Jan 31, 2009

A Year Later, A Lot Wiser...


Apparently trying to start and update a blog during my first year of teaching was a bit naive on my part. :) Now, the first year is over, and I'm half way through my 2nd year. It's been good so far. Better than last year, only because *I* am better than last year. I feel so much more comfortable and in control than I did last year, and better able to decide which things are worth fighting / working for, and which I can / should let slide.

My school (in the Bronx) still kinda sucks. And by "kinda" I mean, I wouldn't send my children there (if I had children) for a million dollars!! We're an "A" school again this year, but then, anyone that encourages teachers to lie on their survey "so we can get the extra $3,000" and changes students' Regents scores against most teachers' wills can probably keep an "A" indefinitely! They also change grades behind the teacher's backs and pass students who don't deserve it. The biggest area for concern, for me, is the many many students who need SpEd / ESL services and aren't getting them. Our admin "faked" some services for a while, until they thought they were going to get caught, but we have students that I and other teachers reccomended LAST September for testing that have STILL not been tested! It's crazy. When a boy who is CLEARLY autistic, who has no affect / emotions, and little speech, sits in your class day after day, YEAR after year, without any help, it's enough to make you physically ill...

It's not ALL bad here. The students are great, for the most part! :) There are some great teachers that I love. A few that are absolutely WORTHLESS! (I mean, literally. A couple will erase another teacher's name from the board, write their own name down, have their students copy the OTHER teacher's notes, and sit and chill for an hour). The administration is pretty clueless. I know they try...one of our two APs would probably be great working somewhere else. There is NO discipline in our school. Kids lie, cheat, steal (expensive electronics), and fight / riot, with little to no reprisal. And the worst part is, they KNOW they can get away with it. Our principal HATES anything "offical" being reported and pitches a fit whenever the police want to make offical reports when a student has assaulted them. Bleh.

I've personally filed paperwork against a student that was threatening other students and ME, but had it swept under the rug time and again. It's only a matter of time before...

I don't know how much longer I can / want to teach here...but in this economy, it isn't the best time to be looking for a job. Although, if Bloomberg get's his way, I'll probably be out of here anyway, since I'm a "new" teacher. That really sucks, because I love my job, and am pretty damned good at it. It's a little daunting to think of switching schools, too, because this is all I've ever known, and for the most part, day to day, I can make it through and do my job well, because the admin is so clueless they might tell you to do / change something, but they NEVER follow up on it, so I'm pretty free to do what I want. :) Also, I've heard that a lot of NYC schools are just as bad as this, or worse, so I could be jumping from the frying pan into the fire... :(

Don't have much contact with Teach For America this second year, other than meeting with my Program Director, who is pretty darned cool. I'm not crazy about how much email I've been getting about "going corporate"...makes me upset to think how many other teachers might've stayed in the classroom were TFA not dangling these "opportunities" under our noses ad infinitum. That's one thing Teaching Fellows has over TFA (imo): a genuine interest in recruiting people who will probably stay in the classroom for a while.

Anyway, I promise to *try* to update more, now that I've got a handle on things in the "trenches." I still love my job, LOVE my kids, and know I'm doing what I'm meant to do.