(Closed) first year teacher – Advice needed

posted 8 years ago in Career
Post # 3
2538 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: November 2009

(I’m a 6th year HS English teacher – 3 preps also, but same schedule as last year.)

It’s a normal emotion for any year!  Especially while wedding planning.  Last year I spent my entire prep period every day on Weddingbee. (And felt guilty about it the whole time…I just couldn’t make myself do anything else.)

3 preps is a ton for your first year!  My advice would be to borrow as much as possible from other teachers.  Don’t try to create everything new yourself.  Also there is so much online that is great for science.  Don’t feel like everything has to be perfect.  Getting by is good too.

BUT…as far as not being prepared for tomorrow.  I’ve been there numerous times, but it stresses me out so much not knowing what I’m doing that it’s usually better to just figure it out real quick.

For grading papers, I wait until holiday (there are tons in Jan and Feb) or do them on Sundays.  I can’t handle doing them after school.

Please PM me anytime if you need support!

Post # 4
264 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2011

I’m not technically a teacher yet (I’m student teaching for the entire school year), but I’m going through the same feelings of no motivation to do anything school related. I talked to my master teacher (and close friend) about it today and she told me it’s normal! She said that “you learn to go with the punches on the days activities and there are plenty of times where I [she] doesn’t feel like doing anything”… so she’ll put in a movie that’s related to the topic that the students are covering in class. 

From reading what you wrote, my assumption would be that you just did way to much because you were excited about your first year and wanted things to be perfect and you worn yourself too thin. Maybe take it slow for this first week back (making sure that you have a daily, general lesson plan) and ease yourself back into rotation. Just remember, the students don’t have any more motivation to do school work then you do to come up with the work! 🙂


Post # 5
4803 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

Hey!  I’m in my fourth year of teaching.  Let me start out by saying that you are not alone!  Although I’ve been teaching for a few years, I have had three different jobs in that time.  Each time I started a new one, I would be stressed to the max with planning and marking.  Last year I even had panic attacks in the evening because I was so overwhelmed.  I started taking Vitamin B for stress.  Once you have taught your subjects even once before though, it will get easier!  So here is the advice I can offer…

1. I would cut back on the coaching if at all possible, even if it’s just for your first year.  Coaching is awesome and I know it’s good for your career and for the kids, but you need to take care of yourself.  Especially with planning a wedding, you need some “me time”.  It’s not worth your health.

2. Try and cut down on your marking.  Try some different strategies such as going over answers with kids in class, having them mark each others’ work, maybe once in a while give a “completion” mark/homework check mark and then post the answers for students to check them, don’t mark every single question on an assignment but only a few of each type, or even get someone else (ex. your FI) to mark something easy such as multiple choice questions.

3. Ask your coworkers for help.  They might have some material that they can give you to cut down on your planning. 

4. Try to leave as much work at work as possible.  I know it’s super hard, but even if you went in a little bit early and left a bit later it is worth it to not take as much work home. 

Don’t beat yourself up!  Sorry this was so long. I hope it gets better.  Don’t worry too much about tomorrow.  Worst case scenario, get them to read something in groups and make a presentation, or write a summary of what they’ve learned so far in the course!

Post # 6
178 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: June 2011

I went through an alternative certification program, as well.  However, I wasn’t planning a wedding at the time, either.  I’m sure you are very overwhelmed!  But, it does help that you are doing the long-distance thing b/c that leaves you time to work on wedding stuff during the week.  Sometimes it’s easier to do the “Spring Break” countdown, or “Summer Begins” countdown.  That’s what I used to do.  Heck, I still do it 10 years later.  That’s what keeps me going forward.  It will get easier because each year, you will add more and more stuff to your activities and lessons.  I teach high school, as well, and when I began, my file cabinets were kind of slim.  Now, they are getting pretty full.  So, it does get easier to come up with stuff to do b/c when you get stuck, you can just go to your cabinet and find something you haven’t done in a few years.  I don’t think I actually gave you any advice, but I hope this may help you in moving forward 🙂

Post # 7
242 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2011

@loveispatient54: It IS tough!  First year or otherwise.  My first year was actually my best in that I never lost motivation and LOVED my kids.  But every other year, I’d have to DRAGGGGGGGGGGG myself back in there.  You should get back into the rhythm of planning by next week.  For now, you may just have to plunder through the week and just GET IT DONE!  Get a good night’s rest on Friday and a head start on next week’s lesson plans on Saturday.  You’ll feel better come Monday morning!  That’s my advice luv!

Post # 8
4824 posts
Honey bee

I am not a teacher, but have grown up around it. My mom is a principal, friends are teachers, I subbed etc.

Its normal to feel overwhelmed, the key is what you do with it. Is there a teacher that you would feel comfortable going to and telling them you are feeling stressed and to ask for the help? If this teacher is in the same department, they are likely going to offer you some assistance in your planning.  If they aren’t they will be able to give you some strategies (like the PPs already have) and help you implement them.

Dont be afraid to ask for help. Asking for help is a sign of strength because you are not willing to drown and recognize when you can’t do it alone.

Post # 10
601 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2010 - Heinz Chapel Ceremony, Museum Reception

Aw, I have so been there! I taught for three years, went to grad school, and am preparing to go back into the classroom next year. Listen, don’t let yourself forget that teaching is hard, hard, HARD work, the first year more than any other. I don’t think we often get enough credit for how difficult it is to do this job well. In my first year, Mr. Octo would sometimes get frustrated with me because I would stay after school working for HOURS, come home around 5:30 PM, take a nap, disappear into the spare room to do more work for hours, and crash in bed. We lived together, and barely saw each other until November or so!

So, give yourself a break. It is very, very difficult to be a good teacher. It’s even more difficult to be a good teacher every single day.

It is easy to put a lot of pressure on yourself to be great all the time, but here’s what I eventually came to realize: you know what happens if you have one really crappy day with a crappy lesson where nobody learns much of anything? Absolutely nothing. Nothing happens. Let it go, move on, and just try to do better the next day. That’s all you can do!

Post # 11
371 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2011

During my first year of teaching I cannot count the number of times I shut my classroom door and cried like a baby because I was so overwhelmed. To make matters worse, we had a lot of changes the following year, so I while lots of other first year teachers were in the groove having gotten used to the curriculum, management, etc. I had to start completely new, new subjects, new grade, new administrator. So I felt like I was a first year teacher for two years. Now that I’ve been teaching for a while, I can handle it better and I feel more successful at what I do, but there are still days when I have to drag my butt out of bed in the morning and I’m ALWAYS happy for snow days. I love teaching, but I’ll admit it can be tiring and overwhelming.

I agree with the advice to sit down and plan out your week. Then you’re not reluctantly coming home to planning and grading every day. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to coaching, etc. On the other hand, if you are able to, get involved in extra-curricular activities that mean a lot to you. Ask teachers who teach the same thing to share what they have done that has been successful, they may be able to save you time; my co-workers always say, “There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.”

Good luck, and by the way…since I’ve been engaged (5 days) I’ve wanted to do nothing but look at wedding gowns. So I totally understand lack of motivation.

Post # 12
601 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2010 - Heinz Chapel Ceremony, Museum Reception

Oh, and one day when the kids were taking a district test, instead of grading or planning or doing ANYTHING worthwhile, I spent the entire day reading Mrs. Shortcake’s blog archives from start to finish.

Post # 13
818 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 2009

Oh Hon!!!

I’m also a first year teacher…with 4 preps, jr high and high school.  Oh my goodness! The best thing I can say is rely on the support that is in place for you. I have 2 other teachers who I can go to and just let it all out! They listen, commiserate, offer advice, and then remind me that I can survive this and that the first year is always the hardest.  

I find that I have to use my prep to unwind and do very little grading.  Myhusband is AMAZING about reading me grades while I put them into my gradebook.  Teach things that you know/enjoy.  As an English teacher I have a little more flexibility than you, but I choose books that I enjoyed learning and I really enjoy teaching those.  Use what other teachers have.  The last 7th grade Bible teacher left me the most detailed lesson plans ever and it has helped.  On the flip side, to teach 2 of my English classes I was given a textbook and a smile. 

It’s hard. It will get insanely overwhelming. There was one day that I was so discouraged that the secretary at school asked what was wrong. I told her how overwhelmed I was (this was before school) and started crying. She grabbed our VP and sent her to my classroom. When the VP heard what I was struggling with, she handed me my purse, grabbed my lesson plans and said she was going to teach my first 2 classes. I am so blessed with the teachers and administrators where I am. Google lesson plans. Look at your textbook’s website. Ask other teachers, even friends at other schools. See if you can double up assignments with another teacher so that the kids get 2 grades on 1 assignment and both teachers get a little break.

You Can Do It!

Post # 14
987 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 2009

i’m not a teacher but have known many first year teachers to experience what you are describing.  My advice would be to get a mentor (or even a counsellor) to vent with weekly, take time out to do nice things for yourself, and accept that things will get better!! 

Post # 15
11113 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2011

@loveispatient54: It’s normal! Teaching is very hard work and I found it very hard to be motivated some days, especially those days where you’ve got a list of tasks to do as long as your arm and it was so off putting that I would then go on the internet instead of starting the tasks. The lesson planning will get easier, I was knackered after the first term and the Christmas break doesn’t refresh you. To get me through I relied on my teacher friends I made there as wel all started at the same time and we’re still all close. Unfortunately i’ve given up teaching though am doing supply until I get a normal I job – in an office with adult banter.

Post # 16
929 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 2011

I agree with everything the teacher bees have said.  One thing i will say though, is that i think some of my best teaching was actually done on those days when i wasn’t prepared – i was forced to think on my feet and didn’t automatically jump to my usual teaching methods.  I realise now that my students respond MUCH better to “off-the-cuff”, conversational teaching with lots of discussion and interaction, rather than planned-to-the-minute, supposedly rich lessons that appeal to different learning styles and all that bullshit.  

I’m in my third year of teaching and i’m only just starting to feel like I’m really teaching now.  My first year, i barely scraped by, but i did follow one of the pieces of advice on here, that i made up a rough plan for my week of classes on Sunday afternoon after the grocery shopping, laundry and cooking were done.  Not detailed planning, but enough to know what resources i would need for the week and what i hoped to accomplish.  My second year, i got better at writing brief plans and filling out the details in class.  Now, I can get by on minimal planning and i think my students are learning 100% more.  

A support system of other new teachers was key for me.  We had Tues/Thurs gin & tonic nights which got me through alot of hard times.  

Good luck and deep breaths!  Its a rite of passage and you’ll definitely make it through!


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