Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Trying to Keep My Head Above Water

Two days in first grade and I can't figure out how primary grade teachers do it. It's physically exhausting to an extent that surprises me. I expected that, but I underestimated it. I had one more student today which brought me up to a total of 18. I'm aware that it is a small class by many standards. However, it seemed like there were students everywhere all day. Lining up for recess I counted heads about six times. They can't stay still for anything. Getting them all through the lunch line is also a nightmare. I've been told this will all get easier. I don't know if it's true or if my colleagues are just trying to keep me sane. (Just in the interests of full disclosure I have to admit that I have co-teachers in my classroom for a large part of everyday. I'm not doing this on my own by any means and I'm still drowning.)

There was an opening for me in first grade this year because another teacher moved up to third. Right now, she's loving life. It's seeming so much easier to her because the students are so independent. I'm sure she'll feel the stress when standardized testing time rolls around, but for now, she's thrilled. I'm sure I'll feel more comfortable when we've got routines established and the kids can take care of more things on their own, but for now I'm just looking for a chance to sit down and possibly to eat my lunch.

(This is less coherent than I would like, but it's late. I looked at my plan book today with another teacher and realized that tomorrow is only Wednesday. How is that possible?)


Heather Davis said...

I totally understand the tiredness you are feeling. All I can tell you is that it will get better. Routines will come, they will stick with the children though it will take time. Be strict and have high expectations. They can do and accomplish anything if given enough time and instruction.

I would suggest you think again about the routines you want established and break them down into tiny little pieces and then teach them.

You will learn to love these little moving creatures but they will probably never stop moving. :)


organized chaos said...

one of our fabulous reading recovery teachers describes first graders as the spin cycle part of the wash. it's SO true. i was actually shocked working in kindergarten last year because they aren't as energetic in K as they are in 1. there's something about being 6. in responsive classroom i learned that first grade is where students show the most brain/physical development other than puberty.
it does get so much easier,(esp the lunch line). and, you have to give yourself tons of credit. you're amazing with them. you may feel overwhelmed, but it doesn't show in the classroom.

Mrs. Johnson said...

I taught PreK for many years. And I vividly remember the first few months. The weekend would come and it seemed like we started all over again on Monday. I know that first graders will catch on much faster! And the routine training will pay dividends. In a few weeks it will seem so much easier. Hang in there! Have you read the Harry Wong book? It has great suggestions for routines. I look forward to hearing more!

Heather Davis said...

Harry Wong's book is fabulous. It was my Bible when I was in lower grades. Thanks for mentioning it. I had forgotten all about it.


Splatypus said...

You will survive, I promise! The fist few months ARE exhausting and it IS hard and it's OK to vent. It's tough. But your (and their) hard work WILL pay off and when your old colleagues are stress buckets at SOL time, you will be calm. It all evens out :)

Snippety Gibbet said...

I hear ya! And I can't imagine how on earth the kindergarten teachers do it. No way! After teaching kindergarten classes, my upper grade classes practically feel like planning periods.

Tracey said...

It does get easier....I'm sure you'll make it through...and next year when you decide to come back to 5th grade you'll love it even more!! I know I do.

Michaele Sommerville said...

Hang in there lady- keep yourself hydrated, take your multi-vitamin, drink some tea if necessary to soothe your throat- if you're not careful, you'll go hoarse from talking so much with students.

At each new school I've taught, teachers always have to come seek me out in my room for introductions or to ask questions- because kindergarten and first grade teachers really can't leave their rooms for the first few weeks. Even when kids are at recess, you'll run to the teacher's potty, and run back to straighten chairs, desks, pick up pencils, get journals ready, clean up the spilled paint before the janitor has a stroke, etc. Kindergarten and first TAKE LONGER and take more energy.

Unfortunately, many committees that set up to establish grade level planning times, collegial group activities, and even just social get togethers in the lounge have no clue how busy you really are, and think you're avoiding them.


Use the force Luke.