A rough start

I don’t typically create New Year’s Resolutions. Now that I’m a teacher, I’m even happier to not create them. Personally, I believe that if you want to change something, you can start at any time. Starting at the new year, month, or week makes it easier to succumb to failure. “Oh, I ate terribly today (January 8th.) I can’t come back from this! Now I’ve messed up and this year is a total waste! Until next year, diet plan!”

But, I would be lying if I said I didn’t have great expectations for this semester in my teaching life, and I’d be lying if I told you that I thought it was going well. But, that’s what we’re expected to do as teachers. We’re expected to smile, say everything is going wonderfully in our classrooms as to not raise suspicion, and to stay on top of everything when really we’re hoping to stay in bed for a much-needed mental health (snow!?) day.

I wish I could say that I spent the two snow days this year catching up or doing work. I haven’t. I’ve needed them, because if not for those unexpected days off, I think that I’d feel like I’m drowning. And I still feel that way, just a little. It’s been really hard to blog effectively when I feel like I’m in a rut. Maybe EDOFMA is real, even if it’s only January.

If you wonder what’s been contributing to my rough start, here you go:

  • Trying to segway into speaking more TL and expecting my students to speak it too. And not knowing where to start.
  • The pressure I feel to never be standing in front of my students. “No sage on the stage,” they say, “10 minute mini-lessons and that’s all. Your students should be doing the work. You should be a coach, they need to do the work themselves.” I think my instruction has suffered this year because I’m feeling that pressure.
  • The Ohio RESA. Seriously, it’s like they’re trying to get me to go for National Board Certification in year three and I just can’t be that great. It’s that complicated. If you’re interested in knowing what it is, click here.
  • Trying to be more engaging to my students than the lure of their 1:1 devices. Try as I might, my class is not more interesting than the internet.
  • Creating EVERYTHING. Next year will be the first year where my curriculum hasn’t changed and I don’t have to start at square one. Until then, I make new resources every single day.
  • Writing an entire #oneword16 post and then not posting it because it will not inspire or excite anyone.


But, I’m not ungrateful. This week alone, I:

  • instituted a personal policy of high-five-ing every student that walks through my door when I’m having a bad day. It really helps to turn my grumpy moods around. Middle schoolers are the best for this.
  • had students complete a graphic organizer while reading a text and I was super impressed with how well they did and how engaged they were. This organizer was an amazing pre-speaking activity, when I asked them to share with a partner, everyone did, and everyone spoke French. *swoon*
  • differentiated the second part of that activity and everyone really did seem to thrive. I only got one complaint of “her paper looks easier,” but most other students were content with the explanation, “different people need different things.”
  • had an awesome day where PBL in WL excited me, frustrated me, kicked me in the face, and overwhelmed me. But I cannot wait to explore more possibilities with it.
  • got to tell a student who is generally less-than-compliant that I was impressed with the hard work he did that day. We both smiled and he told me what I said was a confidence boost. I almost cried right there in front of him.
  • read the questions to an activity out loud to a student who usually struggles. She was able to comprehend and answer every single one; she just needed to hear how they sounded. I need to do this more.


As hard as this job is, I honestly love what I do. Just today, my husband called it “superhuman.” I guess if I had a takeaway from this year, it would be:

It is okay to be imperfect. It is okay to have a rough day, or 20. It is okay to not be 100% positive on the internet (but it is not okay to 100% negative.) It is okay to wonder if what you’re doing makes a difference, and it is okay to not be doing your best. It is okay to share your struggles with others, and it is okay to lay in bed hoping that today will be snowy.

I’ll leave you with my new favorite quote:

credit: Lucie Rice

17 thoughts on “A rough start

  1. Hang in there, Madame! Remember that you are doing this teaching thing right. You care. That kid who told you so wasn’t making it up. (Sweet classroom anecdote, by the way.)

    I advise you to not compare yourself to anyone in the Twitterverse. You are good enough! In fact, you’re better than good. It’s important to be cognizant of the WL tweeps who are just trying to inflate their egos, and move on. If you pay attention to how certain folks like for you to perceive them, you will always feel inadequate. The truth is, you’re not! If I could go back to my first year teacher self, I would tell me to disrupt in a positive way. Drown out the gazillion self-described experts/consultants who make you feel this way, and do your thing.

    Bonne journée!

    1. Thank you so much for your comment! I’ve been trying to measure up to other twitter users and I realize that’s a fast track to burnout! I will definitely keep your advice in mind!

  2. Thank you for this honest and 100% relatable post! I’m going on my 3rd year of teaching this semester and have to ask myself, will it get easier? I’m creating a curriculum from scratch as well and it’s just so exhausting and I have to trust that there will be rewards to reap. Hang in there chica. I love, love, love my #langchat peeps but I found myself having to take a break from it this past fall because I already had SO much on my plate. GOOD for you for using your snow days to relax, you deserve it and taking those breaks is gonna benefit you AND the kiddies!

    1. Thank you for sharing! Isn’t year three a crazy pivotal year? I keep telling myself that year four is where it will finally feel normal, but maybe not! I appreciate that you shared with me and I will definitely be here to root you on!

  3. Please give yourself the grace and space to learn without beating yourself up. You are doing excellent work in a very demanding field, and I’d miss my collaboration partner if you were gone. Keep connecting with your students–they need you–and the French will come along.

  4. Hey Wendy! We all feel this way from time to time. I have been at this game for 15 years and things have changed so much since I started. I feel the pain of creating everything from scratch as I moved to a new district last year with different curricula plus started teaching levels 2 and 3 when I had only taught 1 for 11 years! This 90%TL has been kicking my butt especially in the higher levels. Finding the time to look for authentic resources that fit the needs of my courses and students is next to impossible with everything else that has to be done.

    Keep fighting the good fight! As you have seen, it is so worth it when the students respond so positively. I think this is a life we all love but yet hate a little. Remember that we are all in the same boat.

    1. Rebecca, thanks for sharing! Creating materials from scratch is hard. I keep reminding myself that from now on, I’ll have to tweak a few things, and create when I find great new resources, but it will be much more manageable! I’ll get the hang of the #authres game eventually.

  5. One of the most surprising and refreshing things I read in Make It Stick was that those of us who are always talking about how student-centered the learning in our classroom needs to be could be doing our students a real disservice by removing the person they need guidance from the most. So I’ll pass that along and tell you that controlling input and guiding your students isn’t sage on the stage.
    I think I wonder sometimes if those of us who stick with this aren’t gluttons for punishment, because wouldn’t it be so much easier to go back to yelling about what’s in the textbook? So much easier. But your guy had a better word for it – superhuman. 😉 I’m looking forward to talking about our drowning problems with you over coffee at CSC and what do you say we share a whole lot about how storytelling your way through curriculum kicks your butt and you gotta be satisfied with baby baby steps?? See you soon-

  6. New school AND RESA at the same time – I don’t envy you at all! But year four in the Res. Ed. program is a breeze!

    Good job looking for the positives, and remember – you know your classes and your students’ needs better than anyone! The feeling of inferiority is definitely something I’ve been dealing with this year, too. I have to keep telling myself that I may not be where [incredible blogger/twitter personality/etc.] is right now, but I am SO far from where I started, and still growing! I can only do what *I* can do, and leave the rest for later.

  7. Mon amie, I admire EVERYTHING about your reflection here. I love how you found a way to bring it back to the students with high fives and shared smiles. I love how you are able to celebrate getting “kicked in the face” by a goal that matters to you. I love that you are AWARE of all of these factors that COULD steal your joy and are able to contain them in words!

    THIS is a model for the growth mindset for ALL teachers.

  8. I am there with you! Having a new prep this year has been hard. I also have a study hall this trimester and haven’t gotten into the “swing” of things this year. (Having three snow days in a row probably isn’t helping either…) I have posted before about how on my blog, I struggle not to seem like some sort of super hero teacher. (I am definitely not.) You will get there- I know it!!

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