Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Friday, 5 June 2009


I am going slowly, but inevitably, insane.

The monotonous drill bite of relentless stupidity, laziness and sheer teenage bloody mindedness that is my clientele, is forcing me jaw grindingly towards the abyss.

I hate my job.

I hate it so much that it lies like a death weight in my stomach and claws at my intestines when I try to breathe.

When will it end? What do you have to do to get a result? How much assistance can you give without doing the test for them?

I am so frustrated that the need to primally scream is almost life threatening. If I don't, I may spontaneously combust.

My problem is that I am a problem solver and this problem ain't getting solved.

My initial idea was to give them what they needed at their level so that they may experience success and be motivated to progress.

This was an abject failure. Teenagers do not like to have their weaknesses pointed out to them, even if it is not explicitly done. In simply providing a curriculum which is matched to ability, you emphasise the current inability. No one thanks you for this.

Next I tried to provide relevant tasks which gave opportunities for skills to be practised and consolidated in a meaningful context.
"This is baby stuff!" they moaned and continued to be unco-operative.

So I gave them work from the year level text and reinforced it with multiple practice papers.
"This is BORING." they protested.

So I turned it into a game.
"This is BABYISH."

In an ability streamed group they resented being dummies and became behaviour problems. Now in a mixed ability group they continue to write themselves off and don't complete tasks which could help them succeed. Even with work scaffolded to the nth degree, they are so sure they will fail that they do not even try. And I am exhausted by trying to make them.

In our tests this year, we have been including worked examples to jog their memories and to overcome the comprehension and literacy difficulties some kids experience. Has it helped? For some maybe, but overwhelmingly there is a large group who simply DO NOT ENGAGE with the example. Seriously, it may just as well have been written in invisible ink!

What are we achieving in this monumental struggle? It feels like we are trying to move Mt Lofty with a shoulder shove. I sense resistance. I do not think that all parties to this endeavour are on the same page. I suspect Mt Lofty is QUITE HAPPY WHERE IT IS!

So why, why, why am I knocking myself (and my dear supervisor who has been working hard with me to create differentiated tasks/worksheets) out in this classic example of a power struggle when it is unquestionably evident who is going to win???????

I want to go back to primary teaching and I want to teach reading again.

Is it vanity to want to do something you know you were good at? Perhaps.

If so, bring on the mirror.


we_be_toys said...

The two words, "teenager", and "math" put together is enough to make me want to scream, and I'm not teaching the little monkeys. Is it possible to teach any subject successfully if the students are resistant to learning? It sounds like you've done all you could, and then some. They're either going to have learned it and will pass or they're going to be taking it again, right?
I see nothing wrong with wanting to go back and teach younger kids - I think they're a whole lot more fun to work with, personally.
Okay, one, two, three - let's SCREAM together - Aughhhhh!!!

HipMomma said...

I couldn't do it. I got my degree in elementary teaching because I always thought that they wouldn't fight back as hard. Goodness. I really has to be hard waking up everyday for a job that really brings you down.

Arizaphale said...

WBT: Aughhhhhhh!!!
Thank you. I feel a bit better.

Hipmomma: I got mine in elementary(primary) for the same reason! Why then am I here in this situation? Secondary teaching is a young person's game >:-(

Jill/Twipply Skwood said...

Oh and here I've always been saying I might want to try middle schoolers (11-14 year olds) one of these days if I ever get tired of preschool. But then I always remember that I'd have to actually know enough about any one subject to teach it at that level. Well, anyway it sounds like it's just not all that fun. Plus, grading - ick!!!!!!

So are you going to last out the year and then go back to the little ones? Do you have a plan for getting out?

I don't think it's vanity. I think it's just a wiser use of your time to work somewhere that you feel effective.

Not to mention the stress that hating your job puts on your body. To feel so-so about a job, to live for the weekends is ok if that's what makes ends meet. But to stay in a job that is eating you alive, I think that could only lead to health problems.

Suzer said...

And, why don't you go back to doing what you love most then?

Arizaphale said...

Jill: Health...yes. Been off school most of the week.
Suzer: Who will employ me? I've been out of primary for 4 years now....

Suzer said...

Is it that difficult to get back in here? If new immigrants are getting in upon arrival...surely you can try, if that's what you want?

Elisa said...

Oh dear Arizaphale - It is terrible to read that you are so frustrated and upset with your job situation! I am so sorry they're trying your patience like they are...the little punks.

What's the deal? The kids' attitudes and the assistance (or lack thereof) from parents is what makes the USA's "No Child Left Behind" plan a joke. Teachers are "blamed" if the kids aren't getting it....nevermind that they don't want to get it, their parents don't care if they get it, etc.....

Do take care of yourself and start searching for a primary job! Seriously - your health is too important to go to a job that you are at the point of hating. I know, I know, easier said than done. But try to take one step each day in that direction and maybe by the end of the school year you'll have found something else.

We're all rooting for you no matter what you choose!

All the best,

Andi said...

May I just say how MUCH I can relate????!!!! What teacher does not HATE his/her job at least once a day, a week, a month, OFTEN? I do teach reading (technically called language arts, but it includes vocabulary, reading, writing, comprehension, grammar, listening, speaking, etc...) and I feel the same many days. Kids HATE to read, do not want to read, refuse to read, on and on...really it is a similar reaction to math. I have nothing comforting to say except the following:
1. do scream as much as possible...it WILL make you feel better.
2. indulge in a good stiff drink (or two or three)...as it will make you feel better.
3. continue to commiserate with ALL who will listen...this too will make you feel better.
4. eat something with NO regard to calories, fat content, or health whatsoever...anything your heart desires...this will really make you feel better.
If this does not work, then I suggest finding somewhere else to work.
Much love and many many many huge enormous sympathies. I hope things get better SOON!

natalie said...

Oh, my dear friend who lives across the entire continent from me! How we are kindred spirits! Are you SURE you are not my long lost sister???

I first read your response post to this one and laughed at myself. I could have written that one.

Then I came to check this one out, to find out what in the world you were talking about and I REALLY laughed out loud. I teach SEVEN AND EIGHT YEAR OLDS and I could have written this post. The problem is NOT with the teachers or even with the students. It is the entire society in which we are raising our children. Parents do not expect anything from their children, they do not honor hard work, everything should come easy. Goodness knows, I work hard for my money, but I still do not want to save and wait for something. I whip out my credit card and charge away. My parents did not instill this extremely virtuous behavior in me...I learned it from everything around me! I am THIRTY-ONE years old. I should know better! And these children, my goodness. Of course they are exhausting us. They expect us to entertain them like a television program or a video game. I am not so easily turned on and off. I can not tell you how many times I told the children that I was not there to entertain them, but to teach them.

I knew my friend Andi must have been by here. She is my real life friend and I can not tell you how many times I've called her and begged her to meet me for something fat-ladden or alcoholic after school, just to be together and to share our stories. Sometimes we laugh, sometimes we cry, sometimes we kick each other in the butt and say, "GO BACK TO WORK TOMORROW."

Much, much love to you, my dear friend. I wish you were in Macon, GA with us. Andi and I would certainly share our cookies and cream milkshake with you or meet you at the Starbucks that is exactly halfway between our homes. Or heck, you could come over Tuesday night when we make grilled cheeses and cupcakes together.

A Free Man said...

Ah, Ariza. The term's almost done. Hang in there. Can you not go back to primary? There are always adverts for teachers. Try and do what you want and what you love.