Question Detail

I have 5 years left to teach and am so burned out. What can I do?

Nov 26, 2013 7:09pm

I have 5 classes of 30 seventh grade students every day for reading. Most of my students have been passed on from previous grades and are significantly below reading level. Since they have been passed on from last year, they feel they will also be passed on this year. There is very little actual parental support. Parents say they will talk with their child, but the conversation is ineffective. I no longer have the hunger to teach or the desire for classroom management. I can not afford to retire and don't want to be a 'quitter'. Any ideas?

  • 6-8
  • Behavior / Class Culture / Engagement

6

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    • Dec 4, 2013 9:49pm

      Hi, Hopefully these four things will help:
      (1) Reach out to your colleagues-past teachers of students, Case Manager, another teacher colleague you know and trust, etc. Sometimes asking for advice from those who have worked with your students or those who know helpful resources can aide in supporting you;
      (2) During whole group instruction, teach to your grade level (7th grade) but pull small groups at least twice a week to meet students where they are instructionally. I've learned that students act out more when they are frustrated or can't do the task at hand...sometimes working with students in a smaller group helps them become more comfortable to take risks and also helps you determine how to help them grapple with texts, take risks, or determine what key strategy can help them succeed.
      (3) For your parents, (a) let them know where their child is academically and tell them that you want to work with them to increase their child's reading proficiency & performance in the classroom, (b) provide them with helpful tips to aide their child to become a successful reader, (c) give them a list of books that may be at their child's level so that they can or may aide in building their child's confidence in reading (See Appendix B in the Common Core)
      (4) For you, know that teaching IS NOT easy...each day is always a different hill to climb and some are much harder than others. Luckily, you have already surpassed one of your "hills" by reaching out through TchAUSL, which I know, was not easy. However, the fact that you did, says that you are eager to climb your next mountain with a new perspective. I encourage you to continue to climb, don't give up, and channel the inner passion you had that brought you into the profession. I guarantee if students see your desire to teach them, in spite of, things will get better.
      Please write back or send an email to update me on your progress...I can't wait to see or hear about your progress!

      • Dec 7, 2013 11:01am

        I've been teaching for 28 years and I distinctly remember something that happened around my 10th year. I was driving to work and passed a gas station. I said to myself, "I could just work there - anything would be better than going to my classroom!" My children were young, I had no time to myself, and my marriage was on the rocks. The turbulence in my personal life stole my joy for teaching.

        My divorce forced me to evaluate every aspect of my life and begin again on a solid foundation. I took better care of myself physically, mentally, and spiritually. I came to understand that my teaching is a gift and that every one of my students deserves my best. I learned how to love my students unconditionally and the reciprocity was amazing!

        Maybe it's your career that's causing you this grief or maybe your personal life or some combination. This crisis is a signal for you to take an honest look at your life and make changes that will improve your emotional well-being. No one should stay unhappy/burnt-out because life is just too short! Oh, and yoga is awesome :)

        • Nov 29, 2013 4:21am

          "If you no longer have the hunger to teach" or, "the desire for classroom management" but you "don't want to be a quitter"....

          Hmff! That is a tough one. Many teachers ask me similar questions, and the best response I give them is this.:

          Only you can decide what is best for you, your situation, and your job. if it is to become better, it is up to you, and you alone. What would you say to a student who really tries, really works hard, but can't do it? What is the advice you give to a really deserving child? That might be the answer you need and the solution you seek.

          ericpollock@yahoo.com

          • Nov 30, 2013 7:06pm

            I've been teaching for 15 years and I do agree that at times it can be discouraging to see how low the students are when they come into your classroom. A couple of years ago, I asked for a grade change. I figured instead of complaining about what they don't know that I would go down a grade and try to move them where they should be. It has helped me to keep in mind why I started teaching. I must say that no matter the grade there is always the challenge that the students will still walk into your classroom unprepared for the grade that they are in.

            • Dec 7, 2013 11:38am

              I agree with Tracy. Discipline is key to sanity. Create high interest lessons so that students want to try. High interest can develop from some of the most unexpected reading topics. I am required to use an online reading program that is way above my ESL student's level, but I do my own research on topics and show YouTube videos and bring in other sources to build background knowledge....get them all piumped for their "reading lresson." If the topic has2 sides the better. They love controversy and the ability to support their opinions.

              • Dec 8, 2013 5:42am

                After teaching 7th grade reading--including those who were only reading at a 2nd/3rd grade level--for 10 years, I felt exactly like you do. My best advice...change grades or schools next year. I moved up to the high school and I love teaching again. (I honestly think 7th grade is the toughest grade to teach.)

                To get you through the rest of this year, you might want to look at classdojo to help with classroom management. In addition, try teaching the skills you want the students to learn through picture books, videos, etc. before having them practice with more difficult texts. Learning stations also work--6 stations that the students rotate through over the course of 2 days. The stations I used included 1) SSR, 2) vocabulary, 3) small group work on a skill the members of the group struggled with, 4) a computer or smartboard group (dictionary.com, quizlet, a program specific to my state's standardized test, etc), 5) writing about something we're reading, and 6) individual practice on a skill we've been working on.