Teaching week 5

2016/09/25

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.

Teaching week 4

2016/09/20

First week teaching sick. I was amazingly in a good mood but it is still a thing. Having your energy taken to 70% when you really need 103% is not fun.

Teaching week 3

2016/09/12

I am always surprised how quickly my preparedness level changes. I can feel like I'm completely on top of my shit and then the very next day I'm working all evening because there's, big surprise, more! I know this shouldn't be surprising by now, I just happen to have a brain that really craves order as opposed to chaos. I do what I can to stay organized but it is truly never enough.

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.

Teaching week 2

2016/09/04

And then the tiredness seeps in. This is a known factor but the reality of it is always disheartening. When energy and creativity are high it is such a wishful delusion that I might feel that way. Just like forgetting how bad a hot summer or a cold winter really feels when you're enjoying life in the 70s. This week I felt my energy crash hard. I'm falling into my bed near the 8 o'clock hour every night, giddy when I make it there earlier. My alarm at 5:40 comes too soon. But I'm enjoying my classes even more. Things are running more smoothly; I'm connecting with the students.

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.