Middle of the year blues

Discussion in 'New Teachers' started by willow129, Jan 7, 2014.

  1. willow129

    willow129 Comrade

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    Jan 7, 2014

    OK. Second year teacher -
    So, last year in January I was really miserable. I'm not as miserable this year, but I'm still super bummed about stuff that I don't think I'm getting better at. Maybe it's just the time of year though because this was definitely my low point last year. But today, we had after-school choir rehearsal, only half of my kids showed up because there's an after-school drama club run by parents which is holding auditions for a play....TOMORROW, not today, but a bunch of students decided not to come because of that. We have three more rehearsals till the concert so I was really stressed out by this. (Also, I work at another school at the end of the day and have to run back to my school to teach after school choir, so I can't round kids up/check in/talk to their parents and make sure they come to rehearsal. I have another teacher supervise the kids until I get there, so they tell their excuses to her, so there's not a lot of fighting I can do.) Anyways...I'm definitely feeling like little after school choir is definitely going to be threatened by the drama club, even though the rehearsals are not on the same days. I'm basically expected (unspoken rules) to offer after school choir and I really enjoy it, work to make it appealing, fun, welcoming, so this a downer to feel like kids are going to leave because of the drama club.

    I also still have problems with classroom management - I am forever thinking "I should have done ____ when this student did ____" - figuring out how to make class fun and active but learning at the same time, and accomplishing the music objectives that each grade is supposed to accomplish. (These are district wide and I get evaluated on them.)

    So, yeah, I got home and just like BUST into tears about everything.

    Is it ok that it's my second year and I'm still not great? I know there are always things to improve, but by what time should I start to feel like "OK, I'm satisfied with my teaching, kids are learning, things are going pretty smoothly"? Maybe there is no answer to that question. I just really don't want to be bad at this...sigh
     
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  3. 7thbynni

    7thbynni Rookie

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    Jan 7, 2014

    *hugs*

    As a first year teacher, I probably don't have anything useful to say, but I totally understand your "middle of the year blues." I was about to come here and talk about how miserable, incompetent, and not-cut-out-for-this-job I was feeling just two days after coming back. I had an absolutely HORRIBLE period with the grade 8 students swearing at me and openly mocking me, and having their disrespect get worse and worse as I gave them detentions.

    I only have that class two periods a week, which is a relief because I feel like a punching bag when I have that class, but it's also unfortunate in a way because it gives me less time to come up with something to win them over while at the same time letting them know I'm in charge.

    It's hard enough to do with that my grade 7 homeroom. I am getting more control of them, but they seem sulky and resentful about that. We do have fun together and they do learn a lot with me (they are listening to me during lesson time! YAY!) but the moment I say "no" to them I get called anything from "racist" to "****ing teacher".

    I know a lot of my problem is that I lack conviction in my judgement calls. I know what you mean when you said, "I should have done ____ when this student did ____"! I think ALL the time, and I just wish I could stop double-guessing myself.

    I just want to be sure in my judgement calls once and for all. I hate not knowing what to do and feeling like I made the wrong decision and then having less confidence in myself for the next round of judgement calls.

    I wish I knew what the answer was. I think a lot of it is experience and that with experience, hopefully our ability to come up with making the correct judgement call increases (God, I hope so) and then we gain confidence for the next ones.

    <i>I just really don't want to be bad at this...sigh</i>

    I know. I keep wanting to check with other teachers if it's okay where I am right now, where should I be by now, what if I'm not there? How long did it take them to get "there" and what does it mean if they were there before where I am right now?

    Maybe instead of focusing on "am I great (or there) yet?", try to look at if you're improving. I know that's hard for me, because the improvements don't feel like they matter when I'm not great. I remember one time I was pep-talking myself out of quitting and reminding myself of the improvements I've made (i.e. I can help students during independent work time without that being perceived as "Ms. T is helping another student and not looking at me so I can run wild around the classroom!") and all I could think of was, "I don't care about the improvements, I just want to be fantastic already!"

    I have to remind myself that things have gotten easier. It's not easy or smooth yet, but it has gotten better, and I have it in me to be better still.

    (I still constantly worry about if I'm bad a teacher though.)
     
  4. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Jan 7, 2014

    Wow, what a well-timed post! I am still struggling with two out of my four classes, as well, and also came home feeling thoroughly discouraged after my first day back yesterday. I literally felt like I couldn't possibly make it through the week, let alone the semester! But then today went a lot better, and after talking to another new teacher at the school, I was reminded that I am not the only one having the same thoughts and the same feelings -- and coming to this board and reading these posts just confirmed that even more. I also wonder if everyone struggles with behavior management in the beginning as much as I did and still do, and how long it takes to get better at this, and what is needed to get better...is it just time? Good observations? Reading the right books? Whatever it is, I think the fact that we are still trying, still fighting the good fight, and not giving up, is proof that we absolutely are "good enough" and that we will get better as we grow more confident and more assured with time!

    One funny thing that really help me stay positive... my husband plays the "Rocky" theme (original version) for me sometimes as I go out the door in the morning...if you haven't seen it, watch it! I feel like year one teaching is like Rocky I -- we just need to go the distance! Then year two we go in for the knockout! ... And in year four we defeat communism! just kidding...sort of ;)
     
  5. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Jan 8, 2014

    I think it takes several years to really feel like you know what you are doing. This is my fifth year, and I feel like I have a handle on it, but I set goals every year to improve (this year it is in writing), because I don't think anyone can ever be 100% perfect at what they are doing. As professional teachers, we should always be looking to learn and grow. In my first year of teaching, I felt like a big phony. Year two was better, but I still didn't feel like I was a real teacher. I think by year three I felt comfortable and felt like I was a real teacher, but still didn't feel like I had everything down (I still don't, like I said writing is my goal this year and it's an area where I feel I could improve). There is so much that goes into teaching, and I think you have to set realistic goals for yourself. If classroom management is an issue for you (per your post), then I would work on that first. Classroom management is key to learning and for you to be able to do your job well, so start there and figure out what you can do differently and then implement those changes. Good luck to you! By the way, I also don't think I really, really enjoyed teaching until year three because of what I explained above, so give yourself time to grow into position.
     
  6. willow129

    willow129 Comrade

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    Jan 8, 2014

    Thanks guys. It's good to not be alone. Feeling a little better now ...

    7thbynni - 2 days after coming back from break last year I totally took a personal day because I was such a depressed mess. You are so not alone, and I really started feeling better around February/March...(well that was also when I started getting counseling and exercising every day, ha!) At least like I could get through things and think about what I would do differently next year. The 8th graders at my school were brutal to me last year also. And they're gone now, yay! **hugs!**
     
  7. AdamnJakesMommy

    AdamnJakesMommy Habitué

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    Jan 8, 2014

    I know how you feel! But I think it's the kids who are having a mid-year crisis too. I have to constantly get on them about PAYING ATTENTION. Some of them go off into laa laa land, and I'll catch them reading at their desk (have it hidden inside), or playing with something in their desk. They are driving me absolutely batty. I know I'm not boring, I'm pretty animated, but word problems, setting up an equation and solving for variables isn't exactly thrilling, but come on!

    And since I wasn't trained in math--my training was in middle social studies and I added on middle math, middle science, and elementary (among others--I've got lots of certification), I feel will change my plans in the middle because the way I planned on teaching it isn't resonating with them. I mean, I know it's good to reflect and be flexible but I wish I got it right the first time every time.
     
  8. willow129

    willow129 Comrade

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    Jan 10, 2014

    Yeah a lot of my kids were really tired this week. Sometimes they're cute when they're tired. And then other times it's like pulling teeth to do things in class.

    TGIF guys!! :)
     
  9. 7thbynni

    7thbynni Rookie

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    Jan 10, 2014

    To Willow129: 8th graders can be brutal, can't they? So glad yours are gone now. I can't wait for my mine to be out of my life! Regarding my grade 7 students, I feel almost like I'm back in September with them. At least this time I decided to start off the first day with rules and routines, which they objected to with lots of rude comments, whining, and cursing.

    I hate that I have to give detentions already in the school year. I was hoping I'd get a fresh start of sorts and we could start off on neutral grounds and have a little fun. I brought some treats from another country for them to try out and it was fun to see them try it. We do have fun together but the moment I ask them to do anything related to academics or cleaning up after themselves, the attitude, defiance, and rude comments starts up.

    *sigh* I'm so tired of being treated like the biggest bitch on the planet simply because I ask them to do their work or clean up after themselves. And their behaviour during detention today was atrocious. AUGH.

    Good news is once they "calmed down" (after I gave out detentions), they were pretty good at the routines I came up with. They were sulky and said many not-nice things about me, but they did them.

    AdamnJakesMommy - How you feel about math is how I feel about Language Arts. I can't seem to get anything to resonate with them and I wish I got it right the first time too!

    ms.irene - LOL! playing the Rocky theme is a great idea!

    TamiJ - Thanks so much for your comment! It's encouraging to know that others took a while to get a handle on teaching, and that it's okay if we don't really, really enjoy it now (because I really, really don't right now.) It's good to know that it will get better :)
     
  10. willow129

    willow129 Comrade

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    Jan 11, 2014

    7thbynni that sounds so miserable. I'm sorry :( have you thought about next year at all? I know it's overwhelming to do sometimes but I can't help feeling, reading what you're saying, that there are nicer places to work. Maybe I'm wrong to say so, or maybe that's a can of worms but...

    I'm definitely looking at applying to other school systems in the spring, but I also have a couple other reasons to move besides being kind of frustrated with my school system. There are things that they do alright on but...this whole city is so corrupt it's almost funny. Also I can't wait to live in the country again. It will be so nice :) I'm hoping to find a place for me and my boyfriend to live, because he also wants to move out of the city.

    Meanwhile however...I got my vice principal to come observe me and he helped me come up with a lesson plan for my toughest class. That was on Friday. Lesson plan went ok until I got to the part where they actually had to sing, which immediately led to "I have to go to the bathroom sOOO BADDDD YOU'RE SO MEAN FOR NOT LETTING ME GO." Vice principal had to leave at that point and then I ended up sending a kid to the office cuz he wouldn't stop banging his chair/arguing with me about EVERYTHING. (BANG! BANG! BANG! BANG!) So annoying - plus the concert is looming. Oi. Haven't met with the vice principal yet but the kid who got sent to the office is now going to be escorted to music next Friday and babysat by one of our counselors because he is such a pain. Hopefully they actually remember to do that, maybe it will help him. They tell me things are going to happen sometimes and forget to do them or get distracted by other things - but at least there is some kind of support!

    Also definitely want to schedule some observations of my own so I can watch other teachers. I just have to remember not to let it make me feel worse about myself. Ha. But I think it could be a really good thing.
     
  11. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Groupie

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    Jan 11, 2014

    I just finished this week and thought of myself as having lost all my ability to teach! Then, as I thought about it, everyone had just come back from 2 weeks off! Everyone was tired..... Seems like the kids did not want to do anything and I believe it's just the entire school getting back into the routine! I had one class (advanced 7th grade math) where I completely bumbled my way through the lesson. I was putting stuff on the board that they had written down weeks ago!!! I was also hungry and getting back to the lunch routine so things just felt out of whack! I think things will improve as the kids get back to the monotony! And also keep in mind that the kids (mine are middle schoolers) might not wanna be there! It's going to be a struggle to get to the end of May but we'll get there!
     
  12. Milsey

    Milsey Habitué

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    Jan 11, 2014

    I would just take two days off, regroup, read some books, redo lesson plans, start fresh the following Monday.
     
  13. 7thbynni

    7thbynni Rookie

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    Jan 12, 2014

    That's a really good point, Pi-R-Squared. The entire school is getting back into the routine.

    Everyone kept telling me that it gets better after Christmas, and I thought that meant I would feel refreshed and the students would be more receptive when we got back from break. Instead, I felt exhausted and out-of-the-teaching-loop from my holidays and the students resented having to adhere to routine and schoolwork again. It was discouraging that things were not the "better" that people told me it would be.

    I think you're right and we just need back to the monotony again :)

    OMG, your students remind me of mine a lot, right down to the banging chair and arguing (I had that on Friday.) It drives me up a wall.

    Heh, we should meet up and go out for coffee. I'm good at feeling worse after seeing better teachers in action. I love it when I read Roxanna Elden's "See me after class" where she said that most advice would make us feel worse, not better. I totally get that!

    I know it's hard for me to make it about self-improvement and not how I failed, but I think observations are a wonderful idea! I'm sure you're doing a lot right and observations will give you ideas on how to more things right :)

    As for next year, I do want to give teaching at this school another shot. I know who the grade 6 students are and next year should have less behavioral issues and I'll have a better idea of what I'm doing. I'll see how things go next year.

    Moving out the city sounds like it'll be good for both you and your boyfriend. I hope you find a school in country that you'll enjoy teaching at and I hope the school choir goes well this week.
     
  14. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Jan 12, 2014

    This is year 6 for me and I'm anything but great. Don't beat yourself up over it because you will get better and it gets better for most teachers as the years goes by.

    Also, January until Spring Break is the worst part of the year, period. For students and for us.
     
  15. willow129

    willow129 Comrade

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    Jan 12, 2014

    Thanks guys. I'm so glad this forum is here.

    7thbynni we really do need to go out for a....forget coffee! Let's go to a bar or something ;) But seriously I empathize with a lot of your posts.

    Squirming in my seat to get to talk to my vice principal about the class and everything. I don't like that I wake up and it's the first thing I think about. I just want some peace and quiet on my Sunday for god's sake. The kids aren't thinking about it that's for sure. Gonna go work out in a minute, I think that will help.

    One thing that did actually go better I realized ... before break, they were being SO bad - this 5th grade class. I was having a class where we started by really going in depth on the rules and they were like "But we hate this class!" And one of the boys was like, taking off his sweatshirt, outer layer, but (trying to act innocent but this was on purpose) totally just lifted up all of his shirts so his whole belly and top half was bare. And that of course set off the rest of the kids, so he did it again. I removed him from the group (I have a desk at the back of the room facing the wall that they sit at) but he was just being really rude in general. I know he's capable of this because he was like this last year but this year he had been a lot better so far, he seemed to have matured a lot. So I was disappointed for sure, but I actually met his mom because she came in to ask how he is doing in orchestra because I guess he got some iffy grades. (I'm not the orchestra teacher), but I know that she wants to know about how he's doing. She is a TOUGH cookie though I'm guessing because they're Haitian Creole and those parents tend to be from what I see. The VP cautioned me about calling her, but I did anyways (I told the kid I was going to and he was like "What?! No!") and it was a good convo, she was glad I called, and this last class he was like a little angel. A perfect model of a good student. Wow! That worked. So...I'm going to call today and let her know how good he was.

    Anywhoo...hope you guys had a good weekend. I'm looking forward to the days getting longer up here. And also the jobs to start being posted!! I saw one posted for Vermont, oh! It looks so nice...I told my boyfriend to see if he thought it would be a good area for gigging (he plays violin/fiddle) and it sounds like it could be....
     
  16. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Jan 12, 2014

    I'm sure it's been mentioned, but parents can be your best allies. I've heard this a dozen times, but haven't followed it 100%: your first call should be positive, that way it'll be better when you have to make a negative call.
    This means you gotta call early on in the year before problems start. But I had so many other pressing issues. That this was pushed on the back burner. I will definitely try better this year.

    Another thing that's important and naturally easier to do: don't wait to call home until things get really bad. The parent will say:"why haven't you called until now? Why did you wait 3 weeks? I could've done something" I've heard this, but I also said this as a parent when they called home about my child.
    Even with my tough student, parents do help. You'd think the parents don't care ( especially if the school has a high poverty rate) but that's not true. So far I only had 2 or 3 parents that didn't care or didn't know what to themselves.
    When I call home, I always see a difference in the student afterwards.
     
  17. willow129

    willow129 Comrade

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    Jan 12, 2014

    for me, I have 500 students, so calling home preemptively...I don't know. Honestly I feel myself as a continuation of the classroom teacher's work on that front. I don't know if that's bad, but generally if I'm calling home, the classroom teacher has already been in touch with the parent, and I feel...yeah, again, like a continuation of that conversation. Generally the problems/good things I'm seeing aren't totally different from what may be happening in the classroom. I think I'm the only specialist teachers who calls home. I don't know what that says about me...maybe it means my classroom management skills aren't very good so I'm the only specialist having problems. :( :( :( :(

    And, I have to be honest, I don't *always* see an improvement. There's one boy in 3rd grade, I feel like giving up. I have been in touch with his mom, we've met, we've emailed, the kid fills out a little chart on how he did on specific things (follow directions/having a positive attitude) every time I see him, theoretically these are supposed to go home and be looked at. When I email the mom about how things are going I realize I just get back excuses. Like one time, he had a bad day, and she emailed back how his aunt had blown up at him the evening before and told him she didn't want to see him again, and such and such, I was like "whoa that's awful, I'm so sorry!!! Of course he was upset!" And then I hear from the classroom teacher, well the kid stole $300 out of her purse, that's why the aunt was mad. Nowhere was that mentioned in mom's email to me. She blamed it all on the aunt. It's like...ok mom. Might be time to take some action here.

    And then she tells me about her younger son who has been expelled from preschool. Oi. She TELLS me I shouldn't be excited about meeting him.

    I don't know what to do about that anymore because her son still disrupts my class and it's frustrating, distracting to me and the other students. He seems so anxious too, lots of nervous energy. It's hard because I do feel he is a good kid ultimately but...man.

    BUT then there's a kindergarten girl who I met with the parents about and she's been doing better, and other stories like that. So, ultimately it doesn't hurt and can even help. And DEFINITELY better done sooner than later, for SURE. I got pretty well lectured about that last year. My conviction to call as soon as possible is definitely pretty strong now. With my 5th grader I think it helped that I met this kid's mom - though it wasn't of my own doing - before that particular problem class.
     
  18. 7thbynni

    7thbynni Rookie

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    Jan 15, 2014

    That's good to know. I heard October and November were the worst period, and sure enough, my October and November were a slough to get through (though things got better by the end of November), but January has been absolutely AWFUL so far. I thought there was something wrong with me because I thought January was supposed to be better.

    I woke up feeling terrible and I'm not sure how I'm going through the day, let alone up until the break. Anyways, off to work. Here's hoping the week gets better.
     
  19. Pi-R-Squared

    Pi-R-Squared Groupie

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    Jan 15, 2014


    I woke up in a near panic thinking I wasn't prepared for today! Then, I got into the classroom and saw my notes that I will be presenting today and I feel better. I really believe my nerves come from not being prepared. If what I was teaching today wasn't looked over, I'd be in deep doodie!! But having my notes does make me feel better... Also, I think it still has to do with our long extended winter break.... The kids are likely still trying to wake up early. I had to "practice" waking up early just to get back to routine. You think your kids would do the same? One of my students said she went to bed at 3AM on the day of school! No wonder they look so tired!!! Kids these days just don't get sleep and it shows up in school...
     
  20. willow129

    willow129 Comrade

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    Jan 17, 2014

    Yes Pi I agree totally, I've had kids say similar things. My 5th graders stay up late face-timing each other apparently. **slaps forehead**

    Had a lot of work to do this week. Felt discouraged about this one kid and how, really, he is pretty musical, but is just so negative and horrible in my class, and his 5th grade teacher is teaching him guitar and I feel like I should be offering him more musically but...well. It's not like I teach him one on one when I see him in music class and he has the WORST attitude in general in groups unfortunately.

    But you know, I just realized, I had my terrible 5th grade class today (he is in this class and helps make it horrible) and it actually wasn't so bad. There was some improvement on things I think. They were actually pretty excited about playing instruments...
     
  21. 7thbynni

    7thbynni Rookie

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    Jan 17, 2014

    LOL. It's not just the students not getting enough sleep. Pi-R-Squared, I commend you for practicing getting up early! It was a lot harder to get back into the habit of waking up early and working late than I thought it would be. I also made a huge timing mistake on Tuesday that unravelled the day and made me not want to go back to work on Wednesday morning.

    Luckily, things were better after that. The students are starting to get the routines I'm trying to set up. Bellwork is WONDERFUL and they like the pencil procedure I found on teachers pay teachers that has eliminated sharpening pencils, and I'm learning to grow a thicker skin to their insults and rudeness.

    Willow, I'm so glad your 5th grade class didn't go so bad today! That's so cool they were excited to play the instruments :) And I totally second meeting up for alcohol one day lol. Like Roxanna Elden said, teachers don't need chicken soup for the soul, they need hard liquor XD
     
  22. willow129

    willow129 Comrade

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    Jan 18, 2014

    Yeah....they were still calling out and stuff but at least this time it was more out of excitement. My vice principal was like ok! We can work with that :)

    Ok....3 day weekend here
     
  23. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Mar 3, 2014

    I just wanted to check in and see how everyone is doing...are your mid-year blues going away, the same, or (hopefully not) worse? I am feeling somewhat better as spring break approaches and the end is in sight, but it doesn't always help combat my feelings of inadequacy and frustration with myself. I just keep on trying to keep my head up and stay focused on the positives...
     
  24. 7thbynni

    7thbynni Rookie

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    Mar 7, 2014

    It's so nice of you to check in ms.irene! I know what you mean about the end is in sight and that's helping me, but it also annoys me because my feelings aren't, "yay, I'm getting better and enjoying this" but rather, "yay, I can see this finally ending." I'm so severely burnt out that I can't make this about the students like I want it to be. Right now I only have enough energy to make this about me surviving to the end of the year. I'm not even excited about the March break. I'm just exhausted and anxious about preparing for the rest of the year.

    Hopefully the break will help revive me. I hope it does the same for you.
     
  25. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Mar 7, 2014

    Hugs, bynni! That was me at the end of my (first) first year teaching, too. Hang in there...rest, relax, give yourself a real work-free break, and do something nice for yourself!
     

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