Teacher bees-advice for someone considering it?

posted 7 months ago in Career
Post # 16
11 posts

dianaj17 :  Science teacher here.  I left a high-paying position in industry in order to become a full-time high school teacher.  It had gotten to the point where I felt that teaching (I was also a part-time college instructor at the time) was what was getting me motivated to get up and go to work every day and not my industry job, so I realized that teaching was my true passion.

I will be honest and say that nothing could have prepared me for how hard my first year was.  I went into the position knowing that I would need to work my butt off, but the sheer amount of work that comes with the first year made it quite stressful.  However, it does get easier over time.  I am currently on my second year of teaching, and while it’s still a lot of work (don’t get me started on grading), because you have already figured out the curriculum, you can be a little more creative with the lessons.  I’m already looking forward to the upcoming school year!

The thing with teaching is that you really need to like the job.  If you like the job, you will be fine.  There are days when even the best-laid lesson plans will flop and kids will be difficult.  There will be times when you are stressed out of your mind.  All the same, (and maybe I’m biased because of this) but it is probably one of the most rewarding jobs out there.  You get to share your knowledge with kids, potentially growing their interests in your subject area and helping them shape their own college endeavors.  And the kids overall are great!  They always bring something to the table that makes every day in the classroom fun and new.

Post # 17
7002 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2012

I spent one year as an elementary educuation major. One year before I realized it wasn’t for me. I’m now a professional photographer.

I always thought I wanted to be a teacher, because honestly when you’re young and female and there’s nothing you really feel that passionate about…..you become a teacher. And that’s such a horrible way to look at choosing a future but sadly I feel like young people aren’t ever encouraged to explore “different” paths and many find them going with the most traditional because they just don’t know any different. 

My Junior year of high school I took a class in the health/teaching field where I was at 4 different middle schools teaching health to 6th graders. Essentially we were creating key-note lessons plans (why not to smoke, effects of alcohol, etc) and teaching the class one day a week. It was designed to give you a intro into teaching and for the most part I enjoyed it and pushed forward with my plan. The reality is that it was a total fluff class and in no way prepared you for what it’s really like.

My senior year I took an elective class for teaching, and so I was essentially a classroom assistant in a 3rd grade class. Every day I’d head to the elementary school and be the assistant for the last 2 hours of the day. The teacher was my best friend’s mom so I felt really comfortable taking charge and doing whatever I felt needed to be done, which helped a lot. That expereince should have been enough to make me realize I shouldn’t be a teacher. 

Parents. Parents are the #1 reason I would never be a teacher. The shit you deal with from parents (and this was 16 years ago, it’s SO much worse now) is enough to send anyone over the edge. They all think their little Susie is a precious snowflake who is more special than all the others. Gosh forbid they ever do anything wrong….it’s never their fault and it’s always the teacher. You can’t discipline them and half the time the parents aren’t doing their part at home to keep the kids on track. I live in an affluent area and even still the shit I saw would make your head spin. Parents sending their kids to school with head lice over.and.over simply because they were too lazy. That’s not even the worst of it.

Still I headed off to college as an education major. Half way through my second semester I realized I had no desire to be a teacher. I was at a college I hated and it was a real wakeup call for me. I transferred schools, changed my major, and am so thankful that I did not become a teacher.

I think you need to have a real passion for it, otherwise you’ll be miserable. I know some really really great teachers and they are saints. 

Post # 18
1114 posts
Bumble bee

MissCtoMrsR :  I am so sorry you are dealing with this. I know how rough that is. I worked at a similar school in the Middle East and I had to leave – it wasn’t sustainable to keep working there. There was a teacher there that everyone respected. She swept into the classroom and it was silent. When she spoke, everyone listened. She kept her voice low and calm. I mad respected her. 

After 10 years I am pretty good at behavior management, to the point that I never have the same behavior issues my fellow teachers have. My middle school students stay in seats, don’t talk over me, and stay relatively engaged. I rarely have to discipline. In talking with my students, they claim that I am stricter and the other teachers aren’t, but they love that I am because they know where they stand and the classroom is calmer. I am strict yes, but I am never mean. I never yell or even raise my voice. 

Specialist teachers have it rough, because you see the kids for a short period of time and a lot of kids view the class as ‘extra recess’ and not work. Behavior management is usually lacking, I think because their classes aren’t run like normal classes and they should be. 

Here are some of my best tips for managing a class.

First, rules and consequences. Have a simple set of very basic rules posted clearly. Talk about them at the beginning of class. Rules like 1. Raise your hand to speak 2. Stay in seats 3. Be prepared for class 4. Respect yourself and others. I go by a 3 strike rule. I have a chart with the kids names and the rule number. When a kid breaks I rule, I simply say, “You broke rule 3” as I walk by. When they break a rule twice, they have to get up and go to a desk in the back. I explain this desk to them at the beginning of the year. It is not a ‘time out’ chair really. It’s recognizing that they might need to take a break. They can come back whenever they want to – they don’t have to wait for me to tell them to rejoin the class. If a kid fights me on it, I don’t force them or argue with them. After 3 strikes I send a form letter home. They start over the next time I see them. What is important here is not how parents react or how kids react, at first. The important thing is that they see some sort of enforced discipline cycle. 

Second, attitude. Never ever yell or threaten. Always remain as calm as possible. Don’t argue or act upset. Kids can be really horrible and it’s very hard but you can’t take it personally. It’s a losing battle, sometimes they are trying to push your buttons for fun. Kids want to be treated with respect and kindness, and if you aren’t they won’t respect you. Likewise, if you aren’t strict and don’t enforce your own rules, they also won’t respect you. That means that if someone calls out an answer you need to tell them they broke a rule. Even if you love that kid and they never do it. You have to apply the rules across the board. You have to be strict about it. When a kid breaks a rule, I strive to treat them as if nothing has happened. I work very hard to let them know that I still care about them just as much and I’m not angry with them. 

Third, presence. I am aware of my body language. When I want my kids’ attention, I move to the front of the room and ask for it. I don’t move and I don’t talk until I get it. I never talk over students or raise my voice to be heard. I don’t repeat things I have already said. When I finally get their attention, I deliver instructions in as short a time as I can, and I try to be serious. Lighthearted fun is for engaging instruction. I joke and act silly plenty. But when I’m giving instructions or talking about discipline I am all business. I speak slowly and calmly. 

Fourth, be aware of your role and what you are doing wrong, and be aware of the atmosphere in the room. Kids should want to be in your class. They should get something out of it. Engaging lessons, a connection, something. Before every class I spend a few minutes asking the kids how they are doing. I share something of my own life. If I am not relating to the kids, if I am not designing lessons that are engaging (not every lesson but most) then the kids will lose interest and at that point it is partially my fault that they are bored and acting out. If I am wishy-washy with discipline or I yell and threaten them and they dont respect me, it’s my fault. If everyone is exhausted and people are upset and there is just no learning happening I need to take a step back and do something else. You have to take a good look at yourself and see where you contribute to the problem and that is NOT easy. 

Fifth, cooperate. The classroom is both yours and the students. Each are equally responsible for what goes on there. So, involve the students. Tell them that you have been having a difficult time teaching because things are out of control, and ask them what they think about it. Kids are smart and they already know what the issues are. Ask them if there is anything they think you should be doing differently and be prepared to listen. If they bring up mistakes you make, apologize for them and search for ways to do better. Involve them in this process, but remember you are still the boss and what you say goes. Still, kids crave being heard and respected, and they love a disciplined class. 

Sixth, love your students. If they talk a lot, tell them you love a talkative class because everyone has such interesting ideas. Tell them you love how energetic they are. If they don’t engage, tell them that you appreciate that they are introspective. It doesn’t matter what, but make them feel like they are loved every day and that you are HAPPY they are in your class. A lot of kids feel like teachers don’t like them. Show them you do. Give them compliments. If they say they hate you, say that’s fine but I still like you. If they refuse to do work, tell them you are confident in their ability to do it. If they make mistakes, share embarrassing stories of your own. Make your classroom a place they feel they belong. 

I know this was long but I hope it helped! 

Post # 19
1017 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2019

strawberrysakura :  Thank you for your suggestions! I’m actually moving states to a hopefully better area for me, so I literally can’t go back to my current job lol. People have told me that not all schools are like my current one, and I shouldn’t base how much I like being a teacher on this school and my experiences thus far.

Post # 20
1114 posts
Bumble bee

MissCtoMrsR :  I’m glad you are moving! Sometimes you do just need a change of venue. Definitely all schools are different. I wish you the best of luck!

Post # 21
131 posts
Blushing bee

strawberrysakura :  I just wanted to thank you for writing this out. I’m in the middle of getting my teaching degree right now, and I will definitely reference it in the future when I’m in the classroom. 

Post # 23
4426 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

strawberrysakura :  Yes to all of this. Behavior management and relationship building is my strength, so I fully agree with you. 

I’m a big believer in Restorative Practices, and helping kids understand how their behavior affects others. There are some great, quick reads in this area to help you build the culture you want while maintaining your expectations. Restorative Practices is about removing the punishment as a deterrent and instead holding kids accountable for their choices while expecting them to repair any harm done to the relationship with the action (works in adults, too). 

I’ve learned that if I’m having a rough time, it’s usually not the kids. It’s me. I have to realize this and have a mind shift about whatever (or whoever at times) is keeping me in my funk. This happens almost every year for some reason, and the moment I’m able to break out of it, things get better. Keep that in mind. Inevitably, you’re going to have some time during the year where you’re more negative. But, you can pull yourself out of it if you do what teachers do-see the positives in your kids. 

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