Trying to figure it out

Today I hate my job. I’m trying hard to figure out why.

In about a month we will start talking, as a school, about what next year will look like. There will be a lot of changes, with the 5th grade leaving to join the 4th grade on a “new” campus and with the 6th, 7th and 8th grade coming together to embrace a new vision. 

Teachers will be moving rooms and schedules will be shifting. A lot of conversations will happen between now and the end of the school year. I informed the administration that I need to have a clear idea of what the district wants me to teach by mid to late February, so I know how wide to cast the net when I look for a new job in the spring. Most districts start posting new positions in mid March.

I’m trying to figure out what is making me so miserable this year. Obviously starting at the harder-to-get-to campus sucks. I DEFINITELY don’t want to be teaching anything at that school next year. I am also disheartened to recognize that I DO NOT like co-teaching. At all. Sharing a class with another teacher has been a much more stressful situation than I anticipated. The fact that we end our day on different campuses and have almost not time to plan together definitely exacerbates the situation, but really I just don’t like having to do things someone else’s way. I’m trying to see this as an opportunity to learn from a really experienced language teacher that I respect, but in the end it’s just hard to accommodate her different teaching style. And she is a really incredible teacher, very low-key, and exceedingly easy to get along with. If it’s hard to co-teach with her, I doubt I’d enjoy teaching with anyone. This is disappointing, because I don’t want to be someone who avoids working with others. And yet, after this year, I’ll have to admit that that is who I am.

So the bad news is, I evidently don’t like teaching with other people. The good news is, being required to do so again isn’t likely. I guess it’s good that I learned this about myself, and know to avoid it (when possible) moving forward.

I also really dislike teaching three periods of 6th grade. I don’t like having that age level for the majority of my day, and I also don’t like teaching the same thing six times over two days (I see the 6th graders on an alternating day schedule). I get bored, especially with that level material when I have to teach it so many times. I might be okay with three periods of 6th grade if I were teaching something different for one of the periods, but I REALLY don’t want to teach six sections of the same class next year.

In a month, when I sit down to talk to my principal, I probably won’t have a ton of say in what my schedule looks like. I believe there is a clause in our contract that prohibits the district from forcing a teacher into a schedule change they didn’t request for more than one year, so I don’t think I’ll have to teach at the other campus next year. That is a very good thing. Outside of that, it doesn’t really matter what I want, or don’t want, to teach. Sure, it can’t hurt to know what I want, but chances are they can’t accommodate my preferences. The purpose of knowing what I do and don’t want is more about looking for other jobs; if it looks like I’m going to get a schedule that I dislike as much as this year’s, it may push me to apply for jobs that I wouldn’t otherwise consider. 

I have 5.5 months left of this school year. I know I can get through it. I may be really unhappy for much of that time, but then it will be over, and no matter what next year looks like, it has got to be better than this.

7 Comments

  1. Again, don’t be so down on yourself: “This is disappointing, because I don’t want to be someone who avoids working with others. And yet, after this year, I’ll have to admit that that is who I am.”

    I’m sure you work well with others in many places (e.g. the PTA at your daughter’s school), but having to work very closely with someone in a professional capacity when you haven’t had to do it that way before is a whole other kettle of fish.

    And even if you disliked working with people across the board (which I doubt is the case), so what? That isn’t a trait inherent to being a good or bad person – some people are wired to be more collaborative and others to prefer to go it alone.

    Your mom is a teacher, too, right? Do you ever discuss professional things with here – like your feelings or co-teaching or how you feel you struggle with classroom management? I’m really curious what she says/would have to say.

    1. My mom is a teacher. She even teaches the same grade level as I do. She also has some issues with classroom management. I talk to her about it a lot. She also recognizes it is an area where she could do better but I think she is resigned to the fact that it is one of her weaknesses. She has so many strengths (she is an amazing teacher), that she doesn’t focus on her weakness as much. She also has smaller classes and generally a pretty good set of kids (because of the school she is at).

      She has never co-taught before so she wouldn’t be able to commiserate much about that. It’s a relatively new practice in California. I’ve definitely found other teachers who are finding it challenging (among my own staff) so I do have people to talk to about it. That helps for sure.

      1. I’m glad you can talk to your mom and some colleagues about the teaching issues you feel frustrated about it. What about using your mom’s example in focusing more on your strengths than your weaknesses in the classroom?

  2. It is this situation you are not liking. Good that you can define it and be clear about what makes you bonkers. Consider if co-teaching would be better IF YOU ENDED EVERY DAY TOGETHER with time to plan.
    Make of list of what positive things you have learned from this experience, it will help for the duration.
    Before your meeting with administrative staff define what would be ideal. Then 3 variants of what would be ok. And, glory yes, do apply for other jobs. Also look outside the public school retirement system…… because if your pay doubled may be that would make the retirement issues change. AND, because under our new ‘circumstances’ I do not think you can count on retirement, tenure, public schools, etc remaining the same. Especially if vouchers for schools and medical care and … etc come into play for all except our elected government.
    Good luck!

    1. I like the idea of having an ideal schedule and then three less ideal, but manageable schedules, ready when I go in for that conversation. I’ve been thinking about what those schedules might look like. Thanks for the advice.

  3. I’m sorry you’re in this spot. I can empathize. I have been in your position where I really didn’t like my job. I loved what I did, just not necessarily where and with whom I was doing it. I made adjustments and left that particular job completely for reasons life threw at me. But I miss it. I’m here if you need to vent or just bounce ideas off. I’m not the greatest in career advice, but I can share my experiences if will help in any way.

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