Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Disillusioned Middle

A first year middle school teacher in New York City writes:
It has been a very difficult year. I didn’t know much about Literacy, didnt agree with the Workshop model [Ed's note: Workshop model is a method of curriculum delivery used in NYC schools. Get more info here.] and spent half the year figuring out what works for me and what doesn’t. It’s working now–I feel more comfortable with it and it’s actually been very effective in helping my students with learning.

But, my middle school experience overall has been very frustrating and upsetting and I have decided to move into high school, or a 7-12 program where I can maybe teach a split schedule (8th and 9th grade, for example). And, it’s nothing against middle school–I love my kids. They are some of the most talented and intelligent kids anyone can have. I do love middle school.

However, I think I have had too many issues with administration at my school and I do not see myself coming back for a second year at this particular school. I don’t want to leave…I want to see my kids graduated and find out where they go for high school. I just feel that this particular school isn’t a good fit for me and I want to find a place I teach at where I a) can grow as an educator b) be supported by my supervisor and feel as if I can come to him or her when and NOT receiving constructive advice and criticism for how to improve and c) actually feel as if im doing a good job and not feeling as if I’m the biggest screwup in the classroom.
I teach in a 7th and 8th grade junior high in California's "Imperial" Valley and can affirm that teaching students who are on the cusp of adolescence (or have already crossed over) offers a series of challenges that are to be found in no other age group.

It seems as though the NYC teacher will be changing schools not because he or she doesn't like working with middle school kids, but due to issues related to that particular school's leadership model. This is sad, because so many teachers do not wish to serve students in this age bracket.

It is the students of NYC teacher's school who will pay the price.

Many districts, including ours, experience great difficulty recruiting and retaining good teachers who desire to work with this age of kid. What can districts do in order to make middle school teaching more attractive?

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