This job is getting to me

Discussion in 'General Education' started by princessbloom, Mar 5, 2011.

  1. princessbloom

    princessbloom Comrade

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    Mar 5, 2011

    I'm a first year 3rd grade teacher. I LOVE teaching and I LOVE my kids immensely. I have a wonderful group of kids. I have amazing co-workers who are always there for me. I couldn't ask to work with a better team of 3rd grade teachers! Problem is, I hate everything else. The stress is unbelievable. In the beginning of the year I was staying at work until 7:30pm just to get my paperwork done, thus giving up family time to spend with my husband. I've realized that sacrifice wasn't working well for me so I don't do that anymore. Now, of course I'm very behind on my grading but it seems everyone is so I just let it stack up and do it when I have time.

    County is coming down on my school because we didn't make AYP last year and that means our principal is coming down on us. I had a meeting last week with a parent and the principal showed up half way through (it wasn't a regular conference-she's been showing up to all the meetings.) She started getting really angry with me because I filled out some of the paperwork incorrectly. Then she started grilling me on my intervention strategies. In the middle of the meeting I began having problems with my asthma--I started coughing uncontrollably and then I lost my voice completely-boom, just like that. I was a nervous wreck and stumbled my way through the meeting and looked like a complete fool in front of the parent. I somehow made my way through the meeting without breaking down, and walked out crying. I picked up my kids from Specials and had an asthma attack when I returned to my room. I'm not one to cry at the drop of a hat but I have been a basket case this year. My asthma has been worse than ever, brought mostly on by stress. I've cried multiple times AT WORK...always trying to hide it from my kids. One day I had to leave early because I just couldn't control it anymore.

    Since the meeting last week with the principal I freak out each time I see her in the hallway. My legs get shaky, my throat tightens up, my stomach begins to ache and it hurts to breathe. She is the most intimdating person I have ever met. I've never been like this with a person before. EVER. (The good news is that I'm not the only one who feels this way. The whole school is practically afraid of her in some fashion. I find comfort in the fact that I'm not the only one, however, it doesn't change the way I get around her.)

    She is doing my observation on Monday. My first observation went wonderfully, but it was with our AP and she is unable to do it.

    Even at home, I'm on the verge of tears on a constant basis. All around I'm just feeling depressed. Several people have told me that this is sometimes what it's like the 1st year of teaching. I can't fathom how it's going to get better next year, with the pressure increasing from county all the time and with all the paperwork (specifically RtI) increasing. I appreciate the consolation of things getting easier each year, but honestly it doesn't serve as any consolation.

    I don't know how to make it better. I'm not really sure the purpose of me writing. Just curious of what people here have to say. Advice. Suggestions. Words of wisdom. Other teachers feeling the same.
     
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  3. time out

    time out Comrade

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    Mar 5, 2011

    It sounds like you like you really love what you do. Unfortunately, you're not going to love every aspect of your job. The question is, do you love teaching enough to deal with the stress that comes with it? As for your principal, that's a stressor that could be changed. I mean, the amount of paperwork is not going to change, but your work environment can.
     
  4. heymiss

    heymiss Comrade

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    Mar 5, 2011

    My first year (last year) was terrible, too. Our entire admin team was outright RUDE to us and treated us like dirt. Literally half of the teachers in the school weren't even certified (I was) or qualified to teach their subjects, and it was just rough, rough, rough.

    But I survived. And then I got a new job and resigned from that one two days after school let out.

    You'll find something better, and wherever you end up, you will appreciate it SO MUCH MORE because of what you went through your first year, I promise. Or maybe your principal will leave and you'll stay at the same school and it'll be great because she's gone. Either way, when you have a terrible first year, you really learn to appreciate everything good that comes your way the next year.

    Don't grade every single paper that you assign. The kids won't notice, and neither will the parents. Sometimes, I'd just put a check on the paper and hand it back out without ever putting it in the gradebook. Sometimes, when it was clear that the whole class had bombed the homework or whatever, I just threw the whole pile in the recycling bin and retaught the lesson.

    It gets easier, and it gets better. I went from a school where the admin was rude, mean, and disrepectful to all of the teachers to one where we are frequently praised and thanked for what we do, and it makes all the difference in the world.
     
  5. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Mar 5, 2011

    Hey there - I definitely know the feeling of working for a principal like that - it absolutely makes even the best experiences sour quickly.

    Do you enjoy the teaching component of your job, when you actually get to do it? Do you like delivering lessons, assessing student progress, etc?

    I was in a similar situation - not happy with my role in the educational system, and ended up moving into the nonprofit sector because of some of the issues with the educational systems I had been a part of.

    I think if you are just happy with your administration, find a new school. If you are unhappy with grading, RtI, lesson planning, working late, etc., it may be a good thing to look into other careers where you would also get to work with great people and great kids. First years can be tough, so I'd really look into your heart and see if its the admin and adjustment into the career, or if you feel a calling in another related profession with kids - there are kids in need in places other than schools, for sure!
     
  6. heymiss

    heymiss Comrade

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    Mar 5, 2011

    Also, I'd like to add that grading homework nearly killed me when I taught elementary. Now that I teach middle school, I check to see whether they've done the work, and have the kids grade it themselves. It's made a tremendous difference, and I never take work home to grade any more.

    I tried this a few times with my 4th and 5th graders and it was a disaster. It's a lot easier this year because my kids are older and I have a document camera so they can SEE instead of just having to hear.
     
  7. time out

    time out Comrade

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    Mar 5, 2011

    Here's what I do for homework. At the beginning of the year, I let parents know that I don't check for accuracy - I check for completion. I don't even have to take a stack of homework packets home with me. On Fridays, the students know to place their homework on their desks as soon as they come in. Then, as the kids trickle in I just walk over, skim their work and check it off. I'm done with the whole homework process by 8:10 am.

    Also, I must have breezed over the part where you said you were a first year teacher. Take heart. You will learn how to work smarter, not harder.
     
  8. heymiss

    heymiss Comrade

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    Mar 5, 2011

    Agreed. I'm kind of a control freak and I nearly wore myself out last year because I could do everything better and faster than the kids. I'm still like that for the most part, but I've learned to share the responsibility a lot more this year.

    The good thing about a rough first year is that if you still want to teach after going through all that, you know you were really meant to be a teacher.
     
  9. princessbloom

    princessbloom Comrade

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    Mar 5, 2011

    Thanks everyone.
    I don't grade homework either. Each day I call tables up to me and I just check off if they did it. Then I go over it on the doc cam. I don't grade for accuracy. I did that for the first few weeks of school then quickly realized I couldn't keep up!

    heymiss, I am seriously considering looking elsewhere for next year. I'm not sure how a school would feel about hiring someone who was had only been teaching for 1 year, and how it would look changing schools after such a short amount of time. What do you think? I guess it won't hurt to apply and try.

    EdEd, Yes I do love the job (the teaching part) but I am still trying to answer the question you asked. (If everything else is really worth it.) I love it when my kids learn and I love helping them. I don't feel like I can do my job effectively though when I'm under so much stress and when it seems there's hardly any support from administration. It's a lot to take in and mull over.
     
  10. heymiss

    heymiss Comrade

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    Mar 5, 2011

    I got hired on my first interview last summer (for the record, I think I went on six interviews the first year). I came from a really....interesting, and poorly run charter school, and my new school had sort of heard of it before, and then they asked me for details in my interview. It became clear that I had worked at an abnormal school when I asked things like, "So you have the same classes in the same order every day?" and "Are all of your classes the same length every day?"

    The only thing that will hurt you is NOT to try.
     
  11. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Mar 5, 2011

    About your question about leaving after a year, there was a recent thread to that effect - about the effects of leaving early. There was some good discussion there if you can find it!
     
  12. TeacherApr

    TeacherApr Groupie

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    Mar 5, 2011

    The major thing that stuck out at me was your intimidation of your Principal. That concerns me and I feel it should concern you, too. I wholeheartedly believe that if you ever find yourself "walking on eggshells" around a boss, friend, whatever it means GET OUT.

    Not all principals are intimidating. I think the situation you are in is very unhealthy and I think if you were to talk to your dr. about this you would probably get a dr's note to leave based on health problems stemming from the job. I would transfer to a different school for next year.
     
  13. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Mar 6, 2011

    :hugs: I had an AP very similar to your P. I used to have panic attacks in the mornings, right before I left for work, just thinking that she *might* drop by my room that day. A very, very intimidating woman who never had anything nice to say - just wanted to let you know everything you were doing wrong with no advice on how to improve.

    I know a lot of people feel that teaching is a central part of their life, so please forgive me as I don't mean to offend anyone. At the end of the day, teaching is a job and if your job is making you unhappy and physically ill, it is time to look elsewhere. There's absolutely no harm in looking for a new school. A good P knows that not everyone is a good fit everywhere, and will look at YOU and how you respond in an interview.
     
  14. princessbloom

    princessbloom Comrade

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    Mar 6, 2011

    TeacherApr, Thank you for touching on that aspect. I didn't realize that you could get a doctor's note for such things. I've considered going to the doctor to get anxiety medication.
    I think I may consider going to another school next year, or at least attempt to apply elsewhere.
    Surely it shouldn't be like this.

    Two people at work have told me to be careful about leaving because they've worked with principals much worse. I can't imagine much worse, though I suppose it's possible!
     
  15. Marci07

    Marci07 Devotee

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    Mar 6, 2011

    That is horrible that you went through that. I agree with the posts that say that you don't have to grade everything. I even had a parent last year who openly was challenging me on the issue of grading every day homework. I explained to him that I have many methods to measure student's understandings and that I just didn't grade homework and instead gave completion creadit. I felt confident and secure about my answer and his daughter's standarized scores jumped very high.

    Of course, if I would have had this confrotation during my first year of teaching I would have crumbled into pieces. After a few years I've developed my system and things that what worked and based on countless books and workshops I've attended so, I feel more confident in my teaching.

    Hang in there and think about it, if you can handle this principal, you can handle much anything. Also, this could be a learning experience on how to defend yourself because you will always have to be confident and strong on the work you put in.
     
  16. schoolteacher

    schoolteacher Habitué

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    Mar 6, 2011

    Yes, it is possible to have a principal much worse. Many urban schools attract principals like this. The schools are often unable to choose from top quality principal candidates, and are stuck with power driven, aggressive and bullying administrators.

    When I went to work at my school for the first time last year, I too was stressed out by the principal. Every teacher was, even those who were apparently liked by her.

    This year, my goal was to not let the principal's negativity affect me, and I am doing great on that score!

    It's a really a mind game. Here's what I do (you'll probably laugh, but it is very effective for me). Whenever I see her, I think in my mind: she is going to apologize to me. What apology? "I'm so sorry for not supporting you and the students in the way that you deserve. I'm sorry that I've been doing such a lousy job."

    Of course she is not going to make that apology. But the absurdity of imagining it makes me laugh inside. It also makes me very aware that her lack of support makes a real hole in the lives of my students, people whom I care a great deal about.

    When I do this, I am reminded that the problem is hers, not mine, and that I don't have to make it mine if I decide not to.

    Whenever she steps into my room, I think, "Oh! She's coming in to tell me what a great job I'm doing! She's coming in to give me helpful suggestions for improving my teaching!"

    This puts a huge smile on my face. And then I'm much more relaxed around her. This has turned around my interactions with her.

    Last year, if I had to speak to her, my heart would literally pound in my chest in anticipation of her verbal attacks.

    Now, I have the most pleasant look on my face, because I am actually thinking pleasant, amusing thoughts about things she will never ever say, but things she absolutely should say to me.

    I don't dread talking to her or seeing her. It's been wonderful.
     
  17. ACardAttack

    ACardAttack Companion

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    Mar 6, 2011

    This year is starting to get to me too, but this last month has been busy! Ive got work, Im buying a house and I have my internship project (which really just makes a new teachers job 10x's harder)....Also Im starting to be pressured about getting a few slackers to work, so Im gonna have to lay the hammer down monday, which is not my style...Im a as long as you're not screaming and distracting the whole class, if you choose to fail, then its fine, but Ive got to change my philosophy some

    This was a nice restful weekend...just remember you're not alone in the fight
     
  18. kyteach

    kyteach New Member

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    Mar 9, 2011

    This is exactly what I am going through right now. I am a first year fourth grade teacher. My principal is VERY intimidating and sometimes down right rude and mean. All the teachers complain about her and don't like her. When I hear her coming down the hall I cringe because she makes me very uptight. It was very bad in the beginning and I use to cry a lot. I finally realized that I couldn't spend another day feeling like I did and decided to go to the doctor. He was able to give me some anti anxiety meds. They have helped me so much! My school did not meet AYP last year either so my principal is always freaking out and every week has something new for us to turn in or report or whatever. I too use to stay until 6 or 7pm just to get caught up on grading or do my lesson plans . Now I realize that I don't have to grade every single assignment. I have been know to pitch a stack or two of assignments!
    I found out last week that due to enrollment, they would not have a position for me next year. In a way I am sad because I love the kids I teach and my co workers are wonderful, but I also see this as a blessing. I can now look for a position at another school were the principal is not breathing down my back constantly and where I feel appreciated.
     
  19. Major

    Major Connoisseur

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    Mar 9, 2011

    Toughen up....
     

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