Busy and discouraged. I guess this is normal?!

Is this the right profession for me? Or is this the normal hard-first-year-tons-of-work deal? Conversely, am I in a situation in this school where I’m almost being exploited? It’s unintentional, I’m sure, so is it just a flaw with this particular language program? Possibly. And the teacher who has been my “mentor” has added some interesting bumps along the way. This is not one of those blogs where I complain about my superior and they find it and I get fired. It’s more of an open dialogue about what it is to be a teacher, what it is to be a good teacher, and what it’s like to really teach, in a variety of situations.

Right now I’m having a time. Some ups, some downs, and in general not enough time. It’s also about balancing having an existence outside of school, with doing enough work to do a good job and improve a lacking existing program.

One positive note- I’ve started the process for getting a new book, which will help a lot.

And the personal positive note- Christmas break is coming up, and if I didn’t have that as a hope, I would be quitting.

Back to the question- is it just a difficult first year? A difficult ifrst 5 years? Am I up for that at this point? I have to evaluate a lot of things. I guess I won’t decide anything right now, but I would like to let them know in advance if I plan on not being there next year. And if it was going to another school that I was doing- would I be able to get recommendations? I do not know. Tricky to say, since a lot of situations involving colleagues and administration have been “tricky” instead of cut and dry.

Maybe I’m not explaining myself that well- I do want to be true to the situation, and to share it clearly, so I think at this point I’m too tired (literally) and too tired (figuratively in an emotionally distorted way) to accurately paint a picture of my situation.

Two more days until Christmas break. Boy do I need it.

Advice from a new procrastinator-pro teacher about planning over the weekends

I haven’t yet taken this advice, and I plan to not just “try”, but I plan to SUCCEED this weekend in doing work early. I am still getting over the nasty habit of procrastinating. And when the weekend comes, most new teachers are all “I needed this 3 days ago…bad”. This week I was really tired, and almost got sick. I’ll have to update about how my meeting went too (good overall, but interestingly interesting too).

My, oh my, for a “teacher of a language” I like to blog with such improper and informal language 🙂 . We had a nice talk about slang and old and new French in class which I liked (even though I was planning on drilling them the whole class because they had done so poorly on the review test!!!)

So my advice to teachers as far as weekends go are this- plan your time well. Put in a few hours at the end of the day Friday before you leave the office (ideal!), have some rest, maybe a walk, bath, or dinner, and do a few hours of light work Friday evening. This could be grading, organizing, reflection, upcoming plan ideas, what-have-you.

Doing a few hours on Friday is ideal, especially if you have an event on Saturday. You can do something Friday evening, maybe around 9pm after you’ve worked from 7:30-9 (and you worked from 2:30-4pm). That’s 3 solid hours. Saturday you could do an hour or two depending on how much you did Friday. You can fit it in somewhere!

(I know I will be sleeping in a bit on weekends until I get my schedule somewhere near acceptable (right now I sleep wayyyy too little)) But don’t sleep in too late. Get some exercise. Do something relaxing and non-school related. Have a glass of wine? (Getting drunk on the weekends is obviously not ideal for educators because a- it’s not good role-modeling and b- it takes up way too much time, and you don’t feel good after getting drunk!

Do have fun, see your friends, re-meet your boyfriend/girlfriend or spouse! Have a date, play with your kids (oh my! I can’t imagine having kids and teaching, but that’s probably because I’m a first-year teacher!!)

Whatever you do- do not save all your work for Sunday. If you’re a true procrastinator like me, you’ll probably get a little panicky and do even more effective procrastination, but still procrastinate (I will do my laundry, go shopping, blog (ha), call family- whatever it takes to make myself think I’m taking care of business- without grading and lesson-planning)

To recap:

1) Space out your work over the weekend

2) Prioritize and do work that seems appropriate for the given time of day/day of weekend

3) Take into account how busy your weekend is otherwise (hopefully not too much else going on) and do more work on the other days

4) Don’t stay up too late, don’t sleep in too late (I am a sinner in this category!), but, DO REST UP (mind and body)!

4) GET SOME DONE BEFORE SUNDAY- otherwise you will not just dread Sunday, but also Monday (2 days out of 7 is too many!)

I hope that helps, and I am off to do some of my Friday work 🙂

National Educators Association- don’t know a ton about it, but I do love their magazine!

I’m a member of the N.E.A. (National Educator’s Association) and I really like the magazine they send me about every month. It’s sometimes kind of dorky, but I guess that’s an obvious thing that can come along with being a teacher 🙂 It has a lot of good tips and ideas.

I was sad reading about how “getting a mentor” could be a great help. Well, technically, I have a mentor right now, but my situation is not a help.

Instead, I’ve had to find a way to allow her not just into my classroom, but also into my lesson plan. It was so bad, so fast that I had to really gather all my all, and ask for an official meeting. I’ve prepared my notes on the situation just as I would a lesson plan.

That way I will go in with a plan, lots of ideas, and hopefully I can keep the emotions out of it. More on this, as it develops. Aigh!

**Also, back to N.E.A. and their magazine…I teach for the kids. Truly. I’m always saying “I love these kids” or “I love this kid” while reading things they wrote or endearing errors they have made (not the repetitive mistakes). This women wrote in for the segment entitled “What I Hope Students Will Remember Most About Me”**

She says: “Above all else, I hope that my children will remember that I love them-I love them for who they are each day and who they will be in the future, and for everything they have overcome just to make it to school each day. I hope they will know that they are the reason I get up and go to work every morning, administration and NCLB notwithstanding. I hope they will know that the days when we bumped heads the hardest is when I loved them the most.”

I thought that was really cute, and true for me too. I really fondly look back on my student teaching and have such an affection for pretty much all of the students (even the trouble ones). If I were to write in on what I wanted students to remember me for, it would be the love, but it would also be for my amazing and awesome songs I made to help them remember things. (So far I may only have like one recorded verb song, but, I have time). So I will try to make things better with the administration because I love those kids!

Ready to quit? At the F.L. dep’t meeting she told us we can’t quit until the end of our 2nd year!

I know, I know, there would be problems at any school. But there is something going on at this school that I did not agree to when I signed my contract, and though they’re trying to act like we can make it into something mutually beneficial, I am dubious. I’ve already fretted and freaked out enough that it’s not worth it on my part. Basically I took over the job of the French teacher who they had signed on to teach a couple of the French classes (I had said no to “half-time” because -duh- that would not make any sense- teaching is a way-more-than-full-time job). And now she is still on the faculty part-time, yes, she is doing other things, but one of the jobs they are paying her for is to be my mentor.

But as far as that goes, the definition, the logical working out of the situation, and the awkwardness to me…I can’t even speak English it makes me want to quit so bad. I guess a big problem is that I am non-confrontational and I should have stood up more and said “No. I do not want her in my classroom yet (or ever).” Sure it could be beneficial, but not in the way it’s starting out to look like.

I bided my time, and it’s up, and she said “The F.L. department head wants me in the classroom.” And I’m a procrastinator, and don’t have a rote, repetitive schedule I follow every day. It’s going to be awkward, and I’m nervous about how the kids will feel about it. I didn’t even get a chance to tell them yet!

And it’s awkward because some faculty members are sort of upset that I go to take all of the French, and they are older than me and have worked in the school for years, if not decades.

I am sure that there would be other problems at any other school, but this situation is more than just unfair. It is almost offensive. It looks like the informal nature of the way things are run at this school is going to be working against me more than for me for a bit.

That said, I will try to remain optimistic, see how it goes (maybe she could end up helping me out and reducing my prep load?), and I will do my best to voice my concern and make suggestions for improvement.

That said, insert inappropriate swear word to express/relieve frustration here.

🙁

I did my student teaching, I don’t need a full-time observer, and our methods differ. A lot. Who knows. It just sucks and I do not approve. (I won’t quit, but I will do my best to be positive, and proactive).

Teachers don’t get paid enough…well, that all depends!

Without being too obvious, I want to touch on some thoughts I have. My boyfriend (whom I seldom see these days) told me I was doing way too much planning for what I’m getting paid. I am doing too much planning, and not enough creatively using the resources they have. They are not paying me to overcompensate for the terrible book series I’m working with. It’s not my fault that the levels are so screwed up because of troubles last year. And they haven’t yet given me a smartboard when I just might be one of the educational tech-savviest teachers they’ve got? I’m not trying to be conceited, but a few stressors in my life have made me realize I will never last at this rate. Not even through the year.

So I will adjust. Overall, I really don’t think teachers are paid enough. That said, teacher pay rates vary soo greatly. There are posh public schools in surrounding areas that I interviewed at or tried to apply to, and they pay very well, but have all of that standardized testing and tons of required paperwork or this-and-that.

Sure, public schools can pay nicely, but getting worked up about the behavior problems at a small religious school cannot even compare to the behavior issues in an inner-city public school. That would be crazy. But some teachers can thrive in it.

And then we have pay scales. First-year teachers? Bottom rate pay. If you have been teaching for years, and eventually get tenured- oh boy! Now that’s worth it! And- you already have your rhythm down and you can just tweak it and adjust to the technology and times. Ahhhh….looking forward…..awwww….

Then there are credentials- do you have a Bachelors? In what? A Masters? A doctorate? A Masters plus 560 credits?! That can really change things. For me, the Masters didn’t do too much, but it’s working alright (and will continue to pay for itself).

Public, private schools, and location. Not to mention region of the country! Boy do some states pay their teachers nothing! For me, I would be doing the same amount of planning and be getting paid only like 70% of what I’m getting now in some states. Or how about if I tried to teach in California? The pay is not that much higher, but the cost of living is WAY higher. And I’ve got bills and loans that do not change in amount much.

I do need to organize, more efficiently plan, and perhaps work something out with the teacher that’s supposed to be helping me. It’s tough cookies. Teeth-breaking cookies. Finally….

If you didn’t care about the kids or how things went, you could do minimal work and get through a year of teaching, but a) the pay is not all that much, and b) someone would probably notice and ask you to up the ante.

Then we have the old-timers who are getting paid quite a bit and do the same old thing every year, lecturing and turning-their-students-off-to-school-to-no-end.

Just some tired thoughts I’m having as I enjoyed the first night since I started teaching where I’m not frantically working for hours and not getting to bed early enough!

Teacher shoe recommendation= any Earth shoe (especially Misty)

Any good teacher can tell you how much standing on your feet and moving around you do in a day. I was so tired at first during student teaching and my feet got exhausted from wearing shoes I thought were comfortable when I tried them on in the store, but they ended up pinching or making my arches ache or my feet just hurt in general.

And then I got a pair of Earth shoes. I got them from Zappos.com because they have free overnight shipping- both ways. So if you don’t like the shoe for whatever reason you can send it back with paid shipping and get another size or color. Unfortunately I forget what the name of the first shoe I ordered was and I can’t seem to find it on their site right now. It is like the Misty 2, which is the second pair I recently ordered.

I read great reviews on zappos about most of the styles I looked at- and a lot of the reviews were from nurses and teachers who have to be on their feet a lot. I immediately noticed happier feet, literally minutes after putting them on and walking around. Though they are relatively expensive (I still feel like a poor college student and have the loans-I’m-paying-off to prove it!), run about $80-$130, but they are SO worth it.

I wore my first pair nearly every single day because they were so so comfortable. They were black and went with most of my outfits. The Misty pair I ordered from a different site (because of a 20% off coupon for a Labor Day special) are also quite nice. But beware if you order them in red- they stain my socks a little!

These shoes have made feet, knee, and leg problems (not to mention my arch problems- I have a high arch) a non-issue. And I love them. I like slipping in and out of the ones I have. I very highly recommend that if you’re a teacher, you try Earth brand shoes if you’ve been having aching feet. They are not bad looking either, in my opinion. Some of them are, but the ones I have look nice and modestly stylish.