I need not to burn out

My students are writing their provincial assessments this week. In a class of 17 I have 6 students on individualized program plans who are unable to meet grade level outcomes so specific outcomes are created for each of them- they don’t write the assessment but need to be somewhere, doing something productive and outcome-related. No sub support is allotted.

My diverse and high-needs class has a full-time Education Assistant who works mostly with one student but is wonderful in rotating and helping with many. With no sub support time and a program support teacher already stretched to her max with new mandates, percent allotments etc, I had my Education Assistant work with two students during the test time on other subject work at their grade level (reading a calendar, counting to 20, working on fine motor skills like cutting with scissors), I had the other four go to the Primary/1 class to be “helpers” for the morning and I read directions aloud and scribed for those who had adaptations within the class. Thank goodness for supportive small schools and staff.

All this testing is done to gather data (which will only be used against teachers to show how we’re “failing” students) showing who can meet the math and English outcomes and who can not (I could tell you the results before the kids even write and could write a novel on why standardized test results don’t give quality data).

Did I mention it’s only October and I’ve already updated 6 IPPS with a variety of AIOs, reviewed all of the adaptations, reviewed and updated my Professional Growth Plan self-assessment (even though it’s being replaced with new teaching standards), am gathering data toward my school’s math goals and social justice goals, have been in-serviced on the new technology release/update that’s been added to the curriculum to make sure we get kids coding, am adjusting to a new “condensed/streamlined” (the same but different) curriculum, am reporting on the new collaborative time I spend with my co-worker…. not to mention teaching the daily course load, modifying the day and curriculum for my students who are working at four different grade levels, not to mention trying to prevent class-stopping mega-meltdowns from one of my student on the spectrum. I’ve wrapped my arms around a student just a few weeks ago to prevent her from hitting others when she was in an oppositional defiance rage (She used to have a full time EA but no more funding for one now). I daily make sure my students are sleeping, have eaten and are as holistically balanced as possible. I feel like I’m stretched so thin…..constantly at my computer, prepping, inputting, researching, reporting and documenting.

The best time I’ve spent with my students so far? A field trip to the wood lot owner of the year where we caught tadpoles and learned archery, their earned phys ed classes on Thursday where they need to take ownership of any poor choices and actions, reflect on the positive of the week, set new goals to improve upon; then they vote if they’ve earned the reward. The best moments are on the yoga mats in the mornings with them and watching them with their book buddies.

I need fewer mandates and initiatives that are out to prove something to parents or the public. I need more time and more support. My classroom is diverse and full of students who need more guidance time, more mental health support, more EA’s and more of me.

I need to not burn out. I want to have more energy and targeted focus for my students.

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2 thoughts on “I need not to burn out

  1. This report puts the education problems in a nutshell. Teachers need more help not more salary. In my opinion administration costs need to cut drastically and the money put toward more assistants for teachers.

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  2. As I read your entry, I feel your stress. It is interesting that Nova Scotian educators are among the leaders in supporting students with social emotional learning (calming strategies, recognizing emotions, learning yoga and mindfulness), and yet our teachers, the facilitators of these initiatives, are on the edge of burn out because of increasing demands for documenting, keeping up with best practices, new reporting requirements, etc… and rarely feel quite good enough (that feeling of mastery is a human need). How can teachers support students to be calm, attentive learners and well-adjusted citizens, when they are working within a structure that is constructed in such a way as to incite burnout – or at the very least, exhaustion and high stress? As humans, we have mechanisms in our brains for recognizing and responding to dysregulated people – we go into fight or flight. In general, stressed teachers = stressed students too. Something needs to change.

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