student growth objectives

Dear First Year Teachers,

September is starting to come to an end, and today is officially the start of fall (even though for us it feels like it started a while back). I just wanted to offer a little love and support to all of you, because I remember being a first year teacher as the new school year shine wore off.

Right now, you might be feeling really overwhelmed. Maybe your district is really into data and student growth objectives and has all of these programs and acronyms in place that you’ve never heard of but everyone else seems to know. Maybe your class sizes are huge, or you’ve been given 12th graders or 8th graders or 5th graders that think they know everything because they’re the big dogs on campus and what do you know that they don’t? Maybe you’ve already encountered a parent that is starting the year off a little pushy. Maybe the copy machine just keeps breaking every gosh darn time you try to use it. And maybe classroom management is giving you nightmares.

Maybe you’re still riding the new school year high, and are thinking “WHAT? People feel that way?!” But (and I don’t mean this in a mean or cynical way) chances are that at some point this fall you’re going to feel overwhelmed.

I just want to remind you all that you can do this.

First year teaching is easily one of the most terrifying and difficult things I have ever experienced. The first full week of school, I threw up before leaving for work one morning because I was so afraid of facing one of my classes. I remember feeling overworked and frustrated by all the planning and grading and meetings to get observed. I remember having to drill in my brain that observations were not there to negatively criticize me, despite my anxiety about how people perceive me. But I promise, it’s worth it.

It’s worth it because for every intimidating parent, I guarantee you’re going to have at least one parent that trusts and supports you, and that at least once a Back to School Night or parent teacher conference season you’re going to have a parent coming up to you saying, “My child LOVES your class.” Even when you’re convinced that your kids hate you during the midwinter slump or testing season.

It’s worth it because at least one kid a year is going to start this September hating the subject, and tell you at the end of the year that your class was their favorite. Or they will be looking for books and articles about what they learned in your class on their own time, because despite all of your panic that they hate your class, you got them interested in finding connections to topics you covered outside of the classroom.

It’s worth it because a few kids will go from afraid of their own shadows to curious students that are willing to work with others. They might even start to become leaders in your room.

So as the year starts to get more hectic, and curriculum goes into full swing, here’s what I have to say: Hang in there.

Teaching is a bumpy ride, but it’s also going to be so worth it. You’re going to make an amazing difference in your students lives, whether you (or they) realize it or not.

Sincerely,

A third year teacher

P.S. No really, I promise, you’ll survive.

P.P.S. If you’re reading this and it’s after 11:00 at night, GO TO BED FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. YOU HAVE WORK IN THE MORNING AND IT’S GOING TO BE EASIER IF YOU GET SOME REST.

Stir Crazy

Yesterday, I thought I was going to lose my mind.

I woke up feeling totally sick–nauseous, light-headed, and overheated. My mother (yes, I still live at home), does not believe in setting the air conditioner lower than 78 degrees. She also sets it so that it doesn’t turn on until noon. Apparently, she forgets I exist when she leaves for work in the morning, and I wake up sweating as though I’ve run a marathon in 90 degree weather.

Driving while dizzy and lightheaded is never smart, so I had to cancel my meeting with my new volunteer-assistant coach. I did not, therefore, leave the house all day. I watched Netflix, tried to read Dan Brown's Inferno–emphasis on tried (review to follow once I finally finish for all who are interested), and ate a bunch of junk food.

Today, I vowed I would not sit around and be lazy all day. I got up, washed and dressed  myself, and headed out into the world, you know, where there are other people. I’ve already checked off six things from my to do list, and it’s not even noon yet. Yay for productivity and the Starbucks cafe at Barnes and Noble.

And because I’m proud, here’s all I accomplished today..

1. Stopped at the board office to return my signed contract for next year

2. Created a formal roster and attendance sheet for cheer practices

3. Created distribution and return checklists for cheer fundraisers and uniforms

4. Developed my cheer notes and goal-planning sheets (Yes, this season I will be pretending the gym is my second classroom by starting each practice with a shared objective!) 

5. Developed practice schedules/routines and alternating workouts

6. E-mailed my curriculum coordinator all of my questions about the development of pre-assessments and post-assessments for Student Growth Objectives

7. Looked into applying for a grant to fund the publishing and binding of the autobiography project my ninth graders will work on throughout the year.

Has anyone created assessments for Student Growth Objectives or applied for a grant? If so, do you have any tips to share?