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Taking Bullets

by captain on December 1st, 2011

If you work at a traditional school of any kind, elementary school, jr. high school, or high school  there is an alternative program that takes your highly dysfnctional students off your hand.  Community Day programs, Opportunity rooms, continuation schools all exist to act as a holding place for these students who for whatever reason cannot function in a “normal” school setting.

These places make YOUR job easier. 

Bare in mind many of us working in these facilities are not here by choice.  I never ASKED to come here.  I never applied for a job HERE.  I’m forced to take on other people’s cast aways out of necessity.   I make your job easier.

We already deal with admin who rarely values what we do or try to do and constantly wants to change us and make our system like the ones they are used to at their traditional school.  Teachers at these other school think we have an easier job because we don’t deal with the homework and all the paper work that “traditional” schools deal with.  We’re not seen as being “real” teachers by many of the other educators in our own districts.  I know because I was on the other side once, and I know what was said, quite often by the other teachers.

The public has some odd idea that we’re all here because we suck as educators.  I’ve heard them talk too.  We GET the rumors here, we KNOW what is said about us.

Funny, but  like I said….not many of us EVER asked to be here.  A few have a high pain threshold or felt a special calling to work with troubled youth…but not a lot of us.  Many are going to live their lives here essentially taking a bullet to their career for the good of education, and get paid below what this job should be paid.

This job has some nice moments, don’t get me wrong, but they nowhere come close to making up for the majority of the days and the feeling of knowing you’re NOT doing what you set out to do.  I tried to leave 3x, and because of the mentality of most of our district…I’m labled and stuck here, and if I use this job on a resume for most other schools I won’t be getting jobs there either.

Believe it or not, I actually chose to go into education.  Wanted to.  I had dreams and ideas on a career and what that was going to shape up to be once I had done this job for 20-30 years and retired.  Nothing I planned on doing is possible in this location.  I tried. I’ve put programs in place to have them not supported or funded and then have the kids even capable of handling the assignments with the necessary maturity.  Everything I want to do needs to be dummed down by 85% to 85% of the kids.   I’m more police officer and fire fighter than I am educator.

I’m constantly putting out little fires (not LITERAL fires, but you get the idea) so that they don’t explode and cause everyone here MORE stress.   Each class “lecture” is 60% telling k ids to stop texting, stop talking, stop sleeping, start writing, stop putting on make-up, stop sitting on the desk, stop sneaking out early, etc.   Yes some of this happens at normal schools but it’s all usually curtailed by 5 minutes into class and then things progress normally.  If it continues it’s usually by one of the kids bound for this type of school.

I remember the feeling while working at the traditional school of knowing that once the session ended, and I failed these types of kids they’d be shipped out to HERE and I’d have my classroom back and be able to again work for the masses and get things done.   I took for granted these teachers and what they really did for me.  They made my job possible.  Without continuation teachers high school would be miserable for so many more people teachers and students alike.

Having been here for many years now, I’ve changed my opinions of those that work in places like this.  If you want my honest opinion I think every teacher in the district should be required to put $150 a year into a fund that goes directly to these teachers in the “alternative” programs JUST for making your jobs easier.

afterall, we could always send the kids back.


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