I think I've lost it, i'm struggling

Discussion in 'General Education' started by mrs._H, Aug 23, 2008.

  1. mrs._H

    mrs._H New Member

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    Aug 23, 2008

    This is my 5th year. I taught my first 2 years at a very rural school with little to no expectations put on me, but I shined beside the others teaching 2nd grade (veteran teachers looked at me for help and etc.). Then, I relocated to another school in another rural area, but a little more expectations and I shined again teaching 4th grade for two years (highest state test scores in the grade level). NOW finally I'm at the primary school (rural-urban) I went to when I was a kid and I've always wanted to teach at teaching 2nd grade (again).:(

    I just finished the first 3 days with the students and I feel I totally screwed up setting the stage for a successful year. I think because I was caught up in trying to not be so strict and demanding since I was going from 4th grade to 2nd grade and then, also back to the fact I had so show I have high expectations. And I just think I bombed. I had one student each day getting up randomly. He went through hallways drinking from the fountains w/o permission every chance he could get, running into people and things in the classroom. He once stood up at his seat and passed gas randomly. I didn't want to draw too much attention so I simply said that was uncalled for and took his behavior card and continue with my lesson. A few of my little girls don't want to do anything unless they are clinging to me. Almost half of them don't want to do anything. I've only done ice breakers and practice routines, not even real work yet. During the baby photo guessing game they picked on each other. During the brown bag came when one kid has scented soap in his bag, the others said he must stink. They whine and complain. They don't want to color for any of the activities we did. They won't follow directions to stop talking out and stop laughing at other students. See, I didn't want to go nuts taking behavior cards, but now I'm beating myself up thinking maybe I should have. But then I was afraid I'd have an angry principal (she's very soft spoken and lovely-dovey) and parents (crazy in this town, their kids can do no wrong) yelling at me that they are just little 7 year olds what do I expect. I didn't once raise my voice these 3 days, but my voice was horribly dry and tired by Friday from going over and over routines and procedures and reminding of them when they acted horribly. my body is exhausted from constantly on my feet trying to monitor and help and motivate and clean up when they knocked over a bookshelf on accident during an intruder emergency drill. I even did the whole praising like crazy to the ones who WERE doing everything I asked to the T. I'm completely scared of next week when we really dive into content. My mom suggestions being more stern this coming week and if there are still issues, I should write letters home in their weekly communication folders explaining what I've noticed. But I'm so nervous. My mom just retired after 30 years there as the secretary and I've grown up in this school practically because of her. All these people have me on a pedestal and expect so much of me and I have a great reputation from my last two schools everyone knows of. (You wouldn't think that after these 3 days if they were a fly on the wall) And like I said on top of it, they (students) don't want to do anything. They barely want to do the minimum. For example I asked them to write about their summer and they did not need to worry about spelling. They wanted to write one sentence and hand it to me. Then, I'd asked them to color the graphics on the paper and they'd say they didn't want to. We tried to read a short introduction to our first s.s. unit and half of them were playing in their desks (cubby under desktop) or daydreaming even though before we started I explained how they should follow along and I was energetic about how interesting the unit was going to be. I like challenges, but this is nuts. My last 2 schools were a "challenge" type schools with the demographic and all, and I shined like I said before. But I have never felt so incompetent as I have these past first 3 days. I feel like I'm in shambles.:unsure:

    So to you experienced, successful teachers...Is this normal? Have I lost my mojo? How should I approach next week? How strict should I be with 2nd graders? What should I do if parents throw that they are just 8 years old thing in my face? Am I setting myself up to put a bad taste in their mouth already at the beginning of the year addressing issues about their child after such a short amount of time? How did I go from shining in such difficult schools to feeling like a failure now in my 5th year?:help:
     
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  3. queenie

    queenie Groupie

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    Aug 23, 2008

    Wow. I really feel bad for you. I know it must be devastating to feel like you're on top of the game for so long and then to feel like a failure so quickly. I can't help but think it's just a tough class. I get what you're saying about not being tough enough at the beginning, but I'm sure you didn't change your expectations THAT much from the past couple years, did you? I have heard some pretty amazing teachers talk about horrible years and great years, so maybe you should just come down harder on them and spend some real time on procedures, rules, and expectations. Chances are they don't really know what is expected at this point and some of them will do it once they know and once you call them on it. Just remember that doing something about their behavior NOW will help them in the future because they can't learn if they can't behave enough to listen and work.

    Chalk it up to experience, do the best you can, and if it doesn't get much better, ask your principal or a trusted colleague for advice. If it doesn't get much better all year, just let it go. Don't blame yourself if you've done all you can do. Even the best teachers struggle sometimes and surviving it is what makes them the best!! Good luck and keep us posted!

    BTW, if a child isn't doing something JUST RIGHT, take the card. Not quite right is the same as wrong...For example, Bobby gets up without raising his hand to sharpen his pencil. When you call him on it, he complains, "But I can't do my Math without a sharp pencil!!" He has a point, but the fact of the matter is that he isn't following the rule that says, "Raise your hand to get out of your seat." So he is in the wrong. Period. Don't let them bargain with you...A rule is a rule and a consequence is decided by their actions.
     
  4. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    Aug 23, 2008

    Some years are harder than others. I'm feeling the same way about this group. And this will be my 23rd year. I'm having to come down harder on them than I've had to with the last four classes. You haven't lost your mojo. It's just a year that needs to start off with a strong line of what's right and what's wrong.

    I told my kids on Friday that I'd be docking free recess time for minor infractions from now on. They can walk around the perimeter of the basketball court. Why? Because the minor ones are building into major ones.

    And forget the pressure from others. I get it, too. But you're human and so are the kids. Just do what you do best and the year will end on an up note.
     
  5. MMRbella

    MMRbella Companion

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    Aug 23, 2008

    There's nothing wrong with being firm and direct. It's not too late to fix things... make sure your expectations are clear, and have consequences/rewards at the ready. Be consistent.

    A student once said to me, "I don't want to..." last Sept. My response? "Sometimes we have to do things that we may not want to do. We are here to learn." I said it sweetly, and the child mildly groaned but got to work. Comments like that never came up again.

    It's important to teach children to work independently and make their own choices, but at the same time, most children would rather not do school work. Everything can't be fun all the time, unfortunately. As teachers, it is our job to teach them to accept this truth gracefully. I know how hard it can be, but once you make the decision to be firm and commit to it, it does get easier.

    I teach 1st grade in a very diverse, urban/suburban school. And in the beginning, I am very tough. But this means that later on I can let up a little. Now is the time to really be stern. I'm not saying that you shouldn't smile EVER, but do not take any nonsense. Again, this doesn't mean you have to yell. Be assertive.

    You seem to be a really dedicated teacher. Do not let the last few days defeat you. Starting on Monday, have a class meeting. Review the rules, and why you have them. Review rewards. Review consequences. Model appropriate behavior. Let them practice. Give positive reinforcement to those doing a great job. Give consequences straight away to those who choose to break rules.

    You can turn it around. Good luck!
     
  6. mrs._H

    mrs._H New Member

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    Aug 23, 2008

    Thank you all. You are truly helping me reevaluate my approach and motivating me to turn it around. Please others, continue to share your insight on this post.
     
  7. ecsmom

    ecsmom Habitué

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    Aug 24, 2008

    As for the I don't want to comments, I just tell them "This is an assignment, you don't have a choice, If you do half the work then you get half the points for your grade."

    Start to use your behavior plan, stick with it and be consistant.

    Good luck. I hope you have a great year.
     
  8. mhcooley

    mhcooley Companion

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    Aug 24, 2008

    I think you should start over with explaning your rules and expectations. Start enforcing your behavior plan. Don't take any excuses. Give them the grade they deserve. Children should be expected to listen and follow directions. Even at seven they can follow directions. You sound like you are an excellent teacher. Keep reminding yourself that. I think parents will respect you more if they see that you hold every child with the same expectations and they are HIGH expectations.
     
  9. mrs._H

    mrs._H New Member

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    Aug 24, 2008

    I knew I could find inspiration from people who know the challenge the most. Thank you all.:)
     
  10. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Wow, I can understand why you are feeling so overwhelmed and unsure. Here are a few things to keep in mind though. 1) You are currently teaching carry-over 1st graders (and likewise 1st grade parents, especially if their child is an oldest or only.) It is going to take some time to train the children in your expectations and procedures. They will come along though if you are consistent. 2) The parents may be upset because the previous teacher (the one you replaced) was different in her expectations or had a very likable reputation. You are an unknown with these parents and they don't know what to expect from you. This may be leading to some anxiety on their part. Also, you don't know just how much mothering took place in first grade. If your style of teaching is radically different or expectations are higher, the parents and children may be balking a bit. 3) You do need to be very firm right from the start. It is always easier to ease up rather than clamp down later in the year. It is the beginning of the year so you can be reasonable certain that if you remind/review/reteach the little darlings next week and remain firm on what you expect in their behavior, they will begin to straighten themselves out. The little guy who just got up and started roaming the halls sounds like either he was testing you, not certain what needed to be done, or was nervous and wanted to see some familiar faces. Regardless, I would be sitting him down and making things very clear about what it acceptable. Model and practice, model and practice, model and practice. You're OK. Just take a few breaths, imagine what the ideal classroom setting (complete with children) would look and sound like, and plan on teaching them everyday for the next couple/few weeks. It is hard changing grade levels, but don't let them intimidate you. As for the parents and nay-sayers, again stand firm, be kind, and be willing to seek advice when appropriate. No one said you had to follow it. ;)
     
  11. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Aug 24, 2008

    I spent Saturday at a Power Teaching workshop. I teach high school, but it's appropriate for all grade levels. I have to believe that this approach would be PERFECT for you. Go to http://homepage.mac.com/chrisbiffle/FileSharing37.html and download the Teaching Challenging Students manual, then start over tomorrow!
     
  12. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Aug 24, 2008

    Hang in there!! The first two weeks are always the hardest. I forget that every year, and it's always true, every year. It just starts to click after that, and the year really takes off. Keep a smile on your face, and good luck!!
     
  13. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Aug 24, 2008

    You say that everyone has high expectations and it sounds like you are afraid you will let them down. You can't possibly have done that in the first week of school. You are just starting to acquaint your kiddos with your style of teaching and your expectations for their behavior and work. You should go with your gut and decide on your behavior plan, then go for it 100%. Give it several weeks before you decide if you need to tweak it.

    Tell the kids that it is time to start getting into the second grade curriculum and that it will take time for them to get used to it, but that you will let them know what is acceptable and what isn't acceptable. Keep them very busy all day and perhaps reward the hardest workers with some game time during the last 15 minutes of the day.

    The student who behaved so rudely should be dealt with immediately and very firmly. I would call home and ask if he had a problem with controlling body functions. The parents will probably get on him after that. Don't worry so much about the lovey-dovey principal that you ignore your better judgment. There is no reason why you won't be as successful in the future as you were in the past, though you might be challenged.
     
  14. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    Aug 24, 2008

    I seriously would go to someone about the boy randomly going through the hallways and "acting out". I had a serious issue the first few days of the school year one year and realized that the placement wasn't the right one.

    Besides that, I would continue a great deal on procedures and also give work to prove to the kids that you mean business. I have had to balance both because we have a pacing calendar this year. I am sure someone in your class is doing the right thing, and maybe you can find a way to compliment them while they are completing the classwork/following the procedure appropriately.

    Also, as others stated, this is not your fault. Hang in there. They just came from first grade. Just be very stern (but do not raise your voice too much or they won't take you seriously) and caring. Let them know through many ways that you expect a lot of them.
     
  15. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    Aug 24, 2008

    I am always remided of The Sound of Music.

    singing "I will be firm but kind. And all those children, heaven bless them, they will look up to me and mind me!"
     

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