Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Every morning we have meetings

Every morning we have meetings
Sometimes they go well and I learn
Sometimes they're poorly organized and I mentally prepare for the rest of the day
Sometimes I show up and realize I didn't do my "home learning"
Today was the latter....

I was greeted this morning by an e-mail from my department head (who also serves as the 9th grade administrator) letting us know to remember to bring the curricular documents he requested at the last meeting, and to bring two copies of each of them. This stressed the hell out of me because I didn't know what documents he was talking about. I scrambled to find out what they were, but made no progress. I showed up to the meeting three minutes late as a result of my search, and when I got there, realized I'd come completely unprepared - no pencil or paper, which sucked since the first thing he made us do was a "write, pair, share."

These things make me go crazy. I like to think of myself as being on top of things. I like to have all of my responsibilities taken care of and under control. I had apparently been irresponsible.

Furthermore, I learned at the meeting that I was supposed to have had a pacing guide done for the entire year for both classes, my unit plans and assessments finished, and I was supposed to be working on class profiles for both of my classes to help with differentiation. The whole idea of having these documents done prior to beginning teaching is that it helps the teacher know what they're aiming for in their instruction. This is something I've always believed in. However, I'm not sure it's realistically possible to plan so far ahead in a course you've never taught before. That kind of long-range planning becomes more and more realistic as you teach a course for a number of years. However, our department head is adamant that we have this completed. I can understand where he's coming from. I'd like to be at that point. But it stresses me to no end that I'm supposed to do all of that (plan an entire year's worth of unit plans and pacing guides for classes I've never taught) and keep up with my daily lesson plans; my daily phone calls to parents for every absence or tardy or misbehavior (and record those calls in the computer); attend all of our morning meetings; tutor students after school; meet with my world history II colleagues after school to plan; work on differentiating my classroom; update my three bulletin boards with student exemplars, daily grades, and new vocabulary; grade all of my students work (despite the fact my school has no grades program), write referrals; make copies; AND be a normal human being.

My gut reaction is AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

My rational reaction is STAY CALM.

It's not possible. It's impossible. However, I believe that no matter how stressed I am right now - which is A LOT stressed - I do believe that this year can have no other result than my significant development as a professional educator. The things my school requires and the accountability it imposes on its teachers is like nothing I've ever encountered before. It leads to a lot of stress and griping, but in the long run, we rise towards the expectations, if not to them. I believe the same is true for students. If you truly expect all students to average around a 70 percent, then they'll probably average around a 55, but if you expect them to meet you at 100, they might reach 85.

So even though my stress levels were through the roof all day today while I was thinking about how awful of a teacher I was, and how irresponsible I'd been for not remembering my "home learning," I'm hoping that after this three-day weekend I'll feel a little more sane - even if I happen to work all the way through it.

Teaching is NOT just a job.

Back to work tomorrow.

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