New teacher needs advice

Discussion in 'Early Childhood Education Archives' started by libbster, May 1, 2005.

  1. libbster

    libbster Rookie

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    May 1, 2005

    Hi there
    I'm a relatively new teacher, teaching year 1/2 in Australia (5 and 6 yr olds). Before this I have taught in London and done supply (substitute) work in London and Australia. This is my first 'proper' full time job.
    I'm teaching in a brand new school (literally brand new, we only just got rid of builders and into our own classrooms). For the first couple of weeks we couldn't even go onto the school site, so had 120 kids in this campsite! Challenging yes. But despite that we have a fantastic supportive staff and a great school. I love my kids.
    Despite all that, I feel like I shouldn't be there. My planning and paperwork is a mess and I don't feel inspired anymore. I look around and see everyone doing a better job than me, even the other beginning teacher who has less experience than me. I just find myself never getting anything done, not managing my time well at all. It's got to the point where I get home and just cry because I don't know what to do. I feel like I should feel lucky, because I really don't have any problem kids or problem staff and I spent so long sending applications in. (It's very hard to get a teaching job in Oz!) After all that, I still feel like I shouldn't be there.
    Has anyone else been through the same problems and survived!?
     
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  3. Sarah Leigh Ann

    Sarah Leigh Ann Companion

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    May 1, 2005

    I think you are feeling overwhelmed as a new classroom teacher. It would be overwhelming to teach in a campsite and then move into a classroom- with I'm sure very short notice to set up. I'm very lucky to have a grade level team to plan with which has made my first two years of planning a breeze. You may want to consult other teachers in your same teaching grade level and see if they can show you what they are doing in their plan/grade books. You may get some more excitement about teaching/working with your students if you have someone in your school to share and plan ideas with. This site has tons of engaging ideas for your students and you.
     
  4. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    May 1, 2005

    I agree with Sarah and would add that it sounds like you are exhausted. Are you getting plenty of rest? Do you have family concerns that require a lot from you emotionally (above the normal)? Do you have other interests that allow you to get a break from teaching? If all these questions don't point to exhaustion, then do you have a history of depression or does anyone in your family suffer from it? Would you be willing to look into that possibility? It is not as rare as some might think. It sounds like you are doing a great job with a first classroom. Maybe you are being too hard on yourself. Teachers don't feel inspired all the time. For a while, perhaps you can focus on just getting the job done and enjoying your students. Let us know how you are doing.
     
  5. tracieteaches

    tracieteaches Companion

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    May 1, 2005

    This may sound stupid or trite, but do drink plenty of water and take vitamins. I worked for 5 years at an alternative school and was always exhausted if I didn't follow this regiment. We constantly had students coming and going. I never had an accurate class roll from week to week, or sometimes day to day. Changes, negative or positive are stressors and do make you feel exhausted and/or depressed. And, I agree with Upsadaisy, it is worth checking into the depression angle. There are lots of people who have this disorder and with proper med. you will feel inspired again if this is the problem.
     
  6. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    May 1, 2005

    Do you have mentor teachers in Australia? Mine was a godsend my first year. Give yourself a break - it sounds like you have moved a lot (England to Australia), as well as had a lot of changes in your teaching requirements. I don't know what grade you teach, but perhaps you could find a pre-planned unit of study on some topic in your curriculum you still need to cover, and use that for a few weeks to reduce some of the stress of planning - don't invent the wheel every day! Not every single paper needs to be graded. Good luck.
     
  7. kimbee

    kimbee Rookie

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    May 1, 2005

    Hang in there

    Libbster,

    You are telling my story! I am a first year teacher in Texas. I teach third grade and it has been a nightmare!

    We moved into a brand new school too and I don't believe anyone was prepared for the huge changes that came with the school. Triple the size of the old school, this school has brought challenges I don't think anyone counted on!

    I have been through a year I don't ever want to repeat. No guidance, very little support (thankfully I do get support from other teachers in other grades) no Teacher's Editions, textbooks, you name it. I too cried many, many nights and cringed at the thought of going back the next day. I struggled with my feelings because teaching was my dream and getting there was a long and tough road. Since I am 48 and just entering the teaching field, I had difficulty getting a position as well.

    So, you can imagine how I felt when I found myself hating my job and never wanting to go back! I simply could not deal with the lack of support and incredible stress.

    What did I do to resolve the situation? For one thing, I changed grade levels. I will teach 1st grade next year and I am very excited. (no state mandated tests in this grade) I have discovered that I do not thrive under extreme stress nor do I want to. And that's okay--we're all different.

    I hope you hear what I am saying--Many first year teachers feel exactly as you do. Teachers are constantly telling me that each year gets better if you can make it through the first one! I believe that is true.

    I also agree with what other posters said: Don't reinvent the wheel. You don't have the energy or stamina to do that right now. Borrow as much as you can from seasoned teachers. Use their ideas and plans. There will be plenty of time for you to reinvent wheels when you have more experience under your belt.

    I too struggle with time management and classroom management. I think this comes with time and feedback from experienced teachers.

    Most of all--take care of yourself. If you don't take care of you--you can't take care of your students.

    Hang in there!
     
  8. tracieteaches

    tracieteaches Companion

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    May 1, 2005

    :love: BEST ADVICE EVER! BEST ADVICE EVER! Take the last post to heart -- it will save your sanity--EVERY PAPER DOES NOT HAVE TO BE GRADED, AND USE READY-MADE LESSONS WHEN YOU ARE IN A BIND OR JUST WORN OUT!
     
    Last edited: May 1, 2005
  9. kimbee

    kimbee Rookie

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    To every new teacher: Read the line "Every paper does not have to be graded" over and over again! I'm so glad you said that Tracie! I almost drove myself insane trying to keep up with my mentor (25 year teacher) who grades EVERYTHING! Don't do that new teachers! Record the minimum number of grades your principal or district requires and rest easy!
     
  10. tracieteaches

    tracieteaches Companion

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    Thank you, kimbee, but I didn't say it first, I am just reiterating what Missy said before me. It is so true!
     
  11. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    I am very lucky to have a principal who encourages all of us to take care of ourselves - even suggesting we find ways to take it easy and reduce stress at school! She is wonderful that way. And, now, after a number of years, I am very aware when I am reaching my limit and don't feel guilty at all about modifying things to make school more manageable.
     
  12. Maddi

    Maddi Rookie

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    May 1, 2005

    Dear Libbster,
    I know what you are feeling. Although I have not moved to a new school, this is my first year of teaching. I can not tell you how many times I have come home and thought about what I didn't do or how I could be doing things differently and better. One thing I started doing half way during the year was to take notes on ideas and afterthoughts I had after I taught units. This way next year, I can add or change ideas that I thought could have been changed this year. Often I would come up with great ideas after the lessons had been taught. I was getting really hard on myself for a while, but then I realized that good teachers reflect on their teaching and that is how they become better. I learned this by listening in the break room to teachers that have been teaching for years reflect on their own teaching. I guess teachers grow with their students sometimes.
     
  13. jayparkeriv

    jayparkeriv New Member

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    May 3, 2005

    The end is near!

    As a fellow first year teacher, I feel your pain. I too many times have felt completely exhausted, and overwhelmed. I have had my share of "issues" this year with discipline, time management, assessment, etc. I realized about one month ago that I could not do it all, especially in my first year. Veteran teachers kept telling me not to expect perfection, or even prowess in the first year. Survival is the goal, anything more is a bonus!! With that advice, and less than two months left 'till summer break, I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I realized that I cannot fix eveything or every child. Some papers do not get graded, and some lessons flop, badly! But at the end of the day I get to go home to a loving family, and a wonderful home, and that is what keeps me going. (that and 20 wonderful students who are just now starting to understand the rules and routines). HANG IN THERE!!!!! :) NEXT YEAR WILL BE BETTER!!
     
  14. kimbee

    kimbee Rookie

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    I believe its the sheer exhaustion and feelings of being overwhelmed that really get to me. I truly do not believe I have ever been this tired (mentally and physically) in my entire life!
    We're out for the summer in 17 days and we're all counting! I plan on doing some heavy duty resting over the summer as well as learning new tricks and ideas concerning those problem areas of time and classroom management.
    I'm glad you've realized you can only do so much Jay, and I'm hoping Libbster will do the same.
    We're all our biggest critics, aren't we?

    You hang in as well.
     
  15. libbster

    libbster Rookie

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    May 4, 2005

    Thanks everyone for the advice and encouragement!
    I guess I'm probably not doing that bad. It's mostly dealing with the paperwork...ah don't we all love paperwork. Not quite summer yet for us here 'downunder', still quite a while to go (come on December!), but I'm sure I'll survive. Peppermint tea, vitamins and of course CHOCOLATE :) (or mabye just the chocolate : So much stress, paperwork, red tape, curriculum oragnisers, jargon ahhhh.
    BUT at the end of it all I had to smile. I came back to school after a day away at a course. My 'bright lively spark', (we shall call him nicely, but I am sure there are many other ways we could describe this kid) rushes up to me.. "miss miss..where were you on the other day, you weren't here. We missed you, you know!"
    It's times like that you can only smile and think..well despite all the things that get you down, it's really not so bad.
     
  16. tracieteaches

    tracieteaches Companion

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    May 4, 2005

    I remember one day, it was my 3rd year to teach, I was going at it full blast. I had planned what I thought was an awesome lesson with visual aids, lots of hands-on activities, etc. and at the end of the introduction I asked for questions. One girl was particularly enthusiastic this class period like "Horseshack" from "Welcome Back Kotter" (have you seen that in Australia?) Anyway, I was excited that she seemed so turned on for a change. Her question was, Mrs. M., Where did you get your shoes?" :love:
     
  17. kimbee

    kimbee Rookie

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    May 4, 2005

    I do remember Horseshack! In fact, when my kids began going overboard with their "Ooh, Ooh, Ooh" (wanting me to call on them) I started saying "Stop Horshacking! I'll call on someone who has their hand up and is waiting quietly." Well, once I explained to them who "Horseshack" was, NOW if anyone starts doing the "Ooh, Ooh" thing, all of them say in unison "Quit Horshacking or she won't call on you!" LOL
    I also know what you mean Libbster about having one of those "moments" when you realize maybe it is all worth it. I have a little boy that is quite the "challenge." So much so that an alternative placement has been discussed. Recently, after a meeting with mom, principal, etc. this boy promised to try his best to watch his behavior. About a week later, he came up to me, hugged me tight and said "I am doing better, aren't I? I've really been trying hard!" I hugged him back and assured him he was doing so much better. Now THESE moments are the ones that keep me going!
     

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