I love having the new math teacher at my school. First of all, she has 20 years of knowledge and resources, and seems to have no problem with me bumming around her classroom picking her brain and photocopying her books. It is a completely lopsided relationship but a great deal for me, and I’m really really grateful.
She is also great because she has 20 years of perspective on teaching, while this is all I’ve ever seen. For all I know, all kids are this crazy, all math students are this far behind the state standard, and all teachers are this exhausted. But this woman has taught all over the country and swears she’s never seen worse. She’s always taught with kids working in groups, and is threatening to give up and switch to rows because the kids can’t handle being near friends and staying on task. (Turns out it’s not JUST my management failure.) She says our kids are in the 18th percentile for mathematics nationwide… I don’t know where she found that, but she’s very sure and her experience in the classroom is convincing her that the number is accurate. She’s not used to kids who can’t multiply or divide in the 8th grade and she’s appalled by the basic skills they’re missing. (I didn’t realize I was supposed to be so shocked. Poor kiddos desperately need a superstar teacher to fix that… I’m so sorry it’s my first year.) And she says she’s working much harder than she’s accustomed to… is it possible that teaching isn’t always this time consuming?
It’s reassuring that all these problems aren’t just me, but it’s a little scary if our circumstances are actually this bad. Who failed my kids when? It’s nice to know that teaching is a cushier job in other places, but it actually makes me want to stay here more. It would be so nice to one day have the experience necessary to fix this more than I’m able to now. (But let’s not lie, it would also be nice to have an easier job. Just saying.)