Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Real Deal

So, after my first 12 days of teaching, there are several adjectives to describe how I am feeling: exhausted, stressed, fulfilled, exhausted. I don't care what anyone says, even the most challenging student teaching experience cannot prepare you for what it is like to be teaching your own class!!!!

Let's see, I have 3 students will Special needs, on of which is quite severe. I have a Teacher's Aid in my room and it wasn't until last Friday that I realized I needed to communicate with him what I wanted him to do with the students on his load because we just got a Special Ed. Teacher a couple of days ago.

Administration expects for all components of curriculum to be fully implemented, but I am still teaching routines and procedures that take up a RIDICULOUS but NECESSARY amount of instructional time each day. This whole procdures/routine thing is new for me because I saw very little of that during student teaching.

I have learned so much in the last couple of weeks and am so completely and totally overwhelmed with the zillion and one things that are constantly running through my head!! One thing I have been struggling with is how much time I spending doing 'school stuff' every day. I'm at school over an 1 hour before I need to and I leave about 3 hours after I'm allowed to, only to go home and do more work until about 9:30 when I get ready for bed.

I feel like as a brand new teacher, it makes sense that I would be spending a little more time at school because I'm playing catch-up (in regards to materials, time management) to other more experienced teachers. Also, over the last couple of weeks, I have had family and friends comment about how much time I'm spending at school and working on school stuff. During this FABULOUS 3 day weekend, I have been doing a great job.....haven't touched any school stuff since I left school at 5:30 yesterday!!! I have spent time with family and really enjoyed myself. I want to find more of a balance but I'm really not sure how.

No matter how much time I spend prepping for work, I know I will never be as prepared as I would like to be. However, the perfectionist in me still continues to strive for the impossible.

Question: How do you set boundaries and limits for the amount of time you devote to school??


  1. First, even experienced teachers find themselves overwhelmed and working "overtime" those first few weeks as routines and things get set into motion. I'm going into my 5th year and have already resigned myself that I will probably be spending a little more time than I'd like to at school these first few weeks until things even out a little.

    Secondly, it is insanely easy to feel like you CAN'T leave until EVERYTHING is done. My first year teaching I was a full time grad student, full-time mom and teaching a split class. I often look back and wonder how in the world I stayed sane through all of that! I learned really quickly that after those first two weeks, I HAVE to leave school at school. It either gets done there or it doesn't get done. I give myself and hour before and an hour after school every day and that's it. If the work isn't done, I go home anyway. [The only exception is when I have something that needs my attention -- like data -- that is due to my administration, then I might take it home if I didn't get it done at school.] I've found that I learned to really prioritize what absolutely had to be done and what things weren't as important (bulletin boards, etc). It has helped me a lot.

    Now that all of my own children are in school too, I realize how important it is for me to have time for them every day as well. That time suffered when I would bring work home and now that I refuse to, I get to make the most of the few hours per day that I actually have with my kids before they go to bed.

  2. Wow, I'm in the same boat as you. Last year was my first year and I could not believe how completely exhausting teaching was. I went through the first 2 months like a zombie, never getting enough rest and never getting caught up. This year is going a little better though they changed our schedule and I now have less time during the day. As Sunny said, I prioritize things, for example grading is always at the top of the list, that happens first. Next comes anything for deadlines I have. Finally is all the other stuff. I get to school about an hour early and leave 45 minutes after it ends. I will take things home but only easy things, things I need to read or review, I never take home grading. As for this weekend, I'm using it to catch up on all the other stuff. I need to get my curriculum map updated, my attendance book in order (yes, I know it's late :) plus do some planning for the next couple of weeks since they will be busy for me personally. I guess that's just the way it is when you teach. Have a good year...

  3. Thank you so much for posting this - I am preparing to step in as an interim teacher for someone who is soon to be going on maternity leave, and while the routines, procedures, and pace for the year have more than likely been set, I have a feeling I'll still be spending some initial time on this.

    This is my first placement since student teacher in the spring and I know that I will be in your shoes soon. I hope that as the school year progresses you will be able to take more time for you!

    Though I don't have any experience and advice, I would have to agree with what has already been posted - making sure you set some time limits on things and prioritizing what needs to be done.

    I wish you tons of luck and look forward to reading more from you!

  4. Thanks so much for your posts! I must say I have been showing some true gains in this area. I went home one night and left my cart-on-wheels at school and came home and just relaxed. Since it is a three day weekend, I am planning on putting my progress to the test by truly taking some "me-time". Thanks for all of the tips and support!