Teaching in Kansas City, one day at a time.

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 12 2013

“…angrily stabbing vegetables and avoiding eye contact…”

I met with my real time coach on Wednesday, and the title of this post is a direct quote from our convo. She told me that I have to watch my tone—that I was mean to my kids, and she wouldn’t want to learn from me either. She is big on no-nonsense nurture; heavy on the “No-Nonsense”. I super appreciate her, and I know she is right, but I didn’t feel comfortable sharing how I felt with her, so instead I angrily stabbed my vegetables and avoided eye contact. Honestly, I felt angry. I am angry. I told her that. I hate the school in which I work. I struggle to get out of my car many days. When I told her that, she asked me what I thought my kids felt each day. This is not a thought that has escaped me. I know that they have no out, that they want to be there less than I do, and that having a crazy frustrated teacher doesn’t help things. However, her reminding me of that only served to make me feel inadequate and frankly a bit resentful. Resentful of the lack of training I have, resentful of the lack of support in my school, resentful that I was essentially set up to suck for at least the first few months. Since I view resentment as a useless reaction, I chose to remain silent. I told her that what I was thinking wouldn’t serve to move the conversation forward or to help my kids, and if I wanted to change my mindset, it would start with what I say. In light of that, I chose to remain silent. She could see the validity in that.
Thankfully, my meeting with my MTLD was directly after that. She is much more of a “Warm-fuzzy nurturer” which I suppose makes for a good balance. I bawled for a bit. She validated my feelings, agreed that my training was inadequate, but that I am what my kiddos have. It’s not like there are effective veteran teachers lining up to work in KCPS. She also offered to come in my classroom and help me for a few hours to organize and help me feel more settled (the lack of order has been a consistent complaint of mine since the first week of school). She told me that regardless of the BS in my school and my district, I could create a refuge in my classroom. A place where all the craziness goes away, and I can enjoy my time with my kids. I look forward to the day when that happens.
The last two days I’ve been much more aware of my tone, I’ve also been much more effective in my behavior management. I still have a long way to go, but I suppose my RTC is doing her job well because I’m definitely getting better at my job.

5 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    Respectfully, I would hate to have a surly crap magnet in my presence, let alone one vested with the responsibility to teach me. Sorry for the tough love but the very best advice I could give is read T Harv Eker’s, secrets of the millionaire mind, and invest some time educating yourself to get out of the negative spiral.

  2. M

    Thanks so much. I am really looking forward to that. I’m told it gets easier, and I’m definitely watching my tone. I love my kiddos so much, I want them to know that

  3. LH

    I am not a elementary school teacher and I think tone is probably must more important with younger children than the high schoolers I teacher. Start small – smile in the morning to your students, especially when you see them before they get to your class. Often I would hype up teaching as the worst career in the world, and I would cry on my way to school because I didn’t want to go. However, after I said hello to my first several students, I would feel myself calm down enough to get through the day.

    There are still some days I don’t want to go, but that is more so me being lazy because I’m tired and don’t want to get out of bed. October and November are truly the hardest months – Thanksgiving and Christmas will be here soon and it is all down hill from there. Good luck and keep your head held high!!

  4. Ms. Math

    tone is such a hard thing to change. When my mom is tired and worn out from bad news her tone gets mean and I have to remember that its not something I did and not her. I know how good she is at gratitude lists and staying in the moment and saying her prayers, and even after 14 years of that she still has a hard time with tone when things get really tough…. You have so many great tools and when you find the way to happiness, which I think you will, your tone will change too :) Good luck!

  5. BC

    Helpful. Thanks… HANG tough, GOOD luck!

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Teaching for the first time… praying we all get out alive

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