Exasperation and Wanting to Teach

Thank you for creating a blog that says what so many teachers don’t have the words to say/write. I pretty much give you sole credit for bringing me out of an anxiety induced depression/burn out. I know. I know. That’s a lot of pressure placed on you, but a very wise person once said “suck it up”. I taught 1st grade for 8 years, but my position was cut last year due to a decline in enrollment (cue gimmick to increase enrollment). Luckily, or unluckily, a 2nd grade spot opened, so I moved on up (and got to stay in the same classroom). Not only am I responsible for learning a whole new set of standards/curriculum, but we are now apparently a “biodome classlab” (gimmick). I get to teach bio-something-or-other lessons that do not relate to the thousands of standards I already have to teach and can’t possibly complete in a single school year. Each year, I feel I am becoming more and more dumberer. See?

I was sitting in my math team meeting discussing math data from our state test. We were trying to figure out how to create a new, completely unnecessary assessment that would give us information we already knew from anecdotal notes/observations/other assessments that we could enter into a spreadsheet to prove we were really teaching what we said we would in order to meet our school math goal. That’s when someone kept saying “But how do you know? But how do you know if you don’t assess them?” Other people began laughing and shared with me that our assistant principal showed the collaborative planning video during a team leader meeting. Someone kindly e-mailed me the link which I promptly went home and viewed. That video led me to your videos and eventually your blog.

Thank you again for taking the time to write about your experiences in a humorous way, thereby saving my sanity and the sanity of many other teachers out there.

During my post observation conference last week, I decided to express that I feel mediocre at many things but not actually good or solid at any one thing. My principal said “That’s the nature of our job.” Really? You want a bunch of mediocre teachers? Well, trust me, he’s got them. I’m just thankful I spent my first 4 years of teaching at an amazing school with amazing teachers & administrators. It prepared me to do great things for my students despite the crappy work environment and my clueless colleagues. Too bad I had to move and couldn’t stay at my previous school.

The following are just a few new things we’ve started in the last several years.

06-07 New Social Studies program & the easiest teaching year of my career (buzz words: Marzano, High Yield Strategies, Differentiation, Backwards Design)
07-08 Thinking Maps (buzz words: same as above + rigor, relevance, relationships)
08-09 New Writing Program, New Math Program (buzz words: all above + fractal (aka goal setting and data collection every 8 weeks)
09-10 New Reading Program + beginning book study on an additional piece to new reading program (fractals mentioned but not enforced)
10-11 Aerospace curriculum, plus expected implementation of additional reading program piece with zero training or time to finish reading the book, PDSA (see “fractal”)

So, now that I’m teaching a new grade level this year, I have to learn all of these things for my new grade level. Plus we have to do 20-40 hours of professional development and have 20-40 professional responsibility hours earned outside of the regular school day (eg. attending band/choir concerts or school sporting events, team meetings not during our common prep., tutoring students for free, etc.)

I didn’t mean for this to become a rant; it all just seemed to spew out. Sorry that you were the target, but it sure feels good to “talk” to someone who gets it.


2 responses to “Exasperation and Wanting to Teach

  1. I love the list of new programs you’ve had to implement every year. I, too, can recall each school year by the new initiatives and buzz words that were introduced.

    ‘Differentiation’ used to bug me to most; now it’s ‘rigor’. Somehow ‘rigor’ always ends up meaning ‘assessing and documenting every three seconds to make sure teachers aren’t being lazy.’

  2. Passion4Teaching

    Each year there is something new. I’m not against new learning, but I wish we were given more time to learn something and implement it more fully and effectively before we adopt another new program. So far, this has not been the case. I keep reminding myself that at least I’m not a brand new teacher taking on all of these new things while just trying to figure out how to teach and manage a classroom. I forgot to include on the above list that there was a push at one time for more anecdotal records and qualitative data collection. That probably lasted about 5 months before we never heard of it again. Now we are all about “assessing and documenting every three seconds to make sure teachers aren’t being lazy”.

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