Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Marathon days

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.


Ashley said...

It really sounds like you enjoy what you do. If it helps your class and you're happy with the results you are getting then you're probably spending the amount of time you personally need on your planning and such. Hope your year goes well. :-)

Mr. B-G said...

Thanks Ashley. One thing I try to do is leave my job at school. While sometimes I will do work at home, usually when I come home, I can decompress and focus on other things or just relax. I know teachers who leave school much earlier than I do, but then do schoolwork at home.

I don't have any kids, so unlike other teachers, I don't need to be home at a certain time to take care of someone else.

As the year goes on I get better at leaving a little earlier, as I eventually manage to get more of my ducks in a row.

Melissa said...

Boy, I feel like I could have written this post. I have spent the last few weeks astonished by how much time I dedicate to school work (and how little time my students seem to devote to theirs!)

I, too, am striving to find that magical balance...

Jackie said...

I feel like I could have written this post too! I've been doing parent conferences this week, so I've been getting to school around 7:15, and today I got home at 4:45. And I still have a stack of grading that needs doing, but at least my lesson plans for tomorrow are mostly done.

Mr. B-G said...

I suppose as long we we feel we're making progress, then the work will eventually pay off. Fortunately, we do have a respite - the long weekend - coming up. I'm going camping on Saturday at a nearby state park. Fall in New England needs to be experienced out-of-doors.

Tomorrow I am actually observing an old colleague who is now teaching at another school. Sub plans took a while to create, but everything's done and ready for someone else tomorrow. It will be a refreshing change to experience life on the other side of the desk, if only for a day.