George Lucas Educational Foundation

Beginning Teacher needing LOTS of direction!!!

Beginning Teacher needing LOTS of direction!!!

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Hey all! I just wanted to know is it normal in your second year of teaching to feel so lost and scattered?? I sometimes fear that I am doing my children a major disservice because I am still learning the ropes and don't know where to go sometimes. I get overwhelmed by do I work on regular curriculum or just their IEP goals. I have about 16 students grades k-4 this year. This is my first full year at this school. Last year I was split between two schools and then moved halfway through to an entirely new school. I just feel like I am drowning at times and could really use some direction or guidance to become better. I love my lil ones and really want them to reach full potential. Any stories or experiences that you could relate to? I also am new to the state I am teaching in and they do things very differently than Ohio where I grew up. I would appreciate any guidance. Is it normal to feel so not put together?

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Beth Kaumeyer's picture
Beth Kaumeyer
Special Education teacher for seventh and eighth graders in Montclair, CA.

It is absolutely normal to feel scattered and overwhelmed. I've been teaching a long time and there are occasions when I still feel like "the hurrier I go, the behinder I get"! It's my understanding that we focus on the IEP goals when teaching our students. It is a legal document and is binding. Ignoring the goals/objectives is noncompliant.

Donna Standley's picture

Not to worry! :) The drowning feeling is completely normal. With every passing year, you will start to feel it come together. Learning to teach, become organized, and do all the other tasks that are required of us take a while. Take it slowly, and make just a couple goals for yourself each year. Like, OK, this year I will organize my files ( don't even try this until year 3 or 4, because you won't know how you want them to be organized). Make sure you take care of yourself so you don't burn out!!!!!!!

Shelly Holt's picture

Find a good mentor have probably been assigned one,there may be a teacher other than your assigned teacher you feel more comfortable with. Anyway,find someone you feel like you can ask questions.

TODD SENTELL's picture
Author of the hilarious schoolhouse memoir, "Can't Wait to Get There. Can't Wait to Leave"


It's a marathon ... not a sprint! Hang in there and take good care of yourself, too. Yes, find a mentor ... someone you can talk to who will understand your concerns and who will give you great advice.

In the classroom ... when defiance or laziness or apocalyptic disinterest clogged everything up, all I asked was to give it a try. Do one little thing. Ask one question. Offer up one discussion item. Write one sentence, and see if you survive. And when none of those things worked, we'd just try again the next day. I told them I'd be right back in here tomorrow ... that I would never give up on them or learning or just sitting here talking. They'd usually say ... Thank you!

The class periods and full days and weeks and months and semesters when their eyes don't light up and they never say this is great stuff makes you wonder why you teach. My wonderful, former principal, Lurlene, gave me some good advice on that, too. She said ... Don't take it personally.

The very best teacher advice I ever heard from Lurlene was advice she freely handed out to needy parents and students, too. Lurlene would listen very carefully to their drama, without interrupting, and then she'd say ... Get over yourself. To a mom, dad, and student, after they got over themselves, they always ended up thanking Lurlene for the good advice and tough love.

There are very few teachers and parents who are confident enough in themselves to give out tough love. The ones who are confident enough give it to themselves, too. That's how they back it up.

Amy Morey's picture
Amy Morey
8:1:1 Special Education Teacher, grades 3-5

Melanie...when I read your post, I said to myself - "That's me!!!" Well, almost. This will be my second year teaching also. I'm in an 8:1:1 classroom (3rd-5th) and I struggled tremendously last year too - to the point I was completely burnt out. I think what kept me going was having great family and church support. I am very nervous going back this year too. I felt I did not have the support that many new teachers sometimes have. Although I work in a public school district, I am not considered a public school employee/teacher (I work for BOCES). Thus, I was not involved in "grade level" meetings, faculty meetings, and other professional communities. I am the only 8:1:1 special education teacher in the elementary school. I felt really isolated. I am hoping this year to "branch" out and try to mingle my way into any PLC that my school has. I'm glad I found your blog - because many of the comments that have been posted have encouraged me also! Good Luck this year - you'll do great!

Dan Mad Science's picture
Dan Mad Science
Elementary Special Ed Teacher, NJ

I can totally relate.
My first year made my head spin. I was lucky to have a few supportive colleagues who gave their time and encouraging words to help keep me going.
One of the best people I worked with was actually an after school custodian. He had loads of valuable life experience and insight and was a very grounded individual. He would talk to me after my best days and after my worst days. You never know where support will come from.
I'm entering the 4th year of my second go around in teaching. This is the first time I'll be in the same school in September that I was in the previous June.
It gets easier. Your experience builds day by day, and you get better without realizing it. You will be able to plan with yesterday's missteps in mind. You will work more efficiently and ideas will be easier to implement.

What seems impossible now, will soon become only difficult.
Then, what seems difficult will then become routine.
And then, you will begin to fly.

Ruth's picture
K-4 Special Education

I am searching the internet and found this conversation. Although it is old, I do wonder how it is going for you in the classroom now, a year later. I am an experienced teacher and have just been moved to K-4 special education to fill a need in our district. I love so much about it and miss much about my previous position as well. There is so much we have to decide on our own and I would cherish a group of individuals who have similar jobs to chat with. Some days it certainly feels like there is so much if we want to make the specialized instruction powerful in meeting specific needs.

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