I am into my third month of teaching, and quite frankly, I am not sure I will last long. As a first year teacher, I expected there to be some obstacles and challenges, but I did not expect to struggle as much as I have over the past three months. Disruptive classroom behavior has taken over the school, and it is greatly affecting my ability, efficiency and even willingness to teach.
Administration has changed its behavior plan more than five times in the last three months, and the whole staff is visibly exhausted with just dealing the sheer volume of chaos. Last week, I had to ask a colleague to step in during the last minutes of class so that I could leave and cry in the office. Facing these behaviors day in and day out is physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. I have had serious moments where I wondered if I could keep my strength up teaching in an environment like this.
Since there is no new-teacher program at work, I have tried many things on my own. I’ve scheduled meetings with administration for honest feedback on my classroom management, sat in on colleagues’ classes during prep to observe, and used various incentives such as raffles, “star student lists”, and included more science demonstrations in class.
I have even started to search for my own mentor, someone who has experience teaching science in urban demographics and with high-needs student populations. I contacted former graduate professors, mass-tweeted my professional learning network on Twitter, mass-emailed the NSTA listservs, messaged science teaching groups on LinkedIN, and perused the alumni advisory network from my graduate college. I have even joined several science teacher professional organizations, and reached out to the representatives to connect me with someone.
I am thankful for the amount of responses from strangers who are willing to Skype, email and call me for support. It lets me know I am not alone, that there is always someone somewhere who can help. At this point, I am waiting and hanging on until Thanksgiving break!