New Teacher - This feels impossible right now - Help?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Ad Astra, Sep 2, 2013.

  1. Ad Astra

    Ad Astra Rookie

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    Sep 2, 2013

    Good afternoon, teachers! I hope you're enjoying your Labor Day. I know I needed the break!

    This is my first year teaching elementary with my own class. My previous experience was as an itinerant. This is very different! So I'm very much just like a brand new first year teacher. Please forgive me, but this is going to be long... I so appreciate anyone who takes the time to read through this and help me problem-solve.

    I have an issue I'd love some help with and then I have some other problems I'm attempting to tackle and would love some opinions or advice.

    I'm a 3rd grade teacher and I teach three rotations of ELA, which includes writing. I have my homeroom and then rotate with two other HR teachers on my team: one teaches Math and Social Studies and the other teaches Science.

    I believe that legally I am supposed to have 90-120 minutes with each class, but right now, I have my own HR for almost 2 hours (glorious!) and another HR for 70 minutes. The last HR I only see for 60 minutes.

    I have been trying to tackle running records (we use F&P) for the last 3 weeks and have only had time to benchmark about 5 of my 28 students. I am trying to get this done ASAP so I know at which levels my kiddos are reading, but between rules/procedures and learning routines, to endless transitions to other HRs, specials, lunch, recess, bathroom breaks and water breaks, etc., I'm just not making the progress I want to with ANYTHING: neither F&P nor my unit plans!

    I've spoken with other teachers on my grade level and we're all facing shortages of time. I'm trying to be optimistic, but I feel like I'm just not granted the time I DESPERATELY need in a block to get ANYWHERE.

    Regarding this shortage of time, what would you do? Hope for the best? I'm being optimistic at school and freaking out to you all. :eek:

    Here are my other complications (new teacher-related) that I'd love some help with!

    Right now, my lessons are usually 10-20 minutes of whole-group and guided practice, followed by a short period of independent practice. We do partner re-reads, but I just don't feel like we have the class time to get into the sort of things I REALLY want to do: Daily Five, for example. I would LOVE to start Daily Five, but I know there is a ton of practice on the front-end, and with such short class periods to get reading, writing, HANDWRITING/CURSIVE, and grammar in, this feels impossible. :dizzy:

    *I have yet to make reading groups (without F&P, I don't even know how I would do this)

    *I have yet to meet in small groups

    Again, I have 28 students in each class. Any suggestions for how to:

    -maximize my super short 60-70 minute period for each of my non-HR classes
    -get my running records done so I know the levels at which my students are reading
    -get some sort of reading groups together and start meeting with small groups
    -find time to do all of the above and dive into literacy centers or Daily Five
    -keep things like homework check from eating up half of my class period (right now, students have reading and spelling homework nightly and I check their agendas daily; I try to do this during their independent practice time, but sometimes it doesn't work out)

    I'm a total overachiever and right now, all I think about is what I am NOT doing well or have yet to do at all. This is not how I want my literacy program to look. We've been working solely from our basal and I NEVER thought that would be me. I want to dive into novels and have my students reading and reading and reading all week, rather than reading short snippets of ONE story from our basal. I just feel like I'm trying to keep my head above water and using the basal as a guide to address standards feels easiest for me at the moment. But I want to move away from this in the next couple of weeks.

    :help::help::help::help::dizzy::dizzy::sorry:
     
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  3. HorseLover

    HorseLover Comrade

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    Sep 2, 2013

    I'm a new teacher as well so really don't have much advice, but wanted to ask do the other teachers get similar time limits? Is there any possibility the scheduling could be re-looked at?
     
  4. Ad Astra

    Ad Astra Rookie

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    Sep 2, 2013

    At this point, with three rotations, there is no way around the time limits. :-( Right now, they're lucky if they get 15 minutes of recess, which is their allotted time.
     
  5. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Sep 2, 2013

    I would think that all students would have equal reading/writing times. I would definitely make sure that this difference is okay from the administration.

    Most teachers that I know do not start small group reading instruction for the first few weeks. It's usually about 6 weeks of building routines.

    I would see if the second grade teachers have running record/reading level data for your students. You'd be surprised to find that this data might exist somewhere.

    I would speak with your team about checking agendas. Can this be done during another time?

    I usually check homework at the start of a period. Students have some kind of work to do right away and need to have homework out on their desk. I walk around and check homework. Maybe they could fill out their planner here?
     
  6. Ad Astra

    Ad Astra Rookie

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    Sep 2, 2013

    Great ideas! Administration is aware of the difference in ELA time between my HR and the other two HRs. The impression I get is that it's not ideal but it's just going to have to work. 60 minutes FLIES by in ELA. :( I find myself splitting a lesson plan that SHOULD take me one period between two days. It sucks!
     
  7. janlee

    janlee Devotee

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    Sep 2, 2013

    If the time periods are 2 hours, 70 minutes, and 60 minutes for the ELA blocks is this occurring for the other two teachers on your team? I would certainly be concerned especially with the ELAblocks and math. Those receiving 2 hours of math will certainly be way ahead of the other two classes especially if there are state tests in math and ELA.
     
  8. COMrs.S

    COMrs.S Rookie

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    Sep 2, 2013

    Have you and your team thought about not departmentalizing? I would love to just teach math and science all day. I'm sure there are teachers who would rather teach an ELA block, but it's truly a disservice to the other classes to receive such a short amount time in comparison to your homeroom.

    Maybe you could keep your own kids all day, and each one of you takes on planning for those areas that you are "experts" in. Then you could share your plans with each other. HTH :)
     
  9. Ad Astra

    Ad Astra Rookie

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    Sep 3, 2013

    Exactly. My last rotation is now almost 4 days behind my HR. If it's this big of a problem now, what's it going to look like in a month? 4 months? :eek:

    The other two HR teachers on my team have the exact same problem. Last week we tried re-arranging the schedule completely, giving our HRs to other teachers on the team earlier so we could catch up with other classes that were behind, but we realized that it was not a long-term solution for several reasons. So we're back at square one and feeling like there's no way around this. :confused:
     
  10. Ad Astra

    Ad Astra Rookie

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    Sep 3, 2013

    This is a really great idea. The only issue with this is that the departmentalizing comes straight from administration and we approached the AP during pre-planning about our concerns. I would LOVE to keep my HR all day and focus on all subjects with them. But I don't think it's possible... I understand why things are done this way, but at the end of the day, there are more CONS here than there are pros.
     
  11. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Sep 3, 2013

    Docment, document, document.

    Have all 3 teachers keep scrupulous notes as to the amount of time they're spending on each subject with each group.

    After 2 or 3 weeks, have someone with more seniority than you take it to adminstration. (Sorry, but someone with more experience is more likely to have his/her concerns taken seriously.)

    How was this done last year?
     
  12. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Sep 3, 2013

    Your unbalanced times don't seem correct and that's an admin issue. It sounds like that's where you've taken it.

    As far as leveling everyone for reading groups... relax!! Really! It takes me a good 6 - 8 weeks to get everyone assessed and at the point that they can handle working independently while I teach a small group. It's okay!

    Do you have their reading levels from June? That would at least give you a starting place when you start your assessment with each child.
     
  13. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Sep 3, 2013

    In my experience, launching Daily 5 is worth the time. Even with your last group, you would still have time for other activities during the launching process. I think that setting up the routines would really benefit you later on when you need to conduct more running records, meet with reading groups, confer, etc.

    Is there any way you could do running records during prep time, recess, and before/after school? I understand that isn't ideal, but, like you, I also understand the importance of knowing my students' reading levels. We have 4 weeks to do all of our running records, and I use any time I can get my hands on!
     

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