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Backwards plan, stay positive, and go to the gym

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Hang tight, my first-year friends, because October is almost over.

For those who haven't taught and for those who have forgotten, October is when new teachers feel the strain, the stress and the struggle of teaching... multiplied by 10. It results from a combination of factors: The honeymoon with your kids has worn off, the five new strategies you tried have failed and failed again, first-quarter grades are due, and you've finally succumbed to the fact that all the changes your vice principal promised you back in August won't be materializing, at least not until April.

It's a rough time, friends, but it gets better. Do what's right for children and take care of yourself in the process. Take time off to stave off the flu and learn to backwards design unit plans-- UbD will save you time and make you a far better teacher. Learn to assess and know where your students are both academically and personally. Vent, but remember to articulate how much you care and love your children. Surround yourself with positive, inspiring, encouraging people. Go to the gym. Take feedback from everyone with endless humility and common sense. And never, ever, ever, ever give up on your children or yourself. November is around the corner and so is that four-day holiday.

From a teacher I supported last year in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas in her first year teaching.

Dear Jessica,

It's October again, that dreaded month that we went through together last year! I am writing to ask for a favor, but also to update you on how my second year is going. I just came out of being very sick with the flu last week, and had to take 3 days off work, but I'm doing much better now, and just have a lot of catch up work to do. I am doing so much better this year with the long term planning and the tracking, and just everything! It's like night and day. I wanted to write and thank you for all your encouragement and support last year, especially during this dreadful month when I often just felt like throwing in the towel and quitting. I can't believe that was only a year ago! Anyways, I'm teaching 4 AP classes this year and 2 regular junior classes, and I am loving it! Planning lessons is so much easier now because I have a unit plan ready and it's still experimenting with what works and what doesnt' with each class, but things just run so much more smoothly.

Anyways, I'm applying to UT next year for a Master's in Education - TESL, actually. I'm really excited about this, since I really think that UT has a strong foreign language education program, and I'm really want to work with ELL's and learn how to be a better teacher. I think that I can see myself teaching as a career, Jessica, and that is something that I almost lost sight of last year!

1 Comment

I love, and I've said this before, how timely your posts always are when it comes to where I am with teaching! I'm a second year teacher as well, and while we aren't able to backward plan anything yet (we have curriculum maps we have to use that are, literally, all over the map each month) things are a little easier. I still feel stressed and worried, but I have a GREAT team to rely on and gather inspiration and ideas from. Rough as it is this year, it's far better than where I was last year!

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