First Year Teachers- Captain Character
Learn about Shayna Henry, the principal of Edward Kemble Elementary, and her demand from the teachers.
Male: A week into the school year and reality begins to hit especially the reality of the school itself. Shana: It’s tough to be at this school. Male: Edward Kemble is located in the heart of a troubled neighborhood. A place where the majority of houses have bars on the windows. Shana: When I came on board 4 years ago, it was the lowest performing school in the district. I want to take this opportunity again to thank all of the parents. Male: In her short 10 tenure, Shana Henry has help turn the school around. Shana: We have grown 133 API points. We've brought a really huge character ad perspective here to our school. So we found that kids were not in class because they were having behavior issues and if they're not in class, they can't learn. Male: As part of the turnaround, Shana has taken an active role nearly every facet of the school. Shana: I will sweep floors if you need me to. I will wipe cafeteria tables down. And I'm Captain Character, so every Friday you’ll see me walking around in school with the cape on. Rosario on the back. I give 100% here and that's difficult to manage my life outside of work because work has become my life. Guys, go and grab a seat on the other side, that’s fine. Male: And at times, the work has affected her health. Shana: I fainted and I lost consciousness. And it’s been about 4 times since I started this job that’s happened to me at night. My stress is in an all time high. I don’t share those things with my staff because I don’t ever want to look like low as me. I don’t want to do a pity party, it’s what I assigned them to do and I love my job. Male: She takes a lot on herself and she expects a lot of out of her staff. Shana: As a principal, I have high expectations for the teachers here because our kids deserve it. And some people find out that maybe this isn't the place for me or this is tougher than I have imagined, and they need to do what they need to do. If you don’t want to be here, I'm not one to try to keep you here. It’s best for the kids that you're in a happy place. Male: A happy place is often tough for new teachers to find. Veteran teachers know you can almost set your watch to what overwhelms a new teacher first. They’re strictly mandated schedules. Thane: Literally every minute is accounted for. Male: Teachers call it pacing. Thane: There is a list of minutes that I need to teach every single subject. It’s been a struggle trying to fit all of the requirements into the schedule. Shana: There is not enough Time. Teachers get paid for 6 hours, but it’s not a 6 hour job. They have to go home, they have to plan. On top of that, they have to attend professional development. They have to be parents to a lot of these kids. They can't just walk away from school at the end of the day and say my job is done. They just don’t realize all that's involved in doing what they need to do. It’s a lot. Male: On paper, it makes sense. Teachers need to meet educational goals and those goals are broken down into months and weeks and days. But it gets tricky when those goals are broken down into hours and minutes. Because the smallest misstep can throw the whole day off. Thane: Today, I was writing in the overhead and I don’t have transparencies yet. So I was just using just the glass on the transparency. And I have the water, but I didn’t have the towels to wipe it off. So I have to go back to the sink and I have to get a towel. And then I didn’t think to get two towels, I only get one. It’s the little things like that, it’s the very small details, ten seconds are lost turn into 20 seconds, turns into 30 seconds. There's got to be a better way. Male: And what happens if one student falls behind? Thane: Then I need to spend more Time with certain people. How do I fit that into a day that is so strictly set up that I don’t really have a Time to do it. Jill: So what does that mean, making connection? Oh, I think of home every day. A lot of Time on the weekend, writing plans, looking over the lesson book. Can I please redo your pencil? Male: After Jill’s first week on the job, it seems the bloom may already be starting to come off the rose, but she too struggles with the schedule. Jill: What's going to be hard is just to not get overwhelmed. Not to get stressed out. Male: Late nights at work take a toll on family. And Thane’s wife is already taking notice. Thane: I have so much that I'm juggling, just a lot going on. I stayed 'til late on Friday to like 10 at night. Well, I'm trying not to work on a weekend, that’s kind of our Time together and I have been violating that recently. So Bernice is not happy about that. But I don’t totally blame her. She’s super patient, but I got a couple of kids and you got to pay attention to them too. It could potentially have some negative effects for sure. Fortunately we communicate with each other pretty well, so she has no problems telling me when I need to come home earlier at all. Male: Doctor Ken Futernick, author of study for the California State University Center for Teacher Quality about why new teachers quit. Ken: I have a lot of sympathy for teachers like Thane who are just beginning their careers in teaching. Every minute of his day is consumed, so imagined if there's just one little glitch. There's a family emergency, one night he can't plan for the next day the way he hoped for. These are the classic teacher burn out. Male: In Dr. Futernick’s research, he closely examined exactly what makes new teachers quit. Ken: They don’t really deal with the fundamental problems that make the schools unattractive in the first place. Like creating a sense of team, good leadership, class size, professional development, making sure teachers have enough Time, ridding the classroom of interruptions, unnecessary meetings, and any of those things are correctible without investing a lot of money. So that’s what gives me hope that these problems can be solved. Male: For now, back in the classroom, today was a good day. Thane: I mean, as far as I'm concerned, this is awesome. I mean, I love it. I'm in for a long Time, hopefully. At least two more weeks. Male: But a few more weeks into the school year proves to be all it takes for the students to finally push their new teachers to the limit. Shana: You know, their biggest concern back in August was getting their contract signed and getting their room pretty. That was their biggest concern. Whether or not the room looks pretty anymore, I think its little hassling on their mind right now. Jill: Remember that we had a sub on Wednesday? Kids: Yes. Jill: And remember we did not show good character with him, then I said that there are consequences? Kids: Yes. Jill: And so they had to write apology letters. My student ripped his paper into pieces and so he had to tape it back together. I know you couldn’t understand the way we acted, I couldn’t understand it either. Anyway, I'm sorry, love, Iona.