I walked into 'my' room (four other teachers also use it) yesterday as a colleague of mine was finishing his lesson. He was sitting on a desk. His hair, sleeves, and tie were disheveled as usual. He was finishing work with a few students, and I could tell from the look in his eye as he glanced at my entrance that his day had not gone well.
He hands me two sheets of paper. "Check this out," he says as the students leave.
I looked at the administrative plan that detailed all his requirements for the rest of his semester. I'd seen something like this before, and that look in his eye now made sense, not that I didn't know this was coming.
Among other things, the plan required....
- Meet with an administrator every day to do lesson planning
- Submit unit plans two weeks in advance
- Document student progress and review with administration on a regular basis
- Attend a professional development on UBD
- Submit lesson plans for every day and an objective calendar for every month
His signature was at the bottom with the date.
I knew exactly what this was, where it was coming from, and exactly how he felt. In many schools this kind of letter may as well have said, "We intend to fire you at the end of the year." A long, stressful conversation followed.
"I have no life," he says. "I feel guilty even going to the gym. I'm so frustrated trying to plan, I don't even know what a damn objective is anymore. How the hell is it different from an outcome, aim, standard, or learning goal? How am I supposed to teach anything when I can't even figure out what they need to know."
I know exactly what he means. Planning with no direction is the most frustrating thing in the world. I did it for about three years. I still put a ginormous number of hours into teaching, but I'm confident it's all going somewhere useful now. When you spend ten hours coming up with two lesson plans and they're both utter failures, it makes you want to quit fast.
"I don know, man. Maybe I should just go get a PhD and teach college. It's exactly what I always wanted to avoid, but if they're going to fire me at the end of the year, obviously I shouldn't be doing this."
I tell him he's wrong. I don't know if he believes me. We'll get together to plan this weekend. Maybe it will help.