1st year teacher at the end of his rope

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by 1st year, Jan 17, 2011.

  1. 1st year

    1st year New Member

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    Jan 17, 2011

    Hi, well I'm a 1st year teacher. I moved across country to get a job because jobs in Michigan were scarce. However now I really regret moving.

    I came in to a low income school about a month after it had started. I got students from 3 different teachers classrooms, and very little in the way of classroom supplies. My library can not fill up one of the long book shelf's I was given and I was given 2, so both are very empty. Since I cam in late I was not given book money and since I had moved across country and left my personal library at my parents I can not fill it up.

    I have a mentor, who just gives me the same work I had as a student teacher, last semester all I did with him was build another portfolio even though I all ready had 2, one for my time in 1st grade, and one for my preschool.

    I have parents who complain about me, who I have only met once, and that was this past Friday. They will not return phone calls or letters, but have been in to see the prinicple at least 3 times to complain about me. Thats where I met them on their way back from meeting with him.

    My students are going home and telling their parents that I'm mean. The reason they say this is because I require them to do work and not just let them play board games, and when I did give them time on friday after they finished thier work I was told by one of my students that he was going to go home and tell his parents how mean I am because I told him to clean up the game he was playing.

    A qaurter of my parents are still upset that thier students were moved in to my classroom. I didn't have any say in it and so far they gave me no chance but I can understand that.

    I had one student say he was going to bring a knife to school the next day when I refused to let him go through my desk to look for something. I have to rotunly check my students backpacks for the classroom supplies, because they steal them. I say this because I had a package of Visa Vias in my desk drawer and then found them in a students backpack. I only checked her bag cause I had caught her putting one of the markers in someone else's backpack.


    I used to think I was good at classroom management, when I student taught I was teaching from the very first day and responsible for the class. I did really good but that wasn't an urban city school. I have 87 days of school left, counting in service days and such, and I just don't know if I can do it. It's so hard, the other teachers resent me because they are being asked to help me with things and I don't have the materials like they did.

    For example they had the whole summer to prepare teaching the human body to first graders like the Circulatory, respitary, and digestive system. Then they were annoyed when I didn't come to the meetings with a ton of stuff on each subject even though I didn't have a clue what we would be doing the next week until we met.

    I'm just not sure what to do. I wish I could quit, but the fee for quiting and then breaking my lease and moving back to my parents would be just to much money. I can't afford it.

    I'm not sure what to do. i have wanted to be a teacher my whole life. I was one of the few guys in my program to even get a pre-school endorsement. I'm just lost. I don't know what do, all I know is that I dread going to work in the morning for the first time in my life. I've all ready used two sick days cause I just couldn't force my self to go. I'm just tired of it, I'm sick of the parents talking down to me. The other teachers treating me like an annoyance.

    My classroom management has gone down the drain and I need help, or a suggestion for a new profession. I'm at the point where I sent away for info about the Army I'm so desperate to be out of here.

    I have show my students the expactations for what to do even just during ssr, not only do I have to confrence with a minium of 5 people, I then have to dibel test 5, and the confrence has to be seperate, oh and the prinicple had to talk to a few people before he would agree to give me the time off to be trained in Dibels because I still don't know how to do it.

    I'm teaching first grade and this is the first chance all year I've had to teach reading because I have had to be teaching the human body and with the time requirments there has been no time. I have first graders who can't recognize their letter but I was told I had to teach them about the human body, because they must all be able to say what platlets, white blood cells and red blood cells do.

    I'm sorry for the spelling I'm just at the end of my rope and barley holding back tears. I need help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Classroom managment
    Taking back a class where I'm not in control
    Having students follow directions
    Working with parents who resent me for the kids being moved.
    Having students show respect.

    or just suggestions on finding another career.
     
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  3. TeacherApr

    TeacherApr Groupie

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    Jan 17, 2011

    I am so sorry you are going through this. Hang in there until the end of the year. Over Spring Break or any other days off, start looking at other districts or schools and sharpen up that resume and cover letter.

    In the meantime, try Whole Brain Teaching. If you google you will get the site and it is PHENOMENAL!!!

    I hope you wrote up the kid who said he would bring a knife to school.
    Do you have mentor or other admin. who will work with you on all the issues you are having with the parents and kids?
     
  4. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Jan 18, 2011

    I'm sorry it's been so difficult. I read through 1/2 the post before I realized it was 1st Grade-yikes-I pictured much older kids.

    I also second Whole Brain Teaching-it sounds like you need something solid and repitious to get these kids in check. There are even videos on YouTube that show some of the techniques. You need to lay out your expectations and the consequences for those expectations. Try to overplan so you keep them engaged every minute of the day. During transitions you can do a song or a powerpoint about reading and get that instruction in when you can.

    Don't worry about what the parents think-believe me, you will never please all of them. Maybe your admin would let you call a meeting with them and you could talk about the things you do, your program/expectations and ask them for their support.

    Your team should definitely be more sympathetic (we've all been a 1st year and starting after the school year begins is so much harder) but if you can't get support there seek it elsewhere (like here, for example :) ). If you are really passionate about teaching, don't let one class derail your career. We've all had that class, you just happen to have yours your 1st year.
     
  5. heavens54

    heavens54 Connoisseur

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    Jan 18, 2011

    Maybe this will help? Take a deep breath and decide that you will make this class work for you. Put a smile on your face, nurture your sense of humor, and make the class be fun some of the time. It is only first grade. You are not tested, so lighten up and make it a learning, positive and enjoyable experience for you both. Play songs (to learn), do poems, total physical response. Put the learning in fun activities so that the students enjoy it. Make some areas "off limits" and enforce those rules.

    What happens, in my experience, when they form a new class is that the teachers move out the students that they don't want. You are set up from the start. If you have no supplies, talk to someone out who can help you with that. Smile, charm, laugh a little, it can get you through a lot of difficult situations. Do your best and get through this year the best you can.

    Put a big smile on your face and keep saying to yourself "thank the good Lord I have a job, help me do the best I can do." It helps get you through the bad times.
     
  6. bunches3614

    bunches3614 Rookie

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    Jan 18, 2011

    I agree with some of the others, you need to make the best of the situation that you have. Halfway through your post, I felt the tension, anxiety and hopelessness, so I cannot imagine what the kids feel. You know that you are a good teacher, you proved it in student teaching. Find that guy again, bring him out, and be the teacher that you are meant to be. As far as a library in the class, it takes time to accumulate, there is the school library. If you need supplies, send a note home to parents saying you could use some help. I am sure that not all the parents are complaining, so they will probably send some things you need. But like everyone has said, it is first grade, have fun and start to bond with these kids. It will make the difference. Good luck, and keep coming back for support!
     
  7. mrs a

    mrs a Companion

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    Jan 18, 2011

    Please don't let this bad experience deter you from your dream. If you feel you have a good teacher in there somewhere, then stick with it. Inexperience created a lot of frustation for me in my first year. It sounds like you have been planted at a school that is not ideal, but it also sounds like you'll travel. Apply for jobs elsewhere, but hang in there until then.

    BE POSITIVE!! Evryday, you have to go in there with a feeling of self-worth and authority. The kids know when you have given up and are frazzled. They are taking full advantage of you. Make learning as fun as possible, let them work in groups. if you are teaching from the manual in first grade, they will be bored. They need a song and dance. Be funny. Have them earn something as simple as an ice cream party for good behavior. They can fill a jar with marbles or something, but start with a small easily attainable goal.
    Please keep us posted on your progress. We can help!
     
  8. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Jan 18, 2011

    This won't help all your problems but I will tackle a few suggestions...

    For your books, I read on here to go to the library each month and check out books and keep rotating them. I did that. Then I started using my school library for the same purpose. Only buy books for your direct lessons if needed.

    You won't be able to please parents but you can start a positive vibe going. If you can email, email often POSITIVE stuff or cute anecdotes about their child's day. It takes time but parents love that connection. It has two additional bonuses as well. Once you form that positive connection and show that you truly care about THEIR child, then it is easier to get cooperation when something not so great happens. The other advantage is I can't tell you how many times the parents SHARE this information with their child and it builds a positive connection to the students you are trying to reach as well. Send weekly newsletter and be both informative and entertaining with it. Show them the fun side of your class.
     
  9. Joyful!

    Joyful! Habitué

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    Jan 18, 2011

    I'm so very sorry that you are struggling. Like the others, I can just feel your stress and frustration beyond the words of your post.
    You have received some great advice. Let's concentrate on what you can do.
    1. Chum up with the office staff. Find out where you can get those extra supplies that nearly every school has somewhere. Also, you may have people (Like from church or in your neighborhood who may have extra school supplies that they would be willing to unload and bequeath to you. I know when a person's kids finally outgrow certain books, they love to see them find a home where they will be appreciated.) I also use the library extensively. With the problem of theft, you'll need to be vigilant about counting in and out the books. Perhaps one of your first graders could help be the librarian.
    2. When these meetings are announced/scheduled, ask your mentor or one of the team, "Is there a topic I should come prepared to discuss?" Make it your business to find something that you can contribute to each meeting. (For the record, I'm not loving the sound of the level of support you are receiving from admin and from team. You will have to make the best of it. You will need a good letter of reference if you end up moving home.)
    3. Parents can be tough at times. The best you can do is your best. The advice you received about communicating the positives about their kids is advice you should follow. Soft words melt and diffuse anger. Is the fact that their kid moved to your class a negative--I don't think so. They have a teacher who wanted to be a teacher with every fiber of his being. Therefore, you just need to remember that and hope they can see the great job you are doing.
    4. Don't worry so much. You are probably doing a great job. Keep hanging out here. Lots of really great teachers are good company for the 1st year teacher blues (and many of us were baptized by fire the first year and can empathize.)
    Have a blessed day at school tomorrow.
     
  10. Auter12

    Auter12 Comrade

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    Jan 18, 2011

    To pull some parents to your side, you could try sending regular (I've done monthly, but you may need to start off more frequently) "positive contacts" about the kids. Send an email, postcard, short note, etc. about each child to the parents letting them know about the good things their kids have done in the class. Then, if you do have to contact them about bad behavior, they don't resent you for "picking" on the kids.

    My first 2 years were kind of like this, except 1 was 4/5th and the 2nd was 6/7th. I actually had a 6th grader tell me she was going to get me fired; less than a week later, I was being called to the office bc (according to the student - who's aunt had passed away) I told her to "shut up" and "nobody cares about your aunt dieing."
    Just hang in there, and keep to your guns, but HAVE FUN!! Make learing a game!!
     
  11. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    Jan 19, 2011

    Wow...I'm not even sure where to begin.

    First off, don't worry about the parents. They should be at the bottom of your list of worries right now.

    Dive in to the language arts curriculum!!! At this point in first grade (in my district, at least) the teachers are already teaching long vowel sounds. Back when I taught first grade, all I really had time for was language arts and math (in fact, that's all I was responsible for teaching--science & social studies were all put on the back burner).

    Don't let the kids see how stressed out and unhappy you are. They will never have another chance to redo first grade, and you will never have an opportunity to repeat this year. Make the most of your time with them--you want them to have fond memories of their time with you.

    I, too, taught first grade (it was my very first year teaching). I hate to admit this, but I spent countless weekends in my classroom (working on lesson plans, preparing for the upcoming week, etc.) Nowadays, I normally leave my classroom 20-30 minutes after school ends. I guess what I'm trying to say is that the first couple of years were TOUGH, but each year has gotten easier and easier.

    Hang in there and don't give up!!!
     
  12. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Jan 19, 2011

    The whole contacting parents with positive stories happened to me as a parent. One of my son's teachers started doing it about twice a week. I felt so connected and felt like she cared for MY child. So when something did come up, I was amazed at what a difference it made. I wrote her a letter at the end of the year thanking her. That's the only time I have done anything like that with any of my 3 children's teaching. That's how powerful it really was.

    So when I became a teacher, I said I would do the same. I did. I had parents come up to me and tell me what a difference it made.

    You have to realize that parents don't really know as much of what happens in your class except by word of their little darling. If they see some evidence that you care about their child as an individual and you show it, it does help. You would be surprised at the cute little stories you get sent back to you. It gives you valuable insight too as well as inspiration.

    My team teacher tries to find out their game schedules and go to at least one game per student that has that kind of thing. They love it!


    Good Luck.
     
  13. newbie23

    newbie23 Comrade

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    Jan 19, 2011

    Re: Parent contact,
    The first week this year I sent a positive note about each child (mostly via email). I try to follow-up with this regularly. Now the parents (and students) don't cringe everytime they see a personalized note from me. I also find that the notes that do need to go home for problems make it there because the students often don't know if it's a "good" or "bad" note. Now, you don't always have to send home positive notes. If a child's behavior is rotten for 2 weeks... don't send a note saying you enjoy their "energetic spirit." Be honest but temperate. It makes a HUGE difference when you need to have meetings for testing, behavior, etc.

    Realize that no matter what you do, you may never "win over" this group of parents. It's hard to admit when you have misjudged someone. However, they may be less likely to pass on their negative opinion of you to other parents if you try to kill them with kindness. That will be important for future years (if you stay).

    Re: Students
    Let me preface this by saying, I am not making excuses for these students. Their behavior is unacceptable. Having said that, it sounds like the dynamics have changed. Perhaps they were used to being the "class clown" in their old class and now have to fight for that attention. Similarly, some students try to get other students to respect them by standing up to the teacher. It's wrong but you've been given a changing climate and you must reestablish your authority. Give clear rules and consequences. There is no "warning" period because after all, these students know the general school rules and have been in school for several months now.

    I agree with spending most of your day with reading and math. Try to tie in science and social studies as you have time but at this point in 1st grade, the process of reading should be the main focus.

    Re: Team members
    I am the only teacher for my grade in my building so I came in last year w/o much help and feel your pain. I also had colleagues who tried to break me down. What got me through the year was knowing I had to prove them wrong. If I caved, they won and it would be that much easier for them to pick on the next "new" teacher. This year, I don't have those problems nearly as much and I've been able to mentor a new teacher. If your colleagues aren't helpful, they probably aren't going to change (quickly at least). Share with them extra worksheets, ideas, etc. that you have if it's not too much trouble. Perhaps they'll feel inclined to do the same. This is how I won a few people over last year. It took me no more time to stick a copy in their mailbox and yet they felt I was looking out for them.

    Hang in there. You can move next year. Heck, you might even decide to stay another year. I didn't enjoy my first year at all (read my posts) but I stuck it out and I'm on year 2 at the same school. I am currently looking but I figure I can at least say I put in 2 solid years; I gave it a shot. Now when you go for interviews, you can answer questions honestly (tactfully as well) and you'll know the real answer to the, "You have a colleague who doesn't respect your work in the classroom. How will you solve this situation?"

    Hang in there and keep coming back.
     
  14. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Jan 19, 2011

    OK, I think you have a lot going against you. You are a first year teacher, you started late in the school, and you likely got a lot of the students that were more challenging for one reason or another. I think you should really try your best to stick it out. The beginning is tough, and probably extra tough because of your circumstances. But, I think if you keep at it, you will find that you might enjoy teaching yet. You might not truly ever enjoy it this year, but maybe next year will be better. I think you just need to give it time. Regarding your coworkers, it's too bad they are not being supportive. It is very possible that it is your school that might not be a good fit. I hope things improve.

    P.S. I am really surprised that reading is just now being taught. It's first grade, and this is the year they begin to read. In my class, we do this everyday and have since day 1. I can't believe that your school put the human body over reading. I also don't understand why the human body couldn't have been taught in addition to, since we teach multiple subjects (or maybe I missed something in your post).
     
  15. LadyBug Scholar

    LadyBug Scholar Rookie

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    Jan 21, 2011

    I understand your pain. I went through the same thing my first year last year, and I was teaching fourth grade. I have to agree with everyone else and suggest that you have to make the best of the situation. I also debated on whether or not to leave this profession, but I realized that I love what I do, and I AM making a difference in the lives of my students. Also, realize that your children are just a product of their environment, and they are only doing what they have learned. Please know that I am not condoning your students behavior but I am asking you to try to understand their situations. Working in a very low income area, I see first hand the lack of basic needs that are not met at home with my students. It's hard to fully understand the mindset of my students, but I do try to make their environment at school as stress free as possible. My students still have to meet my high expectations on a daily basis, but they are willing to do so because I have worked on creating positive relationships with them.
    I would recommend that you read "A Framework for Understanding Poverty" by Ruby K. Pane. Even if your students do not live in poverty, I think that this book will help you better understand how your students think and feel.
    I wish you the best, and I know that everything will turn out okay. You keep a positive attitude, and take everything that is happening as a learning experience.
     
  16. Silmarienne

    Silmarienne Cohort

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    Jan 22, 2011

    First of all newbie, HUGS!!! This too shall pass!!

    Great advice so far. Hopefully the parents will get over their misdirected resentments. But if they don't... I had a small group of parents last year who gossiped themselves into a frenzy about terrible things they thought were going on in my classroom... which they never set foot in. One of them wrote a formal letter to the school complaining about my lack of control and (what really made me angry) asking for a particular student to be removed. This is Kindergarten!!

    Thankfully my principal was as p*ssed as I was and took my side. She told me I needed to respond with a formal letter in which I documented the situation and what I planned to do about it-- in short, to be very professional and no-nonsense about it and not even dignify the request to remove the other student with a response, because that just wasn't going to happen anyway.

    What I'm saying is, YOU ARE A PROFESSIONAL and when parents and even other teachers assail you, remember that. You know what you are doing you care. You will discover supporters among the nay-sayers and complainers. Lock your desk and supply closets and keep being "mean", balanced by "I think you are great" messages-- the kids will eventually appreciate it.

    Hang in there!!
     
  17. round stanley

    round stanley Companion

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    Jan 22, 2011

    We've all been there.

    I started a new 4th grade class that was built from 3 other classes. Guess which students I got from the other teachers? Miserable year in spades, 24 years ago. Don't give in to the kids or their parents. If you have a semi-decent admin ask him/her to observe you and focus on the points you want the most help in. Ask for a release day or two to observe teachers in other schools in your district. Just for some general ideas about your grade level try this mentor site that has lots of ideas, pics, blog a week...

    http://blogs.scholastic.com/classroom_solutions
     
  18. SwOcean Gal

    SwOcean Gal Devotee

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    Jan 22, 2011

    About the Dibels- it can actually be pretty easy. I was not trained, but my mentor come into my classroom and showed me how to do it. She did two students and I observed while she did it in my classroom, while I was running centers (this is K). Then I did the next one on my own, followed by one more. Then I was on my own and easily able to do it. Is there anyway your mentor could come in and show you or you could observe a grade level teacher doing one or two?
    Here is a dibels website- not sure if it has any good training info or whatever, but you may be able to find something good.
    https://dibels.uoregon.edu/index.php
     
  19. MzMooreTeaches

    MzMooreTeaches Cohort

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    Jan 23, 2011

    My heart truely goes out to you! First I must say that if teaching is what you have wanted to do your whole life, then please do let this experience stop you from continuing to do so. Like you this is also my first year lead teaching and I have ran into a lot of obstacles. I have a few suggestions that I hope will help.

    For supplies for your class, I have found that the site donorschoose has been EXTREMELY helpful! I have gotten two projects for books for my class funded. You can also post a project for classroom supplies. Make sure you check it out.

    I had the same scenerio with students being moved to my class from another class and several of my parents were very hesitant and nervous and unsure. The main thing that parents want to know is that you 1. care about their children and are taking the time to get to know them to ensure that they are successful. I do weekly/biweekly newsletters to let my parents know what is going on in class. As far as the theme for the week, updates, testing, vocabulary/spelling words. This keeps them in the loop.

    If possible see if you can arrange something like another "openhouse" where you can sit down and talk with some of your parents who have concerns... or schedule a conference with them alone. Have them bring their child, have work samples to show them, let them know where their child is academically and where you are trying to get them. Talk about the positives of each child... once they see that you are competent, you know the material, you know the standard course of study and you know what is required for each child... they will ease up on you...(hopefully).

    Like a previous post said, know that you can't please everyone 100% of the time. As a teacher you learn and you grow, you make mistakes, you reflect and then you get back up and you do it all over again... just bigger, better and stronger! Don't give up!! We're rooting for you!
     
  20. mandijyn

    mandijyn Rookie

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    Jan 25, 2011

    I can empathize with you being a 1st year teacher in kindergarten- which was not my idea of where I wanted to teach but where I ended up- jobs are scarce! I was blessed to end up at a school where support is immense from other caring teachers who remember struggling their first years!-

    I did not have funds to start my library either- so I posted a "wanted" add on craigslist for books and I ended up with more than I could handle from kind people in my area who were happy to donate. You might want to give it a try!

    We need more male role models in early education- so hang in there- and try reading "Love and Logic" strategies- they have helped me- along with the "Whole Brain Teaching" methods- best wishes!!!!
     

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