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NEW TEACHER TEARS

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As school year moves beyond ice-breakers and seating assignments, reality—or at least a sense of "What in creation have I gotten myself into?"—is no doubt hitting many idealistic young teachers. Take the example of Jessica Shyu, an aspiring East Coast journalist who, on a Teach for America gig, is teaching middle school special education on a Navajo reservation in New Mexico. She's apparently spent a lot of the past week crying, with good reason:


Despite working 18 hours a day, I am always behind. Each day I am a little more behind. Who am I kidding? Each day I am a lot more behind. My class size is growing. In case folks are unaware of how my Special Ed resource room operates, I basically teach several different lessons at once. Most secondary teachers write about one lesson plan for all of their classes. I write seven. Each lesson plan includes two to four separate subjects and levels. I have not recorded grades in two weeks. I am tired. I am far behind on my paperwork. I have meetings to lead and IEPs to write. I need to vacuum my house.

Jessica points out that she’s been buoyed by friends who tell her that the job will get better. ("Maybe it will and maybe it won’t," she comments dryly.) She could also probably use a few helpful comments from fellow teachers. That’s partly what teacher blogs are for, right?

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4 Comments

Jessica,
I am sorry, but it does not get better. I have both level of students (lowest reading and gifted) and I am ALWAYS behind. Parent meetings, team meetings, staffings, staff development, department meetings and PAPERWORK that can fill a truck each week.

And just when I think I can do it no longer (38 years this year), I step back and look at the kids. They make it all worth it. Last year some of the students who were graduating high school came back to see me, their old middle school teacher, for Teacher Appreciation Week. They were all taller than me and filled with hope and ambition and a large horizon of possibilities.

If you make the difference in just one child's life, who knows where that will lead? Thank you for teaching.

Janice (and my house also needs vacuuming)

Jessica,
I am sorry, but it does not get better. I have both level of students (lowest reading and gifted) and I am ALWAYS behind. Parent meetings, team meetings, staffings, staff development, department meetings and PAPERWORK that can fill a truck each week.

And just when I think I can do it no longer (38 years this year), I step back and look at the kids. They make it all worth it. Last year some of the students who were graduating high school came back to see me, their old middle school teacher, for Teacher Appreciation Week. They were all taller than me and filled with hope and ambition and a large horizon of possibilities.

If you make the difference in just one child's life, who knows where that will lead? Thank you for teaching.

Janice (and my house also needs vacuuming)

I feel for you. I am in the same situation, being a second year teacher. There are so many different curriculums to follown (grade level) and such diversity in the students that "one size fits all" does not work.
If you have a love for the job and the difference you are making, that will keep you going.
And just remember, you can only do so much in one day and you are VALUED beyond belief, whether you hear it or not.
I was told last year as a first year teacher, that not many people are made for this profession, and you have to have a heart for this kind of work. But as the last posting said, think of the difference you are making, and that will drive you.
Last of all, remember you are only one person with a HUGE role and you do what you can in a day and then call it that, a day's work.
Don't stress (like I have to tell myself too).
Just keep doing what you are doing and I know it will get easier and even more satisfying and rewarding with time.

I have to say that I think it does get better. I am only a second year teacher so I know how you feel. Both of the schools I have been at are urban, and I had VERY challengin students. I had to take over as a long term subsititute last year and trust me I had my share or tears. I felt overwhlmed, stressed, defeated, and discouraged.
You need to try to focus on the positive things that happen. Even if it is something that seems so very small- focus in on it and enjoy it. Try to remember that this should be enjoyable (I know how hard that can be to do) and you are in this profession for a reason.

I promise you, it will get better. You will learn to organize your time and things will fall into place. It just will take time.

Hang in there.

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  • Nora: I have to say that I think it does get read more
  • Christine: I feel for you. I am in the same situation, read more
  • Janice: Jessica, I am sorry, but it does not get better. read more
  • Janice: Jessica, I am sorry, but it does not get better. read more

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