My worst fear has come true - I'm first year, and drowning FAST

Discussion in 'New Teachers' started by Pisces_Fish, Sep 28, 2008.

  1. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    Sep 28, 2008

    This will be long.

    I'm miserable, and so is every single person I've talked to at my school. Even the vets agree this year is "different" - more demanding, more stress, more hoops to jump through, and more...well, junk!

    This last week was terrible. We had Open house, 3 staff meetings (2 on the same day!), picture day, a work day (with zero time given to us to work in our rooms), and a few conferences dappled in. I'm now entering my fifth week, and I have left before 7 pm only four times. I still get to school around 6 or 6:30 am, a schedule I've maintained since week two.

    My team almost never has planning. There's always someone who needs to meet with us or myself. Meetings about ESL, meetings about testing accommodations, meetings about how to hold a conference, meetings about meetings. It's sick. I have had ONE planning period in two weeks. North Carolina has no unions.

    I'm so close to breaking. I really am. I haven't cried yet, but just typing this out is making me tear up. Maybe that's what I need. I moved far from home back in Feb for this job, and for the first time since, I really miss my mom. :hugs:

    I am so overworked and overtired. I will not quit, the thought never even crosses my mind. I think it's my school, not teaching. Other teachers on my team told me this is not "normal." One of my teammates is in her 25th year (the first at our school) and she said she's never been this stressed. My other teammate is in her 4th year (also first at my school), and she said this is 10 times worse than her first year. Both of them tel me they can only imagine being first year at my school.

    To make matters worse, the teacher I teach with (we're departmentalized and both Lang Arts) is thinking of leaving. There's an opening at her old school and she is calling about it Monday. I'm scared she's going to leave, but I can't blame her.

    I feel like I'm constantly being watched and told what to do. I ike my P and AP, but they are both control freaks to the -nth degree. They tell us how to do everything, and we are constantly being watched.

    I have progress reports due Tuesday, and I wasn't taught how to use Integrade until Friday afternoon, so I can't input grades until Monday after school...but I have 3 more conferences. It's going to be another long week.

    I have 6 centers to plan for this week, and I only have Monday sketched out for this week. I have papers to grade, and conferences to plan out. Last week I started to have a nagging, mild nausea at all times. I wake up with headaches.

    I'm also struggling with management, especially since I have 42 kids. I feel like I don't really "know" them, or what makes them tick. It's all a blur. The 5th grade spends an incredible time switching classes and transitioning. Our schedule is terrible, but my P doesn't want to change it.

    I'm also sad because my P has not asked me how things are going, not once. Am I being too sensitive? I'm first year, it would be nice to hear a "It's always hard at first, are things going alright?"

    On the bright side, I have a great mentor and a fabulous team. We stick together like glue, and I know I can vent to them in confidence. We're all miserable, but trying to be positive. That's why it hurts so much when my partner wants to leave :( I work with some great teachers, and there are 2 first-year teachers up the hall that are struggling right alongside me. We went out for a bit to eat recently, and it's wonderful to have people close by that "get it."

    I could type for pages and pages....half of what's bothering me I didn't even mention. Thanks for listening, I really needed to get some stuff out.

    I'm gonna go call my mom <3
     
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  3. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 28, 2008

    I'm having one of those days too, so join me in a good cry. It's cathartic.

    When you're done, get on the phone with some members of your team. Invite them over next Saturday for a brunch/work session. It seems that spending 2 hours working together would make for a much easier week for all of you; it may be worth biting the bullet and just doing it outside of school hours if that's all that's available.

    But I do wonder why there's such a need for ALL those meetings. Could one of the veterans shed some light or, better yet, talk to the administration?

    As to the management: I've always taught large classes, so I can sympathize. Can you be a bit more specific as to the actual issues, so people can help? I can't help thinking that you can use Language Arts as a springboard to better know the kids, either through their journal writing or through speeches or something.

    So let's have a pity party for a while longer, then see what we can do to make things better, OK??
     
  4. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    Oh Alice, that's another thing....

    I met with my partner yesterday for about 5 hours. We didn't even finish the week.

    We meet every Sat, too, it's insane. I think that's why she wants to leave! She told me she didn't work that many hours on a weekend even in her first year.

    As for all the meetings, I can't figure out if it's my school or my district that's the problem. I hear our Superintendent is putting tremendous pressure on the P's this year. However, my P is a perfectionist, so I think she feels like all the meetings are going to somehow make us superteachers, making her look good. She's not a bad person, I do like her....but I don't think she has any idea how frazzled she's making us.
     
  5. ZoomZoomZOOM

    ZoomZoomZOOM Devotee

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    Aww PF... jeesh man... I'm sorry you're going through all this crap. One thing that I think is awesome is that you have co-workers and a mentor who you can talk to. At least you're not alone in this situation! I can't believe all the meetings they make you go to and that you don't get to leave until 7PM. That's WAY too much working. I really hope that things die down soon for you.

    I was really glad to hear that you're going to stick it out. At least if you stick out the year, you'll have that under your belt and can put the experience on your resume and possible find a new school. And after this, anything would be nice, right?

    Unlike yourself, I'm not doing constant meetings and my P and AP aren't micro-managers. So in that respect, I've got it made my first year. However, I don't have the closeness with the staff that you have, nor do I have a cool mentor to talk to. In fact, the last email I sent my mentor (which was meant to be a private question) she forwarded to the entire staff. So now I don't even feel like I can email her questions anymore. Not trying to change the subject away from you - just wanted you to know that our situations are reversed and I'm bummin' lately too. *hug*
     
  6. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 28, 2008

    Let me preface with a disclaimer. This is year #23 for me, and the youngest kids I've taught were in 7th grade. So I have no idea what it's like to teach 5th grade language arts, particularly as a first year teacher

    But Five hours of planning? Forgive me for sounding naive-- why does it take that long?

    Does everyone have a copy of the syllabus? If you're meeting each week, I don't understand what you could have to talk about that would demand that much time.

    Could you possibly get by on a bit less? Is there another 5th grade language arts teacher here or at your school who could share last year's plan book with you?
     
  7. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Zoom, the same goes to you: take advantage of the help that's here. Tell us what you're having trouble with, so that you don't have to ask questions of an uncooperative mentor. (Did she ever tell you WHY she turned your question into a mass e-mail???)
     
  8. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    I know, 5 hours is a lot, isn't it? :)

    It's taking us so long because it's the blind leading the blind. We have three strikes against us: we're the only two 5th grade LA teachers, we have no training in Lit 1st, and it's our first year at the school. I don't know how much you're familiar with Lit 1st, but it's very regimented, and (at least at my school) has no resources to grab from. We do have a basal, but my P doesn't like us to use it much. We do everything from scratch.

    And since my P likes to micro-manage, we feel tremendous pressure to do it right the first time. More than once we've been told, "Oh that's not how to do it, do it this way..." UGH!

    We have people coming into our room a lot to "check in." They leave us notes telling us what we should change, or what aspects are missing from our lessons. Like I said, Lit 1st is very regimented!
     
  9. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sorry if I repeat something you've already come up with:

    1) Start a thread here asking about Lit 1st. SOMEONE else must use it and must have some resources you can use.

    2) Do they have a website? I bet there are supplementary materials there-- even just a timeline would probably help.

    Do you guys have Columbus Day off? (I just realized recently that not everyone does.) Why not plan a marathon plan-the-whole year session and just get it DONE.

    And it seems that someone (though not a first year teacher) needs to let this principal know that he's in danger of losing a lot of dedicated people if things don't change.
     
  10. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    Sep 28, 2008

    Thanks Alice :love:
     
  11. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I don't have any advise that hasn't already been said, so I'll just say :hugs: and hope that things start getting better soon.
     
  12. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Sep 28, 2008

    Pisces,
    What you wrote almost could have been me a year ago. Almost exactly.
    Last year was the P's first at my school and EVERYONE said they were overwhelmed- even 25 year vets! They always kept telling us 3 1st year teachers they had no idea how we were doing it- we all had extra meetings to attend being 1st year teachers (and I somehow had the most since I was 5th grade :mad: ).

    Have you expressed your concerns to your P? That would be step 1. Go in there and shut the door and let it all go.
    I know you said your P doesn't like using the basal, but I'd use it anyway for right now. As the year goes on, pull it back more and more. If the P says something, tell them you are trying and you will not use it as much in the future, but for right now, there are not enough hours in the day.

    I also recommend taking a mental health day and not doing a single thing related to your job that day. It is a pain to have a sub, but if you plan ahead for one, it is easier.
     
  13. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    Giraffe, I have wanted to talk to my P, but I worry she's going to watch me even harder if I vent or express my concerns. For now I'd rather suck it up.
     
  14. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    Wow, I'm posting a lot today when I should be working LOL

    How do I "do" a mental heath day? A few vets (and my mentor!) have quietly reminded me to take one as needed. :) Do I call in sick? I don't want to use my 1 personal day as my mental day, you know?

    *sigh* Thanks for the help, guys (girls!)

    Zoom, hang in there! You had such a rough start to the year with that 1st crappy school. You've come too far to fall now!!
     
  15. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    I disagree. She needs to know you are having issues. I broke down in mid-October (it was the 10th- I know this because I had tickets to the dirt race @ Lowe's that night). My P and mentor were both very relieved. They knew everything was not right and did not want to cause me more stress by bringing it up. After my issues, I was excused from my new-teacher meeting after school by my P and was sent home.
     
  16. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    As for a mental health day, call in sick (sick day- not personal day). Arrange for a sub in advance. If your mentor thinks your P will not approve, tell your P you have a doctor's appointment. My P will let us take a mental health day if we ask.
     
  17. wunderwhy

    wunderwhy Comrade

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    Sep 29, 2008

    You do need to tell someone who can help you, perhaps your mentor. You could even do everyone a favor by being the one they can point to -- "Look how stressed out the new teachers are! We have to help them!" -- so that they don't sound as whiny. It's better to suggest to the P that they're trying to think of a way to help new teachers than to say, hey P, you're crazy!

    I'm sure you do feel physical stress, so it's not a lie to take a sick day.
     
  18. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Sep 30, 2008

    I feel bad--- though I feel exactly like you PF. I know I have it alot better than most of the new teachers here, but I also know that I get away with alot because I'm in a private school where we can tell the kids' parents "don't bother bringing Johnny to school" should it get really bad.

    The workload has been kicking my butt, on top of meetings that make no sense to me to have, and they were super nice and decided to schedule new faculty with an extra set of meetings JUST for us. :D *twitch twitch*

    I have close to no down time to just rest--- if I'm resting, I feel guilty: I should be doing lesson planning or thinking of ways to help my students, finding cool assignments for them to do, and updating their Moodle page. But my body is telling me its exhausted and I just don't know how I can rest when my mind won't shut up.

    I spoke to one teacher at a different site and she told me I should leave me work at home and come home and rest. Idk how I would ever do that! I have to spend at least 4 extra hours at home, after leaving later than most teachers, to make sure I'm on top of things.

    I know I know I know that the first year is not suppose to be easy, but I feel like I'm in a wave pool and the moment I get my head above the water, here comes another wave of work to pull me back down. It sucks, I'm sad, though I honestly do adore the people and students I work with--- I try my very best to seem cheerful and smile at least for the kids. I just hate how my lessons and workload are going.

    Okay rant over, time to get out of bed, and get back to work (we have a holiday today so at least I got to sleep in).
     
  19. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    People at my school keep telling me that as a new teacher (not even a new teacher to the school but to teaching in general) all this school will expect me to do this year is keep going, do the best that I can, and get through it. I would like to believe them and they do honestly seem truthful, but at the same time I can't take that attitude about myself: while shy, I can become a natural born leader and want to kick butt at everything that I do.

    I'm also a rather personal person--- I don't like sharing everything that is going on in my life with my co-workers. There are about 3 teachers: 2 not new teachers and 1 fellow new teacher, at my school who I feel comfortable sharing my life with and that's it. This school that I'm at is very demanding and I DO NOT under any circumstances want to give them ONE reason (big or small) to not want to give me a contract next year.

    So even though I'm depressed, exhausted, and over worked, I still won't tell people exactly how I'm feeling and I just hope to God that I don't have a break down in school.

    I already had to ask for one day off due to a death in my boyfriend's family that hit me hard: it was his grandpa who I loved dearly and he died within 3 weeks of finding out he had cancer. To say the least, when I found out he had died during homeroom, I was in shock and cried alone in my room when I didn't have kids. My mentor randomly came by to check on a meeting and I probably looked horrible and in shock when I asked her "I just had a death in the family--- I don't want to come to school tomorrow... what do I do?" She walked me through the steps and that was really sweet of her. But looking back, I feel insecure about doing that again.

    All I know is this: some people can be very caring, others can be very inconsiderate. And with positions being very hard to get, no matter what you teach, I don't want to risk losing this one. And I'm sure alot of other new teachers feel exactly the same way.
     
  20. BB0211

    BB0211 Companion

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    Isn't it sad that you can't trust people to do the right thing with information? Or am I just naive?
     
  21. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    What kind of information are you referring to, BB?
     
  22. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Trust me, I also feel like I'm drowning on a regular basis. I'm amazed I've only once crawled into bed after school for a good cry and some junk food, but I've come close a lot more often. Thank God I have an understanding mentor who keeps reminding me to go with the flow rather than getting pulled under. Do you have someone like that at your school?
     
  23. Lindsnh

    Lindsnh Companion

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    I know how you feel. I am a first year in 2nd and I am soo overwhelmed! I dont even get to plan with my team b/c there time is different from mine. We have evaluations every week now b/c our P so super slack last year and almost his job so he is laying in on this year. He is a former P at an alternative school so he expects my kids to be like soldiers and sit in their desks with no sounds ect... I have 8 with ADHD so its not happening. I had a bad week I posted about it earlier. I live in South Carolina and its sounds like our states runs about the same.:hugs: to you! I need one too!
     
  24. crayoncaper

    crayoncaper Rookie

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    This week has been so hard. I have no air because they came to fix it, and my kids are so easily distracted. They are in there hammering during class! We go outside, but the bugs distract them. There is so much paperwork. I also feel like I am drowning. I pray. ALOT ALOT. Haha. I have alot of kids in my class that are ADHD, too, and I have them at the END of the day for class. So they are WIRED. It is so so hard.
     
  25. crayoncaper

    crayoncaper Rookie

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    We all need to get together! Haha.
     
  26. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    My team gets together to vent and scream...it helps!! :)
     
  27. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Are you doing better this week, Pisces Fish?
     
  28. frogger

    frogger Devotee

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    Sounds like that this school is under year 4 or 5 of sanctions for not making ayp - people "checking" in all the time, the Superintendent pressuring all the P's, micromanagement to the nth degree, the stress and pressure felt from ALL teachers.
     

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