Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Harry Potter and General Malaise

Frequent readers have probably noticed that I haven't been posting much recently. While I'd like to provide some ridiculous story about why I haven't been posting -- that I was threatened or told to be quiet or terminated or attacked by a pack of bees -- I cannot tell a lie.

I'm just frustrated. And burned out. And tired. I don't know if it's because of Impact (don't think so) or the forever stalled contract negotiations (maybe) or my administration (YES!!!), but I just feel really de-motivated. One thing I can say is that it's definitely not the kids. My kids this year are doing really well, and I've somehow managed to build a really positive culture in my classes. They try hard, and for the most part they're learning a lot. But damn if I'm just not satisfied.

It's getting to the point where I'm thinking about what else I could be doing, and trying to figure out if I want to stay teaching (or at least teaching at my school) next year. On the one hand, I don't like falling into the stereotype of Teach for America teachers who sweep in on a wave of idealism and then leave after we've worked that glassy-eyed naivete out of our system. But on the other hand, do I really want to continue working in a place where I feel unvalued, unengaged, and unhappy?

So anyway, I haven't been posting recently. However, in this week alone I'm being observed by my principal and a DCPS master educator. So chances are at least one person is going to say or do something bizarre enough to get a blog post. Stay tuned for that!

11 comments:

Treehugger said...

Amen is all I can say. It sucks to feel this burned out in November. How come no one ever asks "What can I do to make you more successful in the classroom?" (Support?)

Anonymous said...

Had Master ed evaluator today. My kids behaved. However, I made a few IMPACT mistake because wasn't able to do three learning styles.. only two. I probably got a 1.8
I understand the demotivation. I have soos many parents to call. I hate waiting for weekends!! Administration .. whatever.

Camilo Acosta said...

Stay upbeat. I don't agree with a lot of your postings but I believe the work you're doing is important - and even more crucial if your kids are doing well. Don't get tired, don't lose sight of what you mean to your kids (even if they don't know it yet), don't forget you've answered the highest calling.

Anonymous said...

Teaching's always hard after the time change. I've been teaching for a bazillion years and just last week I went through a couple of days where I considered just...not showing up.

Translation: I was exhausted, had let my life get seriously out of balance, and had stopped focusing on the small, wonderful moments of each day.

You have to do what's right for you. But don't leave teaching if what you really need is a nap and a few solid lessons in assertiveness training (all the better to deal with your admins.)

Anonymous said...

Also, don't get depressed by your master educator score. The two best teachers at our school got 2.5 and 2.3.

The master educator of the one who got a 2.3 asked the teacher if it would be possible to videotape her sometime because she liked the lesson so much (but still gave her a 2.3).

Obviously, master educators have been instructed to score LOW.

More on ME observations said...

One of my friends told me about a teacher in her school being observed by an ME and getting a 3.8. Someone in my school just got a 3.6. They are good, solid teachers, not stellar but professional and competent.
The ME said that 4s are rarely given for the first observation. A colleague got marked down on learning styles. Though she utilized 3, the observer claimed that only 2 were were effectively addressed. I also know of several teachers who were not informed that the ME was coming, and she just showed up, a stranger in the classroom with a blue IMPACT guide. These teachers had recently checked their dc.gov email and were not notified. This was their first observation, btw, which is supposed to be announced.
Also, many are reporting that MEs are fairer and more instructive observers than principals, that teachers are getting more usable feedback on their teaching practice from MEs. That's good; it's what they're supposed to do.

Anonymous said...

Harry, hang in there. If there is a way to ignore the stuff going on outside your classroom, do so. Also consider turning to some of your colleagues in the building for sanity in the insanity. You do good work and some of your fellow teachers can confirm for you the craziness around you is reall and appreciate you even when those above don't.
Good luck on the evaluations, but don't put too much stock in them since I don't believe that many of the administrators in your building truly understand math instruction.

Anonymous said...

Harry,
I'm out sick today with the flu. I know that being worked to death at my school definitely weakened my immune system, not to mention what it did to my stress level.

Many teachers at my school are making comments of feeling burnt out, overwhelmed, undersupported, etc. It is a bit frightening to have so many feel this way in the beginning of November.

It is not surprising because Rhee has created such a toxic work environment for everybody from the central office to principals to teachers and custodians.

Personally I am trying to avoid putting myself on "survival mode" but if I don't I don't think I will survive this year.

Keeping Stress Low said...

I have to survive this year and will. I have children, a mortgage and health insurance isn't portable. I am a teacher; this is what I do and DCPS is where I work. No one, not Rhee, my principal or anyone else is going to find a reason to get rid of me. I do my job, love my kids and count on NO ONE for support because there's none. You only get your hopes up if you count on support. If I need copy paper, I buy it myself rather than ask 20 times for it. Yes, I feel diillusioned, especially when we had the RIF and IMPACT rolled out on the same week. I used to be observed, if I was lucky, once a year, now it will be 5 times. I go to my colleagues, friends in other schools, classmates in my program and God Almighty for support. I expect nothing from my administration, except that they leave me alone to teach and do my job. Keep your focus on your students and f*&&^ the rest.

Kings said...

Hi, Harry - sorry you're feeling bad, but you have a lot of company, so i doubt that it's because of TFA idealism wearing off. Probably you feel "unvalued, unengaged, and unhappy" because, like your fellow teachers, you are.

Maybe you should think more about how that happened.

My guess is that for a while, you could rationalize a lot of the negative stuff away, thinking it didn't apply to your situation. But now you have seen for yourself that the school reform you had such high hopes for is not going well for anyone.

So you're bummed. Of course.

r4i said...

Hi,
I like this article but..
last night i went to the midnight premiere of harry potter and the half blood prince! I was honestly so disappointed! was it just me or did it seem very choppy and for some reason didn't feel like it was a harry potter movie. Don't get me wrong some of the parts in it were either really funny or somewhat scary but i really was not satisfied. I don't know, what did you think?? Am i wrong? Give me your opinions..