Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL


  1. Nobody prepares you for how hard it will be to balance the needs of the policy makers (administrators, politicians, etc.) older teachers who are afraid of new things i.e. you who are supposed to mentor you but nobody ever tells them or you what that means. It should mean them coming in your classroom watching you teach and making suggestions for changes that would help make things easier for you as well as the sharing of resources, showing you around the school etc. but in my case just meant more paperwork to fill out. The fact that as a teacher your job never ends. You can always be making something better, grading something, finding new ideas, etc. and so if you don’ t learn to just stop working you can go endlessly. Additionally, they often give the first year teachers the assignments at the school nobody else wants, or that even though it is too much they can’t say no because they don’t have tenure or seniority. So, they end up with the worst classes, the worst schedules, no help, and an endless amount of work where they are trying to make the students, departments, administrations, parents, all happy plus earning more professional development credits so they can move up the salary lanes because they are getting paid very poorly and still have student debts.
    Over time you learn to do all of this, and if you are lucky enough to have a great mentor teacher, and good union representative who will fight for you if you do make a mistake or two early on you might make it but otherwise it is a whole bunch of stuff that means you don’t get to focus on what brought you to teaching in the first place which was your love of the students and actually teaching and really figuring our how to do that well. Nobody tells you how little teaching is part of those early years when you are just trying to survive, so you get frustrated and quit before it become fun and what you thought it would be when you signed up.

    • LoveK2x – you speak the truth ! – at least as I recognise it from my 14 years experience of teaching …

      I love the cries of vote-seeking politicians – ‘we want to reward high-quality teachers’ – oh yeah, the same way you keep cutting the budget and changing the rules/endless paperwork/form-filling requirements every 5 minutes ?

      I’ll put this is the same category as ‘get tough on crime’ – an easy appeal to the unthinking – yeah, let’s lock up criminals ! – um – except many of them are young people/first offenders who shouldn’t be branded for a lifetime for a simple mistake – and – what if it was your child accused and you believed they didn’t do it – how would you feel then.

      My head-teacher has told me this several times when I come to her with questions about how she does it – she’s said ‘we’re all just stumbling along in the dark trying to survive’

      ‘Why don’t we have better teachers !?’ – demand responsibility-avoiding parents – um – perhaps because your troublesome kids take up 80% of our time trying to manage their bad behaviour when we’d rather be actually teaching.

  2. The quote – perhaps it has become a “truth” in our profession – is sobering for more seasoned teachers as well, particularly in the wake of the recession. I have taught high school for over a decade, but have taught at so many schools the last 5 years on temporary contracts and short assignments, that I am left exhausted simply trying to adjust and “recalibrate” my ever-changing curriculum to my new positions. Adjusting to new districts – and their policies and teacher/parent expectations – adds a new layer of stress to teaching classes with too many students to teach.

    Any advice for the frazzled instructors who face similar circumstances? I am still passionate about teaching, but I am also wondering how I might be able to transition into another role as an educator, where I can still impact high school students’ lives while not being chained to the essays every week?

    Larry, thank you so much for your blog. In the short time since I discovered it, I’ve found your resources and insight extremely encouraging and helpful. It’s not easy to maintain a fruitful blog while teaching some of our neediest students.

    • Wow, sounds like a tough five years. It’s difficult for me to imagine teaching under those circumstances.

      I’m not sure if I have any advice to offer, but let me think a little more about it…

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