It’s been weeks since I last posted, but I’ve been getting ready to go back to school and I am EXHAUSTED. The back-to-school nightmares began about two weeks after I turned in my final grades in May, and I don’t remember ever struggling this much to find motivation before! I still have two weeks until Day 1, and my list only gets longer the more I think about my tasks.
What’s going on?
There are a few things that makes this back-to-school time “feel” different than previous years. For one, I have four different preps — more than any other year I’ve taught:
- 3 sections of AP English Language
- 1 section of freshman English 9
- 1 sections of Adult Roles and Responsibilities (“Life101”)
- 1 section of sociology (Life101 and Soc repeat at semester).
The last time I taught freshmen I worked with a different teacher on the old schedule, so most of my materials don’t fit anymore. I am afraid I will be letting the other two freshman teachers do the bulk of the planning work, since they taught it last year. I already feel guilty for not sharing the load before I have even begun to flake on them!
As the only AP Language teacher and the only sociology teacher, I pretty much got used to doing my own thing with limited collaboration needed. I just don’t always work well with others (my husband can attest to this, and why we can never cook together). I am worried I might be too snarky or unhelpful as I learn to work with two teachers who planned out the course last year.
This year our school is going through the accreditation process for the National Lutheran Schools Association. As part of this, all courses must have their online curriculum maps updated and accessible. This is a collaborative program where we enter all our materials, scope and sequence, assessments, and tie them to the standards. Ideally they get used from year to year to keep courses consistent and not make each new teacher reinvent the wheel.
In reality I taught at my school two years before learning that my “curriculum map” wasn’t just the calendar of lessons the previous teacher emailed me. After my previous district deleted my google account, I had to redo all my curriculum, and created my own Google Drive system of managing it. Now I have to go through my classes and enter an entire year’s worth of curriculum (for my THREE individual classes) into this specialized program and tie them to standards…by August 15, if I could. I get a knot in my stomach every time I think about working on this. I freeze and rabbit trail and rarely get anything accomplished when I sit down to map.
There’s a phenomenon that happens when teachers attempt to tie their curriculum to standards: they feel like they are woefully failing their students. For example, if you take a look at the Indiana DOE standards for English grades 9-10, you’ll discover the document is 10 pages long. While we are probably hitting the bulk of these standards, trying to tie each one to the lesson, assessment, activity, or project and determine if it is diagnostic, formative, or summative — FOR THE ENTIRE SCHOOL YEAR — is exhausting and overwhelming.
Really, mapping should just be me taking what I already do and attaching those documents to the program. It SHOULD be easy. But each session results in massive soul-searching for me and I question everything I’ve ever done in the classroom and its worthiness to my students. So I’m struggling with that.
Remember the fun SIX WEEKS it took us to renovate our upstairs bathroom? Well, because I start school in two weeks, it seemed like a great time to do MORE renovations! We’re starting with replacing a few windows in our living room that are inefficient, painted shut, and have been gnawed on by Annabelle.
Then we’re moving to taking down and replacing that pesky crooked kitchen ceiling and maybe a wall of cabinets while we’re at it. Stay posted on that awesome project!
My last year here?
As many of you know, my Hubster has been attending seminary for the past several years to become a Lutheran pastor and chaplain in the army. This is his last year of school, and in April he will receive a Divine Call to serve…somewhere. We will be interviewed by the seminary and possibly some churches, but we have no say in the final match of where he will be placed.
He could pretty much go anywhere domestically, and this is both exciting and terrifying. We could also get a local call, and stay where we are. The fact that I MIGHT be selling my house in June…or I might live in it another couple years…makes it really hard to do renovations, since I’d make different investments depending on how long I’ll keep the house. Also, I love my teaching job (even if I am currently feeling unmotivated). Not knowing if this MIGHT be my last year at my current school also adds a layer of stress to a crazy teacher-mom-wife.
Today I helped a few hours at the school picture stop at registration. I got to see some of my faculty friends and more importantly, my students. I worked a little unpacking my classroom and it’s a lot farther along that I figured it would be. There are still a few more afternoons home with my kids to squeeze in a few more zoo visits before school, and the weather has been beautiful. I will have work time in between faculty meetings to really plug into my planning and mapping, and support of those around me to work hard (Annabelle is shockingly not a great cheerleader when I try to work from home). While there are certainly challenges to look toward this year, there are also so many wonderful things that happen in my classroom as I continue to learn and grow with my students.
Please keep me and my family in your prayers as we wrap up our summer and look to changes ahead!