Pst… I’m Making a Switch! (Switching Grade Levels)

I survived my first year of teaching. Then I was thrown a curve ball…

Hey there my friends! It’s been A MINUTE since we’ve talked and do I have news for you: I’m moving!!! Moving grade levels that is. That’s right, I am switching grade levels. It was not at all expected nor desired, to be honest. My favorite phrase to use when explaining how I took the news of switching grade levels is: I went through the full stages of grief. So let’s walk through it all in those steps.

Stage One: Denial and Isolation

I was teaching summer school (which is something I HIGHLY recommend doing in the beginning of your teaching career) when it happened. We got THE email, the email we have all been waiting for. All the moments of angst we had each time we got a notification from our school email disappeared as we saw “Tentative Organization Chart 2019-2020” in the subject line… THIS WAS IT!

I literally dropped everything and ran to my partner teacher for the summer to tell her the great news that she was safe and staying in her room another year. I was so excited for her so I was thoroughly confused why she was gripping my arm in shock. Apparently she asked me “Where are you?” and I looked at her confused. How did she not see my name under Second Grade? I then looked down in panic to realize that I didn’t see my name either… Scanning the screen again in complete panic and there it is: FIRST GRADE! I literally felt my body go numb and was in complete shock as I walk back to my classroom in complete silence.

Stage Two: Anger

I was furious, honestly. My phone was already ringing before I even set foot back into my classroom. My coworkers were just as confused about me switching grade levels. The conversations started with: “Did I do THAT bad for my first year that I needed to change grade levels?! They asked other teachers if they wanted to move, why didn’t they pay me the same courtesy? I had worked insanely hard so that I could focus on smaller aspects of my curriculum next year. I saved, laminated, corrected and planned ahead for NOTHING?! How am I going to be a better teacher if I am switching grade levels on my second year as a homeroom teacher. Every year that I have been teaching since I have graduated, I have been tossed around like a piece of meat. I’m not valued at all.” It went on and on, sister!

Stage Three: Bargaining

This stage was definitely short lived. “I mean, it does say ‘tentative’ so there’s hope that they will change their mind, right?” GIRL, there is NO WAY they were changing their mind now. Tentative was more so for the resource teachers’ placements and I knew that deep down. There was another delusional moment where I really thought my coworker and I could go down to admin and explain that we were both upset about our having to change grade levels, so we could just say we want to switch and I would stay in Second Grade ELA! (I’m telling you, I was driving myself insane with IMPOSSIBLE solutions.)

Stage Four: Depression

Ugh, this hit me really hard because I felt so defeated. When I got home from work that day, I cried. I hate to admit it but I did. The idea of changing grade levels was really scary, overwhelming and nerve-racking because I had to start ALL over. Starting all over meant I needed to pack up my entire classroom, move everything to my new room on another floor and set up shop again. Switching grade levels also meant that I will have a new team that I need to learn. Not to mention that I now have to teach all subjects unlike last year. All this raced through my mind and I literally couldn’t leave my bed all weekend. Even though I have so much summer left to prepare, it felt like school was starting the next day, which felt like a boulder on my chest.

Stage Five: Acceptance

Well, I’m so happy to say that we are finally on the other side of this whole “switching grade level” devastation! Like I said, I went through the FULL stages of grief while I processed this. But I am SO STINKIN’ EXCITED about changing grade levels now. I realized that when I first graduated, I took over a first grade classroom for a maternity leave and I absolutely ADORED every moment. We did so many fun projects, they are excited to come to school and students absorb SO much in first grade.

At first, the idea of teaching all subjects was insanely overwhelming but I soon realized that the whole day is on MY time. I don’t have to worry about switching on time or running out of time in general because the day is MINE! I have so much control over my day and that is an amazing feeling. Because I teach all subjects now, it’s also going to be a lot easier and more fun to bridge subjects.

I’m also over the moon that I have one class of students because I can build a much stronger community and culture than I could with two classes. One class also means one class of parents so I am able to build a more communicative and positive relationship with them. Now I also only need one set of everything. One class set of name tags, numbers, book boxes, number magnets, and so much more than I always needed 50+ of. It’s honestly REALLY exciting!!

teachers changing grade levels, switching grade levels, switching grade levels teaching, teachers switching grade levels, changing grade levels for teachers
Switching grade levels doesn’t need to be scary!

Embrace the Change!

Listen, I totally understand why anyone is upset about switching grade levels, clearly. But there comes a time when you need to accept what’s happening around you (not TO you) and start focusing on the positives. There is a lot more that I am looking forward to now that I have one class of students. I get to pure every ounce of my passion into one class instead of having to split that amongst two classes. (I have no idea how upper elementary teachers do it, for real!) Now that I have a new room, I have the chance to change my decor and theme!

There are many exciting things that I am focusing on more than the things that are overwhelming and scary about changing grade levels. I hope this helps you not feel alone in this change. We all go through it and it does get better. More years of experience make it less and less stressful, honestly. Bottom line, YOU GOT THIS and you’re going to do amazing things! If you need more guidance on how to survive your first year of teaching, I shared the three pieces of advice that I wish I knew to get me through. If you’re student teaching or substituting to find the right school for you, this is my holy grail for getting noticed by admin but also how to keep your sanity while you bust your butt!

Talk soon,

Mary Fran at MyAstroBrightLife


  • Andrea

    You got this…. look at it this way you can build your template for 1st grade and if you get moved back to 2nd grade you will have all the stuff you need. You’re building your teaching portfolio early and you’ll be armed for any grade you teach.

  • KRISTINA Kostopoulos

    I totally enjoyed reading all about your adventures in teaching. Every year is a new year and every day is a new day. That statement can be looked at in the most positive way when we consider that we enter the classroom each day a new person and the stage is set anew each day to perfect craft. Good luck this year!!!!

    • Mary Fran Usenik

      Yes!! I love this so much. You’re absolutely right- setting the stage each day. Thank you!

Leave a Reply