It’s 7:22 AM and it is still dark outside. I’ve been in my classroom for the last hour attempting to grade rough drafts, and I’ve only completed eight of some 30 I promised them I would grade…I just ran out of time last night. I did the math, and with all the grading (rough drafts, research papers, a quiz, and miscellaneous worksheets) I have to do before the end of the grading period next week, I have 11.6 HOURS of grading to do this weekend. That’s a depressing thought on a Friday. Of course, in the time it took me to calculate that I could have graded another rough draft.
A freshman asked me yesterday if I was actually a teacher or just dressed like one – Thursday was “dress like a grandparent” day as part of our Red Ribbon week. I assured him that I was, in fact, a teacher. He then said, “Ohhh you’re that Harvard teacher. With the really bad car.” I have never seen this kid before in my life. Apparently my reputation precedes me…he told me he was probably going to be pre-AP next year so I wouldn’t teach him, and he sounded a little bummed…I guess that’s a small victory?
This has been a crazy booked-solid week. Tuesday I attended my first staff development conference at the local regional center. It was a day’s training on methods of co-teaching, and it was awesome. For the last two and a half months I’ve had a co-teacher in one of my classes with the most students enrolled in special education classes; I found out the first day of school when she walked in and said, “Oh by the way, I guess I’m your co-teacher this period. I don’t think anyone told you – I just found out!” So with no training for either of us, she’s been flitting in and out of my fourth period, helping redirect and doing a little classroom management, but overall we really were very unclear on what her role was there. At this conference we watched videos and had great discussions on all the different models of using a co-teacher; she is not a teacher’s aide (she’s a certified special ed teacher/basketball coach/tutor), but really can and should function as a second teacher in class, where we are sharing students and teaching time and classroom observations and in general being awesome team teachers. All we need to do is find 20 minutes of common planning time to figure out how to do that…oh yeah, the hard part…:)
At the end of the conference we had time for conversations with each other about how this could look in our classroom. The facilitator gave us two little laminated signs: one had a target on it, one said, “Awesome job!” She said to remember that when you get discouraged, remember how far you’ve already come with your kids (the target) and remind yourself that you’re doing an awesome job – teachers don’t hear that enough. She said that, and out of nowhere I broke down into tears – I had the crazy feeling that I’ve wasted two and a half months and I can’t think of ONE THING my kids can do better now than at the beginning of August. One of our veteran teachers at school told me how she cried nearly every day of her first year of teaching, convinced she was an awful teacher. Many others have reassured me that that’s actually the mark of a good teacher – feeling like you’re never doing enough. Still, it was a little embarrassing to be comforted by complete strangers in a strange city and being told that I’m a great teacher, and how I’ll probably never know what kind of impact I’ll make on kids. I left with a renewed sense of initiative and pumped to do even better by my kids. All 137 of them (oh yes, I got several more at the end of the grading period…).
Broke 2 more desks this week…yikes. I have a few football players who are literally too big for my desks. I feel like I’m going to get yelled at any day now for destruction of school property…