Sunday, February 22, 2009

A rare Sunday Post

I try to update just on Monday through Friday and limit my contact with the teaching world to the academic week but as I sit with my laptop surrounded by educational material working on the lesson plans for the upcoming week, I thought about something.

I never stop working on this stuff.

Seriously. I'm always either talking about it, working on it at school, thinking about it, running around for it, going to graduate classes for it, or trying to sleep and not being able to because I should be doing something for it to catch up.

I'm always behind. I'd need to not have friends, family, a relationship, or to prepare food, clean my apartment, or possibly eat or sleep to really get everything done that I need to get done.

I'm in a job where I've had almost no training. I'm taking a full-time graduate program on top of a full time job. I'm a first-year teacher, which everyone seems to say is one of the hardest jobs and most stressful jobs in the world. I'm a teaching in a high-needs, urban school, which everyone seems to say is one of the hardest places of all to teach. I'm teaching OUTSIDE OF MY SUBJECT AREA in an AREA I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT. That means that on top of coming up with lessons that are relvant and engaging, I have to teach myself about the stuff every night in order to understand it.

That last one is 90% of my stress, so let's go over it again.

I'M TEACHING OUTSIDE MY SUBJECT AREA IN AN AREA I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT. I'm a Biologist. I have professional experience in Genetics, which is what my Master's degree is in. I have coursework all over the Life and Physical Sciences. I am teaching Earth Space Science, which is a little Geology, a little Astronomy, a little Hydrology, and a little Paleontology. I have never had any classes in these subjects past a little bit of an into in the 7th grade. It's been awhile.

The teacher that I replaced had the kids outline the textbook. He has nothing there. No tools, no worksheets, no posters, no anything. The kids outlined a section a day and then took a test using their notes at the end of the chapter. That's all that they did. Nothing else. I have some overhead transparancies from downtown that go with the book, but the academic standards that I have to teach aren't in the book. The book is WORTHLESS. And I don't know anything about the subject to teach the standards.

What did I do? I hit the internet to teach myself. I've been doing that for 6 months. I spend all of my time researching on the internet so I can ever try and come up with some lesson plan ideas. Because I can't come up with fun ways to teach the kids about something I don't understand.

I don't know about rocks. I was a cancer researcher.

I want to cry at night because I have to sit down and try to think of ways that are fun to teach the kids materials that *I DO NOT UNDERSTAND.*

People have told me to try and talk to other people in the building that teach my subject. Guess what - I'm the only one that teaches it. Since I'm new to the district, I don't know anyone else. I went to a few science teacher's meetings to try and meet other Earth Science teachers and they scared me. There were 10 Earth Science people at the last one. One man yelled at me for trying to do what the meeting organizer told us to do. Other woman aggressively asked me why a student of mine that transferred to her had a B in my class and was failing with her. All of them were over 40 to 45 and looked angry, bored, and slightly annoyed for having to be at a meeting at all. When I sat at the table and smiled, I think I felt the flinch. One man told me I was the "wrong color" to work at any schools because the new principals were racist.

Call it a hunch, but I think I'm on my own. That's ok. I'll just teach myself Earth Space Science at night on top of everything else and hope that I can come up with clever and fun ways to teach it without any tools in my classroom (I went in with nothing and there was nothing there) and without a book (the kids can't read it anyway). I just pray that I get a job teaching Biology next year. I can't do this again. I at least know what's going on with Biology. Inside out and backwards. That would save me HOURS a day and so much pain.

Pleasepleaseplease can I teach Biology now?

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