Friday, September 12, 2008

Sigh. I made it.

So yeah, yesterday was bad. I cried *three* times--during the school day.
That has never happened before.

In fact, I've only cried at school two or three times ever, total, over the last four years.

The day itself wasn't disastrous like it might sound--it was more of the same shit, and I guess I reacted badly. I've been feeling stressed about making things in my classroom better, and they keep not getting better.

My lessons are sucking, my management is crap, and my timing is ridiculously awful. And me being late messes up the other classes and people get irritated. I certainly don't blame them. I'm trying, I swear! But since the kids won't shut up or focus or work, it takes forever to do anything. Then I run out of time and get even more stressed out when there are several dozen people just waiting for me to get my shit together.

There's been an issue with mixed signals and authority. Mainly that the new (to the school) teachers tell them something, they don't do it, an old (to the school) teacher steps in, they do it. Supportive, sure, except not, because it just taught the kids they don't have to listen to me until someone else--someone they respect--tells them to.

I can't get ahead with planning, which is strange because I'm also way behind on lessons. I mean that things take way too long to do. Or they go wrong. Or the kids don't get it. Which is bullshit because they're not dumb, they're not new to school, and everything is perfectly reasonable. Still, I'm changing or adapting things every single day.

The second subject is KILLING ME. I have zero plans, zero idea of what the kids know, and with the stupid management problems, no fucking time to do anything in class anyway. We haven't done anything for two solid weeks now.

I am drowning in paper right now too. I see six classes a day, teaching two subjects. I have nowhere to store all these papers, before or after they're graded--right now all of last week's work is still in bins stacked haphazardly on the floor. I'm pretty sure I'll never look at it.

Since I'm not looking at homework, and I don't have time to assess them in class because we can't even get through a lesson, I have very little idea of what they know and what they can do.

My homework assignments themselves also completely suck. I have to figure out what the hell to do, how to decrease the volume, how to miraculously make them actually put some effort into the assignment (instead of dashing off something in five seconds during breakfast). And again, the two subject thing is KILLER and so fucking stressful with the homework.

All week I've gotten between seven and eight hours of sleep, but still feel exhausted every morning. I feel like I can't catch up on rest either. This week I've been trying to eat more, too, so my general health is better than last week, when I wasn't rested or eating.

I'm working twelve hour days and feel I am getting nothing done--hours of teaching plus hours of meetings equals mental dullness.

Overall though, I feel like a generally shitty teacher. I'm totally not doing my job.

I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing that all the other new (to the school) teachers feel this same way.

Shit, I keep coming back to edit and add more stuff...

I can feel a cold coming on--my throat has been tickling the last couple days and this morning I was congested a little.

I have actual holes in my shoes. I need more pants that fit and more work tops that won't make me die from sweating. We need to go grocery shopping and do tons of work cleaning and organizing the apartment.

If you have a blog, I haven't read it in weeks. I can barely manage to remember to look at facebook and change my status. I need to come to grips with the fact that I'll probably have to stop even trying to read blogs. There's just no time anymore. :( So if you're reading this and I haven't commented lately, I'm sorry and I still love you. :) And if you're one of the extra-awesome people who comments, I love you extra! Thank you for reading and thank you for the support!


Anonymous said...

Oh my.

Knowing the sort of discipline and learning (and fun) you were able to achieve in your last classroom, I fully trust that your experience will improve at this school. I have no idea when or how, though, so all I can recommend is that you allow yourself some room to adjust, and stop being so hard on yourself.

Also, they hired you for a reason. Believe in yourself.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine how I'd be in your shoes, Jules. A new school, new kids, new rules, new curriculum, etc., etc.

Plus, you moved into a new apartment. With your BF. After living alone for a few years.

You'll get through this and be back to your kick-ass teacher self in no just need to adjust to all this stuff.

That kick ass teacher is still in there. She is.

You rock :)

N. said...

I have been feeling the same way--that I am a sucky teacher and I don't have time to fix it. I've been hearing other teachers say the same thing... maybe September is just a bad month. I know it's hard to believe, but we have to believe it will get better.

Anonymous said...

Well, I know you haven't read my blog in a week... I haven't written in that long. Opening of school is tough...

Is it harder to get out of a labyrinth, or a maze?

Renee said...

Oh, honey. I feel your pain. I know what it's like being there. My first few years of teaching, I was just like, "I am not cut out for this". I quit for two years after my fifth year and said, "I will never go back!" Well, I did go back, and it "clicked" for me.

I know that you can do it! I've been reading your blog for a while, and you've had a lot of changes recently. It's hard to start a new school. I'm in my third year at my second school and I'm just now feeling like I've gotten the hang of it and am getting better. It takes time.

I can only offer a few tips. First of all, you don't have to grade everything you assign. Second, get some legal manilla folders and tape them up so that you only have one opening. Label each one with each class. When you get papers for that class, put them in the "to be graded" folder. That way you don't have a bunch of piles hanging around. I have started a system of classroom jobs that I stole from another blogger that I read. I'm trying right now to remember who it is. It was from "Confessions from the Couch by Miss A". These jobs have been a lifesaver! I have help for doing some daily routines and the kids really love it. Anyway, sorry to go on and on, but keep your chin up, it'll get better!

X said...

Gotta second what wwcutie said. We know this is not who you are as a teacher -- it's the situation you happen to be going through right now. You know?

One way I deal with paper is to have lots of their work done in notebooks. I've started doing quick HW checks during the do now, and I don't do full notebook checks very often. If it's something I need to assess really thoroughly, it's on a handout. Otherwise, in the notebook!

CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

You are not alone!

Monday I wrote in my journal: "I don't know why comments keep appearing on my blog to the effect that I'm a good or even fabulous teacher. I'm not. I'm actually a rather mediocre teacher. I don't know if I'll ever move beyond my mediocrity."

Self-doubt may be one of the prices we pay for daring to become teachers. If our doubts plunge us into despair, then they're our worst enemies. But if our doubts kick us in the butt and spur us to take whatever action is necessary to improve our teaching practice, then they are our best friends.

Somehow I can't help but think that the latter scenario describes where you find yourself (even if it doesn't seem that way at the moment).


Schoolgal said...

It sounds like you don't have your own classroom. That's harder when traveling from room to room. If you are a cluster and are late, it cuts into a teacher's prep time.

First up: Homework does not have to be given every night, and if it is a requriement, make it a short 10 minute assignment. It does not have to get collected either. Just go over or share it in class. As you travel around the room, you can see who did the assignment.

Folders are a great idea. You can color code each class and subject.

Second: What subject is giving you the most trouble? Maybe we all can help with that.

Third: Start making those phone calls to parents.

Fourth: Even if your lesson is not finished, you must end the class on time. Having been a cluster I know the frustrations when someone is late.

It's still the beginning of the year. Don't be afraid to use class time to establish routines. Cut the lesson in half if you have to.

Finally, ask to sit in on some classes during your prep so you can learn the routines of others.

The first year in a new situation is always an adjustment. You will do fine!

Teacher said...

I've just recently found your blog, but when I read this post, I felt like you took my feelings from the end of the week and put them into your blog!

I'm a new teacher to the city, originally from Kansas... and I frankly, I don't even feel like a teacher. I feel more like a drill sergeant. It's rather depressing for me as well. I am spending the weekend attempting a plan for change.

I hope it gets better for you soon! Good luck!

yomister said...

Hold on. You'll hit your stride soon enough. As one of your many longtime readers, I have little doubt.

In the meantime, I hand you a symbolic box of tissues and a great big bag of tenacity.

Schoolgal said...


I wasn't sure if you knew that fellow NYC education blogger, Ms. Dennis from Your Mama's Mad Tedious: Diary..., has been published in the NYTimes.

Ms M. said...

It seems like some of this, especially the stuff related to the management is coming from you being "new" to the school. I think kids always push the new people more, even though you have experience. You had a reputation at your last school, having taught kids whose friends, cousins, brothers and sisters had you later and came in knowing that you had been at the school and knew what you were doing. Your new students do not have this same knowledge about you. I imagine this sucks, and I feel for you, but you do have the capabilities to handle it, and it WILL get better, even if it's not as fast as you need it to.

As for the two subjects, I hear ya, it was painful for me too at the beginning. That too will get easier, as will the pacing. I agree with all the comments above about not giving loads of work, or HW every night even. I only give Social Studies homework once, maybe twice a week, and only if I think they need to do something to help solidify the lesson.

Keep it up, you will adjust to this and get your rythem back...

Ms M. said...


hedgetoad said...

Seriously, take the homework and either toss it into the "circular file" or take 30 seconds to write a big check on each one. (I tell my kids that a check means credit was given). Don't even bother to check to see if there's a name on it. Then head to starbucks for a nice pumpkin spice decafe latte, some soft jazz or classical music and a book by Jane Austen. If it's as bad as you think it is, one day of relaxation won't kill anyone and maybe an idea will suddenly pop into your head. Or maybe it won't seem so bad.

Then come back and post your second subject so people can start sending you stuff.