Michelle Wittle On Being Overwhelmed

Michelle Wittle On, Writing Tips

I know…I know…I said I would never go back into the classroom again. But, it’s a recession people and well…I missed teaching.

But I can’t do things the easy way. I always have to have some sort of crazy twist. I couldn’t just go back into a high school classroom. Oh no, I needed a new challenge.

Boy do I have one now!

I am going to be teaching 5th graders. Never in my life have I ever taught that age group. I have done some teaching in that grade level, but not the age group. In a way I am testing myself as a teacher. I thought if I could teach in Philly, I could teach anywhere. So now it is just a matter of putting that theory into practice.

However, I am a bit overwhelmed.

First, I used to think that the middle school and grade school teachers had it easy. Believe me, I am finding out how stupid and naïve I was to ever think that way. Content wise they do have it easy. That is the only way teaching the lower grades could be seen as easy.

I am overwhelmed. Everyone keeps giving me books to read in my leisure. Seriously, what leisure do I have? Not only that but I will not give up my down time at home for school. If that means I have to stay until 8pm at school to get my work done, then that is fine. I refuse to bring work home with me.

Seriously, people keep handing me all these books to read and I feel like screaming. I don’t have time to read about educational theory; I have to read young adult books. I am lucky in the fact that I did attend a course on guided reading, but I never had the chance to actually do it. But now, almost six years later, I have to do guiding reading. I also have to do writing workshops. Then I have to plan the stations in the guided reading lesson. Read the guided reading assignments, come up with objectives, use the standards, make sure Bobby isn’t killing Kevin, and also make sure Kristen isn’t eating the glue.


But I am not complaining. I am just overwhelmed. It is hard to filter out what is really important right now and what things I can do over time.

Is this not what writers go through? Don’t we struggle with what characters are important and what point of view we should use?

How do we combat this? How does writing a whole story become manageable?

Simply put, you find your immediate purpose. You prepare for that purpose and see that through until you finish. Add things on as you go. Maybe when you have one thing all set, you can start added additional materials.

I think the thing that freaks me out the most is how much all the things I want to do in life are connected and I can use the same theories. It all boils down to when you are overwhelmed, you have no choice but to take it apart and look at its parts. Once they are manageable, then you can piece it back together.