First Year Frustrations

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Johnjoel, Nov 20, 2009.

  1. Johnjoel

    Johnjoel Companion

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2008
    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    0

    Nov 20, 2009

    At the beginning of the year, I felt like I had things pretty down pat, because I kept things simple. So I challenged myself to take on more things and became better at them. Now I feel like I go in underplanned because of all of the other grading responsibilities etc. It feels like if I don't devote 100% of my free time to school, I have crummy days.

    Also, lately I've been trying to hold a couple of my unorganized students more accountable for their work and that seems to really be stretching me. To top everything off I missed a reflection meeting this morning with my mentor, the other new teachers and my principal.

    It also doesn't help that I learned at the beginning of the year that my class is 30% proficient in reading in math. We just took our benchmarks today and as I watched the kids take their tests, I didn't see ANY improvement. As I teach, that is always in the back of my head and I feel like if I don't bring these kids up to 60%, I'm going to get canned!

    I also feel like I've been staying to close to the basals as I never seem to have the time to plan anything else outside the curriculum. I get so frustrated when I see other teachers do great things outside the box that I just can't seem to think of because I'm too busy grasping the basal. Is it normal for 1st years to not have as many hands on activities planned - I feel like I'm really just following the basals.

    So basically, I'm a little worried that I'm going to get canned for not having the experience necessary to bring up the proficiency of my overall low class....please help!
     
  2.  
  3. Johnjoel

    Johnjoel Companion

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2008
    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    0

    Nov 20, 2009

    Sorry for the long rambling!
     
  4. Katieladybug

    Katieladybug Companion

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2009
    Messages:
    132
    Likes Received:
    0

    Nov 20, 2009

    My first year teaching, I had so many worksheets that I could not keep up with grading, passing them back, keeping track of who has done what.

    Try to create easy to moniter centers so that you can do small group teaching. I started with Literacy Work Stations Literacy Work Stations: Making Centers Work by Debbie Diller.

    We have the Everyday Math curriculum which has a lot of games that I use for centers.

    Your 1st year is rough, You can do this, take baby steps, set small goals, use curriculum based measures to help you monitor
    http://www.interventioncentral.org/ has a lot of good CBMs to use.

    For the unorganized students, use checklists, planners. Try shorter deadlines - this must be turned in before lunch


    Good luck! Keep your head up
     
  5. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2007
    Messages:
    3,644
    Likes Received:
    108

    Nov 21, 2009

    Yes its very normal for 1st year teachers to feel this way. I'm usually a very creative person, but I totally go blank when it comes to thinking of cool things to do with the kids. I've had the chance to work with a wonderful mentor when it comes to planning a unit out and that has helped immensely--- she actually had some ideas similar to mine: I was just too scared to voice them to my supervisor. My mentor has become my advocate and since she use to work in my school she knows what supplies my dept has, which is also surprisingly VERY helpful :)

    It'll take time to learn how to get yourself organized. Last year, I cleaned up and organized 75% of my whole classroom (labels, throwing out papers from 1985-- the year I was BORN!!!, buying $1 containers to store science supplies in so I can grab and go, etc). I also put in place a color-coding system for each one of my sections (you could do this for subjects if you teach multi. ones instead of sections). This year I gave up on my computer gradebook (took me too long to input during class time) and worked out how to use a paper gradebook so that I'm more successful. I'm also using a GREAT lesson planner program on my computer (which I can tell you about if you're interested).

    As I'm finding out how to keep myself organized, I'm also getting more time to just focus on how to teach. Last year was my first year teaching, I did stick to the guides because I did not know the curriculum. I think as a first year teacher you shouldn't feel pressured to do more than what the school expects you to. Next year, once you know your curriculum you can start expanding your lessons to be more creative.

    Let me given an example...

    We start out with plants and planning an experiment. Last year I focused heavily on how to set up experiments, A LOT of content of plants, and observe, observe, observe.

    This year I was more "laid back" and let the kids decide what they wanted to learn: I gave smaller chunks of how to experiment (which I'll build upon as the year goes on), I did content more by letting the kids do their own research or by hands-on activities (ex: they had to dissect a flower to learn about flower parts instead of a powerpoint lesson and notes), and I did a KWL with them and set up a Wiki for them to complete research based on what plant questions THEY had. So while it may have had different results than last year, I feel that the students got more out of it this way.

    Anyways, it takes time. A good school understands that, will support you through that transition, and will applaud any effort you show during this really hard period. :) If they don't, they're not worth your time or effort.
     
  6. marrbarr

    marrbarr Rookie

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2009
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    0

    Nov 25, 2009

    Some more help for you

    I was reading another post about teacher blogs that may be of help. The site is blogs.scholastic.com/classroom_solutions/victoria_grades_35.html. This teacher, Victoria, tells of her 3rd grade classroom, the projects, bul boards, etc. She may give you some ideas for special activities. Just don't try to do everything your first year.
     
  7. halpey1

    halpey1 Groupie

    Joined:
    May 14, 2006
    Messages:
    1,217
    Likes Received:
    0

    Nov 25, 2009

    Just remember, you KNOW what you're doing. It's easy (and common) for first year teachers to question everything they are doing. I'm SURE your students are learning from you. Remember, it's also how you make them FEEL. :)
     
  8. word girl

    word girl Rookie

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2009
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    0

    Nov 25, 2009

    Start with one curriculum area to focus on. Try to add one or two jazzy lessons a week to that area - be it math, science or ela, and stick to the basal programs/teacher guides for the rest. Now, when you find a lesson or extension that works, save it and bookmark it for next year. All those veteran teachers? That's what they did, and over time, they have a boat load of additional lessons.
     
  9. Bumble

    Bumble Groupie

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2008
    Messages:
    1,225
    Likes Received:
    1

    Nov 25, 2009

    First off, don't internalize ANYTHING. I know that seems to be extremely hard, but keep telling yourself that you do what you can and that is ok. You can't change the world, so don't beat yourself up. Only 11% of the students where I teach scored proficient on the PSSAs. My students just took the benchmarks. It wasn't pretty. My students know the content, but get tied up on the tests. I teach them how to take a test at least 3 times a week as an intervention. It'll get better. You know what you're doing! I'm a 2nd year teacher. It gets better.
     
  10. hoku625

    hoku625 Rookie

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2006
    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    0

    Nov 25, 2009

    Definately agree with word girl... take it slow, don't expect to be dazzling every minute of the day, just be solid all the time and add "fun" lessons in between. If you concentrate on one content area this year, you can add a different content area next year and you'll feel way better.

    Even veteran teachers feel overloaded and stressed. It takes time to feel comfortable with not checking every paper that passes through your students hands. This is my 3rd year teaching and I'm finally feeling like I'm not treading water and can pull a lesson out of the air, if necessary. It just takes time... don't worry.

    Remember you feel like this because you care. Keep in mind, the students started off behind, even if you're a master teacher, you can't get them there in one quarter. It takes time, patience, and a lot of intervention. They didn't get there in a quarter, they aren't going to make it up that fast. Look for small signs of progress. Good luck!
     
  11. wrice

    wrice Habitué

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2009
    Messages:
    758
    Likes Received:
    1

    Nov 26, 2009

    It's also a time-of-year thing. There are natural crunch times around report cards or holidays or festivals or whatever that add exponentially to your stress level. It will get easier! Seek help, rely on others (I can't believe your mentor didn't come get you for that meeting!) and feel free to plagiarize other teacher's creative and successful lessons. Hang in there and good luck!
     
  12. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2006
    Messages:
    4,492
    Likes Received:
    100

    Nov 27, 2009

    OK, yes, we all have had days and years like this. My first year I felt like I was in way over my head by this point in the year. It can be overwhelming, that is all there is to it. At the same time, other teachers have been through this as well. They should be able to sympathize. Try not to compare yourself to them. They have had many years to build up their methods and activities. Start with one area to focus on improving, and work hardest on that. What is your favorite subject area? What subject do they need the most improvement in per benchmark scores? I'd do with one of those. Then try to find activities to beef up the curriculm. Don't worry about sticking to the basals like glue for now. Eventually you will get ideas that help you move away from them more. I am not terribly creative at coming up with hands-on activities, but I am a fantastic borrower. I would suggest subscribing to a magazine that has activities in it you could use, something such as Instructor or (my fave) The Mailbox. You may not be able to use the activities that very moment, but if you keep the magazines you will have quite a treasure trove of ideas for later! Hang in there! You are doing fine. :thumb:
     
  13. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2006
    Messages:
    4,492
    Likes Received:
    100

    Nov 27, 2009

    And BTW, it is extremely difficult for even a seasoned teacher to bring a class's scores up 30% in a single year. Focus your energy on doing the best you can for these kids, not the numbers.
     
  14. tgim

    tgim Habitué

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2006
    Messages:
    845
    Likes Received:
    0

    Nov 27, 2009

    One more suggestion: Don't feel like you have to do every single workbook page or worksheet that goes w/ a story or lesson. I ditch the workbook frequently in favor of more authentic practice, like finding pronouns/subjects/verbs/realism/fantasy/cause/effect - WHATEVER - in their basal stories or library books. Trust you gut - if you are feeling overwhelmed just keeping up w/ checking worksheets, they are doing too many. (Sorry-I know I beat this particular drum on this site a lot...)

    Apologize to your mentor and principal about missing the meeting, then let it go. Mark you calendar (in red) for the next one and go on. You will get this!!
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. miss-m
Total: 210 (members: 2, guests: 191, robots: 17)
test