Is this the year that breaks me?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Roobunny, Aug 21, 2013.

  1. Roobunny

    Roobunny Comrade

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    Aug 21, 2013

    We started school today and I hate to say this, but I'm NOT happy with my class.

    I have several very low students (one of which would benefit from a life skills class). I have a child who may or may not be emotionally disturbed, a child who is prone to epileptic seizures, and several other common behavioral problematic students (blurting, not paying attention/listening, etc.) This is also a class of 28! I had 20 last year so it's quite a jump in numbers.

    On top of all of this, I was given the position of lead teacher after only teaching 1 year (this is my second), which is a lot more work on my plate that I was not given an additional planning period for (I was under the impression I would receive an extra planning period to conduct my observations and complete all necessary paperwork/online trainings). I am self-contained this year, whereas last year I wasn't and the entire curriculum has changed.

    Students were dismissed a bit ago and I've been sitting in my room crying. I honestly don't know how I can make it through this year.
     
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  3. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Aug 21, 2013

    No words, but :hugs:
     
  4. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Aug 21, 2013

    One day at a time, Roo. That's how you'll make it.

    Start documenting tomorrow. Get in touch with child study about any kids who have IEPs and red flag them about your initial concerns for those who don't.

    And do something good for yourself every day...a walk, a hug, a manicure, an indulgent dessert, a glass of wine.

    And know we are sending you :hugs:
     
  5. schoolteacher

    schoolteacher Habitué

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    Aug 21, 2013

    It sounds like you are a very dedicated teacher who wants to meet the needs of all of your students. It sure looks like that would be hard to do with so many of them, as well as having a number of them with so many issues to handle. And your class size has increased quite a bit.

    There's a lot on your plate. Can you ask if you can be given an additional planning period? Can you tell the principal that you feel overwhelmed this year, and would rather not be lead teacher?

    Are there any other teachers at your school that you can talk to about these issues?
     
  6. Roobunny

    Roobunny Comrade

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    Aug 21, 2013

    Rumor has it that all lead teachers were given the "challenging" students because they are expected to be able to handle the issues that come with those types of classes.

    I don't know if I can step down from the lead teacher position. No one else on my team would be qualified to take on that role, although I'm definitely not qualified as a second year teacher.

    If I talk to my principal, I am wondering if they can do some switching around. I know of several parents who had also requested me as their teacher and none of their children are in my class. I truly feel like they want to break me this year. Why would my admin do this to me? :dizzy:
     
  7. RadiantBerg

    RadiantBerg Cohort

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    Aug 21, 2013

    Switching around is unlikely. In this business, you play the cards you were dealt as best as you can.

    As to the why, I'm guessing it's either just accidental/coincidental OR an effort to create a new position for the 2014-2015 school year for a family friend or relative.
     
  8. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Aug 21, 2013

    I don't think they want to break you. Look at this as their confidence in you.
    As far as I know I'm not given a break regarding students. I'm still new, started in April last year, but my P is not withholding the more difficult students from my class. If she gave me the easy ones only, I would think that she doesn't think I can handle them.
    There was a fight in my classroom yesterday (happened quickly, broke up quickly), and during our staff meeting, when we talked about it my P said one of the boys can snap at any minutes, 'he's extremely dangerous'. This boy is 200 lbs, so I couldn't stand a chance if he came at me. (I was thinking, "gees, thanx a lot lol"). Yet, today they were both back in my classes (without problems), and I also took that as my P knows I can handle things, and even the fight had nothing to do with my classroom management.
     
  9. HorseLover

    HorseLover Comrade

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    Aug 21, 2013

    Maybe if you talk with your Principal either kids can get moved around (like you mentioned) or are there any lead teacher responsibilities that could possibly be shared with the other teachers?
     
  10. TeachableClass

    TeachableClass New Member

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    Aug 21, 2013

    It seems like some of those students may not be in the correct setting. If some have such severe problems, they might need a 12:1:1 setting. You may want to look into their IEPs and see if any can be placed elsewhere. Being in the wrong class is not beneficial for you or them.
    If they can't be moved to a different setting, just pray that they move away. Kidding... :)
    Just remember, it's only a year, and you will probably end up loving and missing them in the end.
     
  11. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Aug 21, 2013

    I have a handful of low students too. 3 have ADHD, and two or three have emotional issues. Then one is just low.
     
  12. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Are other lead teachers given a second prep?
     
  13. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Aug 21, 2013

    I'm so sorry. :(

    I hate to say it, but it may just be "that year" for you. Everyone has them once and a while. My 4th year was by far my most difficult so far. It was tough the whole year, but it definitely got better by the end. I remember looking back and thinking, "How did I not go home and drink a bottle of wine each night?!"

    They were a completely different class by the end of the year. So, there is hope! As you already know, just be firm, yet gentle, and very consistent. You may have to play around with different routines, and change what you had planned to meet the needs of your new class (as I'm sure you're already doing).

    I also found that contacting parents about behaviors that you want to nip right away definitely helps. At my school, we're required to contact all parents by phone within the first 2 weeks of school. We're supposed to say something positive about their child, and ask if they have any questions. That way our first contact is positive. However, I remember contacting parents that year right away with behavior concerns. Some of the parents were shocked. One even picked her child up from school early that day, because she was so upset. For some reason, having a handful of "sassy" kids in the class was rubbing off on children who were usually well-behaved. By calling their parents, the behaviors stopped and were under control right away. So, watch your "ring leaders," and try to stop their followers!

    Let us know how tomorrow goes!
     
  14. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Aug 22, 2013

    This will not be the year that breaks you - this is the year that you will become a better, stronger teacher. You will learn more this year than you did last year. I had a very challenging year last year but I learned so much about being an effective teacher and what really matters at the end of the year. Gone were the days of cutesy art activities and themed math centers. Nothing wrong with those, but when you get to the core of teaching they are the icing - not the cake!

    Find a support system at school and make sure you are banging down your resource team's doors. I met with them once a month last year to keep them aware of what was going on and the minimal progress of some of my students. Call parents - make sure they know exactly what their children are doing at school (either academically or behaviorally... sometimes both!)

    This is also the year to not re-invent the wheel. You are likely going to need highly structured activities and more worksheets than you'd prefer. When there isn't room to move around it does restrict what you can do. When you have better control of the situation maybe start moving outside to do some of your learning.

    Love those kids! They can sense if you want to be there or not.
     
  15. Roobunny

    Roobunny Comrade

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    Aug 22, 2013

    Thanks for all of your advice everyone!

    I will say that tomorrow was a tad better, although I still had to raise my voice several times throughout the day. I've been talking a lot about respect and what it looks like/sounds like/feels like.

    I've also been a lot more strict than I want to be, but with this group I have to be. I had two talks with them today about how disappointed I was in their behavior while we were in the hallway. We were late to recess and a specials today because they couldn't show me that they were ready to leave the classroom and/or walk in the hallway.

    I will say that some of them came from some unstable first grade classrooms last year and I feel like this has a lot to do with some of the issues I am seeing both academically and behaviorally.

    :( This is going to be a loooooong year
     
  16. MzMooreTeaches

    MzMooreTeaches Cohort

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    Aug 25, 2013

    Tomorrow is my first day and I am nervously excited. Please know that we are here for you and are rooting for you! It's early in and its hard to see the light at the middle of the tunnel (to early for the end of the tunnel). Now that you can do it! have confidence, set the routines and structures with them and remain consistent.

    Break away when you can, do relaxing things for yourself, take deep breaths. We often have tough years even when we feel we aren't ready. Just whatever you do Don't let them see you weak if at all possible. Def talk to your admin and try to address it in a confident professional way.

    Please keep us posted! I am sending hugs, good thoughts and confidence your way!
     
  17. Crono91

    Crono91 Rookie

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    Aug 26, 2013

    No one is "ready" for a tough challenge, because if you were ready for it, it wouldn't be tough to begin with. As a teacher it's your wondrous responsibility to keep learning, adapting, and teaching--if you think about it, you going through exactly what your students are going through. So set that model example for them. Think of this as a real challenge that you are bound to overcome!

    That said, I won't lie and say you don't have a bumpy road this year. However, many times when teachers and parents are stressed, they start to get tunnel vision and focus more on themselves and how will they create the behavioral plans. Don't forget: just like you prefer to roll your own dice and not someone else, your kids will feel the same.

    Give them some choices via your guidance. And, as everyone else has pointed out: constancy. You will find a nice change in the room. :)

    On a side note, I have tried something with kids that worked strange wonders. (I'm not a teacher yet, but I've worked with kids.) Recently, I was reading about how important it is for parents to have dinner at the table each night with their children--it is very important. It helps you learn what their day was like, it's a time they open up randomly, and it's a healthy habit.

    It's obviously, but it made me wonder what that'd be like in the classroom. So, for about ten or so minutes a day, when we have snack, all the children push their desks together as if it were one giant dinner table. We practiced our manners and we just enjoyed the company by talking. You, as the teacher, sit at the front of the table with your own snack and join in.

    For them, they get to converse a little and enjoy their snack, but for you, you start to gain a sense of parental respect, and, you might even learn a few things or two about your students you weren't aware of--stuff you might be able to incorporate into your lessons to further grab their attention and interest.

    Just a suggestion. :hugs:
     
  18. DHE

    DHE Connoisseur

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    Aug 26, 2013

    Roo,

    I hope that today was better. When a class is that large in our school, the teacher is given an instructional assistant for the majority of the day. Is that possible? I think that you have to give it time and as was said so many times, consistency is the key.
     
  19. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Aug 26, 2013

    I hear you!

    We were just discussing this today on my team. They are wearing us out. Normally by this point in the year (week 4), I'm in the groove and humming right along. This year . . . not so much.

    My procedures aren't working. I'm tweaking things as we go, but I haven't found the right mix yet. Kids are high maintenance. Classes are huge. (35 average)

    I've had those years more than once, so I know I'll survive it. But . . . whew!

    Hope your year gets better.
     
  20. applecore

    applecore Devotee

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    Aug 26, 2013

    Hugs to you.

    I just got handed a lead position as well.

    Definitely one day at a time.
     
  21. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Aug 26, 2013

    Can someone explain to me what a 'lead teacher' does? We don't use that term at my school. I know at the bigger high schools there are "department chairs" - is a 'lead teacher' the elementary version? How does someone get this position?
     
  22. ITeachSDCkids

    ITeachSDCkids Rookie

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    Aug 26, 2013

    Hang in There!

    Hi!
    I am in the same position this year and I have been teaching for 11 years.By day two I seriously wanted to quit and even asked for a different assignment (there wasn't any). It has been a month (we are on a year round schedule) and I have felt better not taking it too seriously such as the doom and gloom I felt the first two weeks. My Para and I now end our day with some laughter as we discuss the challenges. I also began to do more with them like simple ball toss games and naming favorite things, etc. I separated some of the students who were the loudest and were instigating others to stations (the cardboard 3 folds) and it helped. I added some short 10 minute breaks for outdoor runs, power walks and dance to help them have a break and refocus. I use star post-its and walk around when someone is sitting up and working, remembering to raise their hand, etc and really acknowledge and praise them. Hang in there, my class has improved. It is a different year, but just remember to be good to yourself and model and praise what you want to support. You sound like a wonderful teacher who really cares, let that shine through. Do the referrals for those who may need services under an IEP such as an SDC class. Good luck!
     
  23. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 27, 2013

    A quote from the movie Apollo 13 comes to mind:

    "Chris Kraft: This could be the worst disaster NASA's ever faced. Gene Kranz: With all due respect, sir, I believe this is gonna be our finest hour. "

    No, this won't be the year that breaks you. It may be your most challenging year, the one that you remember forever-- and not always fondly.

    But it will also be the year you grow the most as a teacher. And the year you forge bonds with kids you can't even imagine really liking right now.
     
  24. Roobunny

    Roobunny Comrade

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    Aug 28, 2013

    Thanks all - I'm taking it one day at a time.

    Some days have been better than others. Our lowest friend was pulled by her parents and I am hoping they found something that would be more suitable for her.

    As for my emotionally disturbed friend, each day is a challenge. I had to have him removed from my class on Monday. I felt so incapable when I finally had to break down and call my Dean of Discipline - I never once had to do this last year. I realized, though, that when a student continues to compromise the learning environment for the group as a whole, it's time to take action.

    Although he's a handful I've grown quite fond of him. I root everyday for him to at least stay on "green." He had to clip to yellow today and although he was upset, he handled it better than I've seen him handle a clip down to date. We talked about how he could make a better choice next time and that being on yellow wasn't THAT big of a deal since "everyone makes mistakes."

    During writing workshop we talked about stories we could write and share with others. He raised his hand and when I called on him to share what kind of story he would write, his response was "I'd write about you." My heart melted.

    One day at a time.
     
  25. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Aug 28, 2013

    Awww... so many positives in your update! Thanks for sharing! You are clearly getting into your little guy's heart and that will make all the difference. You are not a failure to call in the "reinforcements". I did that many times last year - you can't let one student compromise the learning for everyone. It's called teamwork and I'm so glad you have your admin to back you - I wouldn't have made it without mine! Keep on going ... you are doing an awesome job!
     
  26. Natural Beauty

    Natural Beauty Rookie

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    Aug 29, 2013

    I am a 2 year teacher and I have a class of 40. I realise that you have children who are exceptional. You need to observe and evaluate these students, so that you can better plan for them and to see if they have any disabilities.
    If you feel so broken, you need to talk to a more experience teacher for tips. Asking for help will go a long way. Try taking one day at a time. Don't think of the problem too much but think of the value you can add to the 'slow' children's life just by the approach you take to reach them. Have parent teacher conferences to get the parents on board in helping you deal with your challenge. You may have to change the sitting arrangement and also have IEP's for these children. Most of all Trust in God to direct you. Familiarize your self if the behaviors these children perform and find ways to manage the behaviors.
     
  27. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Aug 29, 2013

    Roo~so happy to hear of the update! I know that when I was teaching I hated to call in my AP or P for help because I thought they would see it as me not being able to handle my students. But then I realized that that's what they're there for. It sounds like you have already made an impact on your ED student. :)
     

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