I spent the first half of the summer marinating in the fact that I survived the 2011-12 school year. During that time, I taught the first session of summer school at another high school here in town. I missed the 2nd week of summer school to attend the Marine Corps Educators Workshop in San Diego….and got to have dinner with my California Counterpart, Leesepea!! squee!
About the time I wrapped up the first session of summer school, I started to have a panic attack that SUMMER IS ALMOST OVER!!
Once I started breathing again, I made myself do the math, whereupon I realized that I still had six and a half weeks left til inservice begins. And I realized I owed it to myself to get after turning some goals into reality.
I’m not quite ready to discuss those goals here…but only because I need a little time to get my feet under me before I start fielding inquiries. (Thanks so much for understanding. mwuah!)
“This summer is about trying things on and pushing past the discomfort. It’s about telling myself I belong here and getting out of my own way to end the cycle of sabotage.”
I can’t even find the words to explain why that resonated with me. All I know is that I felt it in every fiber of my being…which affirmed that I am on the right track during this Summer of 2012.
Finals for seniors are finished.
My grades are entered.
I’m almost afraid to say it…
I actually survived this school year.
I need to go lie down.
“In times of high stress, it is easy to become overwhelmed. When you clearly see the work before you, it can feel more like an abyss. But, instead of focusing on what can’t be done, cultivate a keen awareness about all that can be done right now.” **
It is no secret to anyone who follows my FB and/or Twitter feeds that I am not. having. a good. year. Rest easy friends, I’ve been very careful with what I’ve posted so as not to end up fired. But. I feel I owe it to myself to be honest about what I’m going through this school year. And besides…once upon a time, we were given this thing called the Bill of Rights…and part of THAT package is the handy-dandy Freedom of Speech. Boo yah, baby!!
Thanks to the trainwreck that is the 4/3 block schedule (where you teach 4 90-minute classes one day -with no break, and 3 the next — with one period “off”), combined with the Great State of Texas’ ever-increasing curricular and administrative demands AND the fact that I don’t have my room during my ONE planning period (thanks be to the dynamic that is School Overcrowding) ….I am crissssspy.
Granted, the state of Texas only requires that teachers get 450 minutes over a ten-day period….so that planning period we lost was actually above and beyond what our district was required to give us. So, yes, I realize that I have had it reallllly good over the past nine years where planning time is concerned. And yes, I also realize that there were a lot of teachers who did not use their planning time as wisely as they could. However, some of us did. Some of us used that time to get grading and planning done so that we could be totally engaged with our students during the limited time we had them in class. Granted, there were days when I used that planning time to chat with colleagues and/or make a Sonic run…but that was necessary to recharge the batteries so that I COULD be fully …ONE-HUNNERT percent…present with my students.
It blindsided me this year to realize how drastically losing that planning period impacted my life. On A-days, where I teach 4 90-minute classes of Senior English in a row with only a 30 minute lunch….I am Worthless when the dismissal bell rings at 2:45. I have to force myself to stay in my room til my contract time ends at 3:00; the urge to charge the parking lot is almost unbearable. On B-days, I teach 3 90-minute classes in a row with a 30-minute lunch…and when the bell rings to end 7th period, I have to pack up my belongings to clear the way for the teacher who uses my room during 8th period. Needless to say, my desire to be productive pales in comparison to how freakin’ mentally exhausted I am at that point.
I wish I could say that I’ve been SuperWoman and have managed to triumph over my obstacles and maintain my usual high standard of brilliance….but that would be a lie. I have had to make peace with my NON-super-woman-ness, and realize that I can’t do it all. (GASP!) I’ve had to learn how to set priorities and say “no” without feeling guilty….because I had to set some boundaries or I wasn’t going to be any good to anyone.
to be continued….
My dr called me today with the results from my blood test. I’ve got mono.
I had mono my freshman year in college, and it’s lain dormant since then….just waiting for the perfect conditions to flare back up.
Enter the shittastic schedule of the 2011-12 school year.
This school year is kickin’ my arse in a big and major way. Thanks to budget cuts….we lost a conference period, and gained an extra class section. So now I’m up to 210 students in 7 90-minute classes with only 90 minutes of planning over the course of 2-days. THIS. SUCKS.
Since school started, I’ve been ridiculously exhausted….to the point where all I want to do in the evenings and on the weekends is SLEEP. At first I just thought it was adjusting to going back-to-school…then I thought it was PMS….but it’s carried on FAR too long. So tonight I talked to my dr and she wanted me to come get blood drawn so she can check my thyroid and my epstein-barr levels. It felt good to have her respond to my saying “I’m Exhausted” with authentic concern and a plan for action.
Teaching is the perfect job for me. I love the part where I figure out what and how I’m going to teach….and I love the part where I actually execute that plan with the kids while getting to know them as people….and I love the part where I get to put numbers into little boxes and figure out how well they’re doing. What I don’t love is the mind-numbing exhaustion of this 4/3 schedule or the constant stress about how I’m going to get all the paperwork done with so little planning time. I don’t want to leave education…but I don’t know how much longer I can keep up this pace. And, dear God help me, it’s only October.
The Spring Semester starts tomorrow; today is our teacher workday.
As you might remember, our leaders (in their infinite wisdom) decided to load us up with New Stuff this past semester:
- new English curriculum
- new English textbooks
- new online gradebook system
- new student information management system
- new teacher appraisal system
- new a/c chillers
- new tile & carpet
- new kids
All in all, things went pretty smoothly. Of course there were hiccups along the way:
- the new ancillary materials were not delivered til the 2nd week of school.
- the newly adopted novels were not delivered in time to teach them in the 3rd week of school.
- the new curriculum is, to put it mildly, optimistic in terms of what we’re supposed to accomplish in a given grading period.
- not everything had been loaded accurately (key word) into the new student info system.
- my appraiser didn’t (still doesn’t, for that matter) have a clue what the new appraisal system is about….so she ran around doing “gotcha” walkthroughs.
- I got in trouble for doing SAT prep during the 5th week of school. According to my appraiser, I shouldn’t have been doing stuff that wasn’t on the curriculum document. The fact I didn’t have the novels I was supposed to teach, see #2, is immaterial.
- my appraiser’s decision that the English teachers’ rooms are “too cluttered”…so we have to clean to her standards.
- my appraiser’s failure to realize that the main reason the rooms seem so cluttered is we have THIRTY STUDENTS crammed into classrooms designed according to 1964 standards.
- my appraiser’s “standards” include not being able to see boxes. (“Brown cardboard boxes are ugly.”)
- my appraiser failed to realize that those “ugly” boxes contain the 80 gajillion novels that we received as part of the new textbook adoption, and there’s not enough shelf-space in the world to accommodate all of those books. And since she gave away our bookroom several years ago, where the hell else are we supposed to store ’em if not in their handy-dandy “ugly” cardboard boxes?
Is it any wonder why I’m excited about the opportunity to make a fresh start?
Here are my goals/objectives/crap-I-gotta-get-better-at for this semester:
- cover the curriculum document*
- use my “professional judgment” to prioritize/eliminate portions of the curriculum document***
- make the kids responsible for reading outside of class**
- concentrate on vocabulary**
- make a Word Wall*
- post my learning objectives daily*
- work on writing **
- get past basic plot summaries so we can do more analysis**
- create new seating charts for each class to minimize the pockets of talking/pissy attitudes***
- have my syllabus planned/available at the beginning of the six-weeks
Stay tuned…I’ll let you know how it goes.
- * to keep my appraiser off my a$$, and my a$$ out of her office
- ** so the li’l darlins have a fighting chance in Freshman Comp.
- *** to preserve what’s left of my sanity