Finding out I'm not that great of a teacher

Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out' started by Unbeknownst, Sep 19, 2010.

  1. Unbeknownst

    Unbeknownst Cohort

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    Sep 19, 2010

    I've been telling myself since the first week of school that "THIS upcoming weekend I'm going to get it together."

    Well, I'm starting to learn that I may never get it together.

    I'm a very unorganized person. I have NEVER, in my entire life, planned anything out more than a day.

    That is starting to catch up to me.

    I'm confusing myself, confusing my students, confusing everything ...

    I've had about 50 "EUREKA!!" moments, but they never last.

    When it all comes down to it, being a good teacher means being able to make good lesson plans.

    I can't do that.

    Having to learn everything on-the-job and having to think how to compartimentalize everything for my students in managable chunks is proving to be WAAAAAY too much of an organizational task for me.

    Sorry, I'm at a low. I told myself THIS was THE weekend, that it was do or die.

    Looks like I'm falling into the latter category.
     
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  3. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Sep 19, 2010

    My mother, a retired English teacher, just assured me that it takes up to FIVE YEARS before new teachers start to catch that groove. Don't despair after just a few weeks. This whole year will be on the crazy side with precious but fleeting Eurekas.

    You are a great teacher but you're a new one (I'm in my third year and think I'm still relatively new). We're here to help you solidify lesson plans and keep up your spirits.
     
  4. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Sep 19, 2010

    Writing good lesson plans doesn't necessarily mean one is delivering good lessons.

    Being organized/or disorganized doesn't mean one is a good/not good teacher.

    Breathe.

    It's good you are reflecting on your teaching and thinking about ways to improve upon what you are doing.

    What specifically can you work on this week- not every thing, just one thing? One thing that would make the greatest impact on your students' learning?
     
  5. lapoflove

    lapoflove Rookie

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    Sep 19, 2010

    Stop beating yourself up. It is not going to help. Teachers are still human: we all have problems. I teach preschool, so I don't have any concrete advice for you. However, I just wanted to offer a little encouragement. Start small, and just keep taking baby steps on the path to being more organized.
     
  6. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Sep 19, 2010

    I'm sooo sorry you're feeling this way.

    Organizational skills CAN be learned. You CAN make lesson plans. And I have a feeling you ARE a good teacher based on your involvement here. I'll let the good advice-givers pour out advice, but just know that we all feel like this at some point, and you can resolve this problem. Hugs. :)
     
  7. Unbeknownst

    Unbeknownst Cohort

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    Sep 19, 2010

    My anxiety attacks are starting to take their toll.

    This needed to be the week where I was organized enough to know what I was doing for the week.

    I've now failed 4 different times to get my sophomore class on paper.

    I freeze every time I start.

    My anxiety has been seriously affecting my personal life.


    .....


    I'm going to go try again.
     
  8. JaimeMarie

    JaimeMarie Moderator

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    Sep 19, 2010

    I am completely disorganized. I have ideas in my head that of what I want to teach. I put them on paper and change my plans to fit the childrens needs. So about two years ago I gave up trying to write lesson plans.
     
  9. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Sep 19, 2010

    Stop and breathe, Unbeknownst. Where did you finish off on Friday? What's the next step? Where are you going with the unit (what's the final assignment)? Think about what you would tell your students--you can't write the entire essay or read the entire book at once, you need to break it down into little pieces.
     
  10. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    Sep 19, 2010

    Unbeknownst, I have come to terms with the fact that I will never be as organized as I would like and that I will NEVER be done. I make a couple of changes to how I do things every year in hopes that in 5 years or so, I'll be where I would like to be but by then I'll probably have another list of how I would like to streamline things;). There is always something that I can do. I have a file cabinet at school that I haven't touched in a year and they are full of files. I just can't get myself to get rid of it until I go through the files. I've been trying for 2 weeks to get my students started on their individualized spelling programs but it looks like it will have to wait until October for it to happen...
     
  11. Simba

    Simba Comrade

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    Sep 19, 2010

    I could have written your post word for word.

    I'm having a really tough week as well.

    I'm also starting to question if I'm cut out for this.

    Try to separate the "feelings" your having with the "rational" part of the difficulties your having. Sometimes I get so caught up in the "emotion" I end up making the situation feel bigger than it actually is. Break it down into "rational" parts.

    Please know that you are not the only one feeling this way. I teach 9-12 Language Arts also.

    I'm here if you'd like to talk.

    Please hang in there!

    Simba
     
  12. TeacherSandra

    TeacherSandra Enthusiast

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    Sep 19, 2010

    I hope this helps a little:

    I write lesson plans because I HAVE to, but I know what I need to do and how to deliver and that can't be written down (at least in my case).
     
  13. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Sep 19, 2010

    As stated, it really does take years until you feel like you're in the groove--for me it happened around year six--but you can't afford to just flounder around for weeks on end. What is your course of study? In my district, we have a textbook and 2-3 novels for each grade level. Think in units. Right now my freshmen are doing a short story unit. Each short story we read will focus on an element of short stories, either plot, character, setting, point of view, or theme (not that these aren't present in every story, but we'll concentrate on whatever element is most obvious in that selection.) Okay, five stories. How long will it take to read each in class? A day? I'm an advocate of reading aloud to students, because I want to model expressive reading. If that's not your strong suit, see if your textbook came with a CD of recordings; mine did. Now that you've read them, what comes next? Practice note-taking skills--I'm teaching my frosh Cornell notes, and tomorrow they're taking an open-note quiz that should drive home the value of taking good notes. Discuss or debate the choices the characters made. Write a different ending. Decide what you want them to have learned from that particular piece, and figure out a way to assess that. Put a grade in the gradebook. Repeat!

    You'll feel less overwhelmed if you break the semester down into quarters, decide on a unit to cover for each, set the date when you want the assessment to be done, and plan backwards so you know generally what you'll be doing each day. Interweave grammar, vocabulary, and writing practice. You'll get there.

    BTW, if you haven't done so already, go join the English Companion Ning. There are 20,000 other English teachers in that online community with more resources and wisdom than you can imagine!
     
  14. terptoteacher

    terptoteacher Connoisseur

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    Sep 19, 2010

    I felt the same way...for 4 years I've been saying, "I'm going to be more organized...I'll start fresh next Monday."
    But the sheer mass of mess was overwhelming...

    So I changed my focus to not just organizing EVERYTHING, but one thing.....I made a prioritized list of what I wanted to do
    First...
    I decided that I didn't want so much paperwork to grade. I used to have STACKS to grade when I got home. That's not fair to my family or to my sanity. So I made time throughout the day to grade and file work...now I teach first, so it's easy to grade by putting a star or a smiley....
    I started last year and it's getting better every day. I don't have stacks to grade, and my turn in box is empty everynight.
    Second:
    This year it's my goal to continue with my first goal and to work on keeping the table by my desk cleaned....I'm still struggling with that, but it's getting better.

    So my advice to you is to take baby steps....pick one thing that you want to focus on and stick to it. Don't let a day go by without working towards it.

    Stop beating yourself up...vent here and ask for help....
     
  15. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Sep 19, 2010

    It takes FOREVER for me to get everything ready for the next week. I had grand plans this summer where the only thing I was going to take home this year would be essays.

    HAHAHAHAHA, as I sit writing lessons and drawing overheads and typing up other stuff and finish entering grades.

    It takes time. It takes trial-and-error to figure out what is going to work FOR YOU. One thing that really helps me - every time I have an "AHA!" moment, I write it on a post-it and stick it to my desk (usually having to unearth a mountain of papers that seemingly appeared from nowhere).

    Some teachers at my school plan together; would this be possible in your case?
     
  16. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Sep 19, 2010

    You have been given great advice! Just know that we are here for you whenever you need us!
     
  17. eddygirl

    eddygirl Companion

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    Sep 19, 2010

    Unbeknownst, I also teach 9th/10th English, so I know there is a lot of material to cover. My first year was horrendous as far as the time I felt I had to put in to be effective. Too much school time, not enough home and family time. It finally dawned on me that I didn't have to come up with tons of great, exciting, original lessons; I had 3 textbooks to work from. My suggestion to you--just follow the textbook(s) for now. Get used to pacing with them. If you have a Lit. book, follow the units as they are constructed and use the tests they provide. Maybe they aren't as creative as some of the things you'd like to present, but they will do until you become more comfortable with the rest of the procedures that come along with teaching. We are so overwhelmed with meetings, directives from admin., and accomodations for students, that trying to be inventive may have to wait until everything else becomes constant. For novels, use the novel guides that are probably stashed somewhere in your department's office. Are they great? No, but they will do in a pinch. You can always modify when you have more time and energy.

    Do you have to write lesson plans for your department chair? If so, ask what he/she is looking for. Maybe you're giving more than needed; cut back if you can. Does your book offer objectives and/or standards? Use those if you can.

    Right now, try to simplify as much as possible. Grade some of the homework for completion vs. correctness. Grade every other writing assignment (let the kids choose which is their better work). Do what you can instead of angsting over what you can't.

    I know you have the potential to be a great teacher; your previous posts are a testament to your enthusiasm and will to be successful. Don't burn yourself out trying to do too much.
     
  18. Harper

    Harper Companion

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    Sep 19, 2010

    I sympathize with you. I often remark, "This is the weekend..."
    But, alas, three years later and that weekend never happened. That said, my first year, I had the exact thought time and time again. Was I the best teacher - nope. But, the kids survived, and so did I. Second year, I tried to change SO much from first year that it was like starting over again. (and twice as frustrating!)
    This year, I going with the KISS philosophy - keep it simple, Stupid.
    I have not found the Holy Grail, but it is a bit easier.
    The biggest difference for me this year - I stopped berating myself for not being perfect AND I stop apologizing for the lack of perfection.
    Good luck and remember it is a marathon.
     
  19. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    Sep 19, 2010

    Unbe - your comment about anxiety concerns me. Have you considered seeing a doctor? There are ways to reduce anxiety (I write from experience).

    One day at a time, man.

    Students are forgiving.

    Breathe.
     
  20. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Sep 19, 2010

    I'm sorry you're feeling this way...I honestly can't relate because I'm freakishly organized. BUT I can tell you what I do to help plan for the upcoming week.

    - I go into school every Sunday for about 4 hours (I'm here now). Some people call me crazy, but I plan all of my lessons, make copies, and prepare everything I need for the week. I also don't have any of the distractions that I do when I plan at home.
    -I have a small basket for every day of the week, labeled with the name of the day. This is where I keep all materials I need in the order that I will use them.
    -I type my lesson plans, so I have a template for each day of the week. I just copy and paste it into a new document to start my planning.
    -I never leave at night until everything is ready for the next day. It only takes me about 20 minutes after school to do this, because most of my prep work is done on Sundays.

    I hope this helps a little...I know we're at different ends of the spectrum (kindergarten vs. high school), though.
     
  21. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 19, 2010

    Deep breaths.

    I think we're partially to blame.

    You spent the summer so full of plans, with so many great questions. We all know you're a natural teacher, and didn't hesitate to let you know that.

    As a result, you might have gone into it with unrealistically high expectations.

    You know all that stuff you read about the steep learnng curve, and about how so much of teaching is learned on the job? We didn't make that stuff up; it's all true.

    Why not lean on others a bit?

    What are you having difficulty planning? How to juggle spelling/vocab/lit etc? Or is it how to approach a short story/ poem/ whatever? Can you narrow it down just a little?

    Is there another teacher in the school (or elsewhere in TX) who has taught the same course who would be willing to share last year's plan book for you to use as a guide?

    How helpful is the syllabus or textbook pacing guide?

    I think that what we're all trying to say is that you need to ease up on your expectations. First year teachers are NOT the same thing as fifth or tenth year teachers. You simply don't know enough yet. You will.

    You need to cut yourself the same break you would give to one of your students as he struggled over learning something new.

    You CAN do this. We all know it. Your wife knows it. You knew it last summer, you just need to remind yourself and cut yourself some slack.
     
  22. Starista

    Starista Cohort

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    Sep 19, 2010

    Sending you a BIG virtual hug, Unbek.

    Take it one day and one breath at a time.
     

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