Monday, October 8, 2012

Treading Water

School started 7 weeks ago and I am struggling to stay afloat. I was prepared to begin the new year with 28 students. That number quickly grew each day as we got closer to the first day of school. I started with 31 students on the first day, and within the next few days, 2 more were added to my class. My somewhat manageable 28 turned into an unbelievable 33! My classroom was built for 20 students. Fitting 13 extra desks, chairs, and students was a HUGE struggle. Of my 33 students, 21 of them are boys...yowsers! Each day has been a never ending struggle with management, transitions, space, time, and sanity. I have never been so tired and stressed as I have this year. My teaching pace has slowed down dramatically because I'm spending so much time on managing students than on teaching.

Fortunately, I have a wonderful group of parents. My parent helpers have saved me by taking over a lot of my paperwork--checking in homework each day, stuffing folders, correcting, and filing. All of these things were keeping me from enjoying the little free time I had at recess and lunch. My students' parents have given me support with their time and kind words, which have meant the world to me. Just when I think I can't handle anything else, I'll get an amazing e-mail, note, or some much needed chocolate, from a parent letting me know how much I mean to their child and what a great job they think I'm doing. These words give me a little push to make it through another day. :)

Unfortunately, nothing can be done with my class size... :(  I have the biggest first grade at my school and in the district, which is not cool.

What I do need from you and my other blog friends is some advice, tips, suggestions, words of wisdom, etc. that can help me make it through this crazy school year. I have noticed some baby steps towards improving behavior, managing my HUGE group, and dealing with day to day tasks...but everything is ssssslllllloooooowwwww. So, please help! I'd appreciate anything you have to offer. :)


  1. Wow. My district locks class sizes at 25...usually. I started the year with 26 but 1 moved before the school year even started so I'm locked at 25 now. If a new student moves into our school zone for 1st grade, they are sent to another school in the district. There is an "overflow" school for each grade (K-3). Do you at least have an aide to help out?! I think the only advice I would have, is to do what you are doing and slow down instruction. You can't keep carrying on as you normally would if behavior is still an issue for some. It seems that it would make more sense to take your time setting up procedures and slowly moving into more instructional time. It's great that you have helpful parents! Maybe they could help out more during instructional time and work with small groups of students or even one-on-one with students that need extra reminders to stay on task?

    Good luck, Marissa!!
    Sliding into First!

  2. OH WOW Marissa! That is a lot of kids. In Florida is you have over 18 kids you should be co-teaching because we have our class sizes at 18. But I know this law is not everywhere. As long as you get your rules clear across the classroom, and are stern in the beginning I believe things will work out with behavior management. Like you said it's going to be slow, but I'm sure you will make it! Good luck!
    -Lovely Nina

  3. Are you in Oregon too!:-) I have 35 and I feel your pain! (17 3rd graders and 18 2nd graders.) We do not have such a thing as a cap! We just grow and grow and grow. The best part of my day is when 10 students leave to go to ELD....we have a little bit of moving/breathing room for 40 minutes:-) The noise level is overwhelming! We did start walking in two lines, instead of one. Having "line competitions" helps a bit for noise in the hall and lining up.

    Chickadee Jubilee

  4. Wow. What a huge group! I know for my students, positive team "points" have really helped. I know it's nothing new, but it gets them keeping each other accountable instead of me being the only one. I also like to play "me vs. the teacher," and I know Whole Brain Teaching does something similar. I hope you find what works for you and that things are improving!

    Luckeyfrog's Lilypad