Saturday, June 17, 2006

Biggest Challenge

Time. I am sure numerous people have written on this subject concerning their first year of teaching. I had an older teacher once tell me that she didn't start drinking coffee until she began teaching. I used to want to be a public defender (I haven't ruled it out yet), but then I changed my mind because I figured the government would try to screw you out of doing a good job and give you too many cases with not enough adequate time to do an excellent job with every client. Well teaching has the same loophole. This was by far my biggest challenge.

I was accustomed to hard work-- but the emotional exhaustion was pretty intense. I can remember being slightly depressed just to walk into such a sad excuse for a school. The social problems of the town and the students are draining (so one can only imagine what it is like for the children). It took me a great deal of time to learn where my students were in terms of their knowledge and experience. I would spend time lesson planning lesson I couldn't even use until I taught background concepts-- I definitely learned to start from the beginning. I would spend time on paperwork that the office never bothered to use. I would correct everything (ha I don't do that anymore!). I just wanted to put my heart into everything and I discovered you HAVE to reserve yourself a little bit. Complaining does not help! Also classes at Oxford became a matter of priorities and sometimes teaching had to take the front seat. It was also my first year of marriage and that was not an easy task. Luckily my husband was supportive and would even help me file student papers—he knew most of their names and it was amusing when we would run into a student in town.

I wish that I had some sort of time management training. I had to start making lists to keep track of everything and keep track of those lists. I even started to read some stuff online about staying organized! As an English teacher the paper load can crush you. Eventually, I started understanding what tasks had to be done immediately and what tasks I could delegate to students or others. Teachers definitely need assistants! In my district design project for Dr. Mullins class, I made sure that every teacher had an assistant and that they were paid well.

Next year, I will probably have similar problems (with some solutions) but at least I know what to expect. I am going to take July to write lesson plans for the 9 weeks of school. I need a break, but I also want a nice year.


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