Education Opinion

Third-Year Syndrome

By Hanne Denney — October 16, 2006 2 min read
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I’ve been waiting to write an entry, because my brain feels kind of cloudy. I’m slow, and a little achy, and my head feels tight. It would be easy to tell you I must be getting sick, but I don’t think that’s it. I’m suffering from “teacher flu”. I am kind-of down.

I am asking myself what kind of teacher I am. Am I a good teacher? Usually I think so, but right now I’m not that sure. This past couple of weeks has been hard. I am struggling with classroom management. I know its normal that after a month or so of school the freshmen have lost their initial trepidation and are now eager to find out how far the rules bend. Students who are struggling know their grades are low, and they’ve found out that sometimes it’s easier to avoid work by causing trouble than to attempt something that’s difficult. The “good” students are frustrated by the disruptive students, and are losing their patience with their classmates. They’re losing patience with me, waiting for me to get my teacher act together. I feel like I’m doing the least I can do.

Administration is starting to deal with the problems and we hear a list of “don’t forgets” and “be vigilant”. Our positive intervention system doesn’t have any more “Pride Bucks” to give out and students are wondering where the reward is. I’m working ten-hour days at school, with two hours of work at home every night, and scheduling my weekends around the long lesson planning I need to do. I need more of something – time would help, but that’s not enough. I think I need some love.

I have third-year teacher syndrome. The first year, there are mentors and support programs with seminars and free materials. The second year the mentor follows-up, and you’re still new enough that you can ask questions and not feel ignorant. Last year, my second year, I completed my teacher certification program and received my master’s degree. I had classes, and workshops, and conversations with experienced teachers. I had confirmation.

Third year, that’s all gone. No more mentoring or new teacher training. It’s not just that I learned a lot from those programs. It’s an issue of positive encouragement. The first two years people were around all the time, telling me I was doing well, and offering suggestions for improvement.

I am whining, I know. I need someone to tell me I’m doing a good job, that the students are learning, and that I continue to improve. I guess all teachers feel this way sometime, as if we’re struggling alone. We all need validation.

Well, I know what to do. Polish off my rosy attitude and walk back into school tomorrow with expectations of high achievement - first from myself, and then from my students. If I need help, I’m going to ask for it. If I see another teacher doing a really great job, I’m going to compliment him on his effort and skill. I’ll watch him and learn from what he’s doing. Then maybe I can turn it around and face one of the new, first-year teachers, and share some experience and words of encouragement. I’ll give that new teacher some love. It’s the least I can do.

The opinions expressed in Ready or Not are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.