Hello all! I think that the powers of the Listserve choose you when your life is most chaotic. Please be patient with me.
I got the winning email on the same day that I got a call from a school district that they went with someone else, and I was putting most of my eggs in that basket. I am just finishing up my first-year teaching middle school science in an economically disadvantaged district. Unfortunately, there were many issues that added up to my resignation and a new job search so that I can teach in September. This has been the most stressful year of my life. My classroom management left a lot to be desired. The students were overall very disrespectful and apathetic towards school and my lessons. I’ve used the phrase “like herding cats” to describe my job multiple times this year.
Let me be clear: I love science. I love teaching science. I love doing experiments, looking at objects under a microscope, and reading about discoveries: new and old, but for some reason I could not transfer that love to most of my students. They had already decided at some point that science was too hard, so they wouldn’t even try.
I’m really struggling to find the confidence in my own abilities and career choice. I went to college for biology with no clear path in mind. Years later, after working part time at an awesome science center, I knew I needed to find a “career”. So, I went back to school to get my masters in teaching through a fellowship with a 1-year accelerated program, with the stipulation that I would teach for 3 years in a high-need/low-income district. Did I really know what I was getting myself into?
I’m going to get preachy. Teaching is hard. I’ve spent hours on Saturdays writing lesson plans and creating assignments for my 5th, 6th, and 7th graders, with minimal curriculum guidance. I’ve spent evenings researching so that I know the material forwards and backwards. And I don’t even have to mention the stacks of grading. Our country is in this odd holding pattern where we say we value teachers, and what they do for students, and for the future of this country (and the world), but then we cut funding for public schools (I’m looking at you Chris Christie, Donald Trump, and Betsy DeVos). We inundate students with standardized test that take HOURS away from instructional time, and we wonder why they aren’t “performing” well. Can we please look outside the classroom and stop blaming teachers for low test scores? I have never been more exhausted in my life. Yes, I have the summer “off” and I’m going to work at my second job as many teachers do, because our salaries are nowhere near what our degrees (and often experience) merit.
I’m going to be selfish and ask outright: If you know of a middle school science position at a 30% or higher economically-disadvantaged public school in Northern NJ, send me an email.
I would like to end with a note about my mother. She died 10 years ago from pancreatic cancer when I was 18. She was a microbiologist and played a huge role in instilling my love of science. I wish I could hear her thoughts on my current struggles. Don’t forget to let people know how much they mean to you. Tomorrow is never guaranteed. Be a force of good and kindness in this world. Thank you for reading my ramblings today, and thank you for sharing your stories.
Bergen County, NJ