Newb here.. So down! Please help!

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Ad Astra, Oct 6, 2013.

  1. Ad Astra

    Ad Astra Rookie

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    Oct 6, 2013

    Hi, fellow teachers! :( This will be long. I'm so sorry, and so appreciative of you for reading this.

    At the end of the day, I know my students are learning. I can sleep at night with that knowledge. But I'm a bit of an overachiever (okay, more than just a bit - I know most of you can relate), and I'm plagued by the things I'm NOT doing.

    I teach 3rd grade - 3 rotations of ELA. All of the switches mean that my classes are 60 minutes (at best). This is not enough time.

    I am still trying to get through my running records to get my kids leveled for reading groups - I still have quite a pile. Now that I've been doing this since August, I feel like I should have been provided a bit more support early on. I wish I could go back to summer or the early part of the year knowing then what I know now. I would grab myself by the shoulders and say, "Get your running records done. This first part of the year is going to fly by and you're going to be into October with a pile left to do. Get help if you need it." I had never used this leveling system before and I feel like I just got the hang of it.

    I don't have reading groups going. I realize that this is bad. We just started Practice Stations 4 weeks ago - I do more of a Choice Board sort of thing for the week and students engage in reading, writing, phonics practice, grammar practice, and some other Daily Five type things as well. Then I pull students to do running records with me so I can get through my pile, but I end up spending most of the time conferencing with students on their writing, answering questions, helping, etc. Before I know it, the period is over and I'm still left with a pile of folders of students who still need to be leveled. :confused:

    I have parents coming to me telling me that they want to be sure that their kids are adequately challenged so I've been working very hard to differentiate my centers, my homework, my instruction, EVERYTHING. Some of my students are reading on a 10th grade level with excellent comprehension, and other students are struggling to spell their names correctly (not joking).

    There are so many things I want to start doing and I feel like I'm just keeping my head above water with no extra time to implement any of these things. I'm just so overwhelmed... But you'd never know if you saw me! ;) I do a pretty good job of treading water! Lately, all of my planning periods (40 min/day) for the last 3 and a half weeks have been consumed with meetings, etc. So I haven't been able to utilize that free time. I stay after school until at least 5 o'clock every day and then I'm working into the wee hours as well at home.. I feel like I've said maybe 12 words to my 2-year-old son all year. :'(

    -I want to start my small groups.
    -I want to start portfolios of student writing (but I can't seem to find the extra time needed to put the numbered folders together) and start organizing them.
    -I want to get into more novel reading, but feel overwhelmed with where to start with that and where to even go with that. I just know that's where I want to go.. I think that would be a great way to differentiate for my high readers, especially.
    -I have 4 students that are on my radar for RTI (Tier 2 and Tier 3), and I know that I'm supposed to be documenting all kinds of things (beyond just classroom tests/anecdotal evidence, etc.) and I've expressed that I need some help getting started with that, but haven't heard anything since. This is very important, but I don't feel like I have the time to get the regular documentation and interventions done. I know that I do have the time in there somewhere; I'm just not seeing it and need someone to sort of get me started. :eek:

    I'm starting to feel like I just need to get through this first year alive and having addressed the standards and then when I have a moment to breathe over the summer can look back and address what worked, what didn't, and what can be improved upon.

    Is all of this normal? How terrible is it that I don't have reading groups going yet? Between all 3 rotations of students, I have 90 kiddos. It's so overwhelming managing everything and all of their (extremely involved) parents as well. I feel like a failure and I hate that feeling. I know this seems like a vent, and for that, I apologize. It's an SOS as well as a vent.

    The only good thing I can say is that I've been spoken to by my Principal regarding all of the "wonderful feedback" she's getting from my students' parents (which is pretty difficult to achieve - the expectations and demands from families are pretty high). I'm so focused on the teaching aspect, that anything outside of that has been piling up a bit (like my Sub Binder, which was due 2 weeks ago!). I just want some advice for balancing it all. Also, will I ever have a life again? Will I be able to eat dinner with my family again one day or will I always be consumed by planning and grading with one hand and a fork in the other hand? Will I one day leave work before 6PM?

    I LOVE my job. Don't get me wrong. I just want to suck at it less.
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Oct 6, 2013

    You don't suck...you're just learning to swim in this pool and it sounds like your paddling as fast as you can...you just need to breathe. Stop conferring about writing for this week...have kids writing notebook entries toward a unit of study this week...something you don't need to teach a lot into (personal narratives with small moment focus?) while they are writing, pull kids for reading level assessment. If you meet with each kid for about 6-7 minutes you should be able to get thru 4 during the writing time...then do partner share or authors chair to highlight some of the writing done today. Then send them off to read (assign work during reading that they must be accountable for...post it a character trait, etc) this will buy you time for a few more reading conferences. Make it a goal to finish this week.
    Be careful with those high end readers. Just because they have the ability to read at a 'tenth grade level' doesn't mean they should. In fact, they shouldn't...they don't have the maturity to deal with and deeply think about the themes and plots of such higher level novels.
     
  4. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Oct 6, 2013

    60 minutes of ELA for 3rd grade is not enough, for starters. At a bare minimum, you need 75 minutes, and 90 minutes is ideal. You aren't going to get through everything you need to do in 60 minutes.
     
  5. OhThePlaces

    OhThePlaces Cohort

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    Oct 6, 2013

    It's my first year in third grade, and I also have a two year old (and a four year old) so I feel your pain!

    I teach two classes of ELA, 120 minutes each and I feel like I need more time with each class. I can't imagine only having one hour!

    I haven't started reading groups either. I have finished DRA testing my students, but we have had to do a TON of diagnostic testing this year including a one-on-one test called DAR. The DAR test takes about 40 minutes per student, so that's what I'm stuck doing during my guided reading time! :(

    I definitely feel like I'm in over my head sometimes, especially the pressure of being in a tested grade. This is what I tell myself... I have great students, supportive parents, and I know they're learning in my room. I'm doing the best I can.
     
  6. Ad Astra

    Ad Astra Rookie

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    Oct 6, 2013

    Excellent advice. Thank you.
     
  7. Ad Astra

    Ad Astra Rookie

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    Oct 6, 2013

    Exactly. It makes me so mad that things are this way. I wish they weren't. I get the idea behind the departmentalizing, but there are costs to it as well.
     
  8. Ad Astra

    Ad Astra Rookie

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    Oct 6, 2013

    Eye to eye! ;)
     
  9. HorseLover

    HorseLover Comrade

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    Oct 6, 2013

    I'm a first year teacher and feeling the same way! Haven't started reading groups yet and we have completed 5 weeks of school! My stations are not organized and are VERY basic (read silently, write a story) I feel like there is SO much that I know I am supposed to be doing that I'm not doing, but have not time to start doing :dizzy: feeling your pain
     
  10. HorseLover

    HorseLover Comrade

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    Oct 6, 2013

    Something that just helped put things into perspective for me (at least with the stress level). In my district we are at the point in time where we have the longest period without a break (not counting teacher work days) about 10-11 weeks from the start of school until our first break. However, soon we will have Veterans Day, then Thanksgiving and Christmas shortly after. Then there is about one day off a month (except for a period of about 7 weeks, but that comes right before Spring Break)
     
  11. smurfette

    smurfette Habitué

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    Oct 7, 2013

    So, you are a new teacher to the school, and a new teacher overall, and you were assigned to teach LA to the entire grade level? In 60 minutes?

    There is so much wrong with this situation that I admire you for having such a positive attitude. I know you see yourself as venting, but that venting comes from a position of wanting to be exceptional for the students. For me, and many other experienced teachers that I have talked to, language arts planning takes longer than the other subjects if you are making guided reading plans AND trying to fit everything in (and we get 90 minutes daily.) I am surprised a school would assign three periods of it to a beginning teacher, who is still learning classroom management, time management, all of the paperwork/data collection, etc. Also, teachers who are new to the building, experienced teachers and beginning teachers, usually get help doing their DRA's (what we use to level) the first year from a reading specialist or other support teacher.

    Is there anyone you can ask to help give your students running records while you get your reading groups going?
     
  12. smurfette

    smurfette Habitué

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    Oct 7, 2013

    Oh, and another thought for next year...

    Maybe at the end of this year, you can get your team to help do running records, maybe everyone assesses their own homeroom. This way, you can focus on assessing new students at the beginning of the year and get your reading groups started much sooner. There will be some students who slide over the summer, but you can always shuffle your groups if they have slid a lot. Just make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to giving running records.
     
  13. Ad Astra

    Ad Astra Rookie

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    Oct 7, 2013

    Thank you all for your advice! Lots to think about and I appreciate you all here SO MUCH!
     

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