Reflection, Reflection

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.

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5 Comments

Filed under teacher stuff

5 responses to “Reflection, Reflection

  1. J

    wow, you really are working hard! be proud of your commitment, but i hope you can find a better balance soon–a tired teacher won’t be very effective! 🙂 hope you rest up a lot this long weekend.

  2. 17 (really 15) more years

    Differentiation is the big buzzword in my school too.

    I’ve been teaching for 10 years, and I’m still waiting for it to get easier. My curriculum is constantly changing- I can’t get more than 2 years in a row where I can resurrect my old lesson plans. I teach 4 different preps, which is unheard of in middle school. My planning takes forever as it is, so I refuse to put my differentiation down on paper. I can do it in practice, and I can tell any AP what I’m doing for whom and why, but I do not have the time to write it down.
    I commend you for what you’re trying to do-you’re a better person than I am

  3. Ms M.

    J, I really do take time to relax, hence the not posting, it’s my relaxing time 🙂 I refuse to do a lot of work on the weekends, and that’s part of why I’m at school so late, but I need the two days to myself for my own stuff.

    17(15) – I also am not getting it all down on paper, and I probably only manage a lesson or two a week that has been really modified. Part of it is that I have an ESL class and I have to modify for those kids or they get very little, if anything from the lesson. If I tried to write it all down I’d never sleep!

  4. Anonymous

    Ms. M,
    As a former middle school teacher (special ed., no less) I am impressed with the reflection you do on your teaching. I have been in the profession for 17 years and from the sounds of your comments you are doing an awesome job. Be careful not to fall into the pitfall of perfectionism…a common teacher’s malady. Always put yourself first, so you can give your best to others…that means get plenty of sleep, have fun outside of school, and also be aware that as a teacher you can ALWAYS do better and more, (and there will always be more you CAN do, but that doesn’t mean it is the best or healthiest thing for you to do!

  5. ms. v.

    I feel like I’m working harder than ever this year, too. Some of it is the increased expectations for data collection (in formal ways). Some of it is self-motivation to work harder.

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