Hello and welcome to another segment of 'A Few Minutes with Zorzathir'. I'm Zorzathir, and I have had the most interesting week. Before I mentioned about that, let me tell you a story all about how my life got flipped-turned upside down this past month (cheers if you get the reference).
For my placement I was working with a Grade 8 class and I would be teaching Language and Math. Let's just say that this class is the one that you hear about in regards to horror stories of school. The main issue came down to behavioural problems, especially the part where they would be difficult for pretty much any teacher; even the home room teacher. Despite this, I kept positive, thinking that this placement would run smoothly. Oh how I wished that was the case. Where do I even begin with this case of bullocks?1) The Class
As I mentioned before, there were behavioural problems in this class and the students became difficult for me to work with. Despite planning my lessons out and engaging the students with what I had planned, I was met with resistance. Students refused to do the work that was given, claiming that it was too difficult for them; despite the fact that the teacher said that she would have done the stuff that I did. Even when I provided thorough explanations and clarifications, many of the students prefer to not just do the work; and something else to consider here is that the Associate Teacher said that these were smart kids, so that's probably telling you something. At the same time, they were constantly interrupting me whenever I was trying to teach a lesson; which in turn caused lessons to run longer than they should have (e.g. 15-minute lesson becomes 45-minute lesson). I was firm and implemented the same classroom management strategies that the Associate Teacher would do, but they were only temporary solutions for this class. So as you can expect, these students were a real piece of work, even though I did have a few that decided to put their brains into gear and actually listen and/or do the required the work.
The Associate Teacher would talk to them about misbehaviour, but that is more or less the equivalent of a slap on the wrist.
Plus, I'm not the first person in which they misbehave with; as I've seen them act while there were supply teachers that came in.
The thing is that I was never disrespectful to the students. I did everything that I could to assist them without giving them the answers to everything (otherwise they would not be learning). I exercised patience and was firm when I needed to be. And before you say that they're teenagers being teenagers, let me tell you: I've seen students that were more respectful than these ones. Heck, there is a Grade 6/7 class that me and the Associate Teacher work with in the morning each day and they're more respectful, attentive and mature.
2) The Associate Teacher
Despite the Associate Teacher giving me some helpful advice, she was not exactly helpful when it came to my development as a teacher. I was not able to fully explain myself to her when it came to discussing about what I had in mind, as she would interrupt me; giving me the feeling that she perceived everything that I said was wrong or needed major adjustments; which I can understand about the latter, but most of the time it was the former.
She would give me minimal feedback, but with no advice on how to act on it, which is critical considering the kind of class that was I dealing with. For example, she said that I needed to faster paced with my lessons. However, with the class constantly interrupting me and forcing me to stop, how can I have the lesson flow along when something like that happens.
Finally, there were three days in which she never got back to me when I submitted a lesson plan. The college requires that teacher candidates submit their lesson plans for the Associate Teachers to review at least 24 hours in advance. Well, I did provide my lesson plans in advance, but three times I did not get word from the Associate Teacher until the day of the lesson that the plan was for. This was a major source of stress when there were any issues with the lesson that she could have suggested be changed to avoid complications.
Now it kind of feels like that I'm dumping a lot of the blame onto the Associate Teacher, and trying to dodge any responsibility, but the truth is that I have doing my best to work in a situation like this (not to mention the fact that I am still learning). I have worked with other teachers who have gone beyond what was needed to help me in the past and to have this happen does not leave me impressed.
So you might be thinking that it could not get worse than having bad students and a Associate Teacher that only gives minimal assistance, right?
Well, you'd be wrong, as November 30th was the straw that broke the camel's back. Prior to that day, I was hoping to talk to my profs at the teacher's college because of the main concerns about my placement; especially based on the content that I just mentioned. However, I did not get the chance.
Anyways, back to the 30th:
It was the end of the day, and I was going to be doing some marking before I would leave the school. My Associate Teacher comes to talk to me about a sensitive topic. What she said was that students came to her and said that I was "staring" at them and making them feel uncomfortable. This was especially the case with the female students who went so far to say that I was looking over their tops. Even some of the male students made claims against me.
So, based on what I was told, it seemed that these students were trying to accuse me of being some kind of pedophile.
I'll just say this: I have not done such things and I am definitely not a pedophile.
When I am talking to a student one on one, my eyes are either looking into their eyes or the work that their doing; and I think the students don't understand (if that's the case) that when they're sitting down and I am standing, I have to look down; even when they're standing up I still need to look down to make eye contact with them (So "sorry" for being taller than you). Plus, whenever I'm observing the classroom, I have to make sure that students are either doing their work or not getting into any trouble. So how am I suppose to keep an eye on them when they feel uncomfortable when I'm monitoring the class?
As such, I was not very happy with this because I got the distinct feeling that these kids were trying to get me into trouble; which wouldn't surprise me considering their behaviour, as they gave even the professionals a hard time. These allegations would have cost me my future. It also didn't help that my Associate Teacher say that it was probably a "teenager thing"; giving me the impression that she did not consider it as a threat for my own sake.
As a result, I informed the teacher's college about this and I was told not to go to the school on Thursday as they said they would look into it. On Thursday, I was told that it would not be in my interest to continue working at that school. They also said that I would not get penalized for the days that I missed, but would have to come in on Monday in order to work something out.
So I did go in today to discuss about the situation and what I can do. I told them about the issues that I had to deal with, even before the November 30th, and how I was hoping to talk to the Teacher's College sooner. We talked about the school and the allegations; but it was more or less them saying that it'd be better if I was somewhere else. They will book a meeting between myself, the Practicum Manager and the school principal for next week in order to provide closure. When talking about some of the other issues (classroom management/student misbehaviour, lesson plans) the Practicum Manager was dumbfounded about how I could have been struggling at this school as I did exceedingly well in my second placement; as the reports and results from both schools conflicted with each other. I got the impression that they felt that the reports about me from this placement didn't make sense.
Now I don't know if the situation's been resolved, but I suspect that I will find out in the aforementioned meeting that will take place next week.
At the end of the meeting, I was told that I would be placed in another public school to finish off the remaining weeks that I have to finish; which I feel is a good thing. Of course, this would have to wait until 2017, as there is not enough time now for me to be placed in a different school.
So, in short, I really did not like this placement at all, even before the allegations against me were made. I tried to maintain a positive mindset, but I was not rewarded with same kindness from that place. I felt more like a stranger there than a teacher or a colleague; which was totally different from my time at my second placement because that place really made me feel like I was part of the system.
While I was (and still am a bit) pissed off by the fact that this happened, I am glad that the teacher's college got my back. I was just hoping to complete this public school placement and put it, along with my first placement, behind me as I moved forward.
So, that means I do have an early holiday vacation technically speaking; though I will be making sure that I am prepared for having to finish off these placements. That means I can do some things that I like, such as drawing and writing stories. There's some things that I want to get rolling in that department and hopefully I can make the most of my time.
There you have it. My experience with this school and all I got was
and accusations of being a pedophile (Now I see why there aren't so many male teachers at a public school these days).
This has been "A Few Minutes with Zorzathir". I'm Zorzathir, and I back baby!