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Monthly Archives: April 2012

“How do you draw a yin-yang?”

I’m starting to think over zealously about next school year. I say over zealously because I still have almost two full months left of this year and plenty I could change/improve/try etc. I attempt to talk myself into putting a huge effort into the time I have left but all I can think about is how much I am looking forward to a blank slate.

I started my job in this building last year a couple of days before the school year began. It was great – just what I wanted – third grade! great principal! But I didn’t have a lot of planning time and I needed it – this is my first year as a classroom teacher.

It is my 2nd year teaching officially. I taught ELL previously which was a different animal and something that was easier for me somehow. Maybe the compartmentalization of it all – I had groups of kids in different grades (K-5) I worked with. There was a huge element of organization that came with even being able to DO that job and that lended itself to me being an organized teacher; not to mention how dreamy it is to be teaching small groups of kids. There were a lot of things I didn’t love about it – having to constantly communicate with other teachers, even ones who weren’t interested in collaborating, having a butt load of paperwork all the time (or so it seemed), always being thrown off schedule by field trips, etc. I loved my kids and liked my school, but I wanted what I had always dreamed of – my own real class.

So I got that this year, and I am able to simultaneously love my job and feel like it is murdering me. I’m at school every morning by 7 (school starts at 9) and leave around 4 (school ends at 3) and feel every day like I need at least three more hours here.

But I also have a FAMILY – a spouse and an 18 month old – that I would like to see occasionally. Someone I don’t even know once gave me the advice to leave it at school – literally and figuratively to not take work home. I don’t succeed completely but I try. I really do try, even though over spring break my spouse and I got into a huge fight where the words “I wish on BREAK you would just BREAK!” were yelled and which was fair enough, I guess. I try at least to save my school-related home work for my own alone time (which you can imagine, as a mother, isn’t so readily available). I have one night a week that is mine to spend however I please – after my little one goes to bed around 7:30 – and I almost always manage to watch a few shows I missed from the week while planning. It is the time I have and it really feels like not enough.

This job is stressful and unglamorous. So far I’ve managed to feel really bad about the quality of my work most days and maybe good once or twice since September!

Next year I hope things go much better. I have more experience under my belt which I know will help with classroom management (just comparing now to the fall is a huge improvement) and during the summer I will have lots of Saturday nights from 7:30-11 to plan as much of the year as I can.

Is it ok to just start now? Can I do that without writing off my current students?


oh, the GUILT

We have our state testing next week: reading on Monday and math on Wednesday. It is the first time my 3rd graders will be taking it. Most of them don’t seem to stressed now, but I imagine that will change the minute they ask me a question when we are in the computer lab (we’re doing it online) and I can’t answer. Let’s just say that independence was a goal I had for this group this year that I have not succeeded in.

THE POOR THINGS. I try to ease my responsibility by reminding myself of the many things that are true about my students: they came to me much lower than grade level, I’ve seen them grow and learn, I do have a highly impacted class with 30% SpEd, ELL or both. Sometimes teacher friends hear my groaning and say, “Oh, it’s your first year! It will get better!” and they are right, of course (I HOPE). But my heart just sighs wearily and I think, “It might be my first year as a classroom teacher, but it isn’t my students first year in third grade.” This is it for them. This is their third grade experience. AND I WANT IT TO BE GOOD.

By my actual standards, if I am being honest, I will likely never measure up. I want to be the BEST TEACHER EVER and the likely hood of that happening is slim; I know this in my brain but not my gut desire.

My students will not get great scores on this test. Hopefully they will have a positive or neutral experience. Hopefully they will know that their effort and improvements are noted and appreciated elsewhere.

I’m planning a light week due to the testing, with very light but fun activities for the testing days in particular. There is no time limit, but students typically are finished by lunch. I hope they smile and I hope they have some fun and seriously, I mean SERIOUSLY, I hope I haven’t failed them and that I’ll be even better to my next bunch.