Episode 1: Horror Stories from First-Year Teachers

0:03  
Okay to

0:05  
know. So one day, I was in class, and it's like my, my up class advisory class. So like, I don't really pay attention that much in the classroom as to what the kids are doing. So then I look over and I see this kid, right and it's like something's on his head and I'm like, What the heck? And I realize it's a condom and I'm like, Oh my god, and he's going like

0:33  
and as he's doing that the condom is in the fleeting it's over his entire face. So it's like in fleeting and fleeting and fleeting inflating and bleeding and then it pops. And I'm just watching the whole time. Like, I don't even know what to say like what to do like, because who the hell does this

1:07  
Hey, Lana, a movie. Are you excited for our first episode? I am very excited for our first episode. Okay, tell us what it's about. horror stories. That sounds terrifying. from Toronto. first year teacher, that's gonna be insane. Lana, your first year teacher. I was.

1:31  
finished my first year teaching. Where did you teach? I teach at a school in Boyle Heights. Where's that? It's east of Los Angeles. Okay, that sounds like a baton. boozy neighborhood. Uh huh. Definitely Baton Rouge up and coming.

1:47  
No, it's a great neighborhood. 99% Hispanic, really strong community. They've tried to gentrify the area and they're really not about it. So it's a really cool area to work in.

2:00  
What's the town leg? Like? Is it you know, one of those quote bad parts of town or is it? I think it, it was definitely one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in LA. Now, it's not as much. There's a lot of like mom and pop shops. I can't speak for the community, but it's just really cool. It is kind of there is a lot of crime, a lot of gang activity, but

2:24  
there's also just a really strong community there. So it it makes it not as bad. What age kids do you teach? I teach from 12 to 14, middle schoolers.

2:38  
So you teach in Boyle Heights. What's the name of the school that you work at? I work at preparatory Middle School. That sounds fancy. It is fancy. It's it's a nice school. Can you tell me a little bit more about it. So is a California distinguished school and national Blue Ribbon. It

3:00  
outscores a lot of the middle schools in the area in terms of testing. It's very data driven. We are a small school, but we have a lot of extracurriculars. The students seem to really like it, we try to have a lot of cool incentives for students and promote high learning

3:20  
or high intensity learning. So, as I remember, you did Teach for America, right? That's the program that you're doing. Yes. So what you're describing doesn't really sound like what I think that when I think of Teach for America, it's like advertised as kind of an inner city, underserved community centered teaching program, and it sounds like you've got yourself a pretty good setup. Well, the school is definitely in the inner city. I was really lucky with my placement. I think there's a big misconception that inner city areas can't have good schools, but I happen to be at one that

4:00  
You know, does so much better than just a regular public school

4:05  
is a cool charter that purposefully opens up schools and neighborhoods that really need higher education or like good education. So yeah, my placement was a little a typical bowl here from some of your friends who haven't been so lucky with their placement right, or I've had moments that are just like, What is going on? Okay, so I mean, the end, brown.

4:33  
I was like, super excited, because I was gonna have flying lessons that weekend. So I was going to fly a plane right for the first time. So I'm telling my students, I'm a physics teacher. So it was obviously relevant. I'm telling them like, Oh my gosh, guys, guess what? Like, I'm gonna fly a plane. Like I'll bring a video for you guys. And one kid turns means like, we don't know we don't want another repeat of 911

4:55  
no sleep. Get out.

5:03  
Your experience at ___ sounds really awesome. But I remember you telling me a few things over the summer, during you teach for america training at a school in Oklahoma. I was in Tulsa for training where we taught summer school and then we had a bunch of like classes afterwards that helped us to learn how to use effective teacher strategies. And that was really difficult. Tosa is a really segregated city and I had never taught before at all so I was kind of just thrown into the water and they're like, teach math.

5:40  
Okay, I don't know how I

5:45  
don't know math. No, I privileged to know math, but it was definitely the hardest time of my life. I think just being thrown into teaching and then having hours and hours of classes afterwards and then having

6:00  
You apply those methods in class the very next day while writing lesson plans like the night before, and then having people observe you and coach you, everything was just really fast and you had to be on it or you kind of like, weren't cut out to teach the upcoming year. And so that was really crazy, too, because it was kind of like a sneak peek of what you were going to be doing for the next two to five years.

6:27  
And it was like, I want to do this but

6:31  
I've been lucky with my teaching experiences after that, that Tulsa summer sounds really intense. And I know you have a horror story about lack of fences and things that come along with it. Oh, yeah.

6:47  
There was a school that just didn't really have money for a fence, around the playground. And so they were like

7:00  
Really sad but like during the

7:03  
playtime the kids would have to like fend for themselves if like dogs would just run on the playground and start like attacking these children. So they had these drills of like, which way to start running if they saw a dog coming on to the, to the campus. So it also like all those is like a really sad story and kids are running rabid animals, the lack of resources that schools have that they can't even protect some students. That was just one example of like offense, what was the drill to what would that look they just all knew which way to run and which like entrance to go to depending on where the dog entered on the playground, so this was an at my school, but it was at a school that like we were all put into different areas. And so hearing about that was just crazy. This next horror story is also

8:00  
Brought to you by a teacher who taught in a rural environment. Fake good. Okay, so I was teaching in rural Appalachia, it was a I was a high school math teacher. And I had a student who one morning at breakfast he had a water bottle and

8:22  
you sitting with his friends and he decided, oh,

8:26  
I'm just gonna I brought this water bottle and i would i would like to share this with everyone well

8:32  
if he opens the water bottle and he begins passing it around, and I'm sitting there thinking to myself, why is he passing this water bottle?

8:42  
Like what you don't like what's going on with this? And so the students are smelling this water bottle and I'm like, why would you smell a water bottle like this is so weird. Well, long story short.

8:55  
There them water bottles actually filled with moonshine? No way. Yeah.

9:00  
I mean, it's real avalanches to be expected.

9:04  
Yeah, he was later expelled. What grade was this?

9:17  
So during your first year, what are some of your own personal horror stories that you have to share? I'm sure you have a lot. I taught the boys eighth grade soccer team for a little bit and Damn, and yeah, that was pretty nuts. Because I just had no control over these young boys and they're really phenomenal and I grew to love them.

9:40  
But once I was like, exploding with rage, which I'm not really proud of,

9:47  
but I was getting really frustrated over my lack of structure on the field and I was just like yelling and going crazy and in the midst of that rage, a shoe hit my head and I

10:00  
I think it was an accident. That's what they told me. But it was just like perfect timing, perfect placement and it was my head and it definitely belonged to one of the boys that I was reprimanding at the time. And so that made me lose it even more and I like walked off the field. I was like, I can't do this anymore. And so I had a mini meltdown. But I needed that point to really turn things around in our practices got a lot better after that. So I calm down, they Calm down, I definitely didn't need to get to that level. I also just didn't know how to control my emotion. And so the shoe made me really

10:39  
sorry I can kind of feel with presidents now when they get like shoes thrown at their heads. It's definitely not something that you want.

10:48  
So no shoes, no shoes, leave your shoes at home kids.

10:53  
Well, it sounds like you've had quite a wild ride of a year and I know you just mentioned in the summer, your intro

11:00  
If this is something that you wanted to do, or that you could be doing every day, so at the end of the year, has it all been worth it? Have the good times exceeded the bad? What's, what's it like being a teacher not just like emotionally with the fun moments and the terrible moments, but also, you know, teachers don't get paid a lot and I just want to hear about what this year's been like, for you just financially, emotionally. What's it like being a first year teacher?

11:30  
I think it's definitely worth it. I think it takes a special kind of person to be a teacher because it's definitely everything you have to do is out of your pay scale. It's out of your emotional scale. It's, it takes everything out of you. But that being said, I enjoyed it a lot, because you just create these memories and you meet these people and you make such a profound impact on some students lives if not more than some and so I really enjoyed having those connections with

12:00  
Students and I'm really passionate about science. So that was cool. Middle School was kind of special too because it's such an awkward time and I kind of relish that awkwardness I, I really enjoyed helping kids go through a lot of stuff that they just did not I'm used to. Yeah.

12:20  
I totally forgot to ask about

12:23  
to ask

12:28  
you I never told my parents

12:32  
tell your own peer. No.

12:35  
It was a lot like all the giggles aside all this silly stuff aside, the interest aside, I wanted to be very correct, very factual and use this as a tool for students to just know how to take care of themselves. It was quite the challenge and it got way too silly at times. But then I also tried very hard to just relay important messages about themselves.

13:00  
And what they might go through and what some of them are going through right now. So that's, that's really tough, but I respect the effort of teaching second to a bunch of 12 to 14 year olds. Yeah, that's a lot.

13:14  
Here's another story of an uncomfortable classroom experience.

13:21  
So it was my first month of teaching ever. And in my classroom, we were doing some group projects. So I was circling around the room and I saw two boys

13:34  
throwing an unwrapped condom around my classroom. And I got angry at them and gave them proper consequences. They threw it away. And then about 15 minutes later, I'm still circulating around the room and I come back to my desk, and I see an open

13:53  
condom just sitting on my desk, and I wasn't exactly sure what to do in that situation. I ended up

14:00  
calling my admin. And they told me that it was actually a sexual harassment case against me. And that the boys are making like,

14:12  
a gesture towards me.

14:16  
And they took the boys and the boys admitted that is their idea and that they thought it was funny if they left an open condom on my desk for me to find.

14:33  
So just as we're wrapping up, my final question would be if you had to change the way teachers are treated, whether that's like resources or salary or or just like anything else, what would be your thoughts on that?

14:48  
I think the biggest thing that teachers need is just more support. Like, regardless of the money regardless of how well you know the content of how well your relationships are or not

15:00  
Hi, how tight you are with your administration. I just think teachers need more collaboration, they need more support, they need more bodies in the classroom, one 231 to 31 just is really overwhelming. And I know a lot of CO teaching models that are really effective and just having more support with teachers, they can go talk to people, they can get more resources found elsewhere. I just think we need to rally behind these people that put so much effort into raising the next generation and I I think we can do that with just the community being behind teachers getting more involved, having policy supporting teachers and and then it makes everything not as hard and it makes it more enjoyable. And so it feels like a community is raising this generation instead of a few disconnected as awesome thanks.

16:02  
Get Schooled would not have been possible without our All Star team, which includes Connor Hormel, Lana say colleague, David Choi, a co towel car, and of course yours truly Libya, Chaka, if you are any of your friends has a crazy teaching story to share. We'd love to hear more about it and maybe even feature you on our Facebook page. Go ahead and check out our website at soapbox. project.org

16:27  
slash Get Schooled, where you can scroll down to our first episode and share a story of your

16:35  
I'm Nivi and I'm Lana and this is get school

Transcribed by https://otter.ai
Nivi Achanta