8 Reasons I’m Counting Down… In September

168 days.
28 cycles.
37 Mondays – give or take one or two.

Calendar by Andreanna Moya PhotographyI’m counting down already?!? How could I even be thinking about that so early in the school year? I usually wait until after the 100th day of school. It always seemed to be the perfect time to appropriately, and openly, indicate the downhill slide of the school year. For me the beginning and the end of the school year have always been my favorite. I always used to get excited about meeting a brand new class of students, gearing up for a great year of learning with fun mixed in between. Then, the last part of the year brought the end to test prep/administration, AND the chance to do THE FUN STUFF that kids always remember (you know, learning in disguise).

Unfortunately, not this year…NEVER before have I wanted a school year to end as quickly as this one. It is not my students…they are bright, funny, caring, creative, helpful individuals waiting for me to inspire them.

So what IS it then???

1. The beast known as the Common Core

Please do not misunderstand. I am all for setting standards and/or competencies for students to achieve. But, this set of standards is so intense. My students, even my brightest ones, will be a year behind even before they start. There are so many foundational skills that need to be taught before conceptual understanding can even begin and they can make their way up Bloom’s ladder.

2. Having to make copies of resources for my lessons EVERY…SINGLE…DAY!

Wait! That is ONLY if I can find a copier that works. Making copies is actually a very calming activity – the rhythmic sound of the machinery, the warmth of the copies in your hand, the non-taxing of your brain as you program the machine to work FOR you. I have to make copies because my district does not have traditional textbooks and no consumable workbooks for my students. Even the repairmen walk into and out of the building looking defeated!

3. Lack of leadership consistency – different directives from different administrators.

Do they NOT understand that we talk with our colleagues? That we lean on each other to help make sense of the current educational climate? Why do they SEEM to be pitting us against each Confused by CollegeDegrees360other? We are only looking to make our district better, to do what is BEST for our KIDS, not for the bottom line.

4. Too many resources!

I know, this contradicts what I mentioned in number 2. What I mean is several binders and bundles of papers hand-delivered by building personnel, with NO explanation, just dropped off with a shrug as if to say, “I’m not sure what this is, or what you are supposed to do with it, but here IT is!” It’s like, “YOU wanted resources. Well, here you go! Quit complaining. AND by the way, make them work!” – purchasing materials without input from the people in the trenches that HAVE been studying the standards, trying desperately to learn them as quickly as possible in order to get students ready for THE test.

5. AND there is the test.

The test that is supposed to measure if you, the teacher, have grown your students…if they have shown one-year’s worth of growth. Well, that would be all fine and dandy if we HAD a year to do it! Testing, this year, begins in April. In years past, it has been March. School is not out until JUNE! Where is this YEAR???

6. New NEW NEW…SO much new to learn!

I always hoped that every year I was teaching, the “easier” it would get, that I would learn how to work smarter, not harder. Spending 6+ hours on a very LONG, CONFUSING lesson plan format instead of having those precious 6+ hours to study the NEW standards. And we haven’t even been introduced to the state-dictated SLO (Student Learning Objective) project that will be used to further measure my effectiveness as an educator. That is coming in October. OH JOY!!!

7. NOT Practicing what is preached.

I heard a colleague make an analogy recently that made a lot of sense. In my district, for the past 15+ years, we have been asked to look at teaching differently than how we were taught. In the past, teachers gave every learner the same text (for example) and expected them all to be able to read and comprehend it, regardless of their ability. NOW it’s all about meeting our students WHERE THEY ARE, from two years below to two years above grade level. This might involve finding out how they learn best and designing instruction to meet his/her needs by developing alternate activities, providing multiple strategies, etc.

Then, to be given a lesson plan template that does not meet each teacher where they are, or consider how they work best AND with the requirement to use it without alteration. Hmmm…

8. Working OVERTIME

With all that is asked of me this year, I have spent so much of “my” time on the weekends WORKING. I also go in at least an hour earlier than I am required contractually, and stay hours Time by Iain Reidafter the students are gone. I have canceled outings, trips, and activities that originally were meant to help me recuperate and reenergize. On the off chance that I go somewhere, all I do is think about all of the work I have ahead of me.

*Life is short. I realize I cannot change some things I have listed. It doesn’t mean I have to give in to my frustration and sacrifice my health and sanity in the process. I want to spend time doing things that make me happy and inspire me to be a more productive human being. I used to think being a teacher was where I would reach that goal. In today’s climate, I can barely breathe.

*Submitted anonymously Sept. 12, 2014. If you would like to submit a Teacher TRUTH, email it to Bailey at bailey@truthinteaching.com or Angela at angela@truthinteaching.com. You may remain anonymous or choose your level of identification; for example, state, school district, grade level, initials, or other identification form of your choice.

Calendar Image via Flickr by Andreanna Moya Photography
Confused Image via Flickr by CollegeDegrees360
Clock Image via Flickr by Iain Reid

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