Thursday, November 10, 2016

When Teaching Kicks Your Butt

Hey strangers! It's been almost two months since my last post. That's not like me, but honestly, teaching has been kicking my butt. I've been planning this post in my head but I've finally had enough time to step back and reflect on the beginning of this school year and realize some things. If you have ever felt overwhelmed, defeated, or like you're not keeping up or doing enough- this one's for you.

1. Teaching is hard.

My school is full of super friendly teachers that often have their door propped open and I walk by to see them rocking it and teaching their hearts out. I'm like woah, teacher goals right there! They seem to have it all together and I can't find the copies I made 20 minutes ago. I keep telling myself that additional years of experience will make this all easier but honestly, this job will always be hard. This job will always be demanding but OH SO WORTH IT! Children will always have new and different needs, new ways to engage, new ways to communicate or connect. Each classroom has a different vibe and require new ideas. Also, I did a quick poll and turns out everyone feels the stress that comes with this job. We do it because we have the passion and love of children, and that's why we continue on despite how hard this job can be. So don't worry, if you haven't changed your "I can" statements in a while or came to school with two different shoes on, you're not alone my friend.

2. The feeling that you're not doing enough

Like we've covered- teaching is hard. Each child in your room has their own strengths, areas to improve, interests, and ways of learning best. We try to take all of that into consideration when teaching that child in whole group lessons and small group lessons. We also do this for 25+ students. We then track how they're improving and new areas of weakness to change our instruction as they grow. All of this is happening while also considering the child's well being outside of academics- how are they socially? What other support do they have and need? How is their health? This is a lot to keep up with! Not to mention we keep track of as much data as possible to make those best decisions for the child. What a huge responsibility.. and it's not one that teachers take lightly. The past couple months I have felt overwhelmed in trying to reach each of my 48 students every day and not let one thing slip past. I felt defeated if a student did poorly on a test because I felt I failed them. I needed to take a moment and realize that while I still need to continue and address any needs my child has, I also know that my students are excited to enter my classroom, they are engaged, they are showing growth, and I am doing everything I can to help those children learn.

3. Pressure from admins and parents can sometimes suck the life out of you

Ok maybe "suck the life out of you" is a bit strong, but sometimes you just want to go REALLY? I can't say I've experienced too much pressure from admin but I know that's rare- so I am extremely thankful for a supportive staff! However, many people experience higher ups asking for things such as lesson plans in advance, standards to be posted, data and progress monitoring, and my favorite- attendance to be done on time! All of these things are not unreasonable at all.. I mean yes you should have clear learning targets and students should know what's expected, and yes you need data to make informed decisions on how to differentiate your instruction and yes.. you need to know who's absent but sometimes you just want to say OK throw me a bone here! Give me a quick break! Or just say "You are doing a great job. Do your attendance. Here's a candy bar". I believe we call this the compliment sandwich :) Sometimes just a little understanding that 1. teaching is hard and 2. You sometimes feel you're not doing enough because of #1, will go a long way!

This can apply to pressure from parents too. In today's age it's very easy for parents to get in touch with you. This is great to have better communication, get out quick updates, answer questions or discuss concerns. Parents also love to be involved in their child's education and we love that. However, when you start getting texts on your cell phone (wait.. how did they get my number) at all hours of the night or an email that's written in the heat of the moment you just want to go REALLY? I've found that I really have to take a step back, take a deep breath, and I respond when I'm ready. I worry some parents may seek immediate responses and while their concern is very important to me as well, I still have to take into account my own self care and respect my personal time after 5pm (although we know all too well it's hard to leave the teacher life at school). The important thing to remember is everyone involved wants what's best for the child, and that's a pretty great thing!

4. Does it seem like there's a full moon every week? Is it just me?

As I like to say, some days are just cray cray! I have had to completely rethink my behavior management system. I like to use PBIS or positive behavior incentive system (or something similar). The main focus is on the positive and thus motivating students to make good choices for that positive recognition. This usually works pretty well because often negative behavior is attention seeking- and when it doesn't get that attention they realize that by making good choices they are recognized. I use this in conjunction with Whole Brain Teaching which is not just a behavior management plan, but rather forms of engagement so that students have no down time or boredom to act out. It engages all parts of the brain to make students stick with you. However, teaching has been kicking my butt in part because of some of the behaviors emerging in the classroom. If you feel overwhelmed by behavior it's important to find the source of the misbehavior..Why is it happening? I'm finding that sometimes the expectations I have for their behavior and work ethic isn't what they're accustomed to. Even so, I've had to make sure that I stay consistent with my expectations- if you let anything slide then they know they can test you. While this has been time consuming and draining, the pay off will be worth it in the end. The truth is it's not just that we want a quiet class, we want these tiny humans to know how to function as adults with manners and self control!

So, what I have learned from this serious butt kicking I'm getting this year is that Cupcake Moscato wine is worth the money! Hehe, but really, please know that if you're having a difficult week, month, or year, know that what you're doing is making a huge difference. You may not see it immediately or feel like you are, but I promise that if you have the passion for this job then you are exactly where you need to be, and these children are growing and learning because of you. Find something to help relax when the stress and pressure of testing, parents, or full moons gets to you. I think the most important thing to remember though is that you're not alone in feeling like this sometimes.. teaching is hard and it can consume you. Take a break and vent to friends- you're not alone!

Celebrate the little things!

Rock on,



  1. This post completely read my mind! I've had a draft post on this exact same topic for a while now, but I've never finished because "teaching is kicking my butt"! This is only my second year teaching 3rd grade math and science and it's nice to know I'm not alone! Thanks!

    Chevron and Crayons

  2. Thanks Diana! We all need reminders that we won't do every thing perfectly every moment of the day! I appreciate the reminder that I'm not the only one who feels overwhelmed sometimes!
    Laughter and Consistency