I am going to enjoy life after 50 if it kills me!

Posts tagged ‘teacher’

Crawling Out From Under

Long time, no see.

I have gotten subtle reminders from my daughter that I need to write a post.  Subtle being, “You need to write a post for your blog, Mom.  Either blog.  Just write a post.”

So here I am.  This is the most exhausting part of the school year for me.  We have Saturday School, state testing, report cards and report card conferences with every child’s parent, and planning for end of the  year activities.  So naturally, I’ve been migraining for weeks now.

Fortunately, Saturday School has ended, testing is more than half over, report cards are done, and so are most of my conferences.  And I haven’t taken any migraine meds in over a week.  Life is good again.

And I’d better get motivated.  My grandson’s baptism is next Sunday.  He’s four months old now – how fast the time has gone.  Have I mentioned how much in love I am with this little person?  Totally.

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Where Do I Start?

Every year I convince myself that if I just organize myself and my life a little better, I will be rested, healthy, and able to accomplish great things on a regular basis.

I am an idiot.

Since I last posted, back in 1984 or so, this has been my life.

I am already behind two weeks on my lesson plans.  I have only recorded two sets of grades.  With a new online gradebook program that doesn’t exactly have the bugs worked out of it, but which every teacher in the county must use, grades are pretty much in chaos.  No one can answer our questions, it seems.  Awesome.  Progress reports must be done through this same program in less than two weeks.

I have at least two parent calls I need to make, but this very same program doesn’t have student info listed, so I have to go to the office and make copies of all 23 of my students’ registration forms.  This program was supposed to eliminate that.

I spent a lovely weekend with my dad over Labor Day, but that means my laundry didn’t get done, so my ironing didn’t get done, so I have a very limited supply of clean pressed clothing for work.  I have no groceries, so I’m going through the drive-through every afternoon and eating junk.  And I’m too exhausted from staying at school late doing meetings and playing catch up to face a trip to the grocery store after work.

My dog is throwing up small amounts of blood.  I took Tuesday off work to take her to the vet (which also put me behind)  and it seems I’ll need to take her back because she’s doing worse instead of better.

It is way too early in the year to feel like I’m drowning, and yet, I am.  I’ve also had a migraine off and on since Sunday morning.

Next Monday, I start after school tutoring.  Can I just get off the merry-go-round for a while and catch my breath?

Identity Crisis in the Classroom

The teaching profession has such an identity crisis.

Having been a teacher now for the better part of thirty years, I speak from experience and up close and personal observation.  And I read stuff, too.

We are this unique group of unionized, salaried, degreed public servants who have been called heroes and lazy, who are told “I wouldn’t do your job for all the money in the world” and “It must be nice to have your summers off”, and are told they make too much money, but can qualify for reduced lunch for their kids if they are the sole breadwinners (I worked with someone in that position, and after my divorce, my kids could have qualified at one point).

For the record, in those almost 30 years, I have NEVER met a teacher who said they did it for the pay or did it to get their summers and holidays off.  And most teachers I know come back to work after swearing they weren’t going to do schoolwork at home, and proceed to talk about the unit they planned over the holiday, or the papers they graded over the weekend, or the ideas they came up while lying awake at night to help little Johnny read better.

We teachers love what we do.  Why else would we put up with a kid calling us a bitch, having more students in our class than books and desks for them, being cursed at over the phone by an angry parent, and having an eight year old throw up on our shoes (all of which  have happened to me personally… good times, good times…).

Have I ever met or worked with bad teachers?  One or two over the course of three decades.  Have I worked with teachers who could improve?  Yep.  You mean you’ve never worked with anyone in your chosen career who wasn’t perfect?  I have improved every year I’ve taught, not by chance, but by choice.  Haven’t you?

Some teachers like to compare our careers to those of doctors, especially when it comes to people respecting our knowledge and time.  I kind of cringe at that.  I have half the higher education of a doctor, and I’m not called at 2am or while at a party to rush to the school to deal with a student in need of my expertise.  On the other hand, sometimes teachers get caught up in “labor” versus “management” so to speak.  I am torn about this.  On the one hand, I am a public employee, so I am told what my salary will be – I can’t negotiate in a job interview.  People in other professions requiring the same education levels can sometimes negotiate benefits such as insurance, pay rate, paid holidays, etc.  We can’t, so we rely on a union to do that for us.  But I don’t feel like “labor”.  And I want to be treated as a professional in the field of elementary education.  I think the result of trying to have it both ways is that in some ways we end up being viewed as neither a professional nor as underpaid, overworked working-class folks.

If we can’t clearly identify ourselves as professionals, how can we expect the public and the local, state, and federal governments to treat us as such?  I don’t have an answer to that, or in fact, how to be regarded by the public as experts and professionals in a public service field.  Am I on the right track?  Have I missed the big picture?  I’d love to hear your opinions.

Just don’t be mean.  I’m an elementary school teacher.  We’re sensitive little souls.

I Can Hear Alice Cooper

Out for summer
Out till fall
We might not go back at all

School’s out forever
School’s out for summer
School’s out with fever
School’s out completely


 

The children have left my classroom for the last time.  It was quiet in there this afternoon.  I still have the report card copies, the lesson plans, and the file folders to prove they were there, but it remains quiet.  The peacefulness of my surroundings reminded me how exhausted I am.  Once the noise and activity stopped, so did my stamina.

I actually look forward to spending time in this classroom this summer all alone to plan, prepare, and inspire myself.  This has been a good school year for me.  The best, in fact, in several years.  I’m starting to think being in a new school, back in my favorite grade has brought back some of the passion I have been lacking in recent years, which led me to want to hit the road and leave my career and my pension behind.

But for now…

No more pencils, no more books, no more giving dirty looks.

School’s out for summer.


No Change, No Growth

Two years ago, my principal called me into her office one spring day.  Then she shut the door.  That is NEVER a good thing.  After hemming and hawing, she told me she was moving me to second grade.  She knows I’m happiest working with 5th graders.  This was not what I was expecting.  Some teachers get news like this and react very badly.  Yelling, crying, threatening to call the union, blah, blah, blah.  The truth is, a principal can put you into whatever grade he or she needs you, as long as you’re certified.

I took a deep breath and said, “If you don’t change, you don’t grow”.  Mostly, I was trying to convince myself, but in the final analysis, it was true.  While a year in second grade confirmed that I have a much better temperament for older children, I learned so much about child development, patience, and how to teach the fundamentals of reading.  I never knew what to do with fifth graders reading on a first or second grade level.  Now I do.

I obviously like plans and like knowing what’s ahead, but sometimes being given a push in a new direction helps me grow professionally, emotionally, or intellectually.  When faced with such a change, ask yourself  “What can I learn?  How will this make me a better, stronger person?”  And if you don’t like whatever change you’re going through, don’t forget that this change will change into something else if you just have a little patience.

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