Feeling defeated and discouraged...sorry negative and lengthy rant

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by everywoman, Jan 7, 2010.

  1. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    Put a big stamp of loser on my forehead and hang me high over the town...

    I have been a teacher for 23 years.
    I know a lot of you have very little respect for people in my profession----and I understand there are some really bad teachers out there---if you only knew the half of what we have to deal with.

    I have classrooms full of difficult children who will not do what they need to do in order to learn what I am required by national, state, district, and school mandates to teach them. They don't have to, because in my district the lowest grade we can assign for a quarter is a 62.

    I do my job for a lot less than I am worth in the "real" world. I work from 7 am every morning until midnight every night to do all I need to do to make relevant, timely, meaningful lessons, only to have to coddle young adults to do the assignments that they need to do to pass all district, state, and national testing.

    We are raising a group of entitled, immoral, irresponsible people who are no more prepared for the world than a toddler. They don't like to read...so they don't. They think it's okay to go around with earbuds in their ears, even in the classroom. Many can't read beyond the 4th grade level, but I am required, by law, to teach them on grade level.

    They have no written, spoken, or visual vocabulary nor the ability to speak or write without butchering English grammar. I'm not talking small grammatical mistakes; I had a senior who could not read the word Switzerland in her own power point presentation.

    I'm tired. I gave an exam today to a group of seniors. The average grade was a 58. I know that I taught them well. The final exams for each class in my district is constructed by the district or the state (EOC's). The tests emphasize basic reading skills. One questions was a vocabulary question with the word trudge as the unknown word from the line "And toward our distant rest began to trudge." It was from a poem about war. The choices included: march, walk, plod, skip. 11% of my students got the question right. The majority chose another answer based on context clues rather than vocabulary knowledge.

    I just got a call from my principal about a student who is upset about his grade. He spent a lot of time in my class each day talking about drinking and partying and then getting upset and an attitude if I asked him to stop.

    I am done---put a fork in me!
  2. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE

    I'm so sorry. I spent 9 years in various high school classrooms, sometimes as the teacher, sometimes as the helper. I understand your frustration and remember the frustrations of my colleagues.

    I think you somehow need to hold the thought that you might not hear the reward stories right away. It might be ten years from now that a student will see you at the mall/in a restaurant or write a letter to thank you for changing his/her life. I know it happens because I was one of those students in college who later sought out the professor who changed mine.

    Gentle hugs,
  3. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    I understand.
  4. muttmeister

    muttmeister Well-Known Member

    I can definitely relate. I am a retired (and tired) teacher; taught every year from the fall of 1969 till the spring of 2003; had everybody from kindergarten to high school over the years.
    So much of what you say is true; we are trying to teach thing they don't want to know to kids who don't want to learn backed by parents who want their kids to get A's even if they deserve a 0. If they don't excel, it must be the teachers' fault. We have a system that is unrealistic, won't back us up, and refuses to spend the money to meet the special needs of students unless they have a visible, "popular" disabiity.

    All I can tell you is, there are kids there who do want to learn. There are a few parents who will back you up. You are making a difference, even if you don't see it every day. I know I helped some kids while I was a teacher. I also know there were some who passed through my room, considered me a witch with a B, and will probably be frying my hamburgers when I go to Mickey Ds. But then there are the others. There is an old proverb that says that if you save one life it is the same as saving the whole world. Concentrate on the things you CAN do; not on the things you can't. There are some kids and parents who will never get it no matter how good a job you do. You can't save them all; but maybe you can save some. Isn't that better than saving none?
  5. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I appreciate you EW! I know many do not, but I do! It is a thankless job and a very difficult one to say the least.

    I am sorry it is so difficult to educate our young. It should be more important to this country.
  6. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    I owe the fact that I have a job that pays well to my teachers.

    I had a few who seemed uninterested. But for the most part - my teachers - especially in high school - were awesome people.

    I didn't appreciate them then. I do now. Even the lady who called everyone by their last name ("Mr. Smith", "Ms. Mills" and so on) and refused to even try to pronounce my last name. Even so, she was great.

    EW - I appreciate you. Because those entitled, spoiled brats? Won't make it. The world isn't like that. But someone, somewhere in your classes will excel - and you will have had a hand in it.
  7. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful


    You know I've run into more than my fair share of bad teachers, and one that was abusive. But it has not changed my respect for teachers. Teachers have one of the hardest most thankless jobs out there. And I most certainly appreciate good teachers and teachers who care enough to do their best even when their districts and law and such make that next to impossible.

    Thankfully we don't have such a regulation here or else the entire student body would never open a book. I am soooo not kidding. And I know you've seen my posts where even college professors are now also coddling these types of students.:mad:

    I saw the first signs of this when I was back in HS. Suddenly everyone became worried about a student's self esteem and it became more important than their education.

    We were required to pass a govt class in order to graduate. We had a great teacher. She went over that material a million times in class. It was written all over the blackboards. She did it on overhead machines. She showed films that were interesting. My God the woman even drilled us every single day over the stuff that would be on the final exam. I kid you not I never opened the book, never took it home, never spent an hour studying. Not because I was lazy but because it wasn't necessary. It was drilled into my skull long before I took the exam. lol But 2/3 of the class flunked it the first time around. How I will never know. Only 4 didn't pass it the 2nd time. She told those 4 not to give up. She'd work with them in class, students would help work with them in class, she'd even help them after class but she wouldn't let them fail.

    Those 4 students arranged to meet her after school. They shot her to death.:(

    It was a teacher who turned me around from thinking I was an idiot to thinking I had a brain. His name was Michael Haynes. He looked like Burl Ives as the snowman on Rudolf....minus the snow. lol And yes he dressed in a 3 piece suit and bowler hat every day for class. The last name is a coincidence. (husband's is Haynes) But the fact that Travis' middle name is Michael is not. He's named for that teacher. :D There were other teachers who re-enforced that I had a brain, but he got the ball rolling.

  8. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Argh! I don't know HOW you do it. I truly and honestly dont. Between kids feeling entitled to grades they don't earn and behaviour that would never be allowed in our day, to administration that forces teachers to pass students that aren't meeting standards, it seems you are right. A bunch of kids growing into uneducated adults, and a ton of teachers whose hands are forced behind their back.

    difficult child is in grade 11 now. He comes home ready to go head to head with administration. He hates school specifically because he is bored. He is learning nothing. Teachers probably WOULD teach him at or above grade level, if allowed and if other students would keep up. However, this is some of the things he has to say:

    1) Grade 11 and 12 students in his class are reading below his easy child sisters grade level (she is in grade 5, 10 years old). He sees her materials from school and recreational novels, and they are far beyond the abilities of his peers for the most part

    2) Nobody fails the courses. Ever. Not truant kids. Not kids who haven't hadn't in a single assignment and have failed most tests.

    3) Teachers no longer expect anything because there is no consequence if kids don't achieve anything

    4) His grade 11 english lit class: They read "The Black Donnelly's". NOT a large book. It took 3 weeks of 2 hours a day (30 hours total) of in class time to read the book. He read it in one class, finished it that night at home. He spent 3 weeks doing NOTHING but listen to his iPod to kill time each day in english class while others finished reading. The assignment was to write a book report based on standards and specific requirements. He did it the night after he finished the book and handed it in. The others took 2 weeks of in class time to do the report. Verdict: difficult child got 94% on his report. He read the book on Monday, first day it was assigned. He did the report Tuesday evening. He handed it in Wednesday. For the next 4 weeks and 3 days, he listed to his iPod. The highest grade in the class other than his? 52%.

    5) His grade 11 math class? The students are working at a grade 3-4 math level, what his easy child sister did in math about 2 years back. Most are failing THAT.

    The list goes on. Many of his teachers tell him that he shouldn't be at his school. He should be at a private school that EDUCATES since he's a sponge for knowledge and if unchallenged? He hates school. Problem is that we dont' really have private schools here.

    I can't imagine caring about educating our young people, and not being able to do a thing to get the kids to actually be invested. The environment you work in sounds set up for most to get nothing but a passing grade, that they didn't even earn. How sad.

    I won't stick a fork in you (ouch!) but I will applaud you for going to work everyday. Please keep faith. There are kids like my difficult child who appreciate a teacher that wants to teach and is invested in their students. It keeps my difficult child sane at this point.
  9. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator


    I come from poor white trash (it's true!) and that being said, I owe my current life to two teachers: 3rd grade and HS music.

    My 3rd grade told me one day that the world was full of poor kids that go nowhere and it was up to me to do better. No one else would do it for me. She also told me I was smart and could do it. That conversation will stay with me forever.

    And my HS music teacher helped me stay out of trouble as a teen... he cared about his students and held us accountable. He never threatened to kick us out of band or drop us from the music program but the kids he thought weren't applying themselves had to file sheet music and do other mundane tasks. I think that was to keep us busy. ;-)

    There were others, of course, and the good greatly outweighed the bad.

    So what does this mean to you EW? You are that teacher too. You are the one that sees your students as human beings, warts and all. You give them your best every day and encourage them to do the samee. And I know you... you will walk into school tomorrow and do it all over again because you are a teacher.

    It's what you do.

    Thank you for that.
  10. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    I don't understand how you can't give them less than a 62. That is still passing. It just boggles my mind.

    Our district recently did something similar, but the grade is a 42. Kids can still fail - and they should if they don't do the work.

    I'm sorry you're feeling so discouraged. Society needs to step up and realize what we are (not) preparing our kids for. And the rest of society needs to stop coddling the ones who just want to skate by.

    This is not a reflection of you. This is a reflection of a phenomenon that has been going on for decades now. This is the result.

  11. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    EW I feel for you. I don't know if I just think "old-school" in this area or if this is a biased, layman's (and parent's) opinion, but I think it's a reflection of how much our whole society has changed from years passed. I do agree that some of those changes were good and warranted but it appears to me that our society just goes from one extreme to another.

    I for one think discipline needs to be put back in schools, but appropriate discipline that still takes into consideration that some kids need a different approach to things in order to thrive. I also think parents need backing. It seems to me that everyone's answer around my jurisdiction anyway is to involve the legal system because the schools nor the parents have appropriate backing to keep kids on the right track and it's left both school personnel and parents frustrated and pointing the finger at each other.

    Now, I would never condone going to extreme with punishments like a small percentage of people did, or trying to teach all students like they all can fit into the same mold, but just because a small percentage of people could never get it, it seems like everything turned to chaos.

    By the time my son was in 3rd grade here are lessons he had learned, which was dictated by our school board and government: 1) The parent had no right to touch a child and if they did, the child was to tell someone at school and the parent would be in trouble, 2) The school personnel was not allowed to tell a child to write sentences as a punishment or stay after school if they did something wrong because they was determined to be inappropriate punishment; the school could, however, have a child arrested, 3) It is highly unlikely that authority figures across the different spectrums (parents, school, legal authorities) will agree on any issue pertaining to a minor, much less back each other up, so any minor who gets into trouble will see chaos instead of a "wall" of disapproval.

    Like I say, this might just be my pessimistic, biased perspective but with my experience with my son, the way things are sure have lead him to have more problems, not less.
  12. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    I, too, feel badly that you are discouraged. In particular I feel badly that you and Kathy and a few other teachers who are CD Board members feel that "we" in the family don't respect teachers. I think that is a misconception. Many of us with difficult child's don't respect teachers who don't give a flip about children with alternative needs....not punks, just difficult child's who are often difficult to teach. That is a whole different thing that not respecting teachers. The good teachers stand out and make a lifelong impression. I'm almost seventy and I still :redface: detest my Jr. High Spanish teacher. I'm almost seventy and I still totally respect the teachers that
    nurtured me and my classmates. We are all humans and a degree does not change whether we are "good" or "bad". Sometimes it takes decades
    to truly respect those who had a positive impact.

    by the way, my older sister who is 76 lost her job last year when a young inexperienced new Principal and VP came to the school where she taught
    disadvantaged students. Her class (as had often happened in her career)
    went from being "losers" to scoring high on the precious FCATs. She left
    for the school at 5 AM and didn't return home until 6 PM or later. She spoke with the minority parents and the parents of difficult children on a regular basis including weekends. She was "released" from her contract by the
    "upstarts" because she didn't blend well. She is vivacious and energetic
    and truly saddened that she no longer is an educator. The faculty now
    includes some recent graduates who don't even know how to prepare a

    I've spend decades as a participating parent at elementary schools (3)
    and middle schools (3). It is harder and harder for teachers each year
    and the student body is rarely easy to deal with. In the long run...I'm confident you will feel proud. Hang in there. DDD
  13. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I credit my two minor children's wonderful WONDERFUL teachers for their progress! My son has Aspergers and my daughter is Learning Disability (LD). Both are doing so well and practically mainstreamed. Without the skill of dedicated teachers, I shiver to think of how it could have been.

    If the parents don't care, the kids won't learn. That's not your fault. If the district won't let you fail a child for his own good, that's ridiculous. It's again not your fault or responsibility.

    I can only imagine the grief teachers get from parents. I gave them a lot of grief early on because I had been Learning Disability (LD) myself without any help and my school memories were that of the terror of being called on. However, these great teachers won me over, and I have a lot of respect for teachers. I don't think I could put up with the kids or their "pass my child no matter what" parents.

    I think you should pat yourself on the back and look at your success stories. They may come back to thank you. My kids still visit their old teachers. :D
  14. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    EW, I cannot think of one person here who has nothing but respect for your profession. There are always "bad apples".

    Having met you in person, I have even more respect for you as a person. You are one delightful lady.

    Unfortunately, you are working against a system that is pushing rote knowledge versus an all encompassing education.

    On top of that, there are many parents (for whatever reason) who feel that all the problems can be solved by school. Then you actually grade a student on their performance & those same parents are ready to rescue that student versus being partners with the school & teachers.

    I hate what is happening in our schools; teachers are becoming more & more discouraged. All the testing & such has taken the joy our of your profession.

    I hope tomorrow is a better day.
  15. jal

    jal Member


    I too hope that tomorrow is a better day. I have nothing but respect for the teaching profession. I was blessed academically (with-the teachers I had) and can recall at least 1 positive thing that I took away from each teacher from K-12 and then again during my 4 years of college. I only ever had 1 bad one in the 5th grade and that was because she was a severe alcoholic. I am early in the game with teachers that have my son (2nd grade), but the ones I have encountered when he was in district and now in his modified program, have been nothing short of wonderful, supportive, encouraging and kind.

    I agree that the kids nowadays feel entitled and are snotty and lazy with their attitude and application. They feel deserving and it really stinks. You see it everywhere they are (working at a store, etc.)

    I think No Child Left behind has had a lot of negative impact on the teaching profession in a way. How is it that 20 yrs. ago a teacher could fail a child if need be and now the lowest grade you can give is a 62?

    I appreciate what you do. Thank you.
  16. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    Teachers influenced by life choices more than anyone else I had contact with as a young person. They filled the gap I needed filled that my family didn't realize was important. They taught me to understand history influences the future. They taught me educating women was important and would lead to personal greatness whatever that meant for a person.
    They taught me about the joy and passion of reading. It was a lightbulb moment for me. Reading because I wanted to instead of because I had to was a gift that I could never thank those teachers enough. There was no reading material in my home and no one read a novel or even the newspaper.

    Everyone of the teachers that left an impression wanted to teach a child and didn't feel they went above and beyond. To me it was a key to a future completely different than was expected of me. It seemed above and beyond to me.

    I never expected a teacher to fix difficult child. I was grateful they were kind for the most part. Certainly there were challenges with some teachers but they always had my respect. I can't imagine teaching a room full of teenagers who have no interest or no caring of their future.

    EW, you have my sympathy. I would want to shake them until their teeth rattled. You have touched many people for the better, they just don't know it yet.
  17. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I have the greatest respect for teachers. I see what my easy child does just for her student teaching assignments. I have argued with neighbors and friends over teacher pay and benefits. I know firsthand what out of pocket expenses teachers have. I have seen the kind of students you talk about, heck I have one of those in my house.

    I know there are some teachers that are burned out and just biding time til retirement. But I also know there are so many more dedicated teachers like yourself.

  18. everywoman

    everywoman Active Member

    Thanks ladies. I'm better tonight---but that's because my girls won---our record in 4-1 now....

    I must clarify that here a 70 is passing---anything below is an F. The district instituted the rule years ago. It started with the minimum of 62 being just the 1st quarter. Now the kids have learned---or rather think they've learned to play the game. Some of them are not very good at it. :(

    I get a new group of students Monday. I was just so disappointed in my senior's exams scores. They did not take it seriously, and it is going to hurt a lot of GPA's.
  19. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I think the reason a lot of us here are jaded towards teachers is because we've had some duds deal with our kids. In our case, I've seen some pretty awful examples of teaching but we've also been blessed with the best. We've seen how it's supposed to be. We've also seen a wide enough range of good teachers to know that it's not just a fluke - it can be done better than a lot of lazy sods have given us to believe.

    The fact that you are bothered by your students' poor results and bad behavior is an indication that you are a teacher who cares. Plus you're here on this site, which means you listen, you know of some of the problems others of us have experienced.

    It's not teachers who are the problem; why should they be? We NEED teachers to teach our kids, education is so important, extra important when it's a struggle for the kid. Our kids are going to need every edge they can get, to compensate for the other problems they have.

    So we NEED teachers. Good ones.

    So when you read about someone here sounding off about their kid's teacher, don't take it to heart. It's not you teaching their kid. They probably wish you WERE their child's teacher, if truth be told!

    Hang in there. There are good days too.

  20. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I am sorry. Sounds like your situation is awful. I don't know why or when common sense ran away from raising children and educating them, but a whole lot of students just have never had it applied to them. Or so it seems.

    My dad was a teacher. I know all about good and bad teaching (largely because as he was in grad school he made me do EVERY assignment he had to do, read all the books he had to read. MY teachers did NOT thank him for teaching me this, because as a teen I used this to show them why tests were bad, etc... I was a real brat, but one who loved to learn and had no patience for bad teachers.)

    I admire you, and most teachers. I could not do your job. I have too many Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) and autistic traits to cope with a room full of kids. I admire those who can do it and keep their sanity.

    It may be time to brainstorm, figure out a different way to reach the kids. Maybe use video games. They are said to release similar brain chemicals to crack. They also use the most effective reward strategy that has been proven to work with humans. Have a contest - person with highest grade on EOC test gets a computer game or card for something like World of War or another game. Parent permission for the exact game. maybe a Wii game if the person has that system. You may even be able to find a business to donate one. I can make long distance calls if you let me know where you are and what areas you could drive to in order to pick up the item.

    Or offer a GC to a nail place for the girls. Much of the curriculum is defined, but often there are still ways to shake it up. Maybe some of us remember what our teachers did to motivate us.

    One of my teachers collected Happy meal toys and things with business names on them. We could get up to 10 points on our final grade (before averaging) by bringing in Happy Meal toys from any fast food place or items we bought or asked for from businesses. If we stole them we flunked the course. He called for each item and asked the people. Usually the request was unusual enough to be remembered. If we had a receipt he did not call. We took one day of class time to chat, eat and wrap the toys for Toys for Tots. Usually the end of each semester.

    Maybe you can find something like that to get the kids interest. As a teacher my father never got the smart kids, the gifted ones. Every other teacher fought over them. He took the kids no one wanted. Often had a room full of IEPs, up to 40 of them in his class. He got these kids to do algebra, trig and even calculus in 6th and 7th grade. He just didn't tell them what they were doing. As a science teacher he had more leeway in the form of experiments and things. NONE of the other teachers did experiments for science except for dissecting in 7th grade.

    Over the years when he got discouraged he would focus on what he COULD do. Kids he did help. Kids he did reach, kids who came back to say thanks or that he ran across in life who were succeeding. Right after we moved from OH to OK he stopped to get something at a mall on his way home. Came back to the car and the lady parked next to him was changing a tire.

    She looked up to ask for help and said that she knew HE wouldn't help. He was her auto repair teacher and in the 70's he refused to let her watch. She had to do the work just like the guys. MOST shop teachers refused to let girls take it, or do anything but book work if they got in. He prepared the girls and the boys for life by making them ALL do it. he also got in trouble for it a few times.

    I know that you have students who come back and say Hi. One of my favorite teachers was also Wiz' favorite teacher. She even gave him my Christmas essay to give to me as a gift. She read it to her classes as an example of what she wanted for all of those years. She was a key factor to Wiz making it through jr high and on to graduation. He spent lunch in her room for 2 years - he could not handle the cafeteria chaos.

    Think about the students you reached in the past. How did you motivate them? What ideas can you use to motivate them now? I am sure others here in your online fantasy can share ways that teachers reached us and our kids. Maybe we can brainstorm with you.

    Whatever you do, we love you and are proud of you. We KNOW what you put forth for your students and how thankless your job is.

    So for all of your past and future students, Thank You. I know you are not in it for that. But I appreciate the unpaid hours you put in, the ways you go 120% for your students. The hassles and idiots you are polite to, I appreciate you for enduring that.

    Many hugs.