New school year!

So it has been a while since my last post (I feel like my posts are generally going to start that way – Keeping a blog is not at the top of my priority list right now).

Since my last post, I have officially gotten my Professional Educator Licence for the state of Illinois and am certified to teach High School Drama.  That being said, I got the licence a little late in the summer (as I had to take an extra class) and did not secure a full time teaching position for the 2016-2017 school year.  Because of which, I am holding down two jobs (Substitute Teaching during the day and waiting tables on nights and weekends).

Today’s post is on teacher frustration.  Our nations educators have a hard job and often times it is because the students that they have to teach do not want to be here.  While this is not a NEW concept, more and more we are seeing instances of the rules allowing the students freedoms that they did not have before, shifting the power.  I made a post before about technology and how it is a wonderful tool but is becoming a distraction.  Today, while I was on my break in the teachers lounge, I heard a fellow educator talking to a colleague about a couple girls in her class.  Apparently the student went up to the teacher during a test and claimed that they had never been taught this material.  The teacher responded with “this is what we have been learning the last 2 weeks!”

“Yeah, but I was on facebook on my phone in class the last couple weeks!”

Someone save me.  Why did I choose to do this to myself?

Technology is actually starting to scare me in schools

So, I know I have posted about this before, but I am starting to become much more legitimately concerned about the well-being of the students that I am teaching. Today, I was working as a substitute teacher at a public high school in a suburb of Chicago, in fact in the same district as the one that I attended when I was a teenager. I was to teach a math class, and while math is not my content area, I still offered what help I could.

In all of this teacher’s classes, the students had worksheets to work on and whatever they did not finish became homework. Simple enough right? As I am typing this, I am sitting in this second period class of 18 students (4 are missing), and here are the statistics on their cell phone usage:

  • 16 have their phones out on their desks (using them or not)
  • 8 of those 16 are texting or using some form of social media for more than just changing the song that they are listening to while they are working.

Now, remember how I said I attended this district?  When I was in High School, the first iPhone had come out during my freshman year, so a lot of us did not have phones.  When we did get one, they were usually standard flip phones or one of the original LG enV’s.  The school was also very strict on what we were allowed to do with the phones.  I remember I was walking to class one time during my junior year and a friend of mine was walking with me.  We were curious how much time we had to get to our class so he pulled out his cellphone to look at the time.  A dean happened to be walking the opposite direction, took his phone, and told him he could pick it up in the dean’s office after school along with a detention.  Just for looking at the time.  I am not saying that this is right, but it is interesting to note how lenient these schools have become when it comes to this technology.

Now, we are not permitted to take a student’s cellphone and leave it in the dean’s office, as they feel this is a safety concern.

Now, I mentioned those 8 students before about their cell phone usage.  I have now gone over there at least 3 times per student and told them to put it away and they just won’t.  Why?  Because I am powerless.  I am a sub, so I cannot write anyone up, I cannot take away phones or I will get in trouble, and I cannot enforce any classroom discipline because I am not going to get supported.

Being a teacher is an exceptionally hard and thankless job, and I feel that it is being made harder, because we aren’t allowed to do anything about the way our students behave.  You want the students to learn?  You complain about the state of our education in this country?  Look at the reason why there is a record number of students with ADD.  It is because they are so involved in their gadgets and media that they are losing the ability to think without them, and in turn, it is crippling them.

How schools have changed.

I remember High School somewhat well.  Heck, I only graduated from it 7 years ago.  I remember thinking that everything was a huge deal socially, and put a lot of stress on myself.  Even though I was taking some Accelerated and Advanced Placement classes, I didn’t really stress that much on my work.  Most of my issues were social, and because of which, I had decent enough grades.

The last two weeks I have been subbing again, and it has been a nice breath into what High School is like.  I am working for the same district that I graduated from, and because of which, there are a lot of the same cultures in place, but a lot has also changed.

All students are issued these when they become freshmen.
All students are issued these when they become freshmen.

The first thing that I noticed when I started working here was the use of technology.  All students have mini-laptops that are powered by Google, called ChromeBooks.  When I started working for this district a couple years ago, only the Freshmen and Sophomores had them, as they were in the process of integrating them.  Now, almost everything has transitioned to the cloud, and every teacher maintains a classroom website.  This has many advantages, but also can cause a lot of problems.

Today I was subbing some classes, and the students had assignments that they had to do on their ChromeBooks.  This is nice, as the teacher who is out can prepare a lesson online and have the students access it.  He can remotely make sure the students are doing their work without actually being there themselves.  However, while going around the room monitoring students and making sure they were understanding their assignment, I found almost a third of the class on Facebook or Netflix.  Having this much access to technology makes it hard to judge if the students are using it for the appropriate things.

The original iPhone released in June of 2007
The original iPhone released in June of 2007

The other thing that I noticed was how lenient the school has become on the use of cell phones.  When I was in school, I couldn’t even have my phone out in the cafeteria, as it would get taken away.  I remember getting a detention for taking my phone out for a quick second to check the time once.  The first iPhone also came out when I was in High School, so having a smartphone was a new concept for a lot of people.  Now, I have to remind the students to take their earbuds out to hear me.  Before, I would have gotten that phone taken away so fast that I wouldn’t have even seen the teacher coming.  Now, often times teachers find themselves in a battle with taking the phones away.  Students are fighting back more, and parents feel that taking a phone away is somehow violating their students rights.

A lot has changed, and I am unsure if it is completely for the better.  As someone who uses technology quite frequently, I see it’s uses.  However, by introducing too much too fast, we are running into some issues.

Back in the swing of things!

So the new year is upon us, and I have been really bad with updating my blog 🙁

I recently re-added myself to the sub list for a local High School district, and am currently writing this on my lunch break at one of the schools.

After having my student teaching experience at an All-Boys Catholic High School, as opposed to this coed Public one, there are so many differences in the culture and atmosphere that make me question which one I prefer more.

Private School, especially one of a single gender has its own problems just in the placing.  I was at a school with all Boys, which means they were exceptionally rowdy with each other, and would often try to avoid doing work to make jokes in order to heighten their social status among their peers.  In fact, there is a web series on YouTube, called “Skool’d” that was written, directed, and starring some of the former students of the school.  You can check out the link here.  I feel it was a very accurate representation of what is going on at the school.

Public school, on the other hand has its own issues.  While Private has tuition, Public does not.  This means that the students might be coming from lower income families, and might not have the support that the private school students have.  This does not really mean that the education that they are getting at either school is of lesser quality, however.  Both schools have the same requirements for their teachers, and their curriculum are very similar.

But now that I am back, and passed my edTPA (THANK GOD) I have applied for my license, and am applying to jobs.  If anyone knows of a school in the Chicagoland area that is looking for a Middle or High School Drama Teacher, let me know!