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B25newteacher B25newteacher is offline
 
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Help! new teacher!
Old 01-12-2014, 01:18 PM
 
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I am a first year teacher, fifth grade...well I have experience as a long term sub and teaching assistant...but this is my first year in my own classroom in a new district that has amazing staff and amazing leadership...and I am drowning!!!! I can't eat (lost 15 lbs) I can't sleep, my relationship is now in jeopardy, I cry everyday and I am starting to have chest pains (major anxiety). I can't believe this. It took me almost 7 years to get my degrees...i finally was hired in the perfect district (5 minutes from home) fantastic grade level partners, amazing principal and I am wishing everyday that I could quit. The work load is unbearable, I have no idea what I am doing every day, even thought I spend hours planning...or what I think is planning..my classroom management sucks, and I am drowning in paperwork-I am 43 and have been through some really tough times...but I have NEVER had this much anxiety everyday ALL day- I wake up every Saturday crying because my weekend is spent crying in front of the computer or staring at a blank plan book...my past experiences were fantastic---a lot of work-but I loved it! How could it have gone so wrong...i am so embarrassed and feel like a failure everyday and anticipate everyday will be a failure. What do i do? No one needs to respond...I just needed to vent.. thank you


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Old 01-12-2014, 03:59 PM
 
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Your title says help and that is what we are here for. Being new is never easy. First, you have to think more positively. I know that is hard when faced with reality, but just try to think of one positive thing that will happen tomorrow. I think the best advice that I can give you is to work on the classroom management first. Without that, teaching is impossible. Is it possible to have someone come in and watch you teach for about 15-20 minutes and then giev you feedback on management? Can they model?
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Old 01-12-2014, 04:16 PM
 
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First of all....please understand that you are NOT a failure. Your first year is going to be TOUGH!. I hated my life my first year. I did nothing but work 24/7 and still felt like I got nothing done. This is very normal.

That being said, congrats on having a great grade to work with. I taught 5th grade for 7 years and loved it. I liked that age because they are young enough to want to please you (most of them) but old enough to get your jokes.

With planning, can you get help from your teammates? Do they plan together? If not, can they give you some direction as to how to do your plans? If you can just get through this year, planning next year will be much easier.

I don't know if you are grading everything, don't! There is no reason to grade every assignment the students complete. My goal was to have at least one graded assignment for each subject each week. Some weeks I had more but not always. You can collect them and just check that they completed it.

Now I know your school is like all schools and you have a lot of paperwork to complete. That is becoming the norm in education. I don't really know how to help with that, it just has to be done. Maybe make goals for yourself. Put on a calendar when things are due and complete a little at a time? IDK

With behavior in 5th grade, you MUST be consistent. They will walk all over you if you aren't. When my class seemed to be getting out of control, I would come in on a new day and tell myself that no one was getting away with anything. If they broke a rule, even a small one, they would be reprimanded. After a day or two, they realized that they weren't getting away with anything. Do you have a behavior management system? We used colored cards for each student. When they broke a rule, they flipped their card. Some teachers don't like this system but it worked for me. You have to find what works for you. Just make sure you are consistent.

One last piece of advice. Leave school at school! If you are miserable at school, you need time to yourself. If you let your worries and stress follow you home, you will just keep building that stress. You need time for yourself. I know it is easier to say than do, but you need to. You don't want to get burnt out your very first year.

I hope at least something I said can help. If you need to talk to someone, you can message me anytime. I am willing to help a fellow 5th grade teacher!
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You can do it!
Old 01-12-2014, 04:34 PM
 
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The first year is so very hard, and what will get so much faster and easier next year is so difficult now. This is your dream. Know it will improve. Thankfully you have a great district and support. Having said all this, think about what can improve.

1. Time cut offs. You need to think about what you are doing and when. Perhaps it would be wise to get to school a bit early, and decide a time you will leave daily. I have to do this because I find that I never totally finish. There is always something more I could do. This was true after 1 year...and is still true 30 later! Some teachers say they will leave at a certain time except for 1 day-- often Thursdays, they will stay longer to get ready for the week ahead. On weekends, set time limits, or else your mind will never shut down.
2. With upper elementary I have used tickets purchased at Walmart that I give students who make good choices. (Like raffle tickets) They write their name on it and I have a Good Choices jar they drop them in. At different times of the day I will pick out a ticket. Once a week I will pick out 5 tickets. Those students then may go to my treasure box. Trust me--this age still like it😊 I have sticky notes, pens, pencils, pencil sharpeners, highlighters, not pads, friendship bracelets, etc. I have also let the winners choose a friend and they get game time, or computer time etc. you will think of more as you use the system. To help students "buy into the idea" you may want them to write down ideas for you. I have also used a BINGO board where I have students that I see helping others, showing kindness...sign the board. When it is filled we draw for winners.

3. Talk about what the room should feel like and sound like during study hall, skills lesson, break, test time, small group work. I have students get into groups to work on this. They put their ideas on sticky notes and after a set time, I have them put answers on the white board, or a poster for each situation. I then summarize the notes, and post answers. We revisit this list often.

4. We talk about above the line and below the line type of behavior? in order to get control of your class, you are going to enforce what you want.

5. With your teaching partners could you decide on some reward times for students who finish work on time, and have positive behaviors? For 6th grade, we have 20-30 minutes of reward which is held in one room where games can be played, music listened, just time to be together. Another room has those students who didn't make good choices. They work on late work, or ?? Hopefully the fun room sounds so fun, that you have so many students earning the reward, you will need 2 rooms😊 we do this every week or two.
Trust me these ideas work.

Once you get classroom management working, your load will lighten up.
Some last thoughts to get students to buy into what you are doing is to meet individually with them, and talk about goals, and what they would like. You may want to have them write their ideas. This age loves to be " heard." I would also start reading aloud to them everyday. Charlie Joe Jackson books are a hoot. I do reword a few of the things Charlie Joe says though😊

Message me if you think that I can help in anyway. Let PTers know how things are going.

You can do this!
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Take a deep breath
Old 01-12-2014, 04:44 PM
 
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Every teacher has been where you are at right now. The first year is really tough. I think the first thing you have to allow yourself to accept is that you will not be perfect your first year or for a few years to follow. But each year gets easier. Classroom management is very difficult, but that's where you have to focus your energy. It would help us if you tell us specifically what it is that is going wrong. Is it student behavior or procedures and routines?

If it's behavior you first need to get on that phone to parents. Too many teachers delay getting them involved for far too long. And once you do make a few contacts the word gets out to the other students fast. That helps too, but you have to be consistent with the contacts.

Hang in there and keep posting your questions or vents. It helps.


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Trust yourself. . .
Old 01-12-2014, 07:01 PM
 
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you know you are NOT one of those bad teachers you keep hearing about in college,in the media, or from the general public. You care wayyyyyyyy too much to classify yourself under the category of " failure." Now with that said, try to set realistic expectations on what you would like to accomplish. . .prioritize. Classroom management is key like everyone else has said from the previous post. Next, don't try to reinvent the wheel. . .ask your colleages for their lesson plans
and simplify what they have or, better yet, plan with them. The reality of teaching hits us all like a ton of bricks from time to time. To lighten your paper load try correcting just your tests only for a while. Reading between the lines, I think you want to plan but you aren't able to follow through and prepare materials, run copies, manage resources etc. . . because you are at home. And yes, then it's Mon. morning and you don't feel ready. Do you have Basels and state adopted textbooks to follow? If your team is as wonderful as you say they are they WILL want to help you. Keep posting on here and people will help.
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Slow down
Old 01-12-2014, 07:06 PM
 
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Incorporate some activities into your lessons that don't include planning or correcting.

Independent Reading: Your kids should be able to read for a half hour. While they read, you can call one back at a time to listen to read. Don't worry about helping that student. Just listen for now.


Review Math Sheets: Let them sit and do some review sheets with lots of problems on them. While they are doing this, you can sit and help one student for 10 min. Then call another back for 10 min.

Correct ALL Work together.

ReadWorks.org: Get some ideas for Read Alouds from this free site. The lessons are Common Core. Skim them and write something in your lesson plan book. BUT just wing the lesson. Read the book and just wing it for whatever lesson.

Do you have access to digital educational videos? Show them. If you are able, get several on the same topic and show them one a day. Then after a few days, have them write an information report on what they know.

ART: DO ART EVERY WEEK

Give yourself a break. Reteach whatever you did last week. Just copy last week's lessons into this weeks pages. Then do it again. Your kids will really learn whatever it was.
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Remind yourself ...
Old 01-12-2014, 08:20 PM
 
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What you loved about subbing and being a teaching assistant. Was it working with the children? If so, take a deep breath, and do an activity that will allow you to sit back and enjoy them. Think of something that is tied to something in your curriculum, and that also allows the students to use their creativity.

Sometimes I split them into small groups and tell them they have 8 minutes to come up with a skit to demonstrate something (could be naming parts of speech, Boston Tea Party, radiation - conduction - convection, even math terms). Then they present and I record on my flipvideo. They love watching them later.

Another thing is to name some issues and ask the students to picture a line across the front of the room. One end of the line is for those who strongly agree and the other is for those who strongly disagree. As you name different issues, ask them to rearrange themselves on the spectrum line. You could even talk about decisions made by characters in books read as read alouds.

Several times in my first 10 years, I asked my students to brainstorm in small groups and then share in large group what a good student is like. Then they did the same for a good teacher. It is great for defining what you expect of them and they expect of you. At least twice, I made "report cards" with that info so they could let me know how I was doing and I could let them know how they were doing.

The paperwork is always overwhelming. Get your focus back on making this fifth grade year memorable for your students.

We are here for you.
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Old 01-13-2014, 12:51 AM
 
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You can do it!

Here are some ideas:

1) Pick one time over the weekend you will do work and don't do work the rest of the time. I liked to do it Sat morning so it was out of the way and I could relax. Most of my friends preferred to do it Sun afternoon so they could chill first--plus you're guaranteed to get a break as you can't overwork on a Sun afternoon into the rest of the weekend. You NEED a break on the weekend to recharge.

2) As PPs have said, decide on when you will leave school each day. Maybe say something like:
Monday--leave 1 hr after kids
Tues-leave on time as soon as contract ends
Weds-leave 1 hr after kids
Thurs-work late to get it ready for the next week
Fri-leave on time

I also always got to school 45-60 mins before kids did. yes, it was early, but I got so much more done when I was fresh and no one was in the building.

3) Make next week a very easy to plan for week--lots of independent reading, math review, etc. Anything that you already have copies for or don't need to make copies for or make anything new. That is your catch up week. Then on Monday of that week start planning for the next week. I always tried to get my following week's plans done by Thurs. I'd do one subject a day. So it might look like:
Monday--plan Reading
Tues--plan Science or Socials studies (we alternated units, so it was never both)
Weds-Plan writing
Thurs-Plan math (I found it easiest to plan math last so I'd know where they got to during the current week)
Friday was copy day--and I had a mom come in and make copies, so it really just meant that I had to have my copies ready. Each day when I'd plan, I'd put that subject's masters in a bin for the copy mom.

Once you get caught up on planning, it's easier to stay caught up. It also means if something happens last minute you still have a few days to plan if need be. I never planned on the weekend. Weekends were for any grading I had to do (and I tried to limit that).

4) Figure out when you will do what during the day (not the kid's schedule--yours). For example, mine was:

45-60 mins before kids arrived: check emails, grade papers, make sure all my materials are ready for the day
Kids' Arrival--We had a 20 min period that kids could arrive during and then about 10 mins of announcements/news show. I stood at the door and shook hands with every kid who came in and greeted them. Yes, that ate up 20 mins, but it was a positive start with every kid. With one of my problem kids, I might give a quick prep talk or reminder of our goals for the day. During announcements/news show, I took attendance, checked homework for completion and laid out stuff for the first subject.
Specials--lesson plan for the subject of the day for the following week.
Lunch--We got 30 mins lunch. Some teachers relax the whole time. I really found I was less stressed if I ate for 20 mins, then checked email and prepped for the afternoon for 10 mins.
Pack-up/Dismissal--while the kids are getting packed, I would gather and organize any papers that came in during the day and sort whether I needed to grade it or if it could go right home (or get returned the next day)
After school--grading and prep for next day, unless it was a prompt leaving day

Pretty much, I was VERY efficient during the day. yes, my first year I was much less efficient and took longer. But find a system and keep it!

5) Planning help--while classes often might vary a lot for math or reading in their skills, science/social studies are probably paced and taught almost the same across the classrooms at your grade. My first year, I did pretty much exactly what the lead teacher in my grade did in science and SS. She let me copy her whole folder, and wrote out what she did each day (not a lesson plan--but things like: Notes-- SOL 5a, create list together, read pages x-x, illustrate picture about causes). That way my first year I really just focused on math, reading and writing for planning.

6) What lesson plan format do you use? Is it online? on the computer? hand written? Do you have a choice as to what you use? I made my own in Word and it helped make planning faster for me. I made 5 plan sheets-one for each day, with times, specials and subjects already in it. Then I started my objectives for each subject with: OBJ: SWBAT (students will be able to). I also had a spot for the standard. Some things I could prefill in for the whole year--for example, our spelling was just one standard, so I could have that already in. Math was always the same order, so I already had the steps written in, and just had to fill in specifics.
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Old 01-13-2014, 01:13 AM
 
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You can do it!

Here are some ideas:

1) Pick one time over the weekend you will do work and don't do work the rest of the time. I liked to do it Sat morning so it was out of the way and I could relax. Most of my friends preferred to do it Sun afternoon so they could chill first--plus you're guaranteed to get a break as you can't overwork on a Sun afternoon into the rest of the weekend. You NEED a break on the weekend to recharge.

2) As PPs have said, decide on when you will leave school each day. Maybe say something like:
Monday--leave 1 hr after kids
Tues-leave on time as soon as contract ends
Weds-leave 1 hr after kids
Thurs-work late to get it ready for the next week
Fri-leave on time

I also always got to school 45-60 mins before kids did. yes, it was early, but I got so much more done when I was fresh and no one was in the building.

3) Make next week a very easy to plan for week--lots of independent reading, math review, etc. Anything that you already have copies for or don't need to make copies for or make anything new. That is your catch up week. Then on Monday of that week start planning for the next week. I always tried to get my following week's plans done by Thurs. I'd do one subject a day. So it might look like:
Monday--plan Reading
Tues--plan Science or Socials studies (we alternated units, so it was never both)
Weds-Plan writing
Thurs-Plan math (I found it easiest to plan math last so I'd know where they got to during the current week)
Friday was copy day--and I had a mom come in and make copies, so it really just meant that I had to have my copies ready. Each day when I'd plan, I'd put that subject's masters in a bin for the copy mom.

Once you get caught up on planning, it's easier to stay caught up. It also means if something happens last minute you still have a few days to plan if need be. I never planned on the weekend. Weekends were for any grading I had to do (and I tried to limit that).

4) Figure out when you will do what during the day (not the kid's schedule--yours). For example, mine was:

45-60 mins before kids arrived: check emails, grade papers, make sure all my materials are ready for the day
Kids' Arrival--We had a 20 min period that kids could arrive during and then about 10 mins of announcements/news show. I stood at the door and shook hands with every kid who came in and greeted them. Yes, that ate up 20 mins, but it was a positive start with every kid. With one of my problem kids, I might give a quick prep talk or reminder of our goals for the day. During announcements/news show, I took attendance, checked homework for completion and laid out stuff for the first subject.
Specials--lesson plan for the subject of the day for the following week.
Lunch--We got 30 mins lunch. Some teachers relax the whole time. I really found I was less stressed if I ate for 20 mins, then checked email and prepped for the afternoon for 10 mins.
Pack-up/Dismissal--while the kids are getting packed, I would gather and organize any papers that came in during the day and sort whether I needed to grade it or if it could go right home (or get returned the next day)
After school--grading and prep for next day, unless it was a prompt leaving day

Pretty much, I was VERY efficient during the day. yes, my first year I was much less efficient and took longer. But find a system and keep it!

5) Planning help--while classes often might vary a lot for math or reading in their skills, science/social studies are probably paced and taught almost the same across the classrooms at your grade. My first year, I did pretty much exactly what the lead teacher in my grade did in science and SS. She let me copy her whole folder, and wrote out what she did each day (not a lesson plan--but things like: Notes-- SOL 5a, create list together, read pages x-x, illustrate picture about causes). That way my first year I really just focused on math, reading and writing for planning.

6) What lesson plan format do you use? Is it online? on the computer? hand written? Do you have a choice as to what you use? I made my own in Word and it helped make planning faster for me. I made 5 plan sheets-one for each day, with times, specials and subjects already in it. Then I started my objectives for each subject with: OBJ: SWBAT (students will be able to). I also had a spot for the standard. Some things I could prefill in for the whole year--for example, our spelling was just one standard, so I could have that already in. Math was always the same order, so I already had the steps written in, and just had to fill in specifics.


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Old 01-13-2014, 02:00 PM
 
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I have no real words of wisdom as I've never really taught 5th graders and can't say I'm in your area of struggle; but, I do know many times we all feel overwhelmed when it comes to teaching. Often times other areas of our lives take a backseat to our classroom and students and this is not what teaching is about. We need to find the balance!

The first thing I suggest, take a walk! Not sure where you are in the world; but, if you are somewhere where the weather permits, go for a nice walk. Have some upbeat music, put the earphones in and walk ~ it's a great stress reliever and often allows for creative juices to flow. Later, when you are stressed over the blank screen/lesson plans, take another walk! I find if I sit and stare at a project, my anxiety increases and I can't come up with anything good at all. I need to walk away and come back later to whatever I'm doing.

Another thing I like when lesson planning is the attached Weekly Focus paper. I found this just this year and I LOVE it! I fill it out for each subject before I begin planning. It helps make me think of my weekly focus. After that's done, I plan each subject one at a time. I don't plan each day; but each subject. I start with Math and plan all 5 days of math, then move on to the next subject and plan the week for that subject. It helps me keep on track and from jumping around.

You can do this and remember to take time for yourself because that is what will make you a better teacher and partner at home! You can do it!!
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File Type: pdf Weekly Focus Sheet.pdf (207.2 KB, 53 views)
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Old 01-13-2014, 03:54 PM
 
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You are not a failure! The first year was difficult for me 15 years ago and I am sure the difficulty has increased. You can do it!

You have gotten some great advice. Start small, try to set time limits, and make sure to take time for yourself! Again, you can do it! Take care!
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You can do it!
Old 01-13-2014, 05:35 PM
 
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I teach the little ones, and have been at it for many years. But I will never forget the Hell that was my first year, when everything was new and overwhelming. You've gotten grew advice, and I wanted to add my encouragement and a hug. (((Be25newteacher))) One resource that is great for behavior management is whole brain teaching. There are free videos on youtube to get you started. Good luck, keep posting- we've all been where you are. It does get easier!
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Old 01-13-2014, 05:45 PM
 
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The teacher in the room to my right told my that for the first three years as a teacher all he could think every day was "What the h_ll" and the teacher to my left says that she hated every single day for the first two years. Both of them now have smoothly running rooms and love their jobs. The days that I feel really incompetent and overwhelmed I look at my coteachers and realize that they are people just like me. If they can do it I can do it. You can do it.
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first year
Old 01-13-2014, 08:59 PM
 
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of any job is horrible (I just cleaned up my language).

I've had several first years in various aspects of teaching. Sometimes I was so tense I thought my hair would rain about my shoulders--even my follicles were tense. I woke up and realized that I was teaching tomorrow's lesson in my sleep (or lack of sleep).

You've had some great suggestions on here. Apply one or two of them each week, all things in moderation.

YOu will not be perfect, no one ever is but you will get easier in your job as time goes by. My first two years in the classroom I focused on learning how to teach reading and followed the math book closely. After that, I added math teaching research.

I think I was worthy of being called "teacher" long about year 3 or 4. (I've taught for 30+ years--so I know it's survivable, but boy!! do I remember so major first years).

You haven't said if anyone is behaving as if you aren't successful with your class. It may be that you aren't living up to your own expectations. You won't for awhile, teaching is an acquired skill set--it takes time and SMALL amounts of self-review about what else might have been done in such-and-such a situation.

I'm also wondering if you might have gotten "the class from hell." It's the group that teachers dread to see coming and are glad to see going. You don't have a frame of comparison, yet, to know if this is a good class or a bad class.

Don't give up on yourself or your students. Your previous experience will stand you in good stead as will the suggestions on here. And you only have to accept the ones that feel right to you.
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thank you
Old 01-18-2014, 05:54 AM
 
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to everyone! I am in awe of all the responses...I didn't expect this! It felt so good to know that I am not alone in this journey. I read every post and everyone had so much to offer-the first piece of advice I took was to take a deep breath... then to ask for help. Asking for help was the best...I guess I felt I didn't want to be a bother to others since they are just as busy...but they were great---the p is great too! Thank you so much for all your responses...we are not alone and I hope this thank you reply will reach to all that offered me all these words of encouragement, support, advice, and just the reassurance that what I am going through is "normal" and I can get better. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!!!
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Oh sweetie . . .
Old 05-09-2014, 04:42 PM
 
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I really hope that by the time you read this you are doing better.

I will tell you that you sound JUST LIKE ME the third year of college when I was student teaching. I was anxious, angry, depressed, and kicking myself for wasting years and thousands of dollars to be where I was.

After many tears, fits, and hitting bottom I finally started talking to my cooperating teacher. Who suggested I talked to a counselor. Who suggested I talk to my doctor. Who got me on Zoloft (I was SOOO anti-drug, but I was desperate!) Guess what? I was able to think again. The tears dissipated. I enjoyed the classroom again.

I'm not saying you need pills. I'm saying you need to talk to people. Start with your principal, or your preacher . . . or your doctor. Please. Don't give up on a dream without finding out what might help you!
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