old yarn with a modern touch. ;)

I took chem in the summer at SMC with Gary Strathearn.He seemed like a really nice guy an a good teacher.Chemistry is not my strong point and I discussed this with him.He asked me if I would be willing to meet with him to get help to prove to him I am willing to work for a good grade.While meeting with him he proposed that I sleep with him to get a good grade.I have never been soo scared and shocked in my entire life.I went to the school and the head of HR treated me as if I was lying and as if I had done something wrong.I was half way done with his class when this happened.Instead of putting me in another class that would end the same time as that one, they placed me in a new class nad I had to strart all over again from scratch.I felt like I was constantly being punished when I was the victim.Obviously the school didn't believe me, beacause he still works there.

RE:Tamasin Artru/ESL Teacher

I feel your pain as most community colleges hire almost exclusively for part-time instructors. When I taught ESL part-time, I had other jobs to supplement my income. I am now seeking to re-enter the community college as an Adult ESL instructor. My background is Spanish, BS, Adult Education, MAEd. I suggest you think about tutoring in your specialty area. You might be able to get hired by a tutoring company or work as a private tutor. You can probably apply online to the major tutoring companies in your area. Local colleges or universities hire tutors as well. Don't give up your dream.

dear loneice ningo: i think the problem is in you not in the students. you are disliked in every school you teach due to you're rudeness and disrespecting the students. They always find a way to get back at you because they have the right evidence to prove that you are not a good teacher. whenever the students come to u for help on their own time, you pretend that you are not in the classroom by locking yourself in. By the way , not only do the students hate you but also the teachers think that you are a disrespectful person with low manners. They always make fun of you with other students. take the piece of advice from me: your attitude sucks and you seriously need a makoever !!!! Thanks

dear loneice ningo ... i agree with anonymous #1 person ..you taught me for a year and i have never seen students hate you or talk about u the way they do . you're disorganization was one of the main things that killed us the most . you always made mistakes in our grades and tell us to come and change it after school. whenever we come, you lock your classroom and turn off the lights and pretend that you are not inside. Your class notes were very vague and you never took the time to teach us properly.

yes i remember ms ningo... she always kicked students out of the class and used it as an excuse not to teach. She used to say that students disrespect her while she was the one who treated us like worthless people. She always used words that makes students become more frustrated like "shut up" whenever she told a student to shut up, they student immediatly starts to go crazy and become more angry. I never seen her tell someone to shut up and he/she actually did.

Comments are now closed for this post.


Recent Comments

  • a student who dislikes you .. (to ms.ningo): yes i remember ms ningo... she always kicked students out read more
  • annonymous: dear loneice ningo ... i agree with anonymous #1 person read more
  • anonymous... dear loneice ningo: dear loneice ningo: i think the problem is in you read more
  • Donald Schwidde, Language Educator: RE:Tamasin Artru/ESL Teacher Tamasin, I feel your pain as most read more
  • I tReated like I did am the 1 who did somethingg wrong: I took chem in the summer at SMC with Gary read more




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