August 01, 2014

Off the Grid (alternate title: How I Finally Learned to Chill Out)

You guys. I’ve figured out this whole SUMMERS OFF thing, and it’s SO fabulous. 

Usually, August 1st is the worst—it feels like the clock is clicking down quickly until THE END (aka school starting), but this year July slid into August as soft and sweet as honey. 

I’ve come to realize that every summer before this has been hectic—last summer I moved, the summers before I worked and/or panicked about finding work. But this summer, I stumbled on the perfect combination of work and play—I tutor little dudes for 3 days a week in literacy, and every other day is free. This is awesome because it keeps my brain moving, it keeps my degree and experience current (certified K-12 reading specialist), and it’s loads of fun. Weekends and Mondays/Fridays are OFF off—meaning I don’t plan for tutoring, although I do let myself curriculum plan, etc for the year if I’m feeling it. Mostly, it’s been lots of travel, baking, hanging, reading, and relaxing.

My family has always encouraged work, all the time—even during my winter and spring breaks in college, I would work for my dad, so I never really took more than a week off.  I think I was worried that if I didn’t have a summer job, I’d be failing somehow, but I’m realizing this year just how important it is for me to take so much time to refresh myself. I’m already excited to go back to school and really looking forward to the year. 

TL;dr— I finally figured out that teachers REALLY need to take summers off and rest and relax, regardless of what anyone else says. 

July 28, 2014

Change is good

I just met with my new principal for this year, and I am having all. the. feelings. It was supposed to be more of a ‘get to know you’ meeting, but we ended up talking a LOT about our program for students with learning disabilities, and it left me feeling excited and scared and happy and just EVERYTHING. 

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July 08, 2014

The hard part of teaching is coming to grips with this:

There is never enough.

There is never enough time. There are never enough resources. There is never enough you.

As a teacher, you can see what a perfect job in your classroom would look like. You know all the assignments you should be giving. You know all the feedback you should be providing your students. You know all the individual crafting that should provide for each individual’s instruction. You know all the material you should be covering. You know all the ways in which, when the teachable moment emerges (unannounced as always), you can greet it with a smile and drop everything to make it grow and blossom.

You know all this, but you can also do the math. 110 papers about the view of death in American Romantic writing times 15 minutes to respond with thoughtful written comments equals — wait! what?! That CAN’T be right! Plus quizzes to assess where we are in the grammar unit in order to design a new remedial unit before we craft the final test on that unit (five minutes each to grade). And that was before Chris made that comment about Poe that offered us a perfect chance to talk about the gothic influences, and then Alex and Pat started a great discussion of gothic influences today. And I know that if my students are really going to get good at writing, they should be composing something at least once a week. And if I am going to prepare my students for life in the real world, I need to have one of my own to be credible.

If you are going to take any control of your professional life, you have to make some hard, conscious decisions. What is it that I know I should be doing that I am not going to do?

Every year you get better. You get faster, you learn tricks, you learn which corners can more safely be cut, you get better at predicting where the student-based bumps in the road will appear. A good administrative team can provide a great deal of help.

But every day is still educational triage. You will pick and choose your battles, and you will always be at best bothered, at worst haunted, by the things you know you should have done but didn’t. Show me a teacher who thinks she’s got everything all under control and doesn’t need to fix a thing for next year, and I will show you a lousy teacher. The best teachers I’ve ever known can give you a list of exactly what they don’t do well enough yet.

From one of the best essays we’ve read on teaching in a while.

The Hard Part

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-greene/the-hardest-part-teaching_b_5554448.html

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This. A million times this.

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This is Teacher Truth.

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