Thanks for all the posts about who is here from Open Salon.

When Open Salon started messing with how they were doing things I slowly quit writing and reading. It also coincided with a change in what I was doing for a living. I have been teaching for the last 5 years. The first four I was teaching special education in High School. Then this year I moved to teaching English in a middle school...8th graders. Some parts of it were fun, but I found I am too kind hearted and the kids did not appreciate it, instead they just took advantage of it. 

I have found many of the kids I am teaching right now feel they are entitled to just about everything. They don't listen or read directions. Instead, they just do their own thing and look at me like they are confused even though I may have gone over assignments several times. Can you tell I am frustrated? I am thinking about going back to Special Education because at least those kids tried and they had a reason for poor performance I actually got more out of them, then I have the regular education kids in some ways. 

I am also finding they do not have much of a vocabulary in middle school. I am constantly having to explain my every-day vocabulary to them. 

I do not want to quit teaching...the kids need people that care more than ever, but please parents, make them put the digital games and phones away. Talk to your children. Heck, they are better off watching TV least they will learn some vocabulary. 

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Comment by nerd cred on May 18, 2016 at 12:56pm

It was a long, long time ago but my kids had a very kindhearted, even meek band teacher in middle/junior high school. The school had a strong music program and a number of very talented and skilled students who tested teachers mightily. One day when they were especially rowdy my daughter stood up and gave them hell. Totally brought the class to heel. I don't know if the good behavior lasted beyond that day but I loved that One did that. My kids didn't tolerate bullies and those kids were definitely bullying that teacher.

There's no advice, there and it was long ago - One is 45 now - but you know you're not alone and this crap isn't all new, just taking new forms.

I wasn't going to but here's another teacher story from then and there that maybe has some help for you. There was another teacher in that same program who was neither nice nor meek, just flat out incompetent. She would often lose her place or give bad direction while conducting the orchestra in a concert or competition and the kids would ignore her and look to a small group of leaders to follow. They were the best group in a district with a strong music program so they were clearly doing things right.

One morning at the beginning of the school year, I was in the music office working on a parents' group fundraiser. The teacher came in from the classroom just shaking, practically in tears. I asked what was wrong. The kids weren't acting up at the time but they had just elected the biggest troublemakers to be the band officers. Teacher was scared to death.

I knew those kids and I knew their parents wouldn't tolerate their behavior. (One was the principal's kid.) They were smart, talented and basically good kids. I said that to the teacher and suggested she make friends with them, use them. I gave her examples of ways she could do that - none of which I recall, of course. She felt better at the time and in the end she followed my advice and let the leaders lead. They had a great year. Most of those troublemakers are professional musicians now, supporting families with music, and that's not a small thing.

I'm just saying - can you identify your leaders and use them? (I don't know how, exactly - have them read directions aloud to the class? Go over the assignment and have a kid repeat it to the class? Don't let them know who you're going to call on to do that?) And then find your inner meanness?

Middle school age kids are natural predators besides being mostly assholes. It comes with the territory! (AND I didn't mean to relate either of those teachers to you - just the idea of using the kids against themselves.)

Sorry for the length. I get carried away.

Comment by JMac1949 Today on May 18, 2016 at 3:56pm

In middle school me and my best friend were the two kids in advanced classes who destroyed the grade curve.  We never counted any test score less than 100 and rated our performance on the number of bonus points we scored.  We were both incredibly bored; which is the problem with the curriculum of public schools.  If public schools integrated math with biology, physics geography, civics and history so that kids could have a chance to connect the dots as opposed to parroting back rote memorized test answers, I expect that they interest and performance would be vastly improved.  Teachers are hamstrung by administration and forced to teach to the test.  Parents are largely uninvolved except when their kid becomes a problem.  I feel badly for any teacher.

Comment by Sage Hunter on May 20, 2016 at 2:57pm

Thanks For suggestions. I'm not sorry I started teaching by any means. If nothing else, I see how great the need is for SOMEONE to speak into the lives of young people.


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