First year teachers typically experience a great deal of stress. In college, you had the luxury of time to address individual components of education. There were lessons on classroom management, educational pyschology, curriculum & lesson planning, instructional technology etc.
When you student taught, the cooperating teacher was ultimately responsible for the class. No matter how bad your lesson was or how uncooperative the students may have been, the cooperating teacher was (eventually) there to act as a "safety net" even if he/she periodically disappeared for an extended amount of time on a long coffee break.
As a first year teacher, you now have to pull everything together. You have no cooperating teacher to catch you if you have a problem. Time is at a premium. Papers have to be graded and recorded. Lesson plans have to be written, worksheets have to be photocopied, and transparencies have to be made. There's a faculty meeting after school and a department meeting scheduled for tomorrow morning and by the way, the chess club is looking for a sponsor and your building administrator would like to know if you would like to supervise this extracurricular activity. In the meanwhile, Jesse's juvenille parole officer wants to speak to you and the department chair wants to know why you haven't filled out the survey report that was issued by the central office last Tuesday. The union rep is also looking for you because you haven't paid your annual dues.
So what do you do?
First, take a deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. Take a moment to calm down and relax.
Think about your schedule.
Prioritize. Differntiate between what has to be done and what you'd like to do. Make optimal use of your time.
In terms of lesson planning, consult your district curriculum. Use your textbook. There's nothing wrong with textbook based instruction. It can be horribly boring, I know ... but you can't go far wrong with a textbook because just about everything you need to teach should be in that book.
As time passes and you develop more experience, you'll begin teaching using other instructional resources.
Keep the lessons and units that you like. Tweak them as necessary and SAVE THEM for next year. I guarantee you that next year will be easier than this year.
The first year is always difficult because in addition to trying to pull everything together, you're also trying to find your way as a teacher.
What is your instructional style? How friendly or firm do you want to be with your students? What are your classroom expectations? These are all things that every first year teacher goes through.
When I was a first year teacher, I fell into a typical newbie mistake. I wanted my kids to like me. I wanted to be their friend.
The problem with this, as I learned from personal experience, was that you can't be their friend. If you're their friend, why are you making them take a quiz? If you're their friend, why are you jumping on Jose for not doing his homework. Cut him some slack. He had better things to do than stupid homework. For that matter, if you're their friend, why are you interrupting a conversation between Staci and Jennifer? What's up with that? Don't you think that interrupting a conversation is rude? What? You have something to teach? But I thought you were a friend ...
I basically lost control of my first year's class. During my second year, the pendulum swung the other way and I became a harsh disciplinarian. I was no longer their friend. I was "Mr. Chin the fascist tyrant." My students hated me.
It wasn't until the third year that I really began finding my balance. I wasn't a friend or a tyrant. I was something in between ... a benevolent dictator.
Classrooms are after all, not democracies. If a classroom was a democracy, nothing would ever get done. Students would vote to goof off and not do assignments.
Classrooms are also not tyrannies. Students who afraid of their tyrant teachers won't ask questions if they're confused or need assistance. Although tyrannies may be conducive to good order, they really don't provide a nurturing educational environment.
I've always thought that a benevolent dictatorship is a good thing. Benevolent dictators are concerned about their students. They listen to their class. They hear student concerns ... but at the end of the day, students still have to do what I say. Yes, I know that this lesson is boring. I'm sorry about that, but the lesson has to be taught and you students have to learn, so sit down, be quiet, and pay attention.
As far as changing a student's attitude about school - one of the hardest things I ever had to learn as a teacher is that sometimes kids fall between the cracks.
Sometimes, despite the best of intentions, students just don't want to learn. They don't want to participate. Heck, they may not even want to be in school.
It's good that you want to reach these kids - but don't feel guilty if you can't.
You're a teacher - not a social worker or a counselor.
Remember that a student's attitude wasn't shaped overnight. The student didn't wake up one morning deciding that he hates school and that he hates your class in particular.
Student attitudes develop over a long time.
The student in question may have a bad home environment. He could live in a bad neighborhood, come from a broken family, and could suffer from neglect or abuse.
The student may be academically deficient and self-concious because he can't read as well as the other students.
Attitudes are also the result of peer groups and peer pressure. The student may be overweight or geeky or have pimples or dandruff. Student peers can be horribly mean. A student may be the butt of jokes in the locker room or may be the target of one or more bullies. Popular students may snub that person. Students may whisper about that person in the hallways or cast derisive glances (or notes) in the classroom.
Teenage self confidence can be a fragile thing.
If you want to change someone's attitude - the best thing you can do is to do the best job you can as a teacher. Put your heart and soul into teaching. Be organized. Be as creative as you can given your limiations on time. If students experience difficulty, try to take the time to reteach.
The way you teach, the way you interact with your students, the respect that you garner - all of these things may eventually help change a student's attitude.
So - take a deep breath and start pulling it together. Prioritize what you need to do. Do the best job you can and remember that life is a learning experience.
Very few people graduate from college and immediately become master teachers. Although it is true that some people were born to teach, most of us had to learn through years of experience.
First year teachers look at their experienced colleagues and envy those colleagues for being so good at what they do. What they don't stop to consider is that fact that fifteen or twenty years ago - those experienced veterans were sitting in the very same boat that you're in now.
The best teachers that I've known have been the ones who go nose to grindstone and spend their entire career honing their craft.
They didn't develop their expertise in college. They developed it over years of experience.
There's no reason that you can't do the same thing.
Hang in there. Things are bound to get better.