01 November 2010

The madness and mayhem

After a few hours of training, I began to get overwhelmed...after a few weeks, it was ridiculous.  I was simply keeping my head above water in the beginning, trying to find my bearings.  

A few months in to my first year as a teacher, I am getting a system down.  I know my responsibilities and I try to get them done a little better and faster every week.  Continuous improvement, a concept that Trek and John Burke taught me well.   It is the hardest and the longest that I have ever worked, though I wouldn't change any of the decisions which we made over the last year that got us here.  I love the challenge of teaching, and I find it invigorating to have a job that changes from day to day. 

So what does being a teacher entail?  Don't you get to leave at 3:25 every day with no worries?  Don't you get all those inservice days off?  Not a chance, I am working more hours than I ever have before...last week was my hardest yet, and I figure that I clocked 65-70 hours of work and commuting.  My current motivation is the week-long Thanksgiving break, when I can finally have time to clean my apartment and organize my life.

My responsibilities include creating lesson plans (each plan includes 12 categories to be filled out for each day of the week) for each of my three classes (ELA, French Explorers and French I).  I also have to create or photocopy or find any worksheets, rubrics, flashcards, games, tests, quizes or other materials necessary for each lesson.  Each class gets a new seating chart every grading period, or as needed if there are lots of problems.  Every 2-3 weeks (halfway through each grading period), progress reports are mailed out and report cards go out every grading period or 5-6 weeks, and it is my responsibility to get all grades entered, with comments, by the deadline for each of my 6 classes.  I am always checking my e-mail to keep up with messages from parents, teachers, and staff.  Students with behavior problems get phone calls or e-mails to their parent or guardian.  Every week, I have a meeting with my department, and a meeting with just my fellow 6th grade ELA teachers for planning future lessons.  Every other week, I have a meeting with the 6th grade teachers to discuss specific student issues.  Every grading period, I meet with the English department head, and my mentor.  Every month, there is a faculty meeting.  I have 6 professional development all-day meetings for first year teachers in my district spread throughout the school year.  There are also several other professional development days for all faculty throughout the year.

In addition to all of these school and district requirements, I have to complete my teacher certification by attending meetings 2-3 evenings/month and completing regular homework assignments.  Every 6 weeks, I am observed by formal observers and my principal.  At the end of the year, I will present the portfolio that I am slowly building in order to earn my certification.

I am also taking on more work by teaching a homebound student 2 days/week after school (extra pay!) and next semester I will be the co-advisor for student council.  I really want to get to know some  students and be more of a role model.  It is actually hard do to this as much as I would like during class, simply too many students and too little time.

So you can see why I don't spend much of my down time keeping up with my blog. :)  I try to spend evenings enjoying time with Joshua, Geppetto, and even Loki and Bartleby.  Usually laundry or some housework is squeezed in, some mindless TV online, and some good food a la Joshua.  Sometimes we catch a football game at Conan's, our favorite pizza place where we often have the TV to ourselves.  Our weekends are spent relaxing as much as possible, exploring new parts of the city, talking long walks, doing errands, going to the farmer's market, and maybe seeing a good concert or movie.

We saw Dave Matthews Band on a Friday night in September.  The show was in Houston, so Joshua picked me up right after school and we ate dinner in the car.  We arrived just in time for the opening act, and we saw an amazing show.  I crashed on the way home (way after my usual 10:00 bedtime), and Joshua got us home safely.

Two weeks later was the Black Crows at Stubb's downtown...I had bought us tickets for Joshua's birthday, and we had a blast.  They even performed with a few local legends, including the keyboardist for the Rolling Stones. A few weekends later was Austin City Limits Festival, thousands of people were in town and it was nuts just trying to drive around.  We saw one of the bands, School of Seven Bells, perform at a club called The Mohawk.  We took the bus downtown, saw a great show outside under the stars, gawked at all the crazy hipsters, and then enjoyed a nice fall evening on our walk home through the UT campus.  The music scene in Austin is truly authentic, one of a kind, and, along with the cuisine, is our favorite part of the city.  After the show--how about a veggie dog with sauerkraut and a pickle or some popcorn tofu and homemade soy softserve?  It definitely feels like a musician/vegan foodie paradise to us sometimes...hope this isn't just the honeymoon phase.

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