Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hang in there, baby.

Today was exhausting. I kind of anticipated that it would be. It IS the day after Halloween after all. 

But in my corner of the world, it's not just the holidays...it's everything.

This is my 13th year of teaching. I'm no rookie. I've actually been teacher of the year at one school and made the final 3 at another school. I had gotten to the point where I could just 'wing it' day to day and do a darn good job because I knew what my job was. I taught reading to fourth graders and I was good at it. 

I requested a transfer just before this school year started and as a consequence found myself in first grade. The last time I taught first grade was 16 years ago during one small part of my student teaching. After a year of second grade the rest of my years experience have been in either 4th or 5th grade. 

So here I am feeling like a new teacher all over again. So many of the skills and techniques I used for 4th grade don't even come close to transferring to these little people. 

To top it off, this is a Title I school with a high percentage of Spanish-speaking students. Of all the things I've received training for ELL/ESOL isn't among them. 

So what am I doing well??

  • I love my students. Perhaps this really is the most important thing, but I can't teach them to read by love alone.
  • I'm getting along great with my new teammates. Again, HUGELY important, but they can't teach for me - they're fighting their own battles.
  • I have high expectations for my little people. This a BIG frustration for me though, as I continue to fail to raise these guys up. Expectations aren't enough.
  • I'm persistent. I continue to pull myself up by my bootstraps and try again.
Looming in the back of my mind?
  • How do I structure my reading time so that students are engaged and on-task and learning to read and enjoying great books?
  • How do I teach 21 individuals during math time since whole group efforts of any sort have failed miserably?
  • How do I help them discover their talents as writers?
  • How do I manage the standards-based grading without going insane with the paperwork involved?
  • How do I get them to sit down and listen (for even just a few minutes would be okay with me!!)?
  • How do I teach the students to show respect and courtesy to one another?
  • How can I keep them from running in the hallway?
  • How can I help them realize that this is OUR classroom and when they break and/or damage our supplies and resources it hurts all of us?
  • How do I inspire them to want to learn?
Ignorance would be bliss at this point. At least then I wouldn't feel so inadequate all the time. 

Tomorrow is another day. I will focus on being present with my little people. We will enjoy a good book or two and share some writing. I will smile at them and hug them and tell them how proud I am of their hard work. 

Anyone else out there struggling with transition from one grade level to another? I'd love to hear about your trials and triumphs! Words of wisdom are appreciated too. 

Until then I'll just continue to hang in there, baby.