Monday, September 5, 2011

Under Pressure

 I am feeling the pressure of starting a new school year. I will be the first to admit that much of this pressure I put on myself - trying to do too much. However, there is another very real pressure that is very important to me and that I feel very strongly about.

We do something called Listening Conferences at our school. These conferences are held before school starts and are just between teacher and parents. The rest of our conferences throughout the year are Student-Led so the students are present for those. Anyway, during Listening Conferences, we simply listen to parents talk about their child and their hopes and dreams for their child. These hopes and dreams lead to the type of pressure that I am referring to in this post.

I learn so much about what is important to each family as they talk about their hopes and dreams for the school year. I come away from the conferences feeling very good about all that I have learned about each child and their family. The pressure comes later when I am thinking about making an attempt to fulfill those hopes and dreams. All of the families start each new school year hoping that this year will be "the year" for their child. They hope that their child will reach their full developmental, academic, social, emotional and physical potential, that they will bond with their new teacher and that they will be happy and have a wonderful year.

These are the same things that we all want for our children but it is very intimidating to be the one charged with meeting those expectations. With class sizes growing every year - I have 28 students this year - the demands seem virtually impossible to meet. I know that I will do my best and this will be a good year for all of my students but I also know that there will be some needs that I just can't meet.

I am working on trying to balance my expectations of myself so that I have the energy and stamina to begin to meet all of these needs and keep that energy going throughout the year. I am going to try to stay focused on the child in front of me at the moment and not let myself be swallowed up in thinking about how many needs  there are to be met. What about you? How do you keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed by all the needs you are facing and that you need to try to meet?


  1. Well, first of all, Jill, just keeping the thoughts of the parents and your students in mind is a great start. However, my response to a parent who states that they hope this is the year their child reaches their full potential would be: " I sure hope not! They are in first grade and my first priority is for them to love learning and to become life-long learners." I think it is important to set realistic expectations and goals, but these kiddos have a life ahead of them of learning! Let them enjoy first grade for what it is -- learning to read, learning to think, learning new math concepts, building new science inquiries, etc. Build a strong foundation and they will continue to grow! I know you are feeling the pressure, but rest assured, you are a reflective teacher that will do a great job!

  2. Jill~
    Your kids are lucky to have you as their first grade teacher, but I know what you mean about the pressure. My daughter (then 12) once said to me "Mommy you can't have a bad day can you? Because your bad day is 23 kids bad day" OUCH!! But how insightful was she… Keep your chin up, helping kids is a natural gift to a reflective teacher.

  3. Michelle,
    I completely agree with you and I may have misrepresented what the parents want when I talked about their child reaching their full potential. I think that they just mean their potential as first graders - even that is a tough bill to fill. I generally do feel very happy about how things are going in my room but I do always remember that these parents only want the best for their children and I want to be the best that I can be. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It is nice to also be reminded that these students have many more years ahead of them that could be "the year" for them.

    Exactly! What we do and how we handle ourselves affects many more people than just ourselves. Teaching is a serious responsibility that we have accepted. It is nice to have others who will share that burden with us. Thanks for sharing mine.


  4. Jill,
    I think listening conferences are a great idea. Our first conferences aren't until November (probably a long wait for many parents), and I have been trying more and more each year to listen more to parents than to talk. It's always insightful all they know about their children. It would be nice to have these conversations early in the year. I'm sure it starts the year off on the right foot.


  5. Jill
    I finally managed to subscribe to your blog and put it on my blog roll...about your post, you, of all people I know will continue to fight the good fight, despite the odds....the pressure is great, the rewards greater, and balance an ever elusive thing, know to most teacher in concept only, AND yet we always show up in the Morning! Yea us!

  6. Hello, I have a quick question for you about your site. If you could please get back to me at your earliest convenience I would greatly appreciate it. Have a great day!

    Dan Gilbert
    Communications Coordinator
    Primrose Schools

  7. Jill,
    Congrats! You're a Versatile Blogger.