Most people hate Mondays, right? Last week I took my Monday morning to a new level, as I watched my classroom keys get flushed down the AUTOMATIC flush toilets. I just stood there for a few moments, not really sure what the next step would be. After the initial shock of seeing my precious keys flushed down the toilet wore off, I realized I had to gather up the courage to tell my coop teacher this embarrassing story. Fortunately for me, she was able to find the humor in this, and I was able to get a new set. If this was setting the tone for my week, then it was going to be a long one.
There was a partial lockdown issued in all of the schools in the city this past week, and although it was somewhat nerve-racking and of course put a damper on the afternoon, we continued with classes as normal. Despite the annoyance, it was definitely reassuring to see how well the schools are able to adapt to circumstances to ensure the safety of all students and teachers throughout the city, because regardless of the situation, students’ safety is always the number one priority.
This past week was my first full week of teaching, and it was exhausting. I have come to find it to be really frustrating to teach something that your students do not understand because you have tried your best to explain it in various different ways, and still they are not understanding. I remember in high school getting so frustrated with my math and science teachers because I felt as if they weren’t explaining things enough and I wasn’t getting it at all. Now the tables have turned, and I feel like I am the one who isn’t explaining these concepts to students enough. This is one of the reasons that I think formative assessments are so important because when I look out at my students, so often I am thinking they have no idea what I am trying to explain. I wonder if they are simply bored to death, do they have no clue what I am talking about, or is there something on my face?
I’ve been told that some people believe that we teachers all get a “book” that we read, and it just tells us what to teach. I think the “book” they are referring to is the curriculum, which of course all teachers (are supposed to) follow, however what most people don’t realize is that the curriculum explains what outcomes we as teachers need to ensure our students are meeting, but the curriculum doesn’t explain how to get those students there. How do teachers hit these outcomes for students who need extreme help along the way? How do teachers go above and beyond these outcomes for students who need more enrichment and are already way past these outcomes? People really underestimate how hard teachers have to work every day. Teaching something that some student’s get immediately, and some have no idea what you are talking about, where is the balance? Teachers need to figure out how to get that deeper explanation to the students who need it, and then need to also decide how to get the students who have already mastered this to the next level, all while doing this in an hour with all students working on task on something meaningful to their educational and meaningful to their future. This something that will hopefully come with experience, as I have no idea how to do any of that yet.
I am slowly settling into the teaching routine. The drastic change is now becoming what I am used to. What I am not used to is thinking about school and lessons 24/7. It is not only mentally exhausting, but also physically and emotionally exhausting to be thinking about school every hour of the day. This has been a struggle because I haven’t been sleeping well most nights because I am constantly thinking about my lesson my next day. I try not to stay at school too late most nights, as I usually arrive pretty early. However, when I am leaving school and arrive home, I feel as if I should be doing something. Surely, I can’t take the night off and spend my time doing non-school related things.
For the first few weeks of school, I was in this routine where I would literally take home six or seven books thinking I would maybe need them or work on something in each book. I decided last week I needed to stop doing that, because seeing these books and binders piled up on my table only added to the feelings of anxiety. I don’t need to take my entire desk home with me every night; it is unrealistic to think I am going to do hours and hours of planning once I get home, after planning for over five hours during school time. Even when I am not spending my evenings and weekends planning, I still cannot get planning out of my head while I am sleeping. I am thinking maybe I should try going to the gym before I go to bed, or maybe practicing some kind of yoga or meditation.
Something I have realized over the past few weeks is that I need to work on is turning school off for the day when I leave. Any of my teacher friends have suggestions to this issue? Or is this what it will be like for the next 3 months??