For some reason, it seems like the school year started at about 85 mph. Despite this being my sixth year in the classroom, I feel like I've been treading water since day one. My students are great, classes are going well, but I'm struggling to find momentum.
I suppose a large reason for this is it's still early. In the beginning of the year I spend more time than usual talking, directing, and explaining. I'm trying to teach my students a variety of systems, protocols, procedures, and expectations, all while trying to delve into content. It's a balancing act that's confounded by picture day, fire drills, standardized assessments, and assemblies.
And then there's technology. One of the first things I have students do is create individual class blogs where they will post writing over the course of the year. For a few, the blog setup is quick and painless. For most, though, it's fraught with login errors, buffer overruns, browser freezes, e-mail attachment failures, and Internet crashes.
The key is anticipating and adjusting to the learning curve required to get the most out of the school's older technological devices. It's figuring out how to print, where to print, when to print. It's knowing when to log off or shut down, it's remembering to hit "save," it's opening a Word 2007 document in Word 2003. It's transferring text from Word Perfect to AbiWord to Word to a blog. It's learning the difference between "Publish Post" and "Save Now." It's understanding what a URL is and how to e-mail a link.
It's skills, competencies, strategies, and ways to navigate, manipulate, move, and display. It's systems and procedures and a good way and a better way and the best way. It's all happening in 55 minutes. That and homework and vocabulary and literature and a warm up responding to a quote. It's following an agenda and taking out a planner and writing notes and finding the tissues. It's where do I sharpen my pencil and how do I leave for the bathroom and is there any scrap paper?
It's all of that and so much more. Every day. Questions and needs. Problems and solutions. It's "what did I miss yesterday?" and "can you repeat that?" And there's a lot of "wait." I notice students say "wait" a lot. Am I going too fast? Is this too much? Stimuli flying at 85 mph nonstop in every direction.
Finally, a bell. Pack it up, put it away, bundle it for a journey to the next room. A new routine. More stimuli. Different variety. Again. And again. And again. And again. And again. Then a short reprieve, followed by practice, or work, or both. Then homework. Late nights. Early mornings. The shuffle and cycle of students moving through the machine.