Introduction and questions
I'm new to the board and thought I'd introduce myself before I jump right in. I'm a career change teacher. I'm in my 4th year teaching chemistry after a 20 year career in engineering. Because of my background, one of the issues I have is dealing with disrespect (eye rolls, talking during class, kids who stare at the corner instead of pay attention (I have one who is trying to burn a hole in the corener with her x-ray vision ), etc, etc, etc...) I come from a world where respect is a given. In education, it seems that it's denied until you prove you deserve it. I've even been dissed by parents. Upon learning I used to be an engineer, one of the first parents I had a face to face conversation with asked "Oh, couldn't cut it in the real would could you?" I was left speechless.
I seem to do ok with the middle 70% of my students. The top decided before I walked in the room that they know more than I do. (Another issue I have is the arrogance of students today. It seems my top students, plus a few for good measure not at the top, are CERTAIN they are smarter than me, more deserving of respect than me and just worth more as people than me. They have high self esteem but little in the way of true ability.) The bottom, I struggle with reaching now that we teach chemistry to all students. Those kids just never would have been in my class 10 years ago. Some are angry that they're being made to take my class (tend to be disruptive). I struggle with making tests that allow my lower students to pass without giving out way too many A's to the top of the class. If I were given my 'druthers, I'd extend the passing score, for tests, down to 50%. Seriously, if my bottom students learn half of what I teach, they're doing well considering they are not likely to go on to take chemistry in college. I just can't see being the class that costs them graduation.
Anyway, I look forward to learning from those more experienced than I. I'd love to hear from other career changers as to how you dealt with the overt disrespect that is shown to teachers. I did not realize how much I'd miss being respected for what I do but I really miss it. If I walk into a room and tell someone I'm an engineer, I'm automatically elevated in their opinon. If I tell them I'm a teacher, I'm devalued. I find that about 50% of the time, within 10 minutes they will start telling me 1) I work part time. 2) I'm over paid. 3) I'm coddled and protected when I shouldn't be. 4) I'm just the cause of all things evil in education. Needless to say, I no longer offer that I teach. I just tell people I meet that I'm an unemployed engineer until I know them better. I'm not used to having a career I have to hide.
Thanks in advance,
I can honestly say that the level of disrespect has gotten worse with the economy. People are very jealous by the job security and benefits that teachers have. The same is true of firefighters, police officers, and the military (at least those in my family).
If you figure this out, let me know. The disrespect is overwhelming. Kids don't care because their parents never punish them for it.
I don't think you would call me a career changer. Not anymore.
This is year #29 for me, most of it in middle school science although I have also
done social studies, math (didn't like it), language arts, technology and even did
elementary for a few years. That last one just wasn't for me. The kids were just too needy and things were so micromanaged; administrators at that level
were controlling and outright paranoid for their jobs. Middle school suits me so
But before all this, I was a journalist (print and media type), an EMT, and I spent
nearly five years in the service on active duty. Continued on in the ready reserve
for another 18, finally retiring at the rank of Major.
So I've been around some. I have a different perspective than many teachers, not
because I am smarter or more knowledgeable, but simply because I have seen
more of the world than most (45 states and 7 foreign countries) and I have done
things outside of the classroom. You may not know that now, knasmom, but it will
be an advantage to you and to your students.
Sorry to take up so much time with my life story, but I thought you needed to
know where I am coming from.
I've little doubt that you suffered some culture shock, going from engineer to
chemistry teacher. The world of education is a different place
from the "real" world. And you're dealing with one of the most enabled and
sheltered school generations in recent history. Have you noticed how nothing
is their fault, how it is always someone else who is to blame? Perhaps you have also noted that too many parents want to shield their offspring from nearly
everything. Small wonder, then, that so many come to classrooms with an
inflated sense of themselves.
Those things you can do nothing about. It's just that painfully simple.
It took me years to finally realize that.
The only thing you have relative control of is your classroom and what you do
- no matter how good or how knowledgeable you are, there are some students you just won't be able to reach. either they don't have that aptitude (some don't) or, as you mentioned, some think they know more than you do.
- Set your expectations high. Students will rise or sink to the level of your expectations. It is a battle I fight every year with my 6th graders and my 6th grade parents. "but he/she always made A's last year."
- Avoid the teachers' lounge. Those places are usually dens of inequity, places where long and demeaning pity parties and a fair amount of backstabbing go on. You don't need any of that.
- Remember that the majority of students (you said 70%..that's pretty good) are reachable. focus on them.
I don't know how much help I have been. Continued success to you!!!
I challenge any parent or person in another career to teach for a week. It is not easy. They would quickly find that apathy and disrespect are the hardest things to deal with. I say to keep on being the role model for your students. Keep the high expectations and standards. You will discover later that some students respect you, they just have no idea in the world how to display it....and if they did, they would not do so in front of other students.
There was a time when you had to have good grades, money, character, and someone of influence recommending you to get into college. The colleges and universities really took off when WWII vet returned and entered academic world using the GI Bill. I would even offer to say that universities began to offer and education more like a trade school. These vets were hard workers and wanted an education. However, now one could say that all it take is money. Parents now want their kids to have higher education, the kids could care less.I do believe that colleges and universities are weeding out the kids you identify as being disrespectful. The same crew of kids we have now will not be able to have an intelligent conversation with their professors.
Wow this really hits home for me. I am making that career move from LEO (park ranger)/EMT to high school chemistry teacher and I worry how I am going to do this. I have seen and dealt with so many hard issues and most of the time had others respect. I think most of all I needed to hear Spectre's advice. I haven't been in a classroom in almost 10 years and I remember feeling how the OP feels and the advice given is great stuff.