Finding a Balance

Discussion in 'New Teachers' started by RainbowsEnd, Sep 28, 2007.

  1. RainbowsEnd

    RainbowsEnd Rookie

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    Sep 28, 2007

    I'm just finishing my first month of teaching, and I'm really struggling with finding a balance of teacher and life. I'm still in that mindset that everything needs to get done ASAP, which I understand is true, but where does one draw the line?

    For instance . . . I just got back short stories from 45 students. They are an average of 6-8 pages long. I look at the stack and feel overwhelmed because I feel as though I need to have them ready to hand back on Monday. I like to get things done efficiently - which translates into quickly.

    Some of the teachers on my team have warned me about burning out, and I'm worried that I'm going down that path. I spend my weekends grading and planning. I don't have kids or a husband, but live with my Grandmother so I do have household responsibilities.

    Can anyone offer tips on how to set realistic goals for myself that won't get me anymore premature gray hairs but still keep me on top of my game as a first year teacher? I love what I do and I want it to stay that way! :thanks:
     
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  3. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    Sep 28, 2007

    I wish that I could offer you some advice. I didn't find my balance until my 3rd year. I lived and breathed work until I decided that I will never be done because there will always be something that I can always do that was school related.
     
  4. JustineCase

    JustineCase Rookie

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    Sep 28, 2007

    i hear ya on that one! I wound up trying to stagger assignments btwn classes...so i'm always busy, but the stacks are smaller...

    ummm....and the veteran teachers always say to get the kids involved in their own assessments... i guess it takes more work to set up initially, but gives them more ownership over their work....

    i'm reading up on it.... i guess it starts with having examples of what you want them to do...from the outstanding down to the rubbish papers.... letting the kids sort them into good, middle, junk piles...and then making them say precisely why each is in each pile.... and then have them do the same with their own writing...and allowing them to revise, revise revise...

    I honestly don't think i have the wherewithal to do that with my students this year (esp since i don't have past student examples yet) but i might try it next year..
     
  5. JustineCase

    JustineCase Rookie

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    Sep 28, 2007

    oh yah...and one of the other teachers tells her students that how ever long they had to get it done is at least how long she gets to take to grade it....
     
  6. cmw

    cmw Groupie

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    Sep 28, 2007

    I think it is a matter of being new :D I'm finding that even though I'm teaching the same subject matter as before being in a new school is hard. I find myself doing a lot of things that I won't have to do next year or that I can do easier next year. I've heard people say after 5 years you really get in a groove. (I'm almost there :)).
     
  7. Malcolm

    Malcolm Enthusiast

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    Sep 28, 2007

    I am a first year math teacher. I don't have to read a lot of essays, but I am similarly impacted by having to grade a lot of papers. I think a lot of our time is eaten up by one-time things like setting up our classrooms, setting up our procedures to deal with recurring taks, etc. Grading is just the tip of the iceberg.

    You don't have to grade every assignment. Sometimes you can just give credit for doing it.

    You don't have to thoroughly read every assignment you do grade. You may find that you can quickly scan and get a pretty good approximation of what the grade should be.

    If you have a Scantron machine available, spending the extra time to develop multiple choice tests can result in time saved on the other end.

    I am sure you can find lots of other ways to save time with a little thought.

    FW I don't feel obligated to get assignments back right away.
     
  8. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 29, 2007

    I'm math, so if I get one set of research papers a year, it's a lot. But when they DO come in, here's my approach.

    I tell myself that I'll grade some reasonable number (say 6 or 10, per day.) I tell the kids that as well... 180 papers, divided by 6 per day, means a month. Don't ask me about them before that.

    Then I try to do just a llttle more than that. So if I can get to 8 or 10, I figure I'm ahead of schedule. Inevitably I hand them back earlier, and we're all happy.

    On the other hand, I get regular tests back ASAP. Before I had kids, that meant the next day. Now it's more like 2 or sometimes 3 days. But I do think that kids deserve "immediate feedback"-- however each of us defines it.

    Each of us has to find that happy medium between getting papers back to the kids in a timely fashion and staying sane.
     
  9. wunderwhy

    wunderwhy Comrade

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    Sep 29, 2007

    Some ideas:

    -have kids peer edit each others' stories
    -grade for a few specific elements, such as setting, tone, character development, instead of every element possible
    -create a rubric that is specific and easy to follow and will allow you to write fewer comments on their papers
    -read over their stories, then come up with the five or ten most common errors/areas of weakness. Teach a lesson on these, then give them a checklist to evaluate their own story or a partner's. The story must be revised and resubmitted. Grade them on the improvement made to the story in the revision, not the whole story.

    I can't speak for the other subjects, but English teachers have a lot of grading that requires feedback. Sometimes you just can't correct every piece of writing they submit. Only an insane person would try!

    It's hard to find a balance. In my sixth year, I still take work home. Last year I had 50 honors students and almost double the planning time, and I was able to leave work on time and take little home (except for the last weekend of the quarter when I'd have to grade the essays I'd been putting off or the makeup papers that had been piling up -- I'm a grading procrastinator). This year we have half the planning time and I've got 70 honors students, so I feel behind already. They turned in their first papers the 17th and I haven't graded a single one yet, but I put on the calendar that we'll have writing conferences while they're working on projects next week so I have to have them done by then. I guess we have opposite problems in that regard! :)
     
  10. jaruby

    jaruby Companion

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    Sep 29, 2007

    Im a second year teacher and I had they same issues you are having last year. It took me until well after Christmas to have any free time after school. There is just a lot to do!!! Some of the things I started doing last year and have implamented this year are....

    *ALWAYS stagger big assignments!
    *Giver yourself a few weeks in between assignment that will take a lot of time to check. They dont seem so overwhelming when its been awhile since you cheked the last one.
    *Peer checking/editing, they usually catch the "stupid" mistakes.
    *give pass/fail credit on smaller assignments (GREAT ONE)
    *DONT feel obligated to get it back right away
    *Do big assignemts in stages, this way you have smaller things to check instead of a WHOLE big assignment.

    ***The biggest time saver I found was using very specific rubrics. That way the students know EXACTLY what you are looking for and when you are checking you know EXACTLY what to look for. It takes almost all of the objectivity out of grading. It is either right or wrong.

    I have a lot more free time this year than last so it seems to be working.
     
  11. Wee Mira

    Wee Mira New Member

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    Sep 30, 2007

    I really like the peer grading. It is easy to implement especially on worksheets and quizzes, but can also be implemented in other areas. You can use peer grading as a teaching quizzes too. Have a lesson on correct grammar and spelling, or proof reading symbols. Then hand out the papers and let the kids use their new skills to go over the papers AND save you some work. :D
     

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