Changing Grades... Maybe?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by pwhatley, May 1, 2013.

  1. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    May 1, 2013

    This may be long....

    Almost everyone at my school believes that I will be moved to a higher grade for next year. I honestly don't know. I've taught 1st grade for 5 years now. I never saw myself teaching "firsties." Rather, I saw myself leading literature circles, lol. Instead, I'm teaching first graders who come to me severely lacking in the skills that they should have learned in kindergarten. I love my kiddos, don't get me wrong, but they are so behind, that I spend most of my time on interventions and progress monitoring, and don't have time for things like writing anything more than a complete sentence (and a friendly letter). True, most of my babies show HUGE growth over the year (2 have shown none - true flat-liners), but it's just not where I saw myself.

    I have invested tons of money into teaching 1st, and starting new in a new grade could be expensive.

    All that being said... teaching a higher grade could be... interesting! 4th & 5th graders are just beyond that concrete operational stage, and can predict consequences before they act. They can also understand some logic. In addition, on day one, they know what they are supposed to do (even if they do not do it).

    I do NOT want to teach middle-upper elementary math. If I move "up," I want to be departmentalized and teach ELA and reading. I already have some books that would work in a classroom library - but not many, and not class or group sets. (And I have no credits on Donors Choose). I LOVE to teach writing. Not creative writing, so much, but essays and paragraphs and such - just the kind of thing they want on the "high stakes tests."

    Then there are the tests. It will be 5 years before the 5th graders at my school are truly prepared for the Common Core (having had it since pre-k or kindergarten). Most of our students range from extremely low to middle-range in ability, and have few resources at home. (Seriously, we have a 3rd grader who still can't read basic 1st grade sight words, but because he was held back in 1st, won't be held back again until next year. We (the teachers) have been fighting to get him into SPED for 4 years that I know of, but we were stymied by (1) a former P who didn't believe in SPED testing and (2) drug-addicted parents who never show up for the meetings!) The degree to which my performance will be tied to that of my students on "the tests" is a little scary. In the past, there have been questions regarding mountain hiking. Most of our kids don't know what that is. Their range of experience is so limited! If there were going to be a "pre" test (1st of the year) and a "post" test, I would be more relaxed about it, because it would show my students' growth while under my tutelage. As it stands now, 3rd & 5th graders take the iLeap, and 4th graders take the Leap exam. All will be taking the PARRC tests eventually.

    I know, I'm rambling. I think I'm kind of trying to work it all out in my mind. The problem is, I don't think I know enough about the other grades and how they work. I went directly from receiving my certification to 1st grade, and al-though I have begged for the past 5 years, I have been unable to observe teachers in other grades. I student taught 3rd grade for a fall semester, but that was before Common Core and COMPASS, so it might mean nothing.

    Any thoughts or ideas?
     
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  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    May 1, 2013

    We are all nervous for change. If you have envisioned yourself teaching a higher grade, go for it. Give it a try and see what it brings. You may also find that with CC, districts are finding some moneys to pay for books and such.

    Another thing to keep in mind that if your firsties are behind, many 3-5th graders are probably in need of intervention as well.
     
  4. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    May 1, 2013

    Oh my goodness...this is oh-so-true. Last year, I had a handful of 6th graders who were desperately struggling readers. They were reading at about a 2nd grade level (at best). Most teachers gave me strange looks when they saw me hanging up my sound-spelling cards, but these kids were in dire need of basic phonemic awareness.
     
  5. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    May 2, 2013

    I think you'll never really know until you do it. Plus, it would be good to have experience in other grades. You might grow to love the older grades. I say go for it.
     
  6. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    May 2, 2013

    It looks like our P won't make her mind up until after the Leap/iLeap scores come in on May 17. In the meantime, several of us are going to get together and try to hash out a prospective schedule, using the possibility of departmentalizing grades 3-5 with only 4-5 teachers, max. We are thinking of presenting it to our P, not as a fait accompli, but rather as a possible solution to (1) overcrowded classes in some grades, (2) addressing the common core (across the strands), and (3) teacher "preferences," so to speak. Does this make sense? It's an interesting proposition, because we have to have 180 minutes of ELA instruction per day, so it'll take some shuffling around, lol.
     
  7. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    May 2, 2013

    Oh, it's so depressing! I'm reusing a lot of my 2nd and 3rd grade material in 6th. I mean, my kids are SPED too so it's a little different, but I have Gen Ed kids come to my room for tutoring who are crazy low.

    It makes me wonder WTF they're doing down there in primary. :whistle:
     
  8. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    LOL! I'm sorry - it's really not funny, but sometimes you have to laugh to avoid crying. I can't speak for all the other primary teachers out there, but I know that I am working my tail off, day and night! Many of the problems that I am seeing are not school-based. We have students who come in reeking of "herbs," who sleep on the floor in someone else's room or the living room or grandma's couch or with 3 other siblings in one bed. Some students aren't sure where they will be from one day to the next. I'd say about 1/3 of my students this year only receive balanced, nutritious meals at school (breakfast and lunch during school, and lunch during the summer). Most have 1 parent, if any (others are raised by grandma, auntie, someone's friend, etc.). The teachers on either side of me each have one of a pair of sisters whose mom is in jail - that's not uncommon, either. My lowest student's mom told her that her math homework was "too hard" (mixed addition and subtraction), and doesn't even bother to help her with reading.

    If I'm not herding cats (behavior issues), I'm trying everything in the book (and out of it) trying to teach reading, or progress monitoring what they are supposed to be learning! (Not a rant, just my situation.)
     
  9. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    May 2, 2013

    I believe you, pwhatley! And I'm sorry to hack your thread. I am just frustrated because the primary team at my school has been so vocal against differentiated instruction. They admit to never pulling small groups, never conferencing, etc. And I kind of want to be like "If your way isn't working, do something different!" Our 3rd graders come in so low and we have a strong intermediate team that plays catch up after that. More than half of 6th grade reads more than a year behind.

    This school only knows me as a middle school teacher, which is weird. I've actually had more time in primary and I feel like I was trained very differently. The levels, especially in 1st/2nd, are SOOO different....you really have to do some targeted instruction! We had a 1st grade teacher ask "What is progress monitoring? Do I have to do that?"

    :eek:

    Anyway, best of luck wherever you land. I think you will find the older ones not so terribly different!
     
  10. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    May 2, 2013

    :eek:

    I enjoy your posts, FourSquare. I've even been skulking around the Special Ed forum reading some there. I believe that RtI, when implemented correctly, is truly life-changing for low students who just need an extra boost. However, one of my former students, who is now in 3rd grade, is still reading at the KINDERGARTEN level, despite 2 years in 1st, and almost 4 years of EVERY kind of RtI that can be used (that we know of, anyway). Just last month, after a long protracted process (4 years is too long, right?), he was granted SpEd "status," and will begin receiving official inclusion services during reading and math. Honestly, he has BEEN receiving those (unofficially, and as part of his RtI) for FOUR YEARS! He need self-contained, but our district only has those for ED kiddos (which he is not), and I think what they call moderate to severe cases. I don't know enough about the process, but it seems to be waaaayyy too many adminstrators making decisions without knowing the child! End of rant, lol.
     
  11. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    May 3, 2013

    They are against differentiated instruction????:confused:
     
  12. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    May 3, 2013

    I don't think they are against it in theory, but it is more work to plan. And more so they are against more work. :whistle:

    They all want to open their curriculum every day, teach Section 2.6 to all kids the same way because it says to, and clock out at 3:10.

    I shouldn't say all. We have a handful of "go-getters" down there out of about 15 teachers, but those people are teased all the time.

    In their defense, many are older and this is just the way they were taught to teach. I'm sure I'll be doing it all "wrong" in 25 years too. My principal is really just waiting on their retirements.
     
  13. Mathemagician

    Mathemagician Groupie

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    May 3, 2013

    For some reason, I keep thinking your name is P H WATTLEY. Bizarre.
     
  14. DHE

    DHE Connoisseur

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    May 3, 2013

    Four Square at our school, it is the opposite. The teachers at the upper level just let all our hard work in K-2 go by the wayside. It breaks my heart to send my baby upstairs and the changes that are made.
     
  15. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    May 4, 2013

    So, I've taught 6th-11th grades. I've had 11 different preps across those grade levels. And all of that happened in only 7 years.

    It is hard to change grade levels. And you're right - there's a lot of money involved in changing grades.

    And it's a lot harder in the upper grades when they come to you unprepared. Especially now with CCSS.

    But there were a lot of things I thought I'd hate about different levels that I ended up really loving. I really thought I would hate MS, and I ended up loving it and not enjoying HS.

    I think it'll be a lot of work to change... and I think you might surprise yourself and love it :)
     
  16. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    May 4, 2013

    :lol:

    Several of the "upper grade" teachers and I plan to get together in the next week or so, and hash out a prospective schedule for departmentalizing 3rd-5th (currently self-contained), to present to our P, not as a fait accompli, but as a.... suggestion.... possibility.... not sure how to put it. I'm enjoying the discussion.

    My only real issue at this time is that I want to know NOW! The library's spring book fair is next week, and I won't be buying anything, because I don't know what grade level to buy for! I also have several books (PD) on my wishlist at Amazon, but can't buy them, because they are grade/subject specific! Grrrr....
     
  17. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    I hear you on the wait! I could be doing 5th sped, 6th sped, 7th sped, 2nd grade gen ed or 4th grade gen ed. :dizzy: I am hoping we find out this week.
     
  18. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    May 4, 2013

    What are you hoping for, FourSquare?

    If you go down to 2nd, I can give you tons of stuff (well, anything I can via email). :hugs:
     
  19. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    I don't have as many options but I know how you feel! I moved down to 3rd this year with the understanding that it was because looping is so successful (my principals words) and she wanted the 3rd teachers to loop with their kids. She made it seems as if she wanted a back and forth thing each year. But I don't how much she really meant that and how much she said it just to give some sort of explanation as to why she was switching us. Now I've stated that I want to go to 4th but I'm clueless as to what she's thinking. I won't get a hint until the middle of June and even then it won't be anything official. Ugh!
     
  20. lilune

    lilune Rookie

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    Oct 19, 2014

    Whatever happened?
     
  21. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    This.

    Intervention in upper grades is, in my opinion, even worse. In 5th, for example, you will have kids reading at any level between k and 8th. You have to run intervention groups, but the kids reading at a k level need completely different interventions than those reading at 3rd.

    I like the older kids, though. You do much of the same stuff - teach phonics, "herd cats" while teaching behavior - but they have a more mature side that you can appeal to as well.
     
  22. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Oct 19, 2014

    I can't speak for pwhatley, but I stayed in middle school sped! 6th/7th literacy and math this year. I'm really happy.

    I really didn't want to go back to 2nd, but I told Admin I'd go where I was most needed. *phew!*

    My school moved some teachers around in Primary and it has gotten a little better. The 4th grade team says this is the highest class they've gotten in years. :thumb:
     

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