Congratulations on having survived the toughest months of the school year! Right now, many of you are feeling tired and some of you may even be wondering if maybe you chose the wrong profession...take a deep breathe, do something fun and be relieved to know you are right on target with other new teachers. If you look at the stages of a beginning teacher, you will see that you are entering the Disillusionment Phase. Read how the NEW TEACHER CENTER describes this stage.
DISILLUSIONMENT PHASE After six to eight weeks of nonstop work and stress, new teachers enter the disillusionment phase. The intensity and length of the phase varies among new teachers. The extensive time commitment, the realization that things are probably not going as smoothly as they want, and low morale contribute to this period of disenchantment. New teachers begin questioning both their commitment and their competence. Many new teachers get sick during this phase.
Compounding an already difficult situation is the fact that new teachers are confronted with several new events during this time frame. They are faced with back-to-school night, parent conferences, (M-class, at-risk folders, Benchmark testing, math assessments, report cards...) and their first formal evaluation by the site administrator. Each of these important milestones places an already vulnerable individual in a very stressful situation.
Back-to-school night means giving a speech to parents about plans for the year that are most likely still unclear in the new teacher's mind. Some parents are uneasy when they realize the teacher is just beginning and many times pose questions or make demands that intimidate a new teacher.
Parent conferences require new teachers to be highly organized, articulate, tactful and prepared to confer with parents about each student’s progress. This type of communication with parents can be awkward and difficult for a beginning teacher. New teachers generally begin with the idea that parents are partners in the learning process and are not prepared for parents' concerns or criticisms. These criticisms hit new teachers at a time of waning self-esteem.
This is also the first time that new teachers are formally evaluated by their principal. They are, for the most part, uncertain about the process itself and anxious about their own competence and ability to perform. Developing and presenting a "showpiece" lesson is time-consuming and stressful.
During the disillusionment phase classroom management is a major source of distress. "I thought I'd be focusing more on curriculum and less on classroom management and discipline. I'm stressed because I have some very problematic students who are low academically, and I think about them every second my eyes are open."
At this point, the accumulated stress of the first-year teacher, coupled with months of excessive time allotted to teaching, often brings complaints from family members and friends. This is a very difficult and challenging phase for new entries into the profession. They express self-doubt, have lower self-esteem and question their professional commitment. In fact, getting through this phase may be the toughest challenge they face as a new teacher.
Our job as your mentor is to help you through this phase. Please give us a call. We can talk over the phone, meet for coffee, visit you at school. You name it! And remember that old children's story - The Little Engine That Could and repeat to yourself...I think I can, I think I can, I think I can....
Phyllis and Beth