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stages of grief when a teacher changes grade level

For the past year, many of the questions I have gotten involve my change in grade level for the 2016-17 school year. If you didn't know, moved from 3rd grade to 1st grade this past year, and not by choice. More about that move here. I've gotten questions like, "Do you like 1st grade more?" "How did you deal with that?" "Will you go back to 3rd?"...
Changing grade levels as a teacher isn't easy, whether it is by choice or not. Read to anticipate the stages you may go through and some advice to help you cope.
Honestly, I went through all the stages of grief throughout the past year adjusting to a new grade level. I think it was especially hard in the midst of coming to terms with my anxiety, but I imagine any teacher who goes through a change in what they're teaching, by choice or not, would feel some, if not all, of these emotions. It is not my intent to be insensitive to anyone who has grieved the loss of a loved one.

I first learned about the possibility of my section of 3rd grade being cut in mid April. Even though the rumors were circling, I was in complete denial that it was actually going to happen for the following school year. Even when I was told by my curriculum director face to face we were losing a section, I thought for sure things would change when enrollment started. Nope. Which led to...

I was frustrated for many reasons, but mostly at the fact that I just spent 3 years in 3rd grade. I was finally at the point that I felt like I had a really good plan of how I wanted to teach things, what books and resources I wanted to use, not to mention all of the money I spent out of my own pocket on 3rd grade specific resources. I was also bitter, because my former 3rd grade teammates had taught fewer years in 3rd than I. It just didn't seem fair.

This was the only stage I didn't really encounter. Would I have taught 3rd grade again at any point of the school year? Yes. In. A. Heartbeat. Did I want to move my entire classroom again? No way. 

This stage lasted the entire year. While battling my anxiety and mild depression, I felt like this was the school year that was going to break me. I was having the hardest time accepting the change. Accepting that I was now a 1st grade teacher. There were so many tears shed. So many doubts. I couldn't wait for the school year to end....for the year from H to be done and over with. 

I'd say this didn't happen until April. When I started to really realize how much my students had learned and grown since August. BECAUSE OF ME. You see change and growth in every grade, but what I experienced this past April teaching firsties gave me CHILLS.
Did I suddenly decide this wasn't an extremely hard transition? Uhm, no. It definitely was, but I finally felt accomplished as a teacher. Something I hadn't felt in over a year. I felt like what I was doing was enough....that I was making a difference in my students' lives. I needed that...so badly.

I have felt like a new teacher 3 times in my short 5 year career. When I was actually a 1st year teacher (I taught 6th-8th grade reading intervention starting in January 2013), when I moved to 3rd grade for 2013-14 school year, and again this past year moving to 1st grade.

My advice is to not be hard on yourself. Remember what it was like your first couple years of teaching...because that's what a new grade is going to feel like. You'll feel lost sometimes. Give yourself grace as you master a new craft and navigate through the unknown of this new position. Ask for help, but don't be afraid to do your own thing, too.

There are pros and cons to every grade level in my opinion. Try to focus on the pros to your new position, rather than what you miss about your old position. Maybe you won't spend 7 months being bitter and grieving, like me.

3 things every #okayteacher needs to do during the summer

As teachers, we use summer to re-energize, relax, and reflect. We also make big to do lists with ideas that both excite us and haunt us, as they tend to be really time consuming. Do we have to do it all? Absolutely not. Here are my top tips to help you make the most of your summer.

Give yourself time.

As you read this post, you may not even be on summer break yet. The last thing you're thinking about is the 2017-18 school year. That is okay! Give yourself time to step back from school and the classroom. That may be a day, a weekend, a week, or a whole month. However long you give yourself, enjoy it. Enjoy your family, enjoy time for yourself, and enjoy NOT being in the classroom. We all know that we deserve it. Do not feel guilty about not already planning for the next school year.

Don't buy all the things.

I use to be a big supporter of #buyallthethings. You're going to see so many trends this summer for the next school year. Take ideas, take inspiration, but don't feel pressured or guilty to buy all the cute things at Target. Ask yourself, "What am I going to use this for?" If you don't have an almost immediate answer for it, you don't need it. Again, don't feel guilty when you're not doing everything everyone else is doing on social media. You can't keep up with the Jones' and you don't have to! Your kiddos will love you and their classroom all the same.

Don't change everything.
As teachers, we take summer to think about how we can change things in our classroom for the next school year. How to make things better for us and our students. Which you should do. Summer is wonderful for reflection. However, be careful, and give yourself grace. Don't make a mile long list of things for you to do before August or September. Because then the school year will roll around and you're going to be setting yourself up for a not so awesome guilt trip. I'm going to give myself a list like I would for my students. A must and may do list. I think I will limit my must do's to 3, and 10 may do's. If I get my 3 must do's done by end of July, great! I can start working on my May Do list afterwards. I'm still thinking on my list, so I'll keep you updated on Instagram. I did, however, make my template, so if you'd like it.

You can grab it here.

So there you go my friends. Enjoy your time, don't spend your whole savings, and limit changes. Don't set yourself up for a guilt trip. You don't need that.

I've also uploaded 11 watercolor #okayteacher affirmations that you can print or save to your phone for extra reminders.

You can find them here.

This summer I will be featuring other teachers (including bloggers, TpTers, mamas) to share their stories.

If you haven't already, please check out this post by my friend Carlee from The Kindergarten Press. She shares her struggles with anxiety and postpartum panic disorder all while being a young teacher and new mom. Thank you Carlee for sharing your story! You're making a difference, my dear friend.

Top 3 Tips to Survive A Field Trip

Last Friday I took my first field trip with just my class! Thanks to many of my followers, our class pet Sonic the Hedgehog won a gift card to a local attraction and we used it to take an end of the year trip. These 3 things helped me survive and save my sanity :)
We were going to a big place where a kid could easily run off in any direction. This scared the bajeezus (how do you even spell that?) out of me. So, I planned accordingly by making my kids shirts. Now, most of my kiddos don't have a school shirt, so I purposely sized up to last them through the years. They loved them, and I loved that I could easily spot them with their purple tees. If your kids have the same school shirt, that would work well, but you could also just request that all kids wear a specific solid color shirt. You could even tie-dye!

 Our trip consisted of arcade games, ticket redemption, playing in a giant indoor jungle gym equipped with foam balls you can throw and shoot out of canons, and a pizza lunch. I was concerned about letting the kids go back to playing in the jungle gym after lunch, even if time allowed. So, I brought some printables with me along with highlighters, pencils, and crayons zip pouches. 
I made a word search using this website that included their names and attractions at our location. After lunch, I handed out highlighters and they chose to do the word search and tic-tac-toe for 10 minutes while we waited on our bus. It kept them busy, and my anxiety under control as they weren't running around.

We did the reflection when we got back to school. It was the perfect way to end our day and allow them to share about their trip with me. 

I was so excited to have parents willing to help out on our trip. This made it so much easier on me when I put all the kids into groups. I wanted our parents to have all the needed information, but didn't want them to have to carry around a piece of paper. So I made mini information pages that fit into name tag clips I had access to use from my school office. 
I included our approximate timeline so they knew what our activities were and when they were happening, a list of all of the groups so they could easily see who was with who, and our expectations and consequences (which I didn't have to give, THANK GOODNESS). My kids and I reviewed these (1-3 PBIS) all week long so they knew they were not going to act crazy!
I also included my cell number (AHHH!) just in case anyone got separated. Not used at all. Let's hope I don't have siblings next year and parents saved that number... ;)

Parents were great about clipping the tags to their shirts somewhere, so I could also keep track of them...totally unintentional, but super helpful.

If you found these tips helpful, I also put together a product that includes the editable version of my activity page, reflection page (primary lines with dashes, primary lines without dashes, and smaller lines idea for upper elementary), and editable chaperone name tag clips. This product is on sale 50% off for 48 hours since posting this blog post.

If you'd like to save these tips, just hover the image and save to Pinterest!

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