Sunday, October 2, 2011

long week

And long weeks are not nearly so fun as long weekends.

It was hard to adjust back to school, getting up super early after a tiny bit of jet lag and a the action packed traveling that was the family trip to Colorado. And I had a migraine, too, and one of my best friends broke up with her boyfriend, and I barely saw sweet hubby all week.

I also stepped out of my comfort zone a little bit at school to try some group work activities that could have gone a little better. But I stuck with it and the third day of group work, the kids actually worked a little bit better with their groups, paid a little bit more attention to what they were doing, and seemed to settle in a little more to the expectation that they would problem solve within their groups, rather than interrupting whatever group I was working with at the time.

This year at school (all six weeks of it so far) has been both rewarding and frustrating, but overall feels mostly frustrating. I woke up this morning with a long list of ideas swirling around in my head, and started writing them down. Two pages front and back of things that I either need to do or should have done at least three weeks ago, along with some ideas that are intended to problem solve other things that have been going on in the classroom. Yikes. That is a whole lot. So I also started a list of things that we've already done in the classroom that show we are making progress. It was shorter. But it was also written single space, and was more of a bullet-style list, since we've already done those things and I don't need to remember the details of each idea. It definitely helped me see that we've made some progress this year, compared to what we were able to do last year. And while I have this super long list of things that should have been done/could have been done/need to get done, I also have a relatively good grasp of time management when I am at school, combined with the ability to tell myself that what doesn't get done can be done tomorrow and what is most important needs to be done first.

Actually, I think I need to revisit that time management plan and get back on the wagon. I was really good about that my first year teaching, pretty good at it last year, and in general, this year, I've been truly struggling with prioritizing the to-do list.

I'm officially asking for help monitoring my time in the classroom. I'm going to ask my partner teacher and the other teachers on my hallway to make sure I leave the building by 4:30 each day. (I get there before 7:00. That is a sufficiently long day, especially when I am not paid for 2.5 of those hours.) And I usually have a pretty good habit of leaving schoolwork at school, although this weekend was clearly an exception. I spent several hours yesterday sewing eraser-bags for my students to hang from their desks, hopefully large enough to hold a white-board and marker, so that we can stop fighting over who gets to pass out the materials, which is driving me nuts.

So no lie, I'm feeling overwhelmed at school. We're all trying our hardest to use instructional strategies that let students have more control over how they are learning. Getting them to the point where they can simply go and do this, however, is apparently a long process that requires a great deal of work from the teacher. Currently, it is difficult to see the results in the classroom. Making the list of things we've already done this year, though, in only six weeks, compared to the little bit of this process that we did last year, is helping me to feel better about where we are going. I'm overwhelmed, but hopeful.


  1. My sister is a middle school teacher, and she, too struggles with staying at school way too late and always bringing she schoolwork home! We almost never see her during the school year. I know that being a teacher takes so much of you!

    That was a great idea to make a list of the things that need to be done, but also make a list of the things that HAVE been done. It does let you track progress, and I also think that it is a great idea to ask for help where you see that you want/need it and having someone there to monitor you time seems like a great way to be accountable for your getting things done the way that you want to get them done.

    I hold good teachers in such high esteem. Often it seems that the good ones are so few and far between!

  2. I so feel you on this! I have been working like crazy for weeks - and the list never seems to get shorter! I like the idea of making a list of what progress we have achieved.

    Good luck with the time management!