Feeling stressed and overwhelmed

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Kendall2018, Sep 19, 2019.

  1. Kendall2018

    Kendall2018 Rookie

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    Sep 19, 2019

    Hi, I'm a first year teacher and I am so overwhelmed and stressed. There's so much to learn, do and prepare and there never seems to be enough time. I dreamed of getting a teaching job and now, I can barely enjoy it due to the stresses of being a first year teacher and trying to figure it as ll out. Any advice? When does it get better? Some people say a few months in, it'll get easier. Thoughts?
     
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  3. NewTeacher12345

    NewTeacher12345 Rookie

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    Sep 19, 2019

    I’m in the same boat. I just graduated college in May and am a first year teacher in first grade. I agree, it’s SO overwhelming when it comes to learning all of the curriculum, following IEPs, doing all necessary requirements of a first year teacher (professional goals, student learning goals, PDPs) AHHHH it’s just so much!! I swear I get a million emails a day about something else I have to do. You’re definitely not alone!
     
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  4. Kendall2018

    Kendall2018 Rookie

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    It's definitely harder than I thought. I taught Pre-K in a small private setting for about 20 years and loved it, but there weren't all these meetings and curriculum public schools have. I have a passion for teaching, but lately it's so stressful that I can't enjoy it. I teach kindergarten now. It is getting easier, but slowly!
     
  5. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Sep 20, 2019

    I remember it well, when I first began teaching. I have ADD, so that didn't make it any easier, either. Here's some tips that might help.

    1. You can't do the impossible. Prioritize. Do what's most important, first. One thing that can take up much planning time are the creative ideas you'll come up with. Don't can them, but realize you can't restructure every lesson, either.

    2. Sleep. This sounds like the opposite of what you need to do. I found myself working till midnight or later. This only slowed me down during the day. I even fell asleep one day while administering a spelling test, but fortunately the class's giggles woke me up.

    3. Relax. Take time to relax, especially on the weekends--rather than procrastinating some jobs till then. And I'd advise not waiting till Sunday evening to do your lesson plans. After Friday, you're done with school till Monday. Meditate by relaxing; I like to concentrate on a Scripture verse or read a book or magazine (also a form of meditation). Your brain actually works harder when you unwind because it is preparing itself for optimal performance when you're back to work. I'd recommend daily relaxation.

    4. Fast foods are your enemy, not your friend. They will slow your brain down and make you feel tired.

    5. Exercise. At least, walk, 30 minutes 5 times a week.

    Wait! The original problem was not enough time, and the above is adding more stuff to do. But here's the paradox. Taking care of your body and brain will equip it to run more efficiently. It's like your car. Sure, you've got to drive to work on time, but you also must take time to fill it up with gas or it's not going anywhere. Same with you. You need to stop for gas, too.

    6. Back to all the stuff that piled on top of your desk and time planner. Again, prioritize. You can't be perfect. Some stuff you can do more quickly than other stuff. Some stuff will speed up as it becomes more second nature, (and again, the brain needs rejuvenated in order to do this).

    7. Lastly, and this sounds like silly advice, but it's for real. I had to learn to breathe. When I'm tense, my breathing is different. I learned to relax and enjoy my class. When I'm tense, I take a deep breath, (don't hold it), and breathe out slowly one or two times. This puts me back into normal functioning mode. Along with that, smiling is a strong medicine for relieving stress.
     
  6. Kendall2018

    Kendall2018 Rookie

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    Sep 20, 2019

    When does it get easier? I've heard teachers say even a couple months in can make a huge difference. I must admit, I'm getting stronger and more confident as each day passes, but not as comfortable or enjoying teaching like I should be yet.
     
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  7. CherryOak

    CherryOak Companion

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    Sep 20, 2019

    This time of year is notorious for the overwhelming feelings to take hold. Persist. If it felt like it does in September/October of your first year forever, none of us would be here.
     
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  8. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Sep 21, 2019

    When, is a good question but perhaps a more important question for now is, how. It sounds like you are on the right track, because you are "getting stronger and more confident" daily. Any profession will feel like you need to move a mountain. Well the best way to move a mountain is one shovel at a time.

    It might help to picture all of your responsibilities as a pyramid. At the top of the pyramid are your priorities, which would be focusing on your class, your instruction, and their progress, especially in September through November. These are the most critical months of instruction for not falling behind, and perhaps even moving a bit ahead of schedule if possible. Although it seems like you have 180 or so days to get everything done, you don't. Countless interruptions to classroom instruction are lined up waiting to invade your classroom, interruptions such as days off due to weather, special assemblies, emergency drills, absenteeism due to winter sicknesses, special holiday activities, you name it, it will happen.

    I'd also advice seeking efficient use of your time. Again, this will come with practice. When you have a break in the day, after you catch your breath, catch up on some stuff that needs done. When I was in college, I remember my first week of classroom observation, a teacher (who was the teacher next door to me when I was in first grade) was cutting out some letters for the bulletin board during one of her breaks. I noticed that she wasn't cutting as slowly and meticulously as I would have anticipated and I asked her about that. She explained how she was working efficiently, getting the job done nicely, but at the same time not wasting time worrying about each tiny detail. When I wrote about my observation for my college advisor, I included that conversation. (I must confess, though, Meticulous is my middle name, and it took me awhile as a professional to combine proficiency with efficiency). Early in my career, my cousin, who is also a teacher, and I were discussing this one day, how we make the best use of our time, and how this trait had even infiltrated our lives outside of the classroom.

    I had another thought, just now before I hit the "post" button. When I first began teaching, I would get headaches. In the school I first taught at, men were required to wear ties. My P suggested perhaps loosening my tie a bit would help, and it did. As time went on, I found other do's and don'ts for avoiding stress or muscle induced pain (in any area of the body). I've already mentioned exercise. How I sit and how I position my head are important factors. If at all possible, use a chair that is ergonomically correct in design; rocking back and slouching back might feel good while you're in your 20's but trust me, when you're in your 60's, the less undamaged muscles you have, the better. In today's cell phone society, tilting your head too much to read your phone can cause muscle injury. (My Mom has joked about sitting in the waiting room at doctors' offices, it looks like we're in a prayer meeting, everybody sitting with their heads bowed). I don't know the best ways to always resolve this next thought, but I recently read, I think it was Dr. Gupta's column, on how a PC screen should be at eye level. When I take the dog out at home, I do stationary exercises while waiting for him to do his business; now and then while sitting, I will work my knees and ankles--oh, how many teachers have I met who have knee and ankle injuries! I'd recommend salads, and I'd recommend varying the salads creatively to avoid boredom. Perhaps it's my imagination, but I can't begin to describe how much better vegetables and fruits make me feel! Salads seemed to fight everything from allergies to neck pain to tiredness, you name it.

    Hope you continue to see your workload stress dissolving and your enjoyment of teaching improving. It will. You and New Teacher 12345 must be excellent teachers! Your posts indicate you are plugging away and doing your very best for your class!
     
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  9. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Sep 21, 2019

    Just saw this when I was double checking "ergonomics" on my cell phone.

     
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  10. Kendall2018

    Kendall2018 Rookie

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    Sep 21, 2019

     
  11. Kendall2018

    Kendall2018 Rookie

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    Sep 21, 2019

    Thank you so much. That is helpful advice. I used to thunk teaching was the most stressful profession, but I see others starting a new job like me in other professions having the same stress and struggles learning the ropes of a new job. I am getting stronger, but I do worry about things like getting to every single activity while I'm learning that's not always possible and it's okay to omit little attitudes here for there.
     
  12. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Sep 22, 2019

    I’m on year 27. It never gets easier. You learn. You learn how to prioritize and function better. You learn the curriculum. You learn to manage a classroom. You learn what teaching strategies and activities work with your kids. You learn your kids. You learn your coworkers. You learn your admin. You learn what matters and what doesn’t. You learn to say no.

    I don’t bring work home. I stay after school one day a week to work, and I leave between 5 and 6. Every other day I leave around 4, which gives me 45 minutes to do a quick room straighten and make sure I’m ready for the next day. I don’t arrive more than 15 minutes early unless there is a particular reason I have to. I’m a list maker. I always have a list of what has to be done today, what can wait until tomorrow, and what really doesn’t need to be done, but would be nice to do. If I don’t want to do an extra activity, I don’t.

    I’m really bad about eating crap, not exercising, and not sleeping. Sleep and good food will make you feel better.
     
  13. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Cohort

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    Sep 22, 2019

    It looks like you already have good advice here. Realize things are not going to be perfect ever. Do the best you can, and like Obadiah said, "Get enough sleep!" Kids do not stress me out. It is all of the other things that make the job so hard at times.
    Learn to not volunteer too much. I know 1st yr teachers sometimes bite off more than they can chew. You need your time now and can volunteer later.
    Also, 1 thing I learned as a teacher was not to try too hard to make something work. We get new computer programs galore that sometimes could make me want to quit my job. I learned if I mess with something more than 15 minutes and can't get it to work, it is time to phone a friend. Ask for help before you feel too overwhelmed if you can.
     
  14. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    Sep 22, 2019

    What grade or subject do you teach?

    Last year was my first year teaching and I had a difficult year. It was especially tough this time of year and I felt like the behavior and the planning was too much. Is there someone else who teaches the same grade level or subject as you? See if you can borrow lesson plans. I was so lucky to have a mentor who taught the same thing as me and I used a ton of her lessons. If not, see what you can find on BetterLesson and try not to create too much. Try not to grade too much. See if you can check work in class for completion and grade exit tickets which should be quick. You don't have to grade everything. It's also ok to collect something and NOT grade it. :)

    It DOES get better. I felt like a failure last year and I cried at least once a month. I think my lowest point was when a group a students decided they hated me and threw shredded paper at me. I was also called a b**** by a student. I honestly thought that I wasn't cut out to teach since I feel like I failed at relationship building and classroom management. Last year, October/November was tough. I feel like things got slightly better from January-March and then the end of the year was rough.

    For planning, I recommend getting your planning done at home and in advance. I honestly spent Saturday and Sunday mornings planning but it made me feel so much more prepared for the week.

    My second year is still challenging, but I feel much more competent and I feel like I know what I am doing. I'm happy with where my classroom management is now. My math coach told me that my classroom does not feel like a new teacher's classroom. The first year is so hard but you can do it!
     
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  15. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Sep 22, 2019

    @Ima Teacher, as hard as you work and as long as you’ve worked — and you’ve got health problems to boot — you absolutely owe it to yourself to make sure that you eat nutritious food and get a good night’s sleep!

    As my students say, “treat yo’self!”
     
  16. Kendall2018

    Kendall2018 Rookie

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    I teach kindergarten, so no grading. Assessments, yes. I am taking work home and feeling so much moe prepared for the week. I am starting to feel more confident as each day passes. I used to think teaching was the most stressful profession, but the more I talk to friends, I'm realizing every profession is difficult and stressful at the beginning. I am also using Teacherspayteacher for ideas and activities. Thanks!
     
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