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Still struggling and feeling low...advice?

Discussion in 'Primary' started by Smile-a-day..., Jul 12, 2011.

  1. Hi, I've been teaching for 4 years now and I feel like I'm still struggling to feel like I'm doing a good job. After the first couple of years I kept thinking that it was because everything was still new to me and that I would start to feel a bit more successful with a few more years of experience under my belt, but after 4 years, I still feel like I'm not good enough :-(
    People close to me always say "You're too hard on yourself" and try to remind me of all the positives e.g. I get on well with the children, staff, great ideas, good presence in class, good lesson obs and feedback etc. However, every time I look at the children's work I feel disappointed because I find it hard to keep on top of marking, the children's work I feel is constantly messy and unfinished and I feel like the levels I have given them for their writing are questionable because they are so inconsistent in the quality they produce. I feel like the children are capable of more but I can't seem to get enough out of them and I try to keep them in at break etc. but sometimes I forget and even when I do keep them in, its a quick rush to finish and is not always much good.
    I keep saying every year, next year I will make sure I demand high quality work from the start and keep them in/make them do it again if its not good enough, but I can't seem to keep on top of it for some reason! Sometimes I get so frustrated that I've modelled something and given them loads of ideas and input and its like I've been talking to a brick wall the whole time with the outcome of their work but when I'm being observed, they always produce amazing work - they just don't do it the rest of the time!
    I've thought about leaving the profession but I really want to succeed (I'm not a quitter!) and I really think I could love my job if I felt that I was doing it really well and I know its the children's work outcomes (particularly writing tasks) that are making me feel this way. I really can't imagine doing anything else but I feel like I'm letting everyone in the school, children and parents down by not getting the best out of these kids and don't know what I should do about it.
    I have made a list of things to do differently next year like give more motivational rewards like certificates for different things ontop of smiley faces, stickers and merits and star of the week that we already do. Does anyone else feel like this? Any suggestions? Has anyone else left because of this and if so, how did it work out? What did you do? Thanks.
  2. Wotworklifebalance

    Wotworklifebalance New commenter

    I'm afraid that it is all part of the job. We have to be reflective and that can easily lead you to believe that you aren't good at what you do.
    If the list of positives that you give at the beginning of your post are true then it is your attitude which needs to change. There are some times when you could be tap-dancing on the ceiling and nothing would get through to the little darlings. On other occasions you deliver a lesson which you know to be below par and something just clicks and the work that they produce is amazing.
    Take a quick look at the work that a handful of your children produced at the beginning of the year - be kind to yourself, pick a HAP, AAP and a high-achieving LAP not your SEN peeps. Try to ignore presentation and focus on content. Now look at the work that the same children were producing just after half-term this term. Again, focus on content not presentation. can you see a clear improvement? I'm sure that you can.
    If you are finding that keeping children in at break isn't working ... don't do it. I have sometimes sent poorly completed work home for children to do at home, this helps to ensure that the parenst are aware that the child isn't working hard enough during the day, but is something that I use sparingly.
    You are right to focus on positives- stickers etc but remember that rewards should be as instant as possible. So don't exhaust yourself trying to include too many layers of motivation which can sometimes get in the way of the actual teaching.
    Are your success criteria specific enough ... include 3 adjectives and 2 connectives for example rather than writing interesting sentences.
    Finally ... give yourself a break. Believe that you are good at what you do - every-one else seems to.
  3. WEIRD. I was totally going to suggest they're just an under-achieving cohort. As a supply I've seen staggering differences between what year groups can do at schools a mile apart from each other. But you say that they do much better when you're being observed and slack off the rest of the time. Hmm. Well, I'd definitely keep up with the playtime sanction, to show you're serious. I'd talk to the teachers in the years below and above you to find out where they think your classes have 'been' before and after you've had them - you might not be the only one struggling with them. And I'd make a huge thing next year about targets. If you don't already, have English and Maths targets for every child and come up with these together. Have them displayed on the classroom wall (reminder for you, them, other adults and their peers when you want peer-assessment), stuck into the relevant books and get the parents involved by also sticking them into hmwk books. Make a huge deal about working towards targets all the time - if you stick them into books on a flap, the targets can be out in front of the child as they work. Ask parents to encourage chn to work towards meeting targets in their hmwk. Consult with chn about their progress and have treats for those who are obviously making the effort. Set aside Challenge Time every week to give chn chance to look back through their books and do corrections and respond to extra questions/challenges you've set so they know you're really commited to their progress. I just think maybe improving their work will be easier when each of them has some very individual and tangible steps to take - then they have no excuse for not improving...?
  4. Hi, thanks for all your advice! I know sometimes I expect too much of them in a given time and I am not always clear about what I expect the children to have achieved by the end, so I need to be more specific with my success criteria I think too.

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