I know I haven’t been posting much lately, and the reason is that I am always exhausted these days. I come home from work and I simply don’t have the energy to sit down and post something most nights. I feel like I’m working MUCH harder this year than I was last year, which has been a source of much confusion and disgruntlement. I talked to a few people who graduated in my cohort and they are also experiencing the up-surge of difficulty.
I’m not a fan of this particular turn of events. Teaching is supposed to get easier as the years go on! It was so much easier last year than the first, and while I didn’t expect to just sit back and relax, I didn’t think that I wouldn’t be at school every night until 5pm making plans and feeling like somehow I still wasn’t getting everything done.
I have been pondering this for a while, and I realize there are a variety of reasons this is happening:
First, I have a student teacher this year. By the way, he is improving and has managed a few fairly successful lessons at this point. He is at the school ALL THE TIME and tends to suck up half my prep time on a regular basis. This accounts for much of the reason that I have to stay so late after-school every day because I just can’t get anything done while he is in my room. Next time I have a student teacher I am going to make it clear from the beginning that I need my prep and they will need to busy themselves with something else during this time…like for example, prepping for their own lessons without having to ask me a question every three minutes. We can have a few times set aside to meet and work on stuff during the week, but it can’t be every single day.
Second, I am more comfortable with what I am teaching. I realize this seems like something that would not increase the amount of stress and work hours, but in fact it has. My first year I was just bumbling along trying to make it through the year. Last year I did a lot of revision and scrapped some units altogether but I was so relieved to have a sense of direction that everything just felt better. This year I think I am beginning to be way more aware of the effectiveness of my strategies and I am doing some major revisions on nearly everything.
On one hand it’s good to be growing like that as a teacher, but on the other hand it’s like looking at all the work I have done in the past few years and realizing that even though it’s getting better, there’s just so far to go still.
Third, I also am working on finding ways to REALLY differentiate for my kids. I have a huge range and have always taught more to the middle and not known/had the energy to reach the very high or the very low level students. I’m making a much bigger effort to try and come up with adaptable lessons that can be effective for many different students. This takes a considerable amount of time, and while I know it’s worth it, it’s also draining. I know what I want them to learn, and I want to make things more interactive and more purposeful for them.
Truly student-oriented lessons take a lot of work and that’s why it’s taking me so long to do everything. It’s not even like I am creating all from scratch here either, I mean, I don’t want to reinvent the wheel! But even adapting stuff is time consuming because I am picky and want it to be good and not half-assed if I can help it.
So there you have it – I am tired. I think I’ll go take a nap.