November 17th, 2012 | 2 Comments »

Vertical learning curve

This is my third year teaching in Woodburn, OR. And it is my third school, and my third assignment. I think my brain is overloaded with so much I have had to learn and evolve, and I feel I will never be able to rest and enjoy the feeling I finally mastered what I teach. I feel like my learning curve is a vertical line, because what holds true for one assignment, does not necessarily work for another.

Teaching in a Two-Way classroom

This year I am a classroom teacher in a two-way Spanish/English second grade classroom. That means I teach in Spanish the whole day, while my partner teacher teaches in English the whole day. We share two groups of 22/23 students, which switch classrooms mid-day. It honestly is less horrible than I expected, since it allows us a break from students who are driving us crazy. The hardest part, however, is keeping track of each one of these individuals, their strengths and weaknesses, their various grades, their preferences for books and other subjects, and having space in the classroom for two times the materials a regular classroom would have.

Basic routine – basic for whom?

In addition to the regular challenges anyone faces with 45 students to teach and keep tabs on, I find myself struggling with the routine of a classroom teacher, all those little things an experienced teacher does probably without thinking – assessments, small group vs whole group instruction, interventions, balanced literacy, different levels of ability in Math, who wears glasses and where are their glasses, sending flyers home, fetching snack and returning the tub, keeping pencils sharp, planning homework, etc.

Walking away from chaos

Today we left for a whole week of Thanksgiving. What I am the most thankful for is this break. I really needed it. However, for the first time since the beginning of the year, I simply walked away. My ‘kidney table’ – where I work with small groups – has a pile of individual reading assessment papers literally falling to the ground, my desk is miraculously holding an uneven pile of books, papers, binders, pencils, markers, staples, and bottles of water; the books returned by the students are scattered around the room in boxes waiting to be placed back in our classroom library. And I simply walked away. And I am just mentioning it. Not really worrying about it. I will deal with it all when I return.

No guilt

I am a perfectionist, and I stress myself to the limit trying to keep up. Although my work day is officially over at 3:35, I stay past 5 every day, I work every waking minute of my day, and often in my sleep as well, and I always feel I am falling short. The last thing I need is to burn out. I love my job too much to let that happen. So walking away was the best thing I could have done today.

Let’s start over in 9 days with a clear head and see where that takes us.

Posted in Education