This is a bit of a vent post. Last year I felt like I had a really great year professionally and felt like I grew a lot. I tried new lessons and had established a classroom that worked really well. My students worked well together and learned a lot. It was the first time I knew that I was the one making the impact and could see the results of what I was trying. I was focused and had momentum with my instruction. I was SO positive about the year and going into the next year.
This year, a whole 13 days in, I just feel out of focus. For the first time in 6 years of teaching first grade, last year was the first year I was the only adult in my classroom, barring some minimal services. Don’t get me wrong, I love working with students who need my support the most, after all I have degrees in literacy and special education. I think I do good work in those positions. And I have learned SO much from some wonderful support persons and teammates. But goodness, my year last year made me realize how crazy a classroom can get when you are teaming with a gazillion adults. I feel like I am a plate spinner and have to keep those plates spinning. There is always at least 1 adult and at times 3-4 in my room when I am teaching. I am feeling like I am on stage performing and am feeling lacking. It is amazing how, after building my self-confidence for a year, I feel like I am starting all over again.
My schedule has been determined, literally, by my service providers. I have no flexibility over any timing – from snack to when I have recess, it is all locked in tight. I almost cried when I had yet another person show up to schedule social skills lessons – a new thing this year. I know I could not do the job on my own that I can do with all of these wonderful folks to help, but my ability to feel like I am teaching for my students is seriously compromised because of what all the adults need to do.
My lessons are orchestrated for the support people coming in. I remember one year when I actually did writing 3 separate times (formal instruction, writing workshop, and journals) one day a week to accommodate OT, Speech, and a special education teacher. Another year, I had 4 teachers – one at each table, during my writing time. Why do we even need the general education teacher in the room at that point? The planning is never enough. I can’t possibly plan enough with every support person to give them a clear picture of exactly what I am doing in my classroom. Sometimes you just hope for the best.
I am sitting here thinking that I am exhausted. I am not sleeping for the stress on my shoulders. My mind is spinning because I constantly have someone (meaning an adult someone) asking a question, making a suggestion, or telling me something that I really need to know (I have literally been carrying around a clipboard to write on because my brain is full – please don’t stop me in the hallway or track me down during my lunch to tell me that I have a phone message). My creativity is a big fat zero because I can’t even wrap my mind around my day, let alone create wonderful and exciting learning experiences. I need to spend so much more time in my room and planning, but I am trying to have a life again. Ten years of living more for my job than myself has made me realize that I need to find myself outside of teaching again.
So here I am wondering how am I going to make it through this year and do the best I can for all of my students? How can I love what I am doing? How can I find my creativity again? How can I make our days exciting and spark my students’ love for learning? I’m sure it will all work out in time. Thank goodness tomorrow is Friday! Next week is a new week and I can try all over again.