Changes

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Classroom 2015-16I have been told by many throughout the years that I would make an excellent teacher. When I hit a dead-end as a fulltime freelance writer, teaching seemed the next logical career step for me.I got my master’s, did my student teaching, and thought myself fortunate enough to land a job with Baltimore County Public Schools. I had a three year contract, plenty of time to get settled, figure out what I was really supposed to do and get good enough at it that I would earn tenure and teach for a decade-plus and retire.I hit a surprise speed bump at my midyear evaluation this January when I was suddenly informed the administration was not seeing things gel the way they had hoped. A number of issues, previously undiscussed at any length, suddenly were pressing concerns. The one thing that did remain a constant was my continuing struggle to tame the students and run the classroom in a more efficient, studious manner.I had six weeks and two formal observations to convince them I deserved tenure. The first such observation was terrific, the second was a disaster. As a result, it came as little surprise that at the final evaluation meeting I was told I would not be receiving tenure.Students 2015-16What this means is that come June, I will no longer be an employee of Baltimore County Public Schools and will need a new job.I could nitpick and argue a number of things were in my path and that the levels of support from different elements within the building were not all they could have been. But the bottom line remains that somewhere along the way I lost the faith of my principal and she made the move she felt would be best for the school.On the one hand, this is a major ego-crushing blow. Five years into my new career, I didn’t think I would be at this crossroads. I invested a tremendous number of hours into learning and training in addition to actually working as hard as I knew how. I see the growth, and I continue to see the growth and a clear path to delivering what was needed.I have been networking and applying for positions in nearby counties, private schools, and even local community colleges. It’s early so I have to remind myself not to panic as the days go by without an interview offer. I have also been reaching back into publishing, more for freelance writing assignments so I can keep an income stream maintained while seeking the next great gig.This is far from where I imagined I would be at this stage of my life and I have to adjust to the realities around me. We’re beginning spring break today and the rest will surely do me some good. After that, I teach until June 17 and hope something good comes along.

19 thoughts on “Changes

  1. I’m angry and sad on your behalf. Via your blog posts, I’ve followed your path from when you first started grad school through your first few years teaching, and have continually been impressed with your hard work and dedication.

  2. Since I have many friends who are teachers, I can tell you that the level of support new teachers get in major urban school systems is abysmal. You are expected to be a parental force in the lives of kids who have no parental force at home…and then you are blamed for the lack of control in your classroom.Good luck in finding future work…community college as an adjunct professor might be your best immediate bet–maybe teaching remedial English to people who really want to learn it.

    1. Pat you are exactly right about that. I taught school for 30 years and its the same everywhere and almost everything I learned I learned the hard way on my own

  3. Also try applying at private schools. I don’t know how they pay in relation to public schools, but you’ll probably have more support from both the school and the parents.

  4. Having been a H.S. graduate of Baltimore County Public Schools back when they actually TAUGHT and would BACK a teacher up when a student was disruptive AND would hold a PARENT accountable when said parent was negligent, (and would back a PARENT up when a kid was undisciplined but the parent tried) – I’m actually ashamed of the treatment you have received from this county. I hope you get a better deal – SOON! – from your next employer.

  5. “But the bottom line remains that somewhere along the way I lost the faith of my principal and she made the move she felt would be best for the school.” That’s always the bottom line, no matter what job you have. I know full well many of the Great Opportunities that came my way were because Mike Carlin had faith in me, and most of those doors closed— with surprising abruptness— when someone else who felt differently started calling the shots. Godspeed, Bob. I’m sure you’ll land on your feet.

  6. Education is a strange field and too much is based on the opinions of administrators who have no idea how to evaluate. I know. I’ve been tenured at Columbia College Chicago for more than a dozen years and served as a department chair and an associate provost. It may be personal but don’t take it that way. Just take the next step.

  7. Sorry to hear this Bob.Sounds like something you really wanted to work.It’s hard to change careers late in life (recently did it myself)But with perseverance you will succeed

  8. Hi Bob, It sucks. I’ve been reading your reports and have been amazed at your dedication and growth, and mostly your heart, which is the most important part of teaching. I have followed a similar path, freelance writer to teacher, and was fired from my first three schools. It takes that long to get it, and “it” means confidence as well as expertise. A veteran teacher told me it takes five years at least. And classroom management is the most difficult part. With your classroom experience now, as well as your life experience in writing, especially the science fiction/comic book component, you are extremely likely to get hired very soon. Schools need people with real world experience who have a natural portal into young minds. That, you have. By the way, many teachers, especially the more dynamic ones, bristle under the public school system as much as the students do. Teachers and students are simply not supported. Charters, privates, religious, alternative (ie, distance learning via Internet) might truly utilize what you have to give. It sounds like the BCPS are idiotic to let someone like you go. I know it’s cliche, but don’t give up. Pour a stiff one and carry on. You are too talented and what you have to give is too valuable to let this–and you know we’ve all been there–keep you from your mission. To better days!

  9. Bob, the closest I’ve come to your experience is as a substitute teacher a bunch of years ago. I got no support from the administration, who just expected me to keep the kids under control while providing possibly the worst tool for keeping a classroom under control (making them fill out dittoed worksheets). I thought at the time, had I been a “real” teacher, both the kids and the administration might have acted a bit differently. Maybe not. Best of luck finding your next path.

  10. So sorry to hear about this, Bob. I’ve heard a lot about the difficulties of teaching over the years from Jim Reddington, especially how sometimes those difficulties can overshadow the rewards of being a teacher. I hope you find a positive outcome to this situation quickly. On a side note, it’s been a long time since we’ve worked together in comics, and I hope the day will come in the future when we can do so again. God Bless!

  11. Dear Bob,I have been teaching for almost 30 years and most of it in Maryland. I understand what you are going through. I was surprised you chose Baltimore County. There are many really terrific places to teach in Maryland and I would never have chosen Baltimore county.You have so much to offer students, but I never thought you were best needed in the public schools. Granted, we need children to become great readers and writers, but I always felt your talents were needed at the college level. Students there are more focused and like I said, I believe you have so much to offer. Please consider some of the great post-secondary institutions in Maryland.You are in my thoughts and prayers.Patti

  12. So sorry to hear this, Bob. Teaching is so impossible. I was one for a year and fled screaming. But keep applying to other schools. I’ve worked with you enough to know you are good. It is possible that they simply didn’t want to pay another tenure teacher and that it’s cheaper to keep getting new ones. At any rate don’t give up. You’re good.

  13. Bob, I am really sorry to hear this, and mad that they didn’t see how lucky they were to have you as an employee. I will keep my fingers crossed that you land your next (and better) teaching role soon. You are a bright, talented and hard working individual – I have faith that the right opportunity will appear.-Heather

  14. Wishing you the best of luck Bob. My niece was at a school district, on the tenure track, when suddenly the school changed their mind about her, irregardless of the success she had in the classroom. I’ve come to learn that teaching can be a very political occupation! I look forward to hearing where you end up.

  15. This is such a powerful post, Bob. You take the high road by giving credit to administration for doing what she deems “best for the school,” but you expose what every teacher (especially in urban districts) knows: there is a terrible disconnect between most administrators and the people who are actually in the classroom. I have been teaching in Bridgeport, CT for 10 years. Increasingly, administrators seem to be motivated by a paranoia that they will be “found out” for not implementing the latest initiative (rarely related to subject matter), for not having teachers document how they spend their time, for not collecting and interpreting student data based on any number of standardized tests. This year, my 7th and 8th graders will endure a total of 24 standardized assessments.Education is less about people these days. The passion of a teacher matters less the appearance of having checked all the boxes. We don’t support the relationships–the human relationships–among teachers and their students.My hope, Bob, is that you not feel alone. There is a place for teachers who truly care and have the best interests of their students driving their intention.Best of luck!Julie

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