2016/10/09Posted by Amber
Posted by Amber
I'm finding a lot more peace with the bureaucratic distractions at work this year. They just don't bother me like they used to. Not unrelatedly, each year I have a little more time due to increased efficiencies, and this year I find myself with time to rework materials that I've been using and 85% happy with to a place where I'm more satisfied. Which of course makes lessons run more smoothly and increases my satisfaction as well as student performance.
I was talking to a fellow teacher at the copy machine this week (the state of the copy machines are, by the way, a huge source of frustration this year) and she joked about it being October, a notoriously low point for most teachers as they trudge forward with no real breaks until Thanksgiving. And I was transported back to my first and second year teaching where October was a daily struggle just to get out of bed. I hadn't even thought about it being "October" in that sense. I am definitely in a good place.
2016/09/25Posted by Amber
I feel a delicious amount of satisfaction when my gradebook is up to date. It reminds me of some of the enjoyment I used to get out of concrete and non-challenging routine tasks I would regularly perform in my last job. Not exciting or hard, but just satisfying to have accomplished. It is so much easier for me than lesson planning and the like.
I had a student trying to jab me this week and without giving it much thought he decided to tease me for being disorganized. I and all of the students within earshot just laughed. Of course I have many failings as a teacher, but disorganization is simply not one of them.
Gradebook, check. Neat desk and organized bins, check. If only that were all of it.
2016/09/20Posted by Amber
2016/09/12Posted by Amber
I had one day this week when I was feeling grumpy to do the job. This really is nothing remarkable as it inevitable for even the cheeriest teacher, but last year I had some pretty big patches of irritability (a lot to do with personal emotional drain from outside of school) and I felt a little panicked to feel that dark specter grab me so early in the year. Gotta breathe deep.
2016/09/04Posted by Amber
Each year I find myself making small but significant progress in my pedagogy. Most of it is due to improved efficiencies that allow me to focus on more or perhaps better things. Tasks become more routine and take up less mental energy. My second year teaching I was able to stop grading every test with the scantron machine and started requiring students to justify answers and did a lot more hand grading. A ton more work but it is better feedback for the students and better input for me to know where each kid is. Last year I expanded that effort to quizzes, getting rid of multiple choice all together. This year I'm trying to take that to homework which is from a volume standpoint, no small thing. It won't last through the entire year, but at least starting off expectations that way I'm hoping will show dividends for student learning. The biggest complaint in Algebra 2 is that the content is irrelevant to "real life". And my new stock answer is to acknowledge some of that argument, but emphasize that everyone, and I mean everyone, benefits from being able to justify and articulate their thinking and problem solving and I'm pushing my students hard to be able to do that. For a population where the majority do not speak English as their first language, that is a challenge. Baby steps? Jumping off a cliff? It's hard to say.
2016/08/28Posted by Amber
This was our first week back with students and my energy and positivism are high. There are good and bad things about the beginning of the year. I love the optimism of the students, all freshly committed to doing things right. Classroom management is easy and most students are paying attention and engaged. The part I dislike wholeheartedly is the lack of personal relationships and deep knowledge of each kid's struggles and strengths. I run my classroom largely on rapport and that take some time to build. I would peg myself at low average among teachers in the game of learning students' names and I feel slightly awkward in class until that is mastered. My Algebra 2 class sizes seem to be slightly lower than prior years, plus I have two sections of my Senior Financial Algebra class where I know roughly half of the students from last year, so that puts a dent in that particular struggle.
So, good first week overall. I am energized to be back (something I wasn't sure I would feel 2-3 week ago when I was still enjoying thoroughly the unstructured days of summer) and feeling hugely positive about the year. I am feeling more relaxed and confident as I sit atop the first crest of my fifth year teaching. Here we go!