TEACHER BURNOUT IS REAL - PART II

So where was I? Oh yes, my mental and physical health were being effected due to the amount of stress from teaching three grade levels. To a non-educator, it’s hard to grasp that idea of teaching three grades in one classroom, let alone in a lower elementary classroom. Kindergarten and first grade is a time to lay the foundations of reading. In addition, learning how to read happens at developmentally different times for each student. A kindergarten student can enter school reading at a first grade level or a first grade student can take all year to finally break the reading code. It just depends on the child. On top of that, if a student isn’t reading fluently by third grade, that child WILL be left behind. So the pressure of teaching children how to read, a foundational skill of learning, is on my shoulders. Whew.

Summer of 2018, I knew I was going to be juggling three grade levels again. So I brainstormed ways that I could accomodate three rotations in my language arts block. I came up with the following schedule:

8:30 to 9:00  READ ALOUD (K) GUIDED READING (1) PHONICS INSTRUCTION (2)

9:00 to 9:30  READ ALOUD (1) GUIDED READING (2) PHONICS INSTRUCTION (K)

9:30 to 10:00  READ ALOUD (2) GUIDED READING (K) PHONICS INSTRUCTION (1)

But how in the world was I going to incorporate that schedule into my day? After all, I can’t be in two places at once (I had an aid at that time to cover guided reading). I can’t do a read aloud while simultaneously teach a phonics lesson. So, I turned to parent helpers.

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When I was a novice teacher, I did NOT want anyone’s help in the classroom. I thought I could do it alone. Plus, I felt like that parent was there to judge my teaching style. (I know. Talk about insecure.) My first two years were challenging because it’s impossible to do it alone. It truly takes a village to raise learners and I had no clue. Finally, during my third year of teaching, after much professional growth and maturity, I opened up our classroom doors. On Wednesdays I had WACKY WEDNESDAYS where a picture book was celebrated through three projects like cooking, crafts, games or theater. I asked three parents to host a station. By the end of the year, students were learning more than ever and we were building a stronger community in our classroom between parents, teachers, and students.

Fast foward nine years, I held close that pearl of wisdom. So here I am texting and calling parents to spend 1 1/2 hours one day a week to plant to love of reading (and of course, helping me out with rotations) via read aloud time. No longer am I afraid to ask for help. I know I need help and I’m asking for it.

And it’s helping. Sort of. As much as I have those rotations secured, I feel as if I’m only scraping the surface level for our curriculum. With that many students in that many grade levels, the quality of education is going down. I admit that. And yes, having parental help puts a nice bandaid over the problem, but deep down I knew this bandaid was going to pop off.

…. to be continued …