Help: how to keep going

Discussion in 'General Education' started by HorseLover, Nov 3, 2013.

  1. HorseLover

    HorseLover Comrade

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    Nov 3, 2013

    I'm a first year teacher, and it's been really tough especially this last week or so. I honestly have days where I just feel like giving up and quitting; however, I don't think I actually will because I've heard it gets better plus I've agreed under contract to work! Any tips/suggestions to help me keep going when those tough weeks come? I try to take breaks (leaving a bit earlier than normal, etc) when I can, but honestly I feel like I am already behind as it is with everything. :dizzy:
     
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  3. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Nov 3, 2013

    You're a first year teacher. You're going to be behind for... oh... the next 29.5 years or so. This year will be the worst. The most important thing you can do is prioritize. Some things need to be done today, some need to be done this week, some need to be done when you can get to them (this pile is generally known as the pile that won't ever happen). Also, keep detailed lesson plans. They won't be a huge help to you this year, but having detailed lesson plans will make your life much easier next year.
     
  4. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Nov 3, 2013

    When's your next break? Plan at least one day of that break for you...get a mani, go to the movies, meets some girlfriends for lunch...whatever...or grab your SO and plan a getaway. Have SOMETHING to look forward to.
    Try to find some downtime every weekend as well. You simply cant be your best all week if you don't take care of you.
    During the work week, find time to take a walk, or have a cup of tea or a glass of wine with dinner. Find things to laugh about with your students. Celebrate small successes.
    Breathe.you can do this.:hugs:
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Nov 3, 2013

    What exactly are you finding so tough?
     
  6. HorseLover

    HorseLover Comrade

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    Nov 3, 2013

    Quite the mix of things:

    -Planning, especially since there's not a curriculum for the Writing so I feel like I'm making things up. I'm also struggling with getting Guided Reading and stations going
    -Keeping up with grading and getting grades back within a decent amount of time
    -Classroom management: no huge issues, but my class is full of talkers and it seems like nothing I've tried works super well.
    -Then add on all the misc things; parents, emails, school events, filing, progress reports, etc
     
  7. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Nov 3, 2013

    OK, as a secondary teacher I'm in way over my head here... I have no idea what Guided Reading is or how stations work. But it seems to me that the community of elementary school teachers here could help you a lot.

    Someone here must have a 4th grade writing curriculum they could email you. Or see whether any of these can help you. (I'm doing this blind, having no idea exactly what a good writing curriculum would look like.)

    http://www.heinemann.com/shared/onlineresources/E04301/CalkCurrPlanWRITING_sampler.pdf (scroll down a lot till you hit 4th grade)

    http://www.eriedayschool.com/sites/default/files/4th grade final.pdf

    If none of them are what you're looking for, start a thread specifying what you need... someone here has it!
    http://www.manatee.k12.fl.us/curriculum/mcc/mcc elementary.htm#4


    As far as the grading goes: part of that is planning. When you give an assignment, keep in mind how you'll grade it. And when you teach something, always organize it in the same way. For example, with some of the problems I teach, I always line things up the same way-- this part of the problem goes here, that part goes there. It reallly does make grading a whole lot easier. Also, I grade one entire side of a page for the whole class, then flip the pile. I find that after a very few papers, I know the answers and don't have to refer to my key as often.

    Start a thread on each of the areas you've outlined as a problem. Be as specific as you can in the title: "4th grade teachers (common core or not?) how do you set up your Guided Reading Stations?"
     
  8. bison

    bison Habitué

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    Nov 3, 2013

    I'm not really qualified to help you out too much, but one resource that you might keep an eye out for is the scholastic teacher express sales, especially the dollar days. They have tons of e-books about writing programs, writing workshop, lesson plans, guided reading, etc that go on sale for $1. There are plenty available for more than that now if you're feeling desperate. I think they might be useful if you're having a really difficult time and need some help. I'm a huge fan of writing workshop, personally. Here's their website: http://teacherexpress.scholastic.com/
     
  9. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    Nov 3, 2013

    Year 1 is rough. Mine was two years ago. I worked from 7 until 9 every day plus some on weekends. Was stressed out.
    In year 3 I work 7 to 4 and never on weekends. the learning curve is unbelievable. You get so much better at classroom management and lesson planning in such a short time.

    chin up. give it your best shot and just a wait a couple of years. You will be amazed at how different it all seems.
     
  10. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Nov 3, 2013

    ^^^^It's so true.

    OP, I didn't even get to stations or GR my first year of teaching, so props to you. My kids went ballistic and tried to kill each other every time I sat down to teach. :whistle:

    I realize now I didn't actually set clear expectations for them. Even if you're not doing Daily 5, I suggest looking over how they roll out stations. They use a T chart with "What The Teacher Is Doing" and "What The Students Are Doing." You go over very specifically what that looks/sounds like. Then you model with ONE station. Don't do every station at once.

    GL! Keep going!
     
  11. HorseLover

    HorseLover Comrade

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    Nov 3, 2013

    Sometimes I wonder if it's me...if I'm just not cut out for it especially when I have such a hard time focusing and getting things done (and not last minute) during my non-teaching time :unsure:
     
  12. Ms.SLS

    Ms.SLS Cohort

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    Nov 4, 2013

    I make to-do lists almost every day of each little thing I need to accomplish. I check off as I go. I leave when the list is done. It helps a lot with forgetting the little things "call susie's mom." "print johnny a packet." etc.
     
  13. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Nov 4, 2013

    HorseLover,

    I am going to go out on a limb and guess from your username that you ride horses :) So this metaphor may sound crazy to everyone else, but I think you'll get it!

    Learning to teach is like learning to ride a horse. You can get the basic idea through beginner lessons, but you never really learn the art of riding except through time in the saddle. And it's hard, and frustrating, and you fall off a lot for the first couple of years (and sometimes you still get bucked off even years later...). But you keep doing it because you love it, and you know it will get easier, and be worth it.

    I think teaching is the same way. We get a few "teacher training" courses and a few weeks student teaching in this very artificial, controlled environment, and then we are thrown out there to do our best to learn this very delicate, complicated art form which is teaching. And so in the beginning, we fall off a lot. The kids are naughty sometimes the way green horses are naughty with green riders, because they can get away with it. But we keep going and keep trying anyways because we love what we're doing and we know it will get better and be worth it!

    Anyway, it's possible that anyone who doesn't ride is going to think I'm certifiable, but I imagine the metaphor applies to other art forms as well. I am in my fourth year in the classroom and still struggling with certain aspects, but I can tell you nothing will ever be as hard as this first year!

    Head up and heels down. You can do it!
     
  14. HorseLover

    HorseLover Comrade

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    Nov 4, 2013

    That does make sense, thanks!

    Thanks to everyone else as well for the tips and encouragement
     
  15. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Nov 4, 2013

    There are a few things you can do that should help.
    - Spend 1 day (or just afternoon) of your weekend to plan your next week's lessons. Don't just plan, but create everything. For Example I'd have a plan, create Powerpoint, warm ups, etc. Later on I would have it mostly done, to the point that Wednesday afternoon I'd spend a half an hour to figure out Thursday / Friday. This way you're ahead and you're not so overwhelmed.
    - you have to stay on top of grading. You can do a little every day, it gets a lot accomplished, but if you let it pile up, it can eat you alive. For the first time since I'm at this school I let classwork pile up, I hardly graded anything for 2-3 weeks. I had to move, so I was stressed out, busy overwhelmed for 2 weeks, so now I gotta pay the price. So I just need to suck it up. But normally I do everything on time, and then if I'm 1 day late, it's no big deal.
    - don't make things too hard for yourself. You don't need to create complicated or fancy activities. I now I tried that when I was LTSing (technically my first year teaching) and soon realized that all I was doing was making things more difficult for myself, no one else cared.
     
  16. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    Nov 4, 2013

    :hugs:

    I'm in my second year. It's already better than last year! I don't think anything can ever be quite as scary, difficult, and frustrating as the first year of teaching. I am still SUPER busy this year and constantly feel behind (hey, it's only year 2), but a lot of things are so much easier because I have a year of experience behind me.

    We are our own harshest critics. Chances are, you are doing a lot better than you think you are.

    - I agree with the suggestion to read The Daily Five. Even if you don't use it in its entirety, it discusses step by step how to set up the stations. Another recommendation would be Jan Richardson's The Next Step in Guided Reading. That book is an EXCELLENT resource that basically goes step by step through how to set up guided reading. It's divided up into different levels of readers, as well.

    For me, the thing that helps the most is remembering to slow down and ENJOY the kids. I try to make sure we do something fun every day, even if it's just reading a silly book or talking with partners about what we did over the weekend. I need to take time to enjoy the kids every day, or I just get frustrated and the days seem to drag.

    And, it's been said, but take time for yourself!! :)

    Oh, and, it would probably really help you to connect with a supportive teacher at your school. Are there any other new teachers? It really helps me to talk with other new teachers, because I feel a kinship with them. :) In a different way, it really helps me to talk to understanding experienced teachers.

    Don't be so hard on yourself. I can pretty much guarantee that you're doing so much better than you think you are. :) And you only have to go through ONE first year, remember that!! :)
     
  17. fraudelong

    fraudelong Rookie

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    Nov 5, 2013

    This was me last year, my first year. Definitely. I also call right now the "lull" - that time where you're SUPER ready for a break, but it's not Thanksgiving yet. The first trimester/12 weeks are the longest part of the year, trust me. The rest flies. My advice to you:

    Don't use your prep as a break. Throw on some earbuds, buckle down and just do it.

    Don't bring anything home. That is when you're supposed to breathe. Wake up early to finish planning if you have to.

    Don't read/grade every single assignment. Sometimes, it's just practice. They don't need a grade for everything. One great way to cut down on time is to peer edit or go over it as a class. Go around and stamp/check it off that they did it, and give them credit later. They should reflect on it too, not just you - they're probably not reading all the comments you took time to write anyway.

    (That's not to say there aren't some things you should take the time and read/edit/comment on - just not everything. :) )

    As far as making it up as you go, I felt like I did that as well. I am the only teacher for my subject, and the textbook is poorly structured, so I create my curriculum. That will get easier as you go...you just need the confidence of getting through that first trimester/cardmarking/semester and learning what works.

    Don't be afraid of bouncing ideas off of colleagues, either. It will get better!
     
  18. raynepoe

    raynepoe Companion

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    Nov 6, 2013

    Hey Horse Lover,

    I sent you a PM, I am muddling through my 1st year and am a fifth grade Writing teacher. Maybe we can support each other?
     
  19. HorseLover

    HorseLover Comrade

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    Nov 6, 2013

    Thanks everyone! There are some days that feel better than others and it's helpful to know I'm not alone! :)
     
  20. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Nov 6, 2013

    I felt like a big phony my first year. You should cut yourself a break. There is a lot involved in what we do (much more than outsiders to our profession even realize), and you will make some mistakes along the way. Give yourself a cut-off and be finished with work pertaining to teaching at that time (say 4 or 5, or whatever works for your that is decent). Make sure you have all the necessary things done by that time but after your cut off, don´t do anything else related to work. This will give you some time to focus on other things, and help you not to burn out. You could literally work around the clock if you allowed yourself to. Also realize that you won´t be perfect this year and that´s okay. Reflect on ways to improve and actively try to improve. That´s all you can do. Next year you can focus on one area to improve and work on it. I think it´s impossible to try to improve every area at the same time (this year my goal was to learn writer´s workshop and implement it in my class, which is what I am doing). This way you will slowly become more experienced and skilled in the art of teaching.
     
  21. MzMooreTeaches

    MzMooreTeaches Cohort

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    Nov 7, 2013

    I have difficulty focusing in and completing things on time as well. Similar to what a previous poster mentioned I try to prioritize and get things completed in a today, tomorrow, this week. I am not always successful at it, but I keep chipping at the block.

    Also it may seem like miles away BUT each year gets better I promise. My first 3 years were up and down with good moments and tough ones. Now on year 4 I feel I have a much better handle on getting things completed. Hang in there, smile and laugh with your students, as much as you can set high expectations for them, ask for help and most importantly get you some "you" time as often as you can to stay sane.

    You can do it!!!
     
  22. PeacefulTeacher

    PeacefulTeacher New Member

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    Nov 10, 2013

    As for the planning, think about what the goal is for Writing. Is it simply for the student to be able to get their thoughts into words? If so, any topic they may find interesting enough to write about is absolutely fine.
    As for stations, allow yourself to spend a few class times simply practicing getting to their station and getting the materials out, staying in the station maybe 2 or 3 minutes, and then cleaning that station up and returning to their seats. It is a good idea to have them go back to their seats after each station, and even to have a short whole-class lesson between each station. This gives students less time to monitor themselves, and truly provides some nice structure for Daily 5 stations. I have even seen some teachers who only have 3 or 4 of the rotations daily. The students are expected to go to all 5 during the week, just not all in one day. Having cue cards for your Guided Reading group rotations may also be helpful. You choose the stations they go to and in what order, laminate a small card with their station rotations, and give them a card with the schedule on it before rotations start. Don't be afraid to talk to other teachers in your building about what they have found that makes this easier.
    Guided Reading is definitely more difficult when you have to police the behavior of the students at other stations. If talking is your only issue, do not be afraid to use your discipline model every time. Give them one warning, and then do not feel guilty for assigning a consequence for the very next offense. They really do WANT you to discipline them. They feel safer and that you care about them. Once the constant policing subsides, you will have a peaceful time in which to have Guided Reading with small groups during your rotations.
    As for Grading, having your computer grading system or grade book open as you grade your papers ensures that you put those grades in right away. It saves the extra step and saves a whole lot of time.
    I found that checking emails first thing and last thing in my day was an effective way of ensuring I didn't miss anything important. As for parents, remember that just like their children, the actions and behaviors of parents are not about you. They are not a reflection of you and are really not an expression of you as a teacher. Parents are only thinking about their children, and children are only thinking about themselves. You do not have to take on any of their words or behaviors. Once you get yourself out of the equation, you can look through the words and behaviors and see what their true purpose is; to get something, or get out of something. That is what you need to respond to.

    Is any of this helpful to you?
     

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