Is it okay? Is this normal? Opinions, please!

Discussion in 'General Education' started by GAteacher87, Sep 5, 2011.

  1. GAteacher87

    GAteacher87 Companion

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    Sep 5, 2011

    This may be an unusual topic (and remember, I said it may! I'm not sure yet just what is "normal"!), but I'm having this internal debate in my mind. I am a first year teacher, yet I am also someone who is prone to stressing and working way too hard and becoming too involved in school/work. I have truly been trying to enjoy my weekends and home time, so as to keep a balance in my life. I show up to work at LEAST an hour early every day, and I try to leave as soon as I can after school gets out. I try to make the most of my planning time and I am constantly working to determine how to best fit the needs of my students academically.

    ... Okay, ready for my (perhaps) unusual question? Well, I'm trying to determine whether I'm doing ENOUGH. I mean, I remember student teaching (2 years ago) as being the most difficult time in my life. I would get out of school, come home, grade/plan, and do work CONSTANTLY on the weekend. Now, I actually have time, I can relax, and I feel energized and GREAT. However, I know that this is unusual for a first year teacher. I'm not saying I don't get overwhelmed (because I do-- it definitely happens when I don't know certain procedures/policies or how to handle situations that arise), but I guess what I'm trying to figure out is this: Am I doing enough? Is it all going to pile up on me and blindside me? :eek: OR... is it just that I'm fortunate enough to be able to do what it is that I need to do in a SANE amount of time, despite my being a new teacher?

    Any seasoned teachers out there-- or new teachers who MAY (?) feel the same way-- is the "teaching experience" so varied that it is difficult to determine what is "normal" for any one teacher? I want to be feeling relaxed and comfortable and energized, but I'm worried I feel this way because I'm doing something "wrong"! I'm not used to thinking that this is how I should feel, though I do like it! Please don't make fun of my post, either! haha I know it sounds crazy, but if you let me know what you think, that'd be great. :thumb:
     
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  3. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    It is possible to be a first year teacher and not feel totally stressed out constantly and work 15 hour days. lol.

    I felt the same way you did. I had a generous planning period, I put in some time after work and on the weekends, but I was not working 6:30am to 7pm like some of my colleagues were. In fact, some of my colleagues still do this. At first, I felt like maybe I was doing something wrong, but I just don't sweat the small stuff like some people do, and I was confident enough in my teaching that I didn't have every little word of my lesson planned out, either (I know some teachers would practice their lessons).
     
  4. GAteacher87

    GAteacher87 Companion

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    That is so great to hear, silverspoon65! Thank you for your input. :)
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 5, 2011

    I never had the first year teacher woes that I read about here.

    Sure, it was a lot of grading. It took me a while to develop a system I was happy with. But I never cried, I never got swamped-- I had the kind of year you seem to be having.

    I coached Speech and Debate every afternoon after school for an hour, and judged it all day every Saturday from October till May. So I was busy-- I napped a lot of Friday afternoons before going out with friends!
     
  6. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    I'm a first year teacher and feel the exact same way! I have an 80 minute planning period every other day and an 80 minute study hall on the other days. I get to school at about 7:15 (classes start at 8) and typically leave my 3:45 (school day ends at 2:35). I never bring things home on the week nights and only bring home light grading on the weekends. I'm hoping it stays like this since I agreed to take over the play :D I really think having the long planning period and study hall are what saves me.
     
  7. nstructor

    nstructor Cohort

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    Every single teacher is different! I'm a VERY seasoned teacher who is the first one to get to school in the a.m. and one of the last to leave, plus I do work at home and on the weekends!!!!! Is that healthy-NO!

    I took an excellent workshop this summer and the instructor told us all to not forget our loved ones and also to always make time for ourselves!

    I need to do this more often for sure!!!!!!
     
  8. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    You know what's interesting? I'm a 2nd year teacher and already I find myself working much harder than last year! The thing is though, I'm A LOT less stressed. I know what's going on and I know what to do, and I'm confident about my position and my abilities-it just comes down to actually getting it done now. Last year around this time, I definitely couldn't have said that. The thing is though, I feel like last year I simply didn't know what needed to be done yet, and therefore ended up doing a lot less work. Now I know exactly what I want to implement and how, so I find myself spending a lot more hours at school already. I don't know if that makes sense? Take RtI for example- I had pretty much no clue how it worked in my district this time last year, so I didn't do much for it at all until things actually came up. This year, I'm being a lot more pro-active about it, organizing binders for data, setting up schedules, making paperwork for referrals, etc. So I've spent more hours at school so far (although I still am not nor will I ever be that teacher that stays until 9 pm every night), but I still feel like this year is easier because I totally know what's going on!
     
  9. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    That's what my first year was like. I arrived a little early, used my planning time and after school time very wisely, and I left pretty much Ruhr at my contract time as often as possible. I never took grading home, ever.

    Once in a while, I worked on lesson planning at home, but usually did that at school too. If I had tonstay until 5 on Fridays to finish lesson planning, I did.

    Home time is home time!

    Also: don't constantly reinvent the wheel! I made my own materials and lessons regularly, but if the other teachers had stuff I liked, I used it, kr modified it slightly. As a first year teacher, having some common assessments isn a useful diagnostic.

    If you don't get paid to work 10-12 hrs a day, don't! And don't feel guilty about it. Work smarter and use good time management strategies. You can certainly do a great job for your kids without sacrificing yourself in the process.

    Remember, you have next year and the year after to develop exciting new lesson plans; you don't have to do it all NOW. Besides, your year of experience will help you make even better lesson plans, so more time figuring out what works and less time recreating things the better.

    Note that I'm not advocating laziness here. The attitude that working ones actual hours and not a lot extra is lazy is pretty noxious. It's the output that counts, not how long it takes.
     
  10. krysmorgsu

    krysmorgsu Cohort

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    I think it also has to deal with what you teach, how many preps, your schedule, etc. I am guaranteed to have 4 preps. We are not on block schedule; we have 8 periods, including 5 classes, 1 prep, 1 duty. I've noticed I feel less stressed when my duty is hall duty or study hall - because I can get some work done, as opposed to lunch duty. I got more work done when I had hall duty and my prep right afterwards - I didn't feel so rushed to get together what I needed and eat. Do I think it's easier for some teachers who have only 1 or 2 courses to prep for? Yes, though it also depends upon what they teach (All the grading English teachers have! :eek:), and how much work they are willing to put into assessments. I know teachers who basically teach straight from the book, and give every test on scantron. Do I think they feel less stressed than I do? Of course. However, I don't feel I'd be doing the best job that I could if I did that. I have noticed that, as I developed my curricula, materials, etc., each year is less stressful. I think there are a lot of factors, on top of which we each have different personalities and handle the workload differently. Personally, if you are in your first year and aren't stressed, I say good for you! Also, don't forget - it's the beginning of the year. Get your system down know, because come the end of the marking period, it can get pretty hectic!
     
  11. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Definitely agree, krysmorgsu. I have six preps but I only see my kids every other day because we're on an odd/even block schedule. That gives me two days to get any grading done and I can return almost everything the next class meeting. It's also ultimately less planning because I'm only planning 3 lessons for each day instead of 6 per day. It is 80 minutes so it's essentially two days worth of plans but it still makes it easier! We also have a 30 minute homeroom where I monitor wellness walking and do a bit of light grading. There's only ever about 8 kids in the gym and they're mostly mine so no trouble.
     
  12. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Personalities and approaches do make a difference. My first year there was another teacher in the same grade that was also first year. She did do some work outside of hours but for the most part, she left work at work. I worked way too many hours. Part of it was our difference in approaches to lesson planning. I stuck with the district's pacing guides. She stuck with the materials the school had. The two didn't go hand in hand. By the end of the year I did recognize that we essentially taught the same thing but in different order. It wasn't exactly the same stuff but it was the same skill sets. Even so, the next year I said I was going to do that since it came with ready-made stuff. I couldn't do it. Was she wrong? No. She saw the bigger picture and she chose the way that was less inventing the wheel. I couldn't do it because I felt like I had to follow exactly what the district asked me to do. But my way was much more arduous. In the end, I think she was a bit smarter in that respect. Does that mean I advocate dumping whatever the district gives you? Absolutely not. It just means if you have materials at your disposal and can make it work, more power to you. Work smarter, not harder.

    On the flip side of that, I DO see teachers who don't put in the effort and do the bare minimum. They get through the school year and sometimes I don't think they know just how much difference there is between their lessons and others and how much they aren't doing. Or maybe they do. It's just a few handful though. Most teachers I know that have any amount of passion about what they do whatsoever, put in what it takes to effectively teach their lessons.
     
  13. bondo

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    I am a big believer in leaving work at work. The only time I ever bring stuff home is when grades are due. I would rather stay later to finish then bring stuff home. Home needs to be a haven, not just another place to grade papers and plan. It sounds like you are off to a great start, keep up the great work and dont grow complacent.
     
  14. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    Every situation is different, but you are more than likely doing enough. I'm not sure why your student teaching was "the most difficult time". I thought it was tough, but I didn't have to work near as hard as a regular teacher.
    My first year teaching I worked 9 hour days, graded some at home, and went in occasionally on the weekends. It all just depends. It is a situation where you are just learning about everything, not trying to be perfect.
     
  15. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    If you're on here, and even considering if you're doing 'enough,' I'm sure that you are!

    Everybody is right about it depending on your situation. My first year, I literally had about 5 minutes during the day when the students were out at recess, and no other planning time. I was also directing the choir and teaching music, something I had little experience in (the joys of a small school!). I was also self-contained, and teaching everything to my students except P.E. Needless to say, I did a lot of work in the evenings and on weekends. But if I had had a decent prep period, I wouldn't have needed to take home nearly as much.
     
  16. Beth2004

    Beth2004 Maven

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    I completely agree with this. I also think it depends on what your school has given you as far as the curriculum. For example, my first year teaching I was at a private school with a very scripted curriculum that I was not allowed to change or even really supplement. I spent very little time planning or grading and spent all year worrying that I wasn't doing enough for my students because of the limitations.

    Then, my second year I started at my current school. I wasn't given any curriculum to go by and needed to teach writing to 96 fifth graders who had very little prior writing instruction. My only guide was the state standards and what I observed from my students. On top of that, they were a difficult group behaviorally. It was an extremely stressful year and had it been my very first classroom experience, I'm not sure I would've continued to teach.
     
  17. kpa1b2

    kpa1b2 Aficionado

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    I have found it depends on how organized I am. The more organized I am, the less work I bring home. But. . . .it takes me forever to get organized! This year we only had 1 day in our rooms, we begged to be able to come the Sat. before, which I did. I still wasn't organized. 11 days later, I'm beginning to feel like I'm organized, but there is still so much that I want to do, things that will make both my teaching better & my room more oranized.

    It takes time.
     
  18. AZMrs.S

    AZMrs.S Cohort

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    I feel the same way... I haven't been working as long or as much as I did with my cooperating teacher. But I am just using all of my planning time wisely and trying to be as organized as possible. I have to keep reminding myself that what doesn't get done today will still be there tomorrow. :) My personal life and family are more important!
     
  19. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    I think I was similar to you. From the beginning I figured out I needed to call it a day at a certain time (my time is 3:30 when I am finished tutoring and exhausted) and take the rest of the day for myself (aside from emails when I get home from parents). I think it is fortunate for you and a good sign. You are figuring out how to balance things.
     
  20. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    I think very well on my feet, so some of my best work comes from that flow of teaching. Unless directed to do otherwise, an outline was all I needed to keep my on track.
     

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