Give Me The Tools to Do My Job

Until you have done it, you will never know how difficult a job it is to get in front of two-dozen kids each and every day and try to teach them. There are so many obstacles that need to be overcome on a daily basis.

Some students make no qualms about the fact that they would rather be any other place than behind a student desk and in front of a teacher.

Other kids know that they need to be in class but other than being physically present, they don’t feel any obligation to learn. Their parents often treat school as a babysitting service and show their disdain for education in every way that they possible can.

Other students will do as little as possible and very rarely complete any work.

These behaviours and attitudes are really hard to overcome because teachers don’t have the tools to do the job effectively.

We can keep students in at recess to catch up on any work that has not been completed. The downside here is that both the students and the teacher lose out on a break that is needed. The old saying that you can lead a horse to water applies here too because some students still won’t complete the work.

As for disruptions to the class, kids do it so they can get sent out of the classroom. They usually get out of doing the work, have all the attention on them for a while, and come back to the class with little or no consequence.

If I have a problem with a student, quite often I don’t get the support I need from the parents. I know that when I was a student, if my teacher called home, my parents listened and I certainly heard about it. I was held accountable for my actions. I got in trouble and had actual consequences.

Nowadays this isn’t happening. I call parents with concerns or ask for some support from them if their child is being disruptive or unproductive in class. It’s sad to say but I often don’t get the cooperation from home that is so desperately needed.

So what do the students really learn?

They learn that they don’t need to be respectful to the teacher. They learn that their teacher basically has no power to offer any sort of meaningful consequence. They learn that they can slide by without doing the work. And they learn that adults don’t work together anymore in the interest of education. Quite frankly, they learn that education isn’t important.

I feel powerless sometimes. I need the tools to do my job. I need support from the home. I need real consequences. I need ways to show both parents and students that learning is important and that working hard is its own reward. I need the tools to do my job. It’s as simple as that (and as complicated).

6 responses to “Give Me The Tools to Do My Job”

  1. Hi Chase:

    Yes, it is as simple and as complicated as that!!

    It is hard to be inspiring with such forces working against you.

    My school recently had a turkey dinner for all the children and adults in the building (free to everyone). Three of my students (2 encouraging and one who acted) took jello squares meant for dessert and smeared it over the gym floor. This was a 3rd and 4th serious incident in the last two weeks with this threesome. More of various degrees since the beginning of Sept.

    This morning, we talked about what happened. They tried to go with the innocent routine …
    the jello happened to fall on the floor,
    it happened to be smeared ….

    After further discussion and a frank discussion about the ongoing issues – I stated that I was planning some special events for the class and they would not be participating. The rest of the class should not have to miss out because they have decided not to behave or be disruptive (it is an active choice that they are making).

    The consequence – the rest of the class will be decorating cookies and descriptively writing about their cookies while this threesome are in other classrooms with seatwork.

    My co-workers are supportive, which is really important, since we are not allowed to use the hall as a cool-off point. Admin, when in the building, is inconsistent about their response.

    Even the LNST (Literacy, Numeracy Support Teacher) is stumped with how to meet the diverse needs in my classroom. Diagnosed oppositional defiance disorder (Gr. 4), autism, gifted – and that's one kid.

    I am trying to make sure I have time for the kids who are doing a good job. It is hard to keep it in perspective.

    Good Luck

  2. Hi Anonymous,

    It really only takes one bad apple to ruin the bunch. And unfortunately, it seems that we just don't have the tools to deal with these problems as they occur.

    I feel like I don't get the support I need and that all of the good work I have been doing is slowly being eroded away. I feel it happening but have no idea how to stop it. It is very frustrating.

  3. Hey Chase:

    I'm trying to selectively ignore certain issues – and praise those doing well.

    It is very difficult – this year, I spent the time to tally number of interuptions from 1 kid – includes things like banging on the desk, yelling out, inappropriate vocalizations – it tallied to 75 in my 100 mins. of literacy and 50 mins. of math. The student does have an IEP, and a part time EA (about 50 mins. in 150 mins). This is 1 out of 9 with special needs.

    I've provide positive incentives (reward program), lego time, etc. This one student has made progress – now he only has about 20 major interuptions and he will go to the hall to yell at his EA now, instead of being in the class.

    The expensive is that the other kids do not have a learning environment that is focused.

    I am also planning to take the next 2 weeks totally off – without any guilt.

  4. Hi Anonymous,

    I am experiencing much of the same. Isn't it crazy? I have never had such a challenging year in my entire career.

    I am taking the next two weeks off as well to just enjoy my Christmas holidays. I am sure we both deserve this break. Enjoy!

  5. OK – here's how my plan went today –

    Primcipal was in building.

    She stated that she dealt with the issue on Fri. (not that she told me) and she would be displeased if the kids were excluded from the activity.

    She was then patrolling the hall areas to make sure I followed her directive. But stated I had to get the kids from the other classrooms so that it didn't "undermine" my authority in the classroom.

    so basically nothing went the way I expected or planned.

  6. Hi Anonymous,

    This is exactly what I mean – There are NO consequences.

    It feels like we don't have any power at all.

    It's really frustrating, isn't it?