I had a big post of the pros and cons of teaching in my new school district written but for the sake of privacy (I would never want to offend students or parents), I have deleted it. It's stifling not to be able to share, but that is probably the way it should be. I will tell you 2 true stories though. Both left, 'Wow, that's incredible!' impressions in my mind and on my heart.
The First Wow (which is super positive)
We had a severe case of bullying (multiple students just agitating this kid daily). I tried many things, including seating the student behind my desk with me. The student said it had carried over from middle school and he was used to it. To him, it was his 'norm.'
I finally ended up writing a referral for the main antagonist, but never in a million years did I think the problem would get solved. I didn't even know it COULD be solved. I've seen bullying over the years. I always step in to do my part when I can, but nothing ever really gets done because the bullying just continues.
At this new school, that was definitely not the case. The dean handled matters with the student and his family in such a way that it ended. Immediately.
THEN that same dean, a law officer, and an assistant principal came into the room to address the class. They let them know that bullying was an offense on the same level as alcohol and drug use and would be treated as such when it came time for repercussions.
NO ONE bothers that student now and his whole high school trajectory has changed.
I've never been so proud to be part of a school in my whole life. It was a good moment and my heart shined for that boy.
A good number of students, I would say the majority, have deeply ingrained prejudices at a level that I didn't even know still existed. It bothers me to my very core. It's not even an overt thing or anything done or said in a way meant to hurt or incite. It's just matter-of-fact things, ingrained things, that leave me amazed (and not in a good way). These things naturally spill out of the mouths of babes (to use an old saying) and leave me amazed that anyone would think they were okay to think, must less say out loud as easily as they ask, "May I use the restroom?"
I won't go into the prejudice accounts. I know that's a very loaded topic. I will just note that it's very present in my school and it leaves me floundering, unsettled.
There are also a large number of students who are entitled. I lock my belongings up in a closet, not because they will steal, but because when I am in the hallway, where I am required to be to greet students coming into the room, a group of them will go through my items to 'see' what I have. They think it's cute and have no sense of boundaries. Even though I corrected them the first time it happened, they just laughed about it and had the gall to ask me where my things were when they couldn't find them the next day (they were locked up). They do not see in any way, shape or form that what they are doing is crossing lines. If I went into their backpacks to 'see' what they had, they would just laugh and not be at all mortified. I believe them when they say they do it with other teachers, because boundaries are not just blurred, they are missing.
I called a parent to let her know her child cheated on a packet (that was a test grade). I gave the packets out last Monday and they were due today (Friday).
The parent's concern was that her son didn't get the packet on that Monday when everyone else did because he'd been absent (he got it a day later when he returned).
He had 9 days to do the work, which was still very generous. He didn't start it until today (the day it was due), and his way of 'starting' was to have the girl next to him do the work (the handwriting and answers were identical). He denied it in a very 'who cares' kind of way. The girl turned instantly red when I asked her, and admitted it was true. He was sitting next to her when I asked. He didn't seem to care at all that he was caught in a lie. It was just another 'meh' moment for him.
I called his mom to let her know he now had an F in the class, but that I'd given him a different, much shorter packet to take home for the weekend (this happened at the end of class) and that if he turned in on Monday, I'd change the grade.
I'm still just shaking my head that the unfairness of him not getting the packet on Monday was what surfaced in the conversation, instead of the focus being on his cheating on a test grade.
That packet could have been completed in one class period. It's an intensive class though, and we're instructed to move slow with them and allow them time to navigate assignments (which I am there to help them with, including that packet, when they need it).
The kid can be a real sweetheart but he's also shown a lot of entitled behavior this semester and I'm not the only teacher who has noticed. He is NOT the only one. This sense of entitlement is woven into the fabric of the student body. It doesn't make them 'bad' kids, not at all. But it makes for a whole lot of entitled kids who shrug at actions (not just the cheating) that should be deemed unacceptable.
The Crème de la Crème of Schools
This school district is top-of-the-line and the school I teach at is an award-winning school (in so many areas, including best school in the county).
It is indisputably, the school of winners.
There are many things about the new district that are better than where I taught for years... no fights, it's cleaner, better handling of bullying, it's closer to home, etc.
Even so, I feel so out of place at this school. I don't dislike anyone. I like all of the kids, the parents are nice...involved (not holding kids accountable in many cases, but involved...they show up to games, parent/teacher conferences, they answer their phones, etc.). The teachers are great. Yet still, I know it's not the place for me.
My son has felt the same way since day one. And it's awful that he was hurt in a basketball game, to the point that he has both wrists in casts, but he JUMPED at the chance to go to online school when it turned out to be too hard for him to manage in-person days. I don't want him in an online school for this quarter, but he hates where we are with every fiber in his being. He tells me daily he misses his old school. We can't go back (we're not zoned in that county and I don't work there anymore).
I know my close circle thinks it will get better with time. I'd like to hope so, but my heart knows better. When it's not a good fit, you feel that inner nudging of being restless and unsettled. And though there are moments I know I'm making a positive difference (and I love those moments) for the most part, I just dread going in to work. Every single day.
I'm just venting here. I know some will agree with my thoughts and others won't at all, that's just life. We have to do what's best for us, and I'm still trying to figure that out. This is new territory for us.
Thank you for the platform.