I feel like a fraud and a failure

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Elocin, Oct 4, 2011.

  1. Elocin

    Elocin Comrade

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    Oct 4, 2011

    I am so overwhelmed. This is my first year with my own classroom-I work in a school where there is no set program or curriculum. I create almost everything from scratch for 3 preps. I am working from about 5:30AM until 10:00 PM almost every night--I do take a few hours off in between to be with my children but even that time isn't quality time. All I can think about is how much work I have to do and when I can get back to working.

    I know all new teachers go through this but it feels especially stressful creating all lessons and materials from scratch. I do use the internet as much as possible but it never seems to meet my students' needs. The hardest part is grammar......the kids' skills are horrific(7th/8th) and I am having a hard time finding things to meet them where they are at that are interesting. Every lesson has to be created from nothing and I am not even sure if I can use it again next year because I have no idea if it will be successful or not. I feel like I am trudging up a huge mountain with no end in sight.

    I know I am lucky to have a job and I am nowhere near quitting (most of my students are wonderful but low, and I have an amazingly support admin and team)....but I also know I can't keep up this pace. I miss my kids, my relationship with my husband, and sleep!

    If you walk into my room it LOOKS like I have it all together but I am really doubting if my lessons are meaningful and building knowledge. I just feel like a big phony.
     
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Oct 4, 2011

    It seems to me that you'e working waaayyy too hard.

    Your school has no set curriculum? (OK, I don't get that, but I guess it makes sense to them.)

    So borrow someone else's.

    Hit the internet, and Google "7th grade ELA syllabus" and hunt one down. Then do the same with your 8th grade class and any other preps. Or hit the publisher's website and see what they offer. Do NOT start from scratch.

    From what my husband tells me, and from my own observations, grammar is a never-ending nightmare. Too many kids (and far too many educated adults) simply do not know it. So, as you fight the battle of ignorance, know that any gains are a sign of success; this is not a monster you can expect to slay on your own.

    How about some specifics: exactly where do you feel people here can help you?
     
  4. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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    Oct 4, 2011

    Is there no one else on staff teaching the same curriculum or a similar subject? Could you not go to the teacher in the grade level below you and ask for help from the grade level above? Are you not using the state standards to guide your instruction? Are there no textbooks for you to use as a guide? Does the district not have a set scope and sequence that you are supposed to follow? Do you have an instructional coach in the district or a language arts coordinator that you can call to ask for some guidance? Is there another teacher at a different school teaching the same subject that you could talk to? These are the questions running through my mind... Also, do you have a mentor teacher that could point you into the right direction for some help? Let us know your actual details.... and we will be happy to help.
     
  5. Elocin

    Elocin Comrade

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    Oct 4, 2011

    Thank you both for your encouragement and offers to help. I don't want to give toooo many details for the obvious reasons but no, there really aren't any textbooks as a guide. We do use the standards to guide our instruction but the district does not have a scope and sequence--they have "suggestions" but it is based on the standards with no guidelines on how to create instruction.
    I will add more specifics later.....kids will be here 15 minutes. I just wanted to pop on and say that your encouragement already cheered me and thank you for caring.
     
  6. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Oct 4, 2011

    When I taught 7th I used a book from Walch Publishing called Steps to Good Grammar. It's old-fashioned, it's scaffolded, and it includes diagramming. (I'm still using it with my low senior class.) Even though I know the research shows it's better to teach grammar in context, you've got to start somewhere. Best of all, it's all reproduceables, and there's a teacher page facing each student page with an answer key and lesson suggestions.

    My other suggestion is to join the English Companion Ning. We're over 30,000 English teachers strong--post a question and you'll have answers! Best of luck!
     
  7. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    Oct 4, 2011

    I hate to say it, but your situation isn't as unusual as some make it out to be. When I started at my district, I faced the same situation. We have no set curriculum, no scope and sequence, no other teacher with the same course, and extremely broad state standards (IL history standards rarely mention specific topics, but rather "students will understand patterns of change" - stuff like that). I was working to create a curriculum for my courses almost entirely myself.

    I used the internet heavily. I found that there were PowerPoints on virtually every topic I needed. I simply edited them to fit my own needs. The same can be said for activities and worksheets. It took a lot of creative web-browsing, but was easier and faster than creating my own stuff entirely from nothing.
     
  8. Jerseygirlteach

    Jerseygirlteach Groupie

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    I could have written almost the exact same post. I feel overwhelmed, guilty for not paying attention to my own children, exhausted, frustrated, and incompetent that no matter how much time I devote to my job, it's never enough.

    The only thing I will add to yours is that in addition to working myself like crazy, I'm also spending like crazy. I've spent over a thousand dollars already this year on books for my classroom library (all used), materials, source books, supplies, learning games, classroom posters, incentive items, and classroom decorations. Despite all this, my principal said my room is bland.

    So, I feel your pain. You're not alone. I wish I had words of wisdom but I will say that if they keep me next year and I'm in the same grade levels - life is bound to get easier!
     
  9. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Oct 4, 2011

    I'm a new teacher with similar issues. We have no set curriculum and I have 6 preps. Once you get used to it though, you'll love it! I love being able to choose what I teach! I'm doing so many fun novels because the choice is completely open to me. We do have a textbook so I'm working off of that but mostly I'm teaching books that I've either read and know are teachable or come highly recommended by other teachers I know. With my eighth grade grammar, I started with the parts of speech. That seems to be the best place to start with them. Some know it but a lot don't. They did pretty well on their first test overall and they'll have another one before the end of the quarter.

    PM me if you need suggestions of grammar worksheets, notes, etc... I have everything saved and could send it.
     
  10. Elocin

    Elocin Comrade

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    Thanks so much for the support. I know a lot of it is typical for your first year.....but I would just love to get 2 days ahead, ya know?

    My school is really supportive but when it comes down to it, I am responsible for creating the materials. I visited a few other district 7/8 teachers but they are the "Spotlight" teachers who have been doing it for 10+ years. Inspiring, definitely but also overwhelming. Even though I know logically I can't expect to be that amazing after only 6 weeks, it still makes me feel even worse in a way. I never even thought about going to the 6th grade teacher--thanks for that suggestion!

    I broke down with my Lit coach today and told her I am just worn thin. She said that she knows I know what the kids need and that I have great ideas so during my planning she is going to help me create. This will be a HUGE help--I was reluctant to look like I was struggling but she was absolutely understanding and wonderful. We brainstormed some materials I can create that can be re-used frequently and just updated to fit my strategy or novel focus.

    Ron--Can you suggest some websites that have helpful powerpoints? All the ones I find you have to pay for.

    Mrs. K- thanks for the suggestion for Ning. I will check it out.

    dgpia-thanks. I am going to PM you now.

    Thank you everyone SO much. I lurk on here way more than post because so many of you have such great advice. I feel grateful that you took the time to answer me. Hopefully I can pay it forward some day:)
     
  11. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Oct 4, 2011

    If you were a fraud or a failure, you would not be working such long hours.
     
  12. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    Oct 4, 2011

    Unfortunately, the websites I know of are all geared specifically toward history. But what I often do is simple Google searches for topics I need, followed by PPT, or PowerPoint, or Presentation. Sometimes, I will even put the topic or title of a section (of the textbook) in quotes to be sure I get exact materials I need. So, an example search I might key into Google would be: "Renaissance Artists" PPT

    That sort of thing works well for me as a history teacher, although I will often heavily modify what I find. I would imagine similar things are available for English.
     
  13. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    Right!? Why is this ever helpful? My old school sent us to observe star teachers all the time. I always left feeling totally incompetent. :lol: You don't need to know where you're going, you need to know how to get there!

    I have no advice. I am in a somewhat similar situation in my first year. I have been thieving heavily from the Internet. I have subscriptions to BrainPop and EnchantedLearning if you want them. TeachersPayTeachers is good too. I figure I will try things and see what works then modify for next year. Supposedly, it gets easier. :dunno:
     
  14. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Oct 5, 2011

    Why don't you take a look at what those "spotlight" 7th grade teachers are doing? Ask for a copy of their syllabus and use it as a framework-- omit what you want and add here and there?

    It's SO MUCH EASIER to edit an existing framework than to create a new one!
     
  15. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    I love observing other teachers. I take comfort in seeing how many of the same things they are doing, I am also doing. Then I look for things they are doing differently, write notes like mad, ask questions, flat out ask for stuff then go back and try to implement at least one new thing. The stuff I get from those observations, particularly when they are the grade I'm teaching in the district I'm teaching in, and especially since I now have some experience under my belt are seriously loaded with gems or at minimum inspiration to try new things. I love it!

    Many of them gladly share their things. Ask! You'll be surprised at what they might share. Heck, some of my most successful projects came from these observations.

    It's also really okay if they are doing things much different than you. That just gives you more room for more ideas to pick from!
     
  16. Elocin

    Elocin Comrade

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    I have Edhelper and Lessonplanet--but they are mainly worksheets. Are Brainpop and Enchanted Learning more interactive or student-led? I do love Teachers Pay Teachers!
     
  17. Elocin

    Elocin Comrade

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    I always feel so awkward asking for their stuff. Like they put the time in and now I am trying to just ride their success. I know the teachers I work with personally are awesome about sharing and I would be happy (and flattered!) to share too but it just seems like taking liberties to flat out ask :unsure:
     
  18. Elocin

    Elocin Comrade

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    Thanks Alice--I am going to look into that.
     
  19. SCTeachInTX

    SCTeachInTX Fanatic

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    Oct 5, 2011

    I would definitely be asking those teachers with 10+ years to give you a little help. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. Asking for help is just plain smart. Get some email addresses friend and ask for a time when you could meet that is convenient with one of those teachers. They already have a system. For you to reinvent a wheel is not working smarter. If you are in some need to some resources to get you started, I would look at the SPECTRUM Series. You can buy them used on AMAZON and they incorporate MOST state standards. [http://www.amazon.com/Writing-Grade...=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1317812985&sr=1-2
    Above is one link. You have to have a starting point and direction. You need to not be afraid and email an experienced teacher today. Teachers are nice. They will help you. Work smarter and get your life back.
     
  20. Elocin

    Elocin Comrade

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    Thanks for the kind words. I feel a lot better today.....yesterday was one of those "It's 3am allllllllll day" kind of days! I went home, posted my midterm grades and got a good night's sleep. Things look a lot better today!
     
  21. Elocin

    Elocin Comrade

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    SCTEACH-thanks for the pep talk! I will check out Spectrum tonight.
     
  22. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    It's rather easy. Basically you ask questions related to it and see if they are willing to let you see it. Then if it looks really good, really talk about it and show how much you like it. Most often teachers enjoy sharing. I've gotten some great stuff I wasn't even looking for just by admiring work and asking lots of questions about it. On occasion I might just flat out ask if I can have a copy. It depends on what it is.
     
  23. uscsoccer

    uscsoccer Rookie

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    Oct 6, 2011

    I'm a newbie, too, and definitely working way too many hours, but here's one site that I like: readwritethink.org. It is sponsored by the NCTE and IRA (National Council of Teachers of English and the International Reading Association) and has really good lesson/unit plan ideas. Good luck!
     
  24. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    Oct 7, 2011

    Elocin, I NEVER mind sharing lessons with new teachers, EVER!! I'll bet if you let teachers know you are interested and would like help, they would be glad to offer you their projects, worksheets, lessons, powerpoints, . . . . .
     
  25. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    We share all the time!!! No one minds!
     
  26. krysmorgsu

    krysmorgsu Cohort

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    Oct 7, 2011

    I'm so sorry to hear about your challenges. Cheer up - it gets better! I have 4 preps, and walked into my school with a 10+ year old curriculum, which was far outdated. Luckily, I had a textbook that I was able to follow for 2 of my classes. The first year was definitely the roughest!

    Everyone has given you great advice. Beg, borrow, and steal whatever you need ;) A few quick suggestions from a non-middle school teacher: take a look at Quia, if you have access to computers for the students. You can check it out for free, and it has tons of teacher created quizzes and activities. The sign-up is fee is pretty reasonable per year if you want to create your own activities. Oh, and for teaching parts of speech: try using the videos from Schoolhouse rock. I show them to my freshmen, and you'd be amazed at how many of them start singing "unpack your adjectives" throughout the year. I bought a copy at Target, but I think Netflix rents it, too. Good luck!
     
  27. turtlegirl

    turtlegirl Companion

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    Oct 7, 2011

    10+ year teacher here... I am still working late and still prepping all the time... just got home an hour ago on a Friday night and I am still not ready for next week. I know that is why I am a good teacher, because I don't always do the same things year in and year out. You will find your happy medium and once you get your first year out of the way you will have most of things you need mapped out and ready for next year. Then it will just be fine-tuning.... Don't worry.. you are doing fine!
     
  28. Eneli

    Eneli Rookie

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    I have been teaching for 7 years, but I am the most junior member of my department. The other day I was doing a reading strategies lesson for one of my classes on the SmartBoard and my principal walked in and asked me to email the lesson to all the reading teachers in my department. I loved the compliment and I don't mind sharing at all. Ask other teachers. I'm sure they won't mind sharing their lessons either.
    :)
     
  29. Elocin

    Elocin Comrade

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    Oct 7, 2011

    Thank you guys! You have emboldened me to ask away. The worst they can say is no, or ignore me, so what do I really have to lose? :) Thanks again!
     

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