I never expected

Looking back at his start in teaching, the Reflective Educator writes:  I Never Expected.

I never expected that teaching in many schools means waging two very difficult battles: one against student apathy, behavioral problems, and knowledge/skills gaps; and the other against incompetent/misguided administrators/policies. . . .

I never expected that excellent teaching involved much more than owning a dynamic personality. I used to think that excellent classroom management, creativity, and lots of energy were the sole essential ingredients to great teaching. I was very wrong. More on that here and here.

I never expected that a school, of all places, could create an Orwellian atmosphere. . . . More on that in these posts documenting a typical day on my job in DC, and also here.

I never expected that I could work with so many dedicated people. And I never expected working with a population of all English language learners would teach me so much about the world, myself, and excellent teaching.

One thing I did expect: I would love teaching. And I do. I love this job. I love this job. I love this job.

There’s more on An Urban Teacher’s Education, which I’ve added to the blogroll.

About Joanne


  1. Thanks for the mention!

  2. palisadesk says:

    I never expected that teaching in many schools means waging [a battlle against] incompetent/misguided administrators/policies.

    Oh my, yes. I marvel at how little attention this issue gets when the topic of school reform, improvement or what-have-you comes up. The assumption seems to be that we have an army of sagacious administrators, handicapped only by those lazy, venal, incompetent teachers out there. I think on a percentage basis, the quality of administrators is much lower than that of teachers.

    Been there, fought that battle, decided retrenching and living to fight another day elsewhere was the best way to go. Truly toxic adminstrators can poison the learning environment, and the students are the ones who pay the biggest price.Deo gratias,I have good ones at present and bounce out of bed at 4:45 a.m. happy to get ready to go to work an hour and a half early to work with kids. With toxic admins, you can’t vacate the building soon enough.

    Hmmmm. Maybe parking lot data could be used as one measure of administrative competence…..

  3. In my current job, I have truly outstanding administrators in my college, though in my university, they are quite abysmal.

    In my limited experience, the administrators who were the most successful at teaching/research, but went into administration reluctantly, out a sense of duty, seeing it as a temporary stop before returning to teaching/research, seem to be the “best” in terms of supporting faculty… the administrators, on the other hand, who were not effective teachers/researchers who effectively got “demoted” upward seem to be the most destructive.

    Of course, these are just my generalizations, and I know there are multiple exceptions.

  4. His administrators seem horrible, but the department meetings are pretty par for the course. He is definitely hurt by weak classroom management skills, but it’s hard when you can’t kick kids out at all. The pressure not to remove students from the classroom is intense, even when it is allowed.

    That said, dude, give it up with the constant lecturing students on their dress code. If the school doesn’t care, why should you? And it’s positively cruel not to put the motivated students together. You could also give the less motivated students something much simpler.

  5. I know this one all too well. I ended up writing 320 referrals this year and over 80% of those were for tardies. Now our principal made a big point of holding students accountable for their tardies, and to make the start of our class “meaningful” (I guess we now have to do something to get students to show up on time). So anyway, I have a daily quiz everyday…that’s pretty meaningful. We were told if a student is late, not to give them a zero (something I used to do), but give them a chance to finish it.

    Anyway I started tracking my referrals by writing the number in the upper corner of my board (above the date). The counselors found out and told me to cut the kids some slack if they came in a little late (we have 10 minute passing periods). I even had one tell me that he would rather take a student from my class and put him in another teacher’s class and fail, then deal with all of the referrals for tardies…nice huh? Long story somewhat shorter I was called in and told that I made a mockery of the system by writing the number on the board and that I had issues in my class if I was writing up that many students.

    Funny thing (sad actually) is that they couldn’t do anything about the referrals because they were all legit, but I am now being punished by having to move rooms..again (5th in 8 years) and will probably have a jacked up schedule. I think I already lost one class I taught last year.

    It’s sad that I did nothing wrong and this is what happened. So you tell me, if a new teacher saw what happened to me, do you think he/she would enforce the rules?

  6. I’ll tell you what was my biggest shock:

    Appearances matter, not results.

    Second biggest shock:

    Power and respect isn’t gained by merit. Spend more time on selling yourself than doing a good job and you’ll advance.