Sunday, December 02, 2007


I've been reading a lot of negative stuff about some of the newbie teachers and decided to post about one newbie in my school, Joyce.

Joyce, it turns out, went to elementary school with my son. I found this out quite by accident when she was relating the tale of an accident she had on the way to school. We chatted about the location, her age, her school years and determined that they were friends in another life. That, is not what makes Joyce special. But, if not for this connection, I might not have gotten to know her to find out how special she is.

First, I want to mention that Joyce is Asian, the same ethnic background as my AP, the same man that is making every senior teacher's life miserable. Joyce is nothing like him. He might have hired her because of her ethnicity, but she deserved to be hired and is doing a great job. Joyce really cares about the kids she is teaching. She comes in early and discusses her lessons with other teachers. She agonizes when they don't do well and never hesitates when it comes to putting in extra time to help them. Joyce agonizes over the fact that she considers herself a mediocre teacher, but that mediocrity is all that the system wants. This helps her to not worry about job security but encourages her to worry about the future of education.

Joyce and I share a C-6 assignment. Since math tutoring is a brutal assignment, the administration agreed that two teachers would be assigned to the same period, and those two teachers could do a 3/2 split any way they wanted. I took Monday and Wednesday and Joyce took Tuesday and Thursday. We alternate Fridays. If there is no school on one of our regular days, the person who only tutored once takes Friday. If one of us has something to do on our tutoring day, we switch. Joyce is easy to work with. She goes to the assignment cheery. She never minds a switch (nor do I) and she is just an easy person to work with. I've heard complaints from others in my department about their partners.

Another thing I really like about Joyce are her values. She just hooked up with her college sweetheart and the two of them are making plans for a life together. They just spent Thanksgiving apart, realizing that since they will be married next year, it was more important to enjoy their individual families alone. They are happy sitting home, watching a movie, cooking, playing a game or just talking. Joyce plans on being a stay at home mom and they will do whatever is necessary to insure that this is economically feasible.

I'm willing to be that there are lots of Joyce's out there. As I approach the end of my teaching career I'm happy that there are Joyce's out there to take over and carry on.


Anonymous said...

There are some very good newbies out there. Good teachers, but scared to voice opinions or complain to friends when their rights are violated, but refuse to stand up for themselves.

We came from a different generation. The VietNam war created our voices. We were not afraid to stand up to the establishment.

NYC Educator said...

I think Joyce is lucky to have a friend like you who can help her out. I've seen some great young teachers too lately, and I really like working with them.

JUSTICE not "just us" said...

I would love to work with a new teacher. I would love to share what I have learned in 20 years of teaching for the DOE with a newbie and of course I would love for them teach me what they know.

Sad to say that this will never come true. I resent how my skunk of a principal has used new teachers against us. My school is upside down. New teachers are given their own rooms, supplied with all the materials they need and made into directors and assistent directors of small learning communities if they do everything the principal says.
Of course these young people feel they are "special" because of their special treatment and they look down upon older teachers becuase the principal and the rags we call newspapers in this city tell them it is the fault of old teachers and their union for the state of education in this city. Of course some with fascist tendencies beleive every they are told, other cynically use the system to get their masters and or perhaps a principalship(in communities they nothing about) and the few with personal values eventually leave the system disgusted at seeing people treated as something less than human.

Like the first commentator I come from a different universe. I don't understand these young people who say nothing at the injustices they see right before their eyes. If they are really interested in teaching children of poverty and color than they must say something when they see these children shafted by a system that condemns the majority to ignorance and poverty. I remember a generation of young Americans that stood up to the system and did more than just say something against poverty, war and injustice.

What's wrong with this one?

ed notes online said...

I've also been running into newbies who seem just fine. There are signs they will stay in the system and as they get security some of them will stand up. They are already showing up at Delegate Assemblies - a bunch have already been recruited/coopted into Unity - but to them they are the only game in town. Some will see the light. Some already have.

I came into the system with the Vietnam war and many left when they could. Many of us were awful teachers at the beginning - me included. (Joel Klein was one who left after 6 months like so many others who were there for the deferment.) It takes some time for people to figure things out but with today's supervisors and pressure to deny tenure....

What seems to be missing from the old days is the idea that the more senior teachers had something to teach the newbies. Some of the TFA and TF people may be indoctrinated that senior pro-union teachers are dregs. But if they are drowning, who are they gonna a call?

Anonymous said...

As one who was brand new last year and still feels very new, thank you for befriending Joyce. :) You seem like an awesome person!!

And regarding the last comment, not ALL Fellows have that attitude. I know we were NEVER taught that in my Fellows training ~ at least the classes I had. Maybe it's because a couple of our professors had been Fellows as well. Though I'm sure there were classmates who went in with that attitude (the just out of college ones who are really only doing this for law school resumes or something). But a lot of my friends and I went in as sponges. And we LOVE the more experienced teachers at our schools for the most part.

proofoflife said...

As a mentor and sometimes mommy to the newbies I can honestly say that they are afraid of admin. Many of the TFA are not from NYC. They are in culture shock when they come across mean spirited senior teachers or power hungry principals.Some of them are from rural America, and have no idea how jaded and cynical some senior teachers can be. My newbies really care for our students , they are well prepared and eager to teach. I spent twenty minutes yesterday trying to convince a senior teacher to allow the children to have book talks. Some senior teachers are so stuck in their ways they won't open their minds to alternative approaches to teaching.If I ever become a boring , closed minded, predictable teacher I hope I will have the sense to get out of teaching.

Anonymous said...

When I was doing my student teaching as a Fellow, I was absolutely blessed to have been placed with a cooperating teacher who has 32(!) years of experience as a reading specialist. She is, to me, everything a teacher should be: a firm and confident disciplinarian, compassionate and honest with children, able to facilitate large and small groups as well as comfortable one on one, and a master of her subject area. I couldn't have asked for more.

I feel very lucky, overall, as far as role models for teaching go. I am only in my second year and I'm still just trying to keep my head above water. I know I still have a lot of learning to do, and I'm incredibly grateful for blogs like this one, NYCEd., etc. as well as the "real-life" experienced teachers I know.

The Fellows program is far from perfect, but I never would have become a teacher without it. I have, however, acquired a real respect and appreciation for the serious downside that Fellows and the Fellows program can create for experienced teachers. People like you, p.o.'dteacher, deserve much more respect than you get.

My point, in this rambling post, is that, when I get to be a good teacher, it will be very much due to the fact that good teachers took time to teach me, as well as their actual students. And I wish TPTB at the DOE and the UFT had more respect for you than they have. And I wish I could do something to influence that.

Pissedoffteacher said...

Yo Miss--thank you for your nice words.