Does anyone else feel as clueless???

Discussion in 'New Teachers' started by 1newteacher1, Jan 4, 2008.

  1. 1newteacher1

    1newteacher1 Rookie

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    Jan 4, 2008

    hello everyone..

    I read these posts on here every once in a while and they always make me feel better to hear other people feel the same way so I decided to join the site, which I just did..

    I just wanted to know if any other first year teachers feel as clueless as I still do. I seriously feel like I don't really don't what I'm doing. I just feel like I do not know HOW to teach any of the things that I teach. And I feel like I teach a little of this and a little of that and nothing goes together and I am just flailing around without any order to anything. I feel like it's normal to feel somewhat clueless the first year, but to THIS degree? I feel like some of it may have to do with the fact that I got my degree almost 4 years before I even started teaching and it was from another state. But I also have had a very difficult year and reading what some of the people on here have said about being so anxiety-ridden and sick about going back to school is me to a T! I get up at 4:30 every morning (usually am awake at about 3:30 though), am at school by 6:30 and I usually leave at about 6:00. I get so tired of other teachers or even the principal telling me to go home and relax - I want to say "unless you want to teach my class for me, I HAVE to get this stuff done!" I can't figure out how they think I can just breeze in there and out at a decent time and get all the crap done I have to get done. I can't just not be prepared for the next day!! I never really even feel very relieved to have it be the weekend (because it just means more work to do) except for the fact that I get two days away from school! I don't feel that comfortable in front of my class, either, I feel like. Is this normal? This is getting long and jumping around a lot, but the reason why I've had a really hard year so far is that it's a Renaissance school (lower than a Title 1), a reading first school (had never heard of that before this year), it got an F last year so there's mounds of data to constantly have to send off to the state, AND... I got handed all of the ESE (special ed) kids in the grade as well as a lot of ESOL (ESL) kids AND my school neglected to hire an ESE teacher to help support these kids so I had all of them and no support whatsoever..Plus, I have several severe behavior problems, including a child who has had to be restrained by the the asst. Principal on multiple occasions! Anyway, the first nine weeks were terrible.. well then this lady who had a self-contained 2nd grade class OFFERED to have me move my entire class in with hers fulltime so that she could help and we could teach together! This lady is an absolute saint and if it wasn't for her I wouldn't be there any longer! Anyway.. my whole point to this was to see if anyone else feels as clueless about what and how to teach as I do and feels like they're just scattered all over the place with the adademic part of it. I actually feel like a fraud telling people that I'm a teacher when people ask me what I do because I feel like I'm so terrible at it and not doing enough/anything that well! Let me knwo if anyone can relate!.. :)
     
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  3. Budaka

    Budaka Cohort

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    Jan 4, 2008

    It will get better! My first year teaching I was at the school all hours and quit after the first semester! It was so overwhelming. Now, I can look back at all the things that were wrong (the school asking way too much from a new teacher) and the things that I did wrong. It took me several years but when I finally got to the point where my students were working harder than I was I knew I had got there!
    Glean all you can from other teachers, on this forum and else where. Find out what works for them and don't be afraid to use it.
    I have a silly example for you because I know your situation is more challenging then this but it is an example of how I was making my job harder than it needed to be. I actually once counted out 25 sets of pennies and put them in film canisters for my students to play Bingo and then I copied all the Bingo sheets for my students. Now I have them make their Bingo sheets (for vocabulary) on their own paper and have them make marks (a check mark, a star)etc. Fun and practice for the students- very little prep for me.
    It will get easier, but it is very hard to work with special needs students. I have two students with anger issues in my regular ed. class. One of them punched a hole in the wall! But we have more good days than bad days!
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2008
  4. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Jan 4, 2008

    With all that heaped on you, and with little support, it seems very unfair to a first year teacher. You will learn from it, though. I know that sounds harsh, but that 'flailing around' feeling can come to a new teacher with any kind of class. It is a signal that you are trying to do too much.

    Can you narrow the scope of what you are trying to accomplish? And while doing that, make sure you include lessons that are easy for you - to administer, to grade. The kids should be working harder than the teacher! The Florida school system is kind of nuts, and you have to be your own advocate to preserve your sanity!
     
  5. GoehringTeaches

    GoehringTeaches Comrade

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    Jan 4, 2008

    I'm sorry that you feel so clueless. Did your school not provide you with any curriculum frameworks, scope and sequences, or lessons? Last year when I started, they handed me a notebook with activities for the day and papers. We don't have to follow it to a T but it's nice to have. I recommend taking all of your state standards and laying them out in front of you. Group together ones that go together. Determine the order you want to teach them and then begin putting ideas together. Google and ask become your friends when looking for activities to teach your standards! (And then we all usually get sidetracked on here!)
     
  6. 1newteacher1

    1newteacher1 Rookie

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    Thank you for replying Budaka, Upsadaisy, and Goehring and for the advice!.. yes, I mean I have the curriculum and stuff but it's just how to put it all together and actually use it.. what order to go in, where to get all the materials to suplement, etc. and then how to actualy teach it (the things that don't have a teacher's manual to go by..) For example, there is no teacher manual of course for writing so it's hard for me to know how to actually teach it (where to start at the beginning of the year and what direction to go in). We also have this CRAZY math progam, everyone hates it and we're supposed to be getting rid of it in a couple years (not soon enough) Anyway, the 2nd grade math textbooks look like a high school book and spend just a couple days on each topic, move so fast, and it's so HARD (I've never seen anything like it before) that it's hard sometimes even to find materials to supplement it from elsewhere. I spend days just trying to work up to one lesson in their book and by that time it's tme for them to take the test (based on the math calendar for the district that move at the speed of light) I guess my main problem is the subjects such as math, writing, and also guided reading, that don't really have teacher manuals to use as a guide right now. I went to a training for our math book and it was pointless so I am weary of wasting my time at trainings that don't help. I'm sure next year will be better like everyone says.. I often wish this year could just be over and it could be a new year so I could try and do things over I feel like I've messed up on! :p Thanks again to everyone for responding!
     
  7. 1newteacher1

    1newteacher1 Rookie

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    Upsadaisy.. I was wondering what kind of math program you use at your school since you teach in FL too. We use "Voyages" and it's ridiculous. I'm always wondering if there's something else I could be trying to pull more stuff out of if possible.
     
  8. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Well, I'm in a private school, so we aren't limited. We're using Harcourt now, but I don't use the text. I teach the lessons and use the workbook for practice and homework. I also do daily calendar math. I sometimes make worksheets on www.superkids.com and I copy Mad Minute for daily drills. I try out lots of different things. Some work, some don't, but that's okay.
     
  9. katerina03

    katerina03 Devotee

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    Jan 5, 2008

    I know how you feel. Last year was my first year and I was at school before the principal and the school secretary and I was the very last to leave. I have the need to be VERY prepared, especially since everything was so new. Over Christmas break (literally last week!) is when it began to click for me. I decided to simplify things for ME! Afterall, I was working harder than the kids (7th graders). Now I get to work only about 20 minutes early and I leave about 30 minutes late,except for tudoring.
    I teach writing and grammar I have to take this and that from all kinds of resources so I was very overwhelmed my first year. My classes average 23 students.
    Things will definately go better next year.
     
  10. crzymtngirl75

    crzymtngirl75 Rookie

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    I have been told over and over that the first year or so can be tumultuous to say the least. My peers and my credentialing professors are constantly saying - remember to give yourself a break; you are only human. Hang in there, because as the others are saying on the board here - it will click and you will be that teacher you always dreamed you would be :)
     
  11. Ms. T

    Ms. T Rookie

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    I also have those "clueless" days. As a new 6th grade math teacher, I feel that sometimes I am just a few lessons ahead of my students. My life consists of teaching, preparing to teach, and dealing with mounds of paperwork. The other teachers head out with a purse in hand while I drag a cart out several hours later. But, I can honestly say that it is getting better as time goes by. I expected this first year to be the worst simply because of lack of experience. I have made my share of mistakes but I also have learned so much by asking questions and listening to my grade level teachers.
     
  12. Enigma_X

    Enigma_X Rookie

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    Jan 6, 2008

    I'm a first-year teacher, too, and I feel exactly the same way. It's awful. Everyone keeps telling me to go home and relax as well, but I feel like I can't. I work really hard, but it still feels like I suck and don't know how to get better.
     
  13. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I didn't feel clueless my first year- just overwhelmed. There's a lot to figure out about your school's culture, their philosophies, the jargon, what is valued...plus balancing lesson plans, meetings, parents, kids who struggle... You do have to find room to breathe- time for yourself to re-energize. Do you have any centers/lessons/activities where kids can kind of take some ownership so you can take a minute to re-group? I work balanced lit centers, reading buddies, match game time into my schedule a few times a week so I can just take a moment...
    Did you take the grade 2 teacher up on her offer? That should give you some support- I'd just be wary that it may send a message that you can't do it on your own (especially if there are other first year teachers in your building who haven't needed this level of help...)

    A new colleague (first year teacher) was put next door to me last year. My grade level team-mates were great about helpilng her out, we invited her in to observe, sat and planned with her, wrote lessons with her, she was mentored, had lots of people helpling her. She had a miserable year...really didn't let the advice/help given to her sink in, kept asking the same things over and over again... Worst of all parents had the impression that she just didn't care or like the kids in her class and she developed a bad reputation for herself that's carried over somewhat into this year even though she has a better class...
    I guess what I'm saying is figure out who can help you, learn from that person (people) and don't let them see you sweat...Make your room fun, a caring climate- the kids should be busy, but happily engaged with you and what they are doing. If the kids are happy in your room, the parents will be happy with you. Building a cooperative classroom climate will allow you to set up some of those activities that the kids can do themselves and give you some time to get a handle on what comes up next...Hang in there...
     
  14. 1newteacher1

    1newteacher1 Rookie

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    Enigma.. I'm so glad to hear someone else feels the same way. I just feel like I can't get a firm grasp on anything because there is just SO much stuff and everything is new.. the academic part is the worst to me, since I've never taught before, how do you know HOW to teach all this stuff or what to teach when and for how long or have the time to find so much extra stuff to supplement?? Thanks for writing and sharing your similar thoughts :) I'm stressed about going back tomorrow :p
     
  15. 1newteacher1

    1newteacher1 Rookie

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    Thanks for the reply, czacza.. no, I didn't feel wary of taking up the other 2nd grade teacher on her offer, because I was the one who got ALL of the ESE students in the 2nd grade, with no ESE teacher support for them since the school hadn't hired one yet. No other 1st year teachers or even veteran teachers had this happen to them so no one thought anything badly about me at all. I did take her up on her offer and it has helped a lot for sure. But it is still a lot to take in a deal with :p I do have center time but that is when I do my guided reading so there is never much time to regoup. Plus, since it is a class with 15 ESE students and only 10 general ed it's very difficult to have them do independent activities.. just makes for even more work because you have to tailor to so many individual needs. Luckily, I do have a lot of really nice people at my school and I have the opportunity to go to a lot of trainings or observations if I want. Thanks again for responding :)
     
  16. 1newteacher1

    1newteacher1 Rookie

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    Hi katerina.. I don't know how to reply to you directly so I just included what you wrote too.. you sound just like me.. I need to be very prepared and many times there just doesn't seem to be time to be as prepared as I need to be so I start to freak out. Since it's my first year I can't just wing stuff like many of the others teachers sometimes can probably. I'm definitely there way before the principal and way after! I too need to find ways to simplify as much as possible. I think it will help when I have a year under my belt maybe and am not "reinventing the wheel" for every lesson! :p Thanks for replying..
     
  17. 1newteacher1

    1newteacher1 Rookie

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    Thank you, crzymtngirl75 and Ms. T for your words of advice. It's always nice to know someone else has been there. Hopefully it will get better as I get more experience and everything isn't so new!
     
  18. wldywall

    wldywall Connoisseur

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    New Teacher,

    I hear you save over and over you dont know HOW to teach the material. I think you may need a program laid out like this; do A then do B then finish with C. Is that about right? Try looking into books that give specific formats and lesson structure ideas, I can think of one right now Classroom Instruction that Works by Robert Marzano. It breaks things down to little pieces.

    My school uses SIMs from the University of Kansas and it give very specific methods for teaching things like writing. It also gives a way that helps reduce planning time for teachers, ask your district if they have any of the materials.

    Good luck, as a 2nd year teacher I know exactly what you are saying. :D
     
  19. juc162

    juc162 Companion

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    Jan 9, 2008

    1newteacher,

    I have felt the cluelessness as well before! Let me assure you that it does pass! and then it occasionally comes back again. As a new teacher, you've never taught the curriculum before. You've never been able to figure out what is kid friendly and what isn't. This definitely comes with time because this year is when you figure out some things that worked and some things that didn't. Next year, you'll figure out more. By the time you are seasoned teacher, you will be amazing I'm sure! I'm a first year teacher also and what I do a LOT is ask other teachers for help, ideas, and activities that work for them. It obviously helps if you have teachers who are willing to help you, so I wish you the best. Good luck :)
     
  20. Joyride

    Joyride Comrade

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    Jan 9, 2008

    I haven't taught yet, and in fact, I'll begin my student teaching next week. But I think I understand what you're saying about the "how" of teaching. For instance, when I did my clinical experience, I felt like the classroom teacher (who had somewhere around 30 years experience) made her every move SO purposeful. She commented once that even though she leaves lesson plans with subs, the subs never take as much time teaching a lesson as she would. I was the same at the beginning- I would generalize the concept, but not go into as much detail as she typically would. College does not tell you what to say to a child to teach handwriting. Most of those skills seem so common sense, but we're so far removed from when we learned them that we don't even know how we learned them. You know? I don't sit around thinking about whether or not my lowercase k is the standard height and proportion of 'proper handwriting'. But suddenly I have to model that to kids who are just understanding how to make letters themselves. There are some things that colleges just can't teach you. What I'm trying to do is to think more about what parts of each lesson are the skills or concepts that I think are most important- developing your philosophy will help you figure out what your own personal goals are for your children, which will make breaking the lessons down into steps easier for you. Good luck!
     
  21. emmyblemmy

    emmyblemmy Companion

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    Jan 9, 2008

    You have to priortize- we will ALWAYS be busy as teachers, unfortunately. If you just have to work every night, at least bring some of it home. Everyone is right, though- it WILL get better! Hopefully you get to stay in the same position next year and you will that you have a much better grip and attitude on things. Best of luck!
     
  22. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    What's funny is that so much of it DOES seem so common sense but you don't realize how many concepts or skills are in a single lesson that you think is simple UNTIL you start teaching young kids that literally haven't been exposed to those skills and still see many things in black and white. SO learning to how and when to take it down a notch and how to build it up so it isn't dumbing it down IS a skill that takes time.

    We are teaching solid figures in math right now in 1st grade. They have a series of dotes forming a grid of some sort. The worksheet draws a box inside those (connecting the dots). It isn't complicated. Yet that's something that's hard for most of the students to do. The visual spatial coordination takes more effort than I would have assumed and they don't GET what I am asking them to do at first. Part of me wants to say.... YOu know how to copy right? You know what a box looks like right? You know that this line starts on the first dot in the top corner right? Can you copy that? Yet it isn't hard for 1-2 students. It is hard for MOST of the students. Then we wonder why we had to start with a square before we can ask them to repeat this excercise with a cube.

    Typically I know as a future teacher I will probably WANT to make my own materials but it is times like that when I realize that sometimes it is nice to have a script because they already know the order these kids typically learn in. Sometimes I think the language they use is so dumb though. Why the heck do you teach flat surfaces and vertices rather than sides and corners? That's no biggie except I think EVERY single math concept we do all year long has equally big words that even some of the parents won't know off hand.
     
  23. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    Jan 9, 2008

    classic and classy answer! Watch, listen, take notes, and pause before you ask, "Why did you..."

    afterawhile, you will know! :D

    btw...there is a 3-pronged chalk holder that will let you make lines in yellow, pink and yellow. That's how you teach them to write their letters, and yours will always be neat! Start at the top, and come all the way down! There are rules written down, and fun songs to sing to memorize the handwriting strokes. Each school may have its own rule about lowercase about 'q'! (there is at least three versions that I know of!) Some schools use the dneilian (sp?) print, and that is a whole different can of worms! :eek:hmy:
     
  24. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    oooooooooohhh.....I like that idea (yellow, pink and yellow chalk) except that we have a dry erase board. Plus one of my students wouldn't be able to see those light colors. Any other ideas?
     
  25. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    well, I am sure you could stick some mini dry erase markers in there..and use any color!

    let me see if I can find the official name for it..

    just tossed my school specialty catalog! :rolleyes:

    ooh.... here it is!

    http://www.abcstuff.com/items/OP011.html
     
  26. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    I just bought a dry erase board! can't belive that I didn't have a board in my room. how on earth can I teach handwriting without a board?!

    I use it just to make letters. don't leave it out for the kids to wreck havoc.. (sp. ed. pre-k, you know!) the first thing they will do is find a regular marker (which I put up) and scribble all over it! :eek:

    nice site..ordered a catalog!
     
  27. coffee-queen

    coffee-queen Rookie

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    Jan 15, 2008

    i still probably spend too much time at school, and i'm probably still doing more work than the kids...but i'm getting there. everyone's right...it gets better! i'm only in my second year of teaching, but i definitely notice a change in myself. last year i was so nervous all the time and over-planned everything. when things didn't go as i'd planned-which they rarely did- i freaked out. it wasn't until 3/4 through my first year that i was able to find a rhythm that worked for me. i will say that i learned a lot from my peer teachers...i was always in their rooms my first year watching what they were doing and asking advice. hang in there...you'll get the hang of things. it sounds like you definitely have the passion for teaching...so i'm sure you'll figure it out!
     
  28. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    don't know if I mentioned this, but this is my first year at this school and I come in early, work thru lunch, and stay late...and I am glad to do it!

    if I was younger, married, my kid was younger, I probably could not or would not want to...

    now, I don't mind...

    Seems like it's the only time when I can really think..is when my room is completely empty! I know I can get things done and I am not taking away their time, and I won't be interrupted!
     
  29. coffee-queen

    coffee-queen Rookie

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    Jan 16, 2008

    i completely agree with you. i am not married yet, and don't have kids yet. so the way i see things, now is when i have the time to spend at work getting myself together. i know there will come a day when my life is so hectic that i won't have this option. keep at it!
     
  30. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    Jan 16, 2008

    :)
     

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