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First year teacher drowning
Old 09-13-2018, 05:57 PM
 
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Without going into too much detail (because I could go on for hours about it), I am a COMPLETELY miserable first-year first grade teacher. I started the year completely excited and ready, but by week three I started drowning. I have gotten to a point where I am SO miserable that I refuse to wake up and go in earlier than contract time (7 AM) and I refuse to do work much later than 6 PM. Some nights I do no work at all because I spend the night sobbing. It seems like I have two decent days a week and three horrible days. The worst thought in the world to me is to think that Iím just not cut out for teaching. It is just so, so hard with extremely busy mentors and a team that has taught for so long that they make everything seem super easy while Iím struggling horribly. I donít do half of the things my team mates do in their rooms (like centers) because I couldnít possibly do it all without killing myself. They offer suggestions as help, but do not help much with planning or prep. I wake up and go to school every day miserable and pissed off and this is just not how I envisioned teaching would be. I VERY OFTEN want to quit and every day I wonder ďWHEN will this get better????Ē Am I really not cut out for teaching or is the first year just the absolute worst thing ever for everyone?? I hear itís super hard, but no one says youíll become an anxious, depressed mess!


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Old 09-13-2018, 06:40 PM
 
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First of all, don't best yourself up for not staying past six p.m. and not going in before seven a.m. If you work seven til four, you've put in a nine hour day. Go home. Rest. Watch tv. Read. Work out. Talk to friends.

Second, don't beat yourself up for not doing centers. You're kids will live.

A question: What do you think is the biggest challenge? Classroom management? Planning? Organization? Differing ability levels? You may get some good help and advice here if you can articulate the the specific challenges you are facing. You need support and PT is pretty supportive.
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Old 09-13-2018, 06:44 PM
 
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Yes, first year can be really tough. Breathe, and try to get some exercise and sleep, first. Then, make a list of the areas you feel are bogging you down. If you can identify those, it'll be easier to tackle them (one or two at a time), and people here can give suggestions. Also, give yourself credit for what is going well; I'm guessing there is more than what you're thinking.
First graders are really needy in the beginning. Take lots of time to practice procedures and giving positive feedback. Keep things simple; one direction at a time, until they can succeed with multiple steps.
My first year, I lost 12 pounds, slept little, had an anxiety attack (first ever), and didn't enjoy much. I did like the kids and had some support from my mentor. As the year progressed, it did get better.
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Old 09-13-2018, 06:55 PM
 
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You sound exactly like me when I was a first year, first grade teacher. It can get better! Maybe I can help provide you with some short cuts to the part where things get better. What are the biggest challenges / things making you the most miserable?
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Old 09-13-2018, 06:58 PM
 
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START CENTERS

not because its great for your kids and awesome for differentiation. But because it's also time for you to take a breath, get off center stage, take a sip coffee, and refocus. For me, it's also where I pull my challenge kids one on one to have a talk, give a hug, lecture, and do specialized work. I'm a first year teacher too and my centers aren't perfect. I'm doing Daily Five and reading is especially a challenge. But it's better than it was and I need that time.

We're starting our 6th week of school and all of my co-teachers except me were doing math centers by week 2. Math was also killing me because I'd finish my lesson after 20 min and suddenly have 40 minutes to fill, plus that was when I always hit my slump. I decided to just dive into centers. Made a bunch one night. Put them in containers. Took one day to show my kids what to do, and the next day I let them choose them and do the work. (I also make a cup of coffee right before I pick them up from lunch and drink that while walking around looking at their centers and pulling kids)


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Old 09-13-2018, 07:53 PM
 
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Setting reasonable limits on the amount of time you spend on school work daily is a great start. You might try making a list of what absolutely MUST get done each day--such as lesson plans or report cards. Get these done first.

Then you can have a list of things that you would like to do (and prioritize them). Things like changing the bulletin board or making a new poster. Do these only if there is time.

Don't evaluate your classroom or your teaching against those of veteran teachers. Would you expect your first graders to write as well as the sixth graders do?

When your allotted time is up, stop. Teaching is the kind of job that can expand to fill every minute of your day and week. Don't let it.

One last recommendation. When your work time is done for the day, do something to nourish yourself. Have a good dinner. Get your nails done. Watch something on TV. Sing in the church choir. Go to a yoga class. Don't waste your time sobbing--you worked hard all day and now it's time for yourself.
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Old 09-14-2018, 04:30 AM
 
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You have received some really good advice from others already but I'll add a couple of thoughts...and repeat some.
I just retired after 37 years of teaching 6th grade in the same community. Granted my career began in a different time, different culture, etc. but I felt much like you do when I started. I realized that I while my college courses were of value, my real education concerning teaching was just beginning. Take time to settle in and get your feet on the ground. As others have said, you might want to avoid comparing yourself to people who have years of experience. You will make mistakes-I did right up through year 37- but try to learn from them.
Build relationships with your peers. You need to develop your own teaching style and practices but take bits and pieces from what works for others. You have to be yourself and find your own style.
Try to establish positive relationships with parents. If they trust that you have the best interests of their children at heart then their support is invaluable.
Teachers give more than enough of their time to their job. As others have said, set limits on the amount of time you spend on teaching obligations and definitely take time for you. Participate in hobbies, friendships, relaxation, etc. on a daily basis. I am an outdoor person and was a coach and I found that I needed these activities to help me focus on my work.
Hang in there...we've been in your situation. If you can work through these times you'll be rewarded in times to come.
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Old 09-14-2018, 04:47 AM
 
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Iíd say my biggest challenges are classroom management (I keep talking with veteran teachers who say classroom management is always a nightmare at this school, itís a title 1 school) and making decisions about how to teach my curriculum. Every teacher has a different way of doing things and I have no idea what to do. I have begun to simply follow my curriculum because itís the easiest thing for me to do right now. However, Iíve got a few parents upset that Iím not differentiating for their bored child. I just want to scream ďIíM A FIRST YEAR TEACHER!!Ē But Iíve been told not to tell my parents Iím a first year teacher directly. One other thing Iím struggling with is having co teachers. They are NOT helpful and just want to be told what to do for the hour theyíre in my room. I have no idea what to tell them to do because I donít know what Iím doing. Plus theyíre often gone and they NEVER plan with me.
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Old 09-14-2018, 04:48 AM
 
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Not a new teacher. This is the end of my 5th week of this new year and it is the first week that I feel like we have started to get a rhythm and I am teaching more than managing or reacting. The first weeks there are so many things to teach and reteach just about our procedures that it takes a while.

I would consider trying something like daily 5 for structure during your language arts. Teach the kids stamina for reading to self by practicing whole group. Then pull half the class and do something with them while the rest read to self. Keep it short until they learn how to stay reading the whole time. Then add writing - teach it whole group (or maybe with that half the class while practicing) untill everyone can write by themself. If you are in a younger grade, maybe listen to reading would be a good 2nd skill to teach. Then you have 3 different rotations while you can work with a group.

Start with things that don't require "tools", cut outs, materials or anything else. Managing all the center stuff, I think is a whole 'nuther thing.

Like others said, it isn't all going to get done. I don't think you need to keep up with the Jones' who have been teaching for longer. Make your own goals and priorities. Let some things go. Don't grade everything. Put checks/stickers on things that you go over together or they have done with partners and send it home (or throw it away.) . Take time at night for yourself. Even now I have trouble in the evening not constantly thinking of school. Encourage yourself to have a life in addition to teaching. It is healthy.

For prepping things - do you have parents who might do some things for you at home? Reach out and ask.. I always have a couple of parents who will cut or collate/staple things if I send them home with their kid. Maybe they could help put center tools together for you.
Keep trucking. You can do it!
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Old 09-14-2018, 01:36 PM
 
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I have no new advice - the others have said it all. However, I am sending HUGS and PEACE to you! Keep setting boundaries, and hang on. You may never get "caught up", But I promise it will get easier.


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Old 09-14-2018, 01:41 PM
 
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"I hear itís super hard, but no one says youíll become an anxious, depressed mess!"

Trust me, all first year teachers are an anxious, depressed mess.

The first year of teaching really is one of the hardest things you will ever do. Everybody around you really does make it look easy, and it seems that no matter how hard you work and try, you're just not swimming with the current, you know? It is going to be hard all year long, I'll be honest. You will be so happy to see summer come.

But--and this is huge--it will be easier next year. I said EASIER, not easy. You still will have part of the learning curve next year but the second year is much better, I promise you, especially if you stay at the same school (try to avoid changing schools if you can. It's hard for even veteran teachers to change schools). You will feel much more capable and experienced next year, because you will be. Then the third year is easier than the second, and so on. Before you know it, you'll be counseling new teachers to hang in there and telling THEM that next year will be easier.

I agree; don't worry about centers this year. You could make that your professional goal for next year. This year, just get to June. You WILL get to June. Just know that first year teachers all across the country are ready to throw themselves off a bridge tonight, but next year, you'll all step back from the edge
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Old 09-14-2018, 01:52 PM
 
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I answered her post without really reading the previous posts carefully, but I couldn't agree more with Daily 5. In fact, I almost suggested it, then I backspaced over it. Daily 5 is a not only a fairly easy way to do centers, but it's much more academically viable than what is used for centers in many rooms I've seen.
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Old 09-14-2018, 02:31 PM
 
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Search for Daily Five For Dummies. It is like cliff notes for the Daily Five. Follow it for managing your class and teaching them stamina so you can work with small groups. Iím sorry that your team is not helping you. Follow your curriculum.
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Old 09-14-2018, 06:19 PM
 
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Another retired teacher (now subbing) stopping by to lend some moral support. I remember so clearly my first few months of teaching—-a baptism by fire. You’re not alone, and you’ve been given some very helpful ideas. Take care of YOU, and know that no matter how hopeless it may seem now, it does get better. (((Hugs)))
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Old 09-14-2018, 10:40 PM
 
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You said Classroom management is one of your biggest challenges. For me, just being able to start the day in a calm, orderly, quiet way seems to help set the tone for the day. I don't let kids talk and socialize when they come in the room. It's gets out of hand too easily and the rest of the day is spent reeling them back in. Have a rock solid morning routine that is the same every day. After they unpack, have something they can do independently at their seats. Maybe a handwriting practice page or a math facts practice. When they walk in, they unpack and start on the morning work - no sharpening pencils, no bathroom, no conversations with the teacher, etc. We will do all that later, but first thing in the morning is quiet get down to business time.

When you say co teacher, are you talking about a para? Or maybe an inclusion teacher? If it's a para, give him/her a regular routine of responsibilities daily. Then you won't have to come up with new things for them to do or let them end up doing nothing. Maybe have them be the one to check folders daily, and be assigned to do phonics practice or math facts or sight words with a small group of students who may need a little extra boost. If your school allows it, have them handle running off papers. Figure out what some of your daily routine tasks are that you could hand off to them. Put in writing, like a checklist, so they are clear on what is the xpected and needed.
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It gets better.
Old 09-15-2018, 07:29 AM
 
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Here are some reassurances from a 19 year veteran. The first year always sucks for everyone. Everyone feels like they are in over their head. This is, unfortunately, normal. There's nothing wrong with working to contract hours and, in fact, I think that it's ideal you are getting in that habit now. If I could change anything about my first year, I would not spend hours and hours and hours of my off time doing school stuff. You don't have to do everything your teammates do. Take what advice and suggestions you can manage from them right now and leave the rest behind. You will get there. I promise. But it might not be this year and that's okay. Remember this time because, at some point, you will be supporting someone else who is feeling just like this. Find someone you can lean on and vent to. It probably won't be your teammates or your official mentor. Someone in your school has the heart for helping you. Watch carefully for those who are checking in with you, have a kind word to say to you and you feel a connection with. That is your person. If there just isn't anyone at school that fits that description, you can find someone outside of school. You can find your "people" here, too, if they aren't turning up in your life. Give yourself grace. No one is good at anything when they are first trying. And student teacher is quite a bit different that being the classroom teacher. You can do this! Remember the reasons why you became a teacher and cling to them. You got this! Your homework for this weekend is to do anything besides work on school work. It's going to be okay. I promise.
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Old 09-15-2018, 07:32 AM
 
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Oh, also, I can help you with centers, if you'd like. I have one million center ideas. I don't know if this is okay, but "treemonky" has an email address, too. It's treemonky at g mail. It's my throwaway address so if the crazies at PT start emailing me, it's easy to ignore! I'm kidding! I love you guys! I'm happy to help you. I've taught your grade and I remember your frustrations and I'm open to helping.
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Take care of yourself 1st
Old 09-15-2018, 09:40 AM
 
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You may want to consider not working until 6 as others have mentioned. Most people will tell you that their 1st yr was the hardest. As others have mentioned, do not compare yourself w/ veteran teachers.
Instead see if you can find a nice 1. ( Find out her fav coffee or drink from someone or just ask if you see her with coffee. )
A new teacher actually brought me my fav coffee 1 morning a few yrs ago. When I realized how sweet she was, there wasn't anything I wouldn't have done to help her. Also, I got a couple of more vets to help her out too. I think 99% of success your 1st yr comes from help from the right people. ( Maybe I am just a total coffee addict..IDK...lol) People have bought me shirts w/ jokes on them like: Give me coffee and no1 gets hurt!
1st graders are needy too. By the midddle of the yr, you'll be surprised how much better they are if you constantly go over expectations and keep your routines the same. I wish you the best! Don't be hard on yourself. You are just learning.
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Old 09-15-2018, 12:49 PM
 
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another retired first grade teacher here. I strongly recommend daily 5 for your "centers". If you read the book (available at amazon) the way they go through how to start each of the daily 5 also helps with classroom management.

It offers you that time to meet kids individual needs with real activities for kids to do while you meet with others. Didn't have it until the last 5 years of my career and they were without a doubt the best 5 years of my teaching life.
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Old 09-15-2018, 09:19 PM
 
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I also highly recommend Daily 5. While the students are in the D5, you can catch your breath and work with small groups. This is where your differentiation begins. D5 is easy to implement as it doesnít require a lot of prep or materials. You can also do a version of it during your math instruction.

Donít compare yourself to veteran teachers. It is not realistic. They have had years to try different methods and to see what works best for them. However, teachers do love to talk about how they run their classrooms. Find a teacher that you feel comfortable with and ask them specific questions without sharing how you are feeling overwhelmed.

For classroom management, practice procedures until they are following them correctly. Give lots of positives for doing the right thing in class. There are tons of ways to reinforce positive choices from the students.

For co-teachers, I am not sure if you are talking about teachers that push in or assistants. Asking a colleague how they work with co-teachers may give you some ideas. Regardless, parent volunteers can help with preparing activities, copying, laminating and cutting. They can also listen to students read and help them practice math facts.

In addition, I have found it helpful to observe other teachers. Ask your mentor or an instructional resource person if they would watch your class while you observe other teachers.

But most of all, donít be so hard on yourself! There is a wealth of information here and tons of kindhearted teachers willing to help. Look at the first grade board as well. You have support here!
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Old 09-17-2018, 03:58 AM
 
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First I will say a prayer for you and the other hundreds of first year teachers all having the same experience. 40 yrs ago I went home from my first few weeks of school, laid on my bed staring at the ceiling and said "what has God wrought?" Then went out and ran five miles. It cleared my head. I also went to my AP and talked about it. SHe gave me great advice. And so did my P. After about 5 weeks I started listening to my kids and realized they were not that bad. In fact I was amazed at how well they functioned after learning about their lives outside of school. That right there made me a better teacher. There is so much to learn with kids but if they know you care it makes a HUGE difference. Im not talking about giving them things or being their best bud I am talking about listening when you can and being empathetic to their stories. Another first year thing I discovered is you cannot save them all and get them all to perform like the state standards DEMAND. You just do your best. Now the way to get momma/daddy on board is to catch one doing good and then call or email them about it. Then when you have some not so great news it is much easier to call. Im sorry this is so hard and truly it is a very hard job. But when you finally get a handle on it and feel comfortable the rewards are IMMENSE. There is TONS of great help here from vets. Do not hesitate to ask. obtw . Find that calm nice teacher with the sweet smile and ask for help. She is there Im sure. You just need a friend at this school with good sense to help you emotionally and professionally. GOOD Luck new teacher lady.
best stress relief Ive found is aerobic exercise and some prayer (btw Im not a religious person)
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Modeling
Old 09-17-2018, 08:08 PM
 
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Modeling everything is so important. How to line up, walk around desks, and how you expect your assignments to be completed are only a few examples of what needs to be modeled and practiced all the time. I teach 2nd grade and will do a lot of whole class activities and then gradually have students work independently. You also need modeling. You need a chance to see how the other teachers are implementing centers or other areas of your interest. I also taught 1st grade my very first year of teaching, and it was overwhelming at times. After realizing the importance of how the students had only experienced school as preschoolers or Kindergarteners I became more aware and felt more natural in anticipating their needs. Of course that is obvious, but it is another thing to empathize with their transition as you see it happen as a brand new teacher. As others said, there is no one helping you run the show and setting up classroom routines like when you were a ST. I also wasnít thrilled about starting centers, and recommend that you research the topic and have a chance to see it in action in other classrooms. Most importantly, be proud of all the effort you put into your teaching practice!
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Old 09-18-2018, 01:03 PM
 
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No desire to overwhelm you more, but here's a list of some ideas for various concerns Don't read when 'off duty' or tired!!

https://www.weareteachers.com/50-tip...ing-1st-grade/
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