For the last couple of weeks, I've been arriving at school around 6:30 a.m. and leaving, on average, around 5:00 p.m. I've been planning, grading, organizing, messaging, filing, cleaning, e-mailing, calling, researching, tweaking, printing, copying, editing, recording, reserving, requesting, previewing, reading, and reflecting. I've also done some sighing, laughing, and talking, usually with others but sometimes just with myself.
There is SO much that goes into the planning and execution of a teacher's day. When students walk in it all seems so simple: there's an agenda on the board, a fresh handout to take, and a lesson to do. Students don't see the hours that go into the crafting of each day's plan. I sure do. I experience it at the end of each day when I come home feeling like I've been drained by Dracula. Yet somewhere I'm finding the reserve to go for a jog or lift some weights. One of my goals this year was to be active at least four days a week, hopefully more, but at least four days. So far I've been sticking to that plan, and it feels good.
Today for the first time I feel like I was actually able to do some advanced planning. I'm getting a better handle on where I'm going with all my classes, and it feels good. I'm starting to get to know the kids a bit more, and individual and class identities are starting to form. I like my students, and I love what I do. The thing is, there's just so much to do. And I want to do it all well, and as a result, I spend more time than I probably should on some things. Yet each year I become better and more efficient at older tasks, which gives me time to experiment and try new ideas.
The key is finding a balance between the new and the essential, keeping it fresh while also ensuring the foundation remains solid.