This week, Ask WeAreTeachers takes on a parent misbehaving on Zoom, a principal’s ban on Teachers Pay Teachers, and more.
Parents Behaving Badly
I’ve been in the classroom for more than a decade, so this isn’t my first rodeo. Since last March, I’ve been teaching virtually. I’ve had my fair share of parents acting up on Zoom: swearing in the background, vacuuming, etc., I’ve always been able to handle it… until now. The dad of one of my fifth graders has special needs, and, frankly, his behavior is worse than his kid’s. During my lessons, he’s usually on camera with his student. He will scream, interrupt to talk to kids, and make faces. How do I handle this sensitively? —Just Trying to Do My Job
This is a tough one. With other types of disruptions, like the ones you mentioned, it might be enough to remind the parent that your sessions are recorded (if that’s the case) or privately ask the student if they can move somewhere quieter, but it sounds like that might not work in this situation.
This is beyond what you can handle as an individual teacher. You need help. And this is more than just reporting to administration and asking them to bring the hammer down. Compassion is also called for. I would ask to meet with the principal, counselor, and caseworker if there is one. Perhaps there are some additional services they can provide to help facilitate distraction-free Zoom learning in the home.
In the meantime, you do need to protect the other students from the inappropriate behavior. Mute and/or turn off video for that student for now and until you have a workable solution with the support of your administration.
Thou Shalt Not Use TPT
Since I started teaching third grade four years ago, I have been asking my principal for funds for Teachers Pay Teachers, and I continually get shot down. He says the resources on there ‘aren’t good’ and that I should not be using things off of there. Every teacher I know at my school uses TPT. It is just shocking to me that in a school where the teachers are responsible for creating the curriculum and are not provided money, resources, or time to do so, they are being reprimanded for using TPT. How can I get him to see the light? —Make It Make Sense
I get your annoyance, but I can also see where your principal is coming from. There’s a lot of cute stuff on TPT that frankly lacks substance. Your principal has probably read the research from the University of South California study of English language arts materials in which reviewers rated most materials “mediocre” or “probably not worth using.”
That being said, there is good material out there. WeAreTeachers Editorial Director Hannah Hudson advises, “Can you share some of the resources you’ve bought there with your principal, so they can get a better idea of the kinds of materials you’re finding? Or invite them to observe a lesson where you are using TPT materials to help them understand the usage?”
I do understand your frustration at having your judgment questioned. That’s something that teachers are too often subjected to. Continue to be thoughtful about what you use, and keep showing them the good stuff.
I’m in my third year, and honestly, I feel like I never really learned how to teach. Shortly after I graduated college two years ago, I got hired to take over for a teacher on maternity leave. The school year had already started, and I was teaching three classes, including AP Psychology, which I’d never taught before. The other teacher decided to stay home, and I got her position. Last year was going OK, but then we shut down due to COVID. This year I’m still 100% virtual. I can’t help feeling like I’ve never really taught. —Am I A Real Teacher?
So, it’s a not-so-well-kept secret that many teacher preparation programs do little to prepare you for real-world teaching. So you have that on top of the fact that you’re a beginning teacher during a pandemic that upset the entire educational system. Trust me—even experienced teachers are struggling in this environment. So take a deep breath and try not to be so hard on yourself.
Now, there are some proactive things you can do for yourself. If you don’t already have one, find yourself a mentor teacher who is doing it well, inspires you, and is willing to take on an eager new teacher. Seek out professional development opportunities that interest you and will help you in your current situation. As best you can, look at this as an opportunity to grow.
Veteran teacher Colleen D. says, “I’m at year 26, and I’m still learning. The fun thing about teaching is that you never get bored, and there is always something to do or to learn. Every class and every child is different and has different needs. Hang in there. What you’re feeling is completely normal.”
And you’re totally a real teacher.
Back in the Saddle
After 20 years in the middle school math classroom, I have been contacted to interview with a virtual school for a full-time position. I’m doing my research and trying to prepare for the interview, but I feel overwhelmed! I really want this job, but there are so many possible questions they could ask! I haven’t interviewed in 20 years. Can you give me some advice? Please? —Hot Mess Veteran Teacher
First of all, good for you! Since it’s been a hot minute, take some time to review the most common interview questions. I’m assuming this interview will be conducted virtually, so don’t forget to test your technology, check your login information (you said it’s been 20 years, so make sure your Skype name isn’t nerdygirl2001), and prepare your interview space.
Because you’re interviewing for a virtual position, there are certain points you’ll want to make sure you make. Highlight your creativity and flexibility, how you develop relationships with students online, your strategies for combatting disengagement, etc. Name drop the different platforms you’ve worked with. I recommend writing these down on sticky notes and posting them on your computer so you can see them during your interview.
On game day, dress for success and do your best to be yourself. You’ve got this!
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