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Old 09-19-2007, 10:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am student teaching and absolutely drowning. I'm only 5 weeks in and I am functioning on 4-5 hours of sleep a night, my grading is way behind and I am getting my planning done day-to-day. I am supposed to put together a unit plan for my teacher work sample... that unit is planned to start Friday and right now all I have are my cooperating teacher's unit tests, his old powerpoints, a sheet of objectives, and a few ideas.

I'm pumping as well, and I'm having trouble making everything work..

do you have any tips? I need to figure out how to do more with my time and get more sleep. My emotions are on a hair-trigger and I know it's just from lack of sleep...

thank you..
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Old 09-19-2007, 12:17 PM
 
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I have no advice for you, but I'll be in your position as a first year teacher next year and let me tell ya....I am PETRIFIED! :

Can you eliminate anything from your schedule?

I know this might take longer to get to work, but if you could take public transit, you could grade and such while commuting (can you tell I live in a large city with a long commute? ).

Could you go to bed earlier and get up earlier, so that you are doing your grading and some prep before everyone else gets up?

What about activities, like quizzes, where you give them and then have the students' neighbor's grade them? That would make less paperwork for you, and the students are still accountable.

Can you change some of your assignments so that you are simply checking for completeness....i.e. giving a check mark rather than an actual grade and it goes under participation or something.

Can you tell I'm thinking about these types of issues?

You can PM me if you would like and bitch about it! I actually want to hear all the horror stories so I can be as prepared as possible (and then hopefully be pleasantly surprised)
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Old 09-20-2007, 08:52 AM
 
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Argh. That's the second time I by accident clicked on an ad and lost my post. Grr. I'm going to switch to advanced. Hold on...

OK... Well, I never did the new baby and first year teacher thing at once, but I did go to grad school while doing my first and second years of teaching, and I am currently struggling with a 2 year old and two teaching jobs. I know what it's like to be overburdened.

Remember (and this is very tough to do) that September and October are really hard, but you will get into a groove. I promise!

Remember that the work will be there tomorrow. It is OK to put off grading something for a day so that you can have a meal with your family or a good night's sleep. (Well, a halfway decent night's sleep, anyway!)

It's normal to be planning day to day. One thing that my colleagues in this school have taught me (which I didn't do in my old school) is to use a calendar. By this I mean that you make a calendar at the beginning of each month that lists all due dates for the kids, all test dates, all important dates. You can even include topics for each day. It's ostensibly to help the kids, but it keeps me in line too. It makes that day-to-day planning easier, because instead of saying, "oh, what the h#*& am I going to do tomorrow," I can say, "I'm doing characterization. How am I going to do that?" Of course, I'm talking about high school here. Might work with middle, but if you're doing elementary, not sure how you'd use it.

Remember that your colleagues are phenomenal resources. There is a lot of cross-pollination in my department and it's fantastic. Don't just talk to your cooperating teacher. Talk to everyone.

Finally, just dig in, grit your teeth and tell yourself "this too shall pass." It's kind of like labor that way, and you made it through that, right?

Alright. It's pizza day at daycare (aka, Mommy's Favorite Day of the Week), but just because I don't have to pack a lunch doesn't mean I can wear jammies to work. PM me if you want to talk more (especially if you want a virtual mentor who teaches HS English)... I can also send you a PDF of my calendar so you can see what it looks like.

Take care!

Stacey teaching teens to read & write... Daddy plays ska, DD1 (7/05) loves trees & princesses, & DD2 (3/10) loves mommy-milk! Please get your kids tested for lead.
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Old 09-20-2007, 09:11 AM
 
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Not sure what subject or unit you have to teach, but is there anything online you could use? If you type in the textbook you're using, you may find things that other teachers have done. I had to do that in a pinch a few times!

I also think that instead of all of the grading, choosing what to grade and what to check as complete may save you some time.

Missionary, birth-worker, midwifery student
Mama to love.gif DD (9yr), DS luxlove.gif (3yr), & 2twins.gif UC twin DDs (5yr)

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Old 09-20-2007, 04:59 PM
 
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You're really scaring me! I start the first phase of student teaching in about a month (just one class for three weeks) and feel reasonably confident about that, but spring semester I'll start phase II (one class all semester) and am really freaking out about that - it seems like a big plunge!

I've seen strap on pumps - could you do that so you can get work done while you pump, or do you need to focus just on pumping?

I agree with making a calendar for each unit/month so both you and the students know what's coming next and stay on track.

Definitely beg, borrow and steal from other teachers at the school and the internet!

What subject and grade are you teaching?

From talking with fellow students who were doing the "intern" option, doing planning day to day your first and second year are totally normal - I would ask them what they were doing the next day (during seminar at 8pm) and they would say, "no idea" or "winging it". I know this doesn't sound ideal or like how you envisioned yourself teaching, but I think it'll get much better soon.

By the way, how is classroom management going for you? That's the part I'm most freaked out about!
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Old 09-21-2007, 04:01 PM
 
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What state are you in? There is a great site aligned to the California state standards that has lesson plans by standard. Not all of them are great lessons, but some are good, and some you can use just to get ideas if you feel stuck.

http://www.score.k12.ca.us/
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Old 09-21-2007, 05:36 PM
 
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As the wife of a teacher who recently went through 1st year teaching, I can at least tell you the first year is the hardest. It gets easier as you get used to planning and already have some lesson plans developed.

Dh also had a hard time separating work from home the first year. Take some time for yourself when you get home, even if it's just you nursing as soon as you get home, put your feet up, relax, take a deep breath, rebond with your baby. Create some space for yourself between work and the rest of you. I think that was the hardest thing for him to learn and do. Even if 2 hours later you have to start grading or an hour later, at least you've taken a bit of time so you can refocus a little. As the wife of a teacher I would beg you to do this for yourself. It made him a better parent, teacher and husband when he figured out how to do it.

As for pumping, I found for me what helped with pumping was not looking a picture of dd or thinking of her but actually catching up on some of my work reading. Sort of distracting myself from pumping helped output while pumping helped me focus better on what I was reading.

I'll ask my dh for more specific lesson planning tricks. He's a music teacher so he doesn't have as much of the grading going on but he does do a lot of lesson planning.
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Old 09-22-2007, 01:17 PM
 
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I am a first year teacher in Oakland, California.

Man, do I remember having to write out my first unit...it was daunting. Hang in there. I just kept telling myself, "I can do this...I will do this...It will be finished."

I also had a lot of support with ds, as we were living with my parents at the time of getting my teaching certification. Do have you any support? Partner, family, friends, etc?

Now I am a 1st year teacher in a high needs school with VERY little support (my family now lives 6 hours away).

The first few weeks were miserable and I had a hard time remembering why the hell I wanted to be a teacher. I have 23 1st graders and 17 of those 1st graders are boys! :

What helped me was to have a very solid classroom/behavior management plan with a lot of consistency. I worked very hard, in collaboration with my amazing principal, on setting up my management plan. Since implementing that plan, life is getting significantly easier and a lot more fun.

Ask to observe other, more experienced, teachers. I have had the opportunity to observe a couple of AMAZING teachers, who have given me some wonderful ideas and supportive advice.

Make sleep a priority. I ALWAYS stop what I am doing at 9:45, pleasure read for 15 minutes (I cannot sleep very well if I do not redirect my mind from work) and make sure I turn out the light no later than 10:15 (I have a hard time setting down my book right now ).

As someone else said, "Remember, the work will be there tomorrow." This has been a hard one for me, as I always like to have everything finished each day. But, with teaching...it is not always possible. Once I started getting in to the mind frame of..."it's not going anywhere," I found I was a lot more productive and had a healthy frame of mind when approaching the work.

One final thing, as I feel like I am writing a bloody book...try not to plan everyday. Make time once a week to, at least, get a good foundation of what you will be teaching each day. I cannot imagine the stress and anxiety of planning everyday. Personally, it would knock me out.

Hang in there...it does get easier and so much more fun!
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Old 09-23-2007, 06:56 AM
 
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Firstly, *hugs*

I have a dd the same age as your little one and I should have done my first year teaching last year - took maternity leave instead!

I've gone back this year but I'm only doing 2 days a week as I knew I could never cope with ft teaching plus do a good job with my family! 2 days is still hard but my HT's making it as easy as poss for me - I teach guitar one day and do supply cover the other - still get to plan some stuff and do assessments etc but without the heavy workload!

I think you need to speak to your Head or Head of Dept and just explain the situation. They should be sympathetic to your situation with a lo. If not, maybe it's not the right position for you right now.

Claire - wife of 1, mum of 2! Jess 10-01-96, Millie 08-11-06
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Old 09-23-2007, 03:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for the words of support. What helps the most is to hear "this too shall pass", I need to keep that in mind. And i DO need to stop what I'm doing before 10pm and just go to bed. The lack of sleep is making small problems seem like big problems and I know I could cope with everythign a lot better if I were running on a full tank.

My cooperating teacher is very type-A, and I know he truly means well, but it is frustrating sometimes that I don't get credit for doing things well or for trying and improving the things he asks me to. no matter how hard I try i just get more and more criticism. That kind of thing can beat you down.

Overall I have a good situation. I only have one prep and the kids are an absolute breeze, classroom management is no trouble at all. It's a college-prep chemistry class so other than the students being a little talkative it is a very easy classroom management situation. it is just more difficult with the personality type of my cooperating teacher plus the fact that he doesn't plan more than a day ahead of time himself. When I do put together a plan that goes more than a few days out he tends to tear it apart and it creates more work for me. It's these kinds of things that create more stress and when running on so little sleep, it makes me feel terrible.

Kerplunk, I am sure that my students are easier than the average class, but i have found anyway that you can find a good balance between being firm and caring, and if you can create an atmosphere where the students both like you and respect you, it takes you a long way with managing problems.

Sorry about all the rambling here - not used to the laptop keyboard so I am not even trying to go back and correct typos etc

Thank you all!


It will get better! But I need to focus on getting sleep.
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Old 09-23-2007, 04:58 PM
 
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Oh, and regarding unit planning. Can I assume that you know about "backwards design"? I think that most of the ed schools talk about it now, but if you haven't heard of it, please look into it. It's basically the concept that you start from where you want to end up (the assessment/standards) and work back to the beginning of the unit from there. Check out Wiggins and McTeague's Understanding by Design.

Stacey teaching teens to read & write... Daddy plays ska, DD1 (7/05) loves trees & princesses, & DD2 (3/10) loves mommy-milk! Please get your kids tested for lead.
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Old 09-23-2007, 11:32 PM
 
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I'm not a first year teacher but I was one five years ago. I started teaching with no prior experience when dd1 was 3 months old. For the first two weeks I remember crashing into bed at 9pm every night. I didn't get a lot of their stuff graded . I don't know if it will help you but I did learn a few things.

1. Pick a set time and leave every day. School ended at 2:45. I left by 4:30 every day whether I was done or not. I wanted to make sure I picked dd up on time every day.
2. Have the students grade each other's work if possible. Pick up the papers and record the grades. Worst case scenario if the school/district has a problem with students grading is have them grade their own paper in a different color of ink.
3. If it is a participation assignment. Grade them over their shoulder as they finish.
4. Whle it may not help critical thinking skills, don't be afraid to give multiple choice tests.
5. Classroom discussions are wonderful learning tools and either don't need to be graded or are easily graded depending on how you choose to facilitate them.
6. Do not spend your entire life this year on teaching. Spend time with your family and friends. Some how it all works out.
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