First year blues

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Johnjoel, Oct 19, 2009.

  1. Johnjoel

    Johnjoel Companion

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    Oct 19, 2009

    Hey everyone....I just needed to vent some first year frustrations. I've been a little frustrated lately because I see all the awesome activities, bulletin boards and work that other students do in other classrooms and I don't seem to have the time to do it in my classroom. In other words, I feel like I'm working my tail off, but no one notices because I'm usually so busy putting extra effort into lesson planning, grading, and organization. I feel like I'm working twice as hard as the other teachers to do half as good a job as they do. I love what I'm doing, but I always thought that I'd be doing amazing things my first year, but instead, I'm fighting to keep my head above ground. I also feel for some reason that my co-workers expect me to go all out, which I am, I guess it just isn't showing now :(
     
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  3. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Oct 19, 2009

    I feel your pain. I feel I'm just treading water. I've worked in this school as an aide for 4 years so I definitely feel the pressure. I do a lot but I feel myself falling short quite a bit too.
     
  4. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Oct 19, 2009

    OK, THAT'S the problem!

    Your expectations simply weren't realistic. I know you're a great teacher, and that your standards are high and that you have lots of enthusiasm. But it simply isn't realistic to think that this career could possibly be all that easy-- that it would be possible to be consistently "amazing" at your very first attempt at teaching. You're still trying to figure out your teacher persona, and to get down a system for the 2 million things you have to do every day. There simply isn't any way you can do all that well and still have time for all those extras.

    Hang in there. You'll be stunned at how much easier next year will be, and the year after that. You won't be second guessing your presentation of the material, or your timing, or whether it's worth the interrruption to your lesson to tell Johnny to put away his Spanish homework or to wake Mary up.

    I repeat: HANG IN THERE!!
     
  5. MsDeb

    MsDeb Comrade

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    Oct 19, 2009

    I agree with Aliceacc. It definitely takes a while to hit your groove and you're already probably more amazing than you think!!! I'm going into my 3rd year and still wish that I was better. It keeps me going and I'm always improving. I still love what I do and I love that I can always try new things to keep it really fresh and fun!
     
  6. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Oct 19, 2009

    I agree with the great advise of the above posters.

    You are being too hard on yourself and unrealistic. Give yourself a break - you are doing what is most important - planning and being thoughtful. Much of the rest is fluff - nice fluff but fluff.

    Teaching is like all the other arts - it takes a lot of practice and trial and error until you paint a masterpiece. You wouldn't criticize the kids because they aren't perfect when they are learning a new skill - don't be hard on yourself because you aren't perfect.

    Take time to enjoy what you are doing.
     
  7. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    Oct 19, 2009

    I'm kind of in the same boat... part of the problem was that as a specialist during my first two years, I managed to get quite a bit of downtime... planning isn't quite as intense, and particularly with behaviour intervention last year, it was often a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type thing, because it all depended on what the kid you were working with would need at that moment (or whether there would be something else that you needed to be involved in.)

    Now, I'm where I always wanted to be (though I dream someday of getting my Masters and doing Guidance or Special Ed) and despite the fact that I'm in my third year of teaching, it's all brand new to me! I'm keeping my head above water and staying late. I'm avoiding some of the extracurricular activities that I always said I would do. (I joined a committee today, mostly for the main purpose of making a good impression with administration... I may regret this later!)

    But I think you're right Alice... expectations can be too high. I'm trying to take small bites... often, I'm a jump-all-in type of person... I see wonderful ideas in a PD session and I want to go hog wild with them... before realizing that I need to plan first! :lol: I'm starting to get my bearings (but heck, I've been saying that for a month!)

    I figure that by the time I get grade three down, it will be Christmas, and I'll be moving to grade one!
     
  8. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Oct 19, 2009

    Heck, I can't even get my calendar area and classroom helpers part right. :) The kids are so forgiving. I really do love them for it. My students are perfectly okay with me saying, "I want to try something else and see if that helps. This isn't working."

    One teacher laughed because her class this year asked her "are you still making a lot of mistakes like you did last year?" This is her fifth year of teaching. That just says that she taught them that everybody makes mistakes. It's okay.

    I turned down 2 committees. I'm not new to the school but I've never been on a committee so it would have been more favorable to do so but who puts a brand new teacher on a core curriculum committee? I'm just learning to read the darn thing.

    We just started our new teacher meetings. THANKFULLY. We also will soon begin our professional development workshops. That adds more work but I welcome learning from there. I'm purposely taking the one that our reading specialist and our teacher specialist are teaching.

    dfleming, ask Alice, I am a take on too many things type person too. I used to teach (volunteer based) an after school club, work full-time, take grad classes, teach professional development workshops and I have 3 kids at home. This year, I completely dropped all that (except the kids) and yet blahhhhhh....ackkk!! Trust me, you aren't alone.

    My pet project at the moment is getting appropriate recess/lunch duty coverage for my students for safety reasons. So at the moment I am not taking that as my prep period.
     
  9. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    Oct 19, 2009

    I agreed to join the School Improvement Plan Positive Learning Environment committee... I have no idea what that will entail, but it's only for a month and a half and then I'm off to a different school.

    After the third time I got the e-mail (that was sent out to all staff) begging people to join the committee, I figured I should make a good impression... after all, I have this year planned out, but who knows WHERE I'll be next year!
     
  10. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Oct 19, 2009

    If you have this year planned out, my dear, I'd say you are doing excellent.

    As far as what committee you join, why does it matter where you'll be next year? I didn't join a committee simply because I didn't feel qualified for the ones chosen and I am exhausted as it is.
     
  11. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    Oct 19, 2009

    You have made a mistake by comparing yourself to other teachers. We each have strengths and weaknesses - just like our students. DO NOT allow yourself to compare yourself to others. Keep things simple, but fun and good learning experiences for your students.

    I follow a teacher who goes ALL OUT for her little students. Their year with her is magical. The teacher they get after me has a huge output of bulletin boards and student work on display. I figured it out quickly - I was not going to be able to compete with them, so I would simply do the very best job I could do - as myself.

    My strength is that I let the students learn in a fun way. There is a lot of movement and laughter in my room. I will do something totally goofy to get their attention and continue being goofy to get through a difficult lesson. The other teachers are very strict and traditional. One of them has her children seated, silent, and doing worksheets all day long. That isn't me!

    You have strengths that the other teachers don't have. Set your sights on a simple plan for this year, then add your special personality to your class a little more each year.

    My students learn and leave my room laughing! But maybe we haven't done the calendar for 3 days, my coffee cups are piling up at my sink, and my bulletin board has not been changed for a month. So what?

    There are actually teachers here who make derogatory comments about my bulletin boards - I could give a fig. I know my strengths and use them every day. My students love me and learn a lot during the year. Stop comparing yourself to other teachers - you will come into your own over time!
     
  12. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    Oct 19, 2009

    PS - here is one good trick I recommend for you to start during your first year. Take pictures of bulletin boards and projects that other teachers do with their classes that you admire. You might have a chance to incorporate those ideas in the future at a different school or if one of those teachers retires.

    And most definitely take pictures of the successful bulletin boards and projects that YOU do with your class - it is easy to forget from year to year. Keep the photos in an album to refer to in the future.
     
  13. KLSSwimmer

    KLSSwimmer Habitué

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    Oct 19, 2009

    Hang in there! I promise that it will get better. I am finding that with my second year teaching the same grade, it is so much easier! Things are going wonderfully! Keep letting us know how we can support you!

    :hugs:
     
  14. Johnjoel

    Johnjoel Companion

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    Oct 19, 2009

    Thanks for all of the support everyone! I had a heck of a time today because I had a case of the Sunday night jitters and got about oh, 3 hours of sleep last night. Your support means a lot!
     
  15. bonneb

    bonneb Fanatic

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    It is going to get better!
     
  16. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    Oct 20, 2009

    Sorry, I wasn't clear :lol: By having this year planned out, I mean I know what classrooms I will be teaching for the year. I started out the year as a sub... not knowing where I'd be from day to day, now I know I'll be at this school until Christmas, before heading to my old school for a first grade position in January.

    That's why it's odd to be on a School Improvement Plan committee... I started here three weeks into the school year, and will only be here for two more months.

    I wish I could say I had my whole year planned out :lol:
     
  17. halpey1

    halpey1 Groupie

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    Oct 20, 2009

    I agree with bonneb. I'm a male K teacher. I'm about as crafty as a ___________ (what is very uncrafty?). Anyway - I just can't compete. I give the kids other things. We laugh, we sing, we dance, we have fun and learn. My walls don't look cutesy or crafty, but I haven't heard any complaints from the kids (or parents for that matter).

    In my experience, fancy bulletin boards are more for the grown-ups than the kids. Kids want to see their work up, that's it. I ALWAYS put work up in the classroom and hallway, but it's KID'S WORK and that's it. Maybe a simple sign explaining what it is (usually done on the computer). My kids still point and feel good about seeing their work up. Take a stapler and stack of your kids work and put it up and color yourself DONE. :)
     
  18. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I always hated doing BB too. I did a beginning of the year BB. Since then I have just displayed works. One time I displayed 3 pages of chart paper. It just happened to be a really good brainstorming session for my students. Sometimes they struggle to express themselves. Another time I put up their apple tree paintings. My part-time aide insisted at least putting the title, "Apple Tress." Sure, knock yourself out. Then I put up a placemat with their favorite foods and the proper place setting (craft) and just hung it up on the wall. It is 3-D. Using an informational BB set I got for the purpose of teaching the words, I put up the word "Family" and underneath it the BB piece that says "eat together" with a picture of a family eating. I didn't feel like making my own sign and it was already available. We don't have actual BB this year. We are posting them on the hall. Part of me feels guilty because I know that the tape has the potential to ruin the wall. The other part of me is secretly glad the school missed this when designing our new building because I HATE cutting background paper to size, putting up borders, etc.

    Ironically the 2 other new teachers are more into cutesy BB and they have their stuff up but invite me to post my students' craft work (I agree to do some of their seasonal projects) and all I have to do is put up the student work and maybe one small part of the BB (like the fence) and they do the rest. :)

    Tonight I got a new toy. I got an easel with storage. Umm....it took me forever to put it together. I'm not very handy. Then I had to rearrange the room to find room for it. Yeah, like I have time for that. I consider myself lucky though. We started with virtually no supplies. We have more new teachers than usual and the same budget. They managed to buy us some stuff which means some teachers are just doing without. Tough, they've been here longer and the people who ran those grades before were supposed to leave behind the stuff ordered for that grade and they didn't.
     
  19. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Oct 20, 2009

    If you use blue tape (like painters use) it won't hurt the walls. That's all we're allowed to use.
     
  20. woobie5

    woobie5 Comrade

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    Oct 20, 2009

    Just wanted to say you're NOT alone! IN fact... reading your post made me feel a bit better ... sounds normal! HANG IN THERE!
     
  21. PinkFish

    PinkFish Rookie

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    Oct 20, 2009

    Let me tell you, last year was my first year and up until Christmas it was all I could do to make it through the week and have enough grades for the grade book. I had all these great ideas but I didn't have my pacing worked out and I never had time to do cute or overly fun things with the kids. However, after Christmas things started looking up and i didn't feel like I was going to be buried alive.

    Next year will be amazingly different. This year I wasn't sure what to expect but I feel like I totally different teacher. Things are 100 times easier! I have already gotten to do tons of fun cute activities with my kids, and every week I make a new math game with my kids that we make together on monday and play all week. I promise you, this year will get easier and next year will be great!
     

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