I think I would love to work at this school

“If a school is too permissive, allowing too many exceptions, it risks creating helplessness, selfishness or dependence in its pupils rather than responsibility, consideration and agency. If a school reduces its standards for poorer pupils because of their poverty or difficult home life, it does them a disservice; frankly, it doesn’t believe in them enough. “https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/08/22/britains-strictest-schools-first-gcse-results-four-times-better/?fbclid=IwAR3xykWZeEoHsxIM9gU_DGIxkbXWL1ZCqT5bAnv55tG51q8tJiQ1VpFen0k

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Reflections on my recent fiasco

Since I do not like to lose, I spent the last two weeks reflecting on why I failed to become a teacher at a middle school. When I learned that I was hired, I sent a few messages to the school principal asking him to provide me with the syllabi for the classes I was expected to teach and the head teacher’s phone number so that I could set up a meeting with them to discuss my responsibilities. In return, I got just promises. I had informed both the APS and the school principal that I was a new immigrant to the USA and had no idea how North American schools function. Three days before the first day of work, I came to school to at least get the lists of my students. I also hoped to get some kind of orientation where I would be shown the school premises and informed of the school policies. Nope, none of that. All I got was my schedule and teacher’s handbook.

In my previous places of employment, the administration conducted the induction where they introduced the school curriculum, textbooks, paperwork, expected job duties, and helped to set up job accounts. When I was Director of Studies at InterPress IH Karaganda, I trained new teachers who joined our team. The induction took three days where I showed them the paperwork that they were expected to work with, talked about the programs along with the required textbooks offered at our schools, answered a bazillion questions, at times the same ones over and over again. Moreover, I sent detailed instructions on all the procedures that took place at our school so that they would have a written record at their disposal. During the induction, the newcomers also observed classes given by experienced teachers.

There must be a mandatory orientation program conducted either by a public school district or a school administration even if a new teacher starts their duties not at the beginning of an academic year. This procedure should cover the school policies, its facilities, course program requirements, actions taken if students misbehave, and so on. My spouse, who is an American in the third generation, also mentioned how lost and frustrated he was when he started his career as a SPED teacher at a middle school. Had I gotten all the training needed for the successful entrance, I believe, I would have been better equipped for working at school.

On the Bright Side

In any bad situation in order to keep my sanity, I always try to focus on the things that I have learned. So, I now know what one should do to become a licensed teacher in New Mexico. Apparently, if you have an MA and have at least 5 years of post-secondary experience which you can verify i.e. have your former employers fill out a certain form and mail it directly to NMPED, all you need to is to submit the transcripts in a sealed envelope, do a background check, and enroll in a reading instruction course. In case you hold a degree earned outside the USA, you need to get them evaluated at credential evaluation companies that are recognized by NMPED. The list can be found on their website. I used http://www.wes.org. Once you collect all these documents, then along with the cashier’s check of $125, you need to send them to NMPED.

Be Careful What You Wish For, You May Get It.

I moved to the USA in November 2018, and since I am an experienced ESOL teacher, I thought that the best employment option for me would be teaching at school. I was very curious about teaching English to native speakers. I believed that it would be a great learning challenge which would give me an opportunity to grow as a professional. Once I got myself established (got my green card and driver’s license, opened a bank account, got a part-time job as a test administrator at Pearson Professional Center), I began my research into what I should do in order to obtain a teaching license. It turned out that based on my post-secondary experience all I needed to do was to submit my credential evaluation by http://www.wes.org, verification of my post-secondary experience which proved to be a great challenge, enrollment into a reading course instruction, background check, and a processing fee of $125. Done. During this time I applied for different positions within the school district. I was very determined to become a middle school teacher. My husband works at middle school and told me nightmare stories about his kids and stuff he has to deal with but I thought it was an exaggeration. Surely I didn’t have extensive experience working with teenagers but the experience I had was very positive.

Finally, I got a job offer from one of the middle schools in the area. I was warned that the school mainly serves children from underprivileged families, and is located in the area known as war zone meaning that it is not a very safe neighborhood. I was promised to be working with ESOL kids whose families recently immigrated to the States. Since I had no idea how American schools function, I did not really understand what it all meant. I was very excited to get a real job and start teaching. Boy, I was stupid.

I should have checked the school ratings. It turned out to be one of the worst schools with the performance below average. I was expected to teach 6 periods each of which was about 54 minutes. The students were very disrespectful. They cussed in my presence despite all my requests to stop doing it. They refused to do any work and questioned every single activity I offered them. I tried all the classroom management techniques that I always used: silence, smile, polite requests, repeating my requests over and over again until they did what I asked them to do. I even tried to speak Russian to them which usually worked well with my Emirati students. Alas, it was all in vain. To add insult to injury, one of these little rascals stole my flash drive with my personal stuff including pictures. I survived the day but decided that my mental health is more important to me, and sent a resignation letter to the school principal. Since it was on short notice, I promised that I would teach for one more day so that they could find another substitute teacher. I made it to period 6 and lost it when the students started throwing books and binders at each other. The first time ever in my teaching career I cried in front of the students. I had never felt so desperate and helpless. The angry knot in my stomach was so tense that I thought I’d start vomiting right there. I was overwhelmed with the panic attack to the point that I felt that I couldn’t breathe. Needless to say, I was asked to leave the school which I happily did it. I almost ran to my car.

Honestly, now I am confirmed in my reluctance to work for American schools be it elementary, middle, high or private schools. I don’t want to test my luck again.

Indeed, be careful what you wish for. I remembered the story that I read a long time ago which describes my situation so well. It’s Monkey’s Paw. Your wish may be granted but the price may be too high to handle.

Another good thing is that I learned about another great book Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai which is taught as a part of the ELA grade 8 curriculum.

https://americanliterature.com/author/w-w-jacobs/short-story/the-monkeys-paw

SUPERCHARGED INSTRUCTIONS — ELT-CATION

Asking your students the question “Is everything clear?” after you have given instructions on what to do is as good as useless. Most students just don’t want or may be too shy to admit that they don’t understand something, or may think they understand it when they actually don’t, or may hope they will understand […]

via SUPERCHARGED INSTRUCTIONS — ELT-CATION

Tuck Let Go of my Hand

A few days ago I was watching Grey’s Anatomy as I usually do. I believe that was episode 3 of season 9. Miranda Bailey was very frustrated with the fact that her son, Tuck, had no problem with leaving her behind on his first day of kindergarten. She said, “Tuck let go of my hand.” Metaphorically speaking, it meant he didn’t need her as much as she needed him. Dr. Webber responded to her with that on the bright side it was good since then she could focus on herself and her needs. She could refocus her life and explore other options in her life. This made me ponder about my relationship with my daughter. She let go of my hand emotionally a long time ago which I didn’t realize until now. So I am desperately trying to catch her hand again instead of accepting the fact that she is comfortable living without me. She doesn’t need me which is not necessarily a bad thing at all. It just means that she has grown up, and I can start planning my own life. I might have another twenty or thirty years of life ahead of me which I can spend as a happy person. I can’t make my daughter love me or need me or accept me. However, I can let go of her hand or better say accept the situation and find other ways to enjoy my life.