Mascot for #DevilDiss

Mascot for #DevilDiss
Mascot for #DevilDiss

Thursday, May 19, 2016

This is the End

This week is the last week of classes at my high school, then we have final exams next week.
I am technically done Wednesday but have been told I am not qualified to teach AP Language, and therefore need to attend a two day seminar/training in order to teach it next year.
Despite having taught it before.
And having a College Board approved syllabus.
And you know, almost being a Dr.

It's fine, I'll go, and I won't have to get up at 5a, and can come home at lunch to let Nehi out, so it's fine.

But it got me thinking about the huge gap between high school and college teaching.
I talked months ago about the privilege that comes with college teaching. The flexibility it provided. So I thought, since things are winding down, that I would talk some about the work load of high school teaching. It is an alt-ac for PhDs, but I would wager most don't know what it looks like.

So here you go.

First, a typical day:
  1. Up at 5a. I need to walk the Overlord, get ready for school, eat, and leave by 630a. Our school day starts at 725a and I aim to be in my classroom by 7a.
  2. We have 7 periods. So 1 prep, and six classes. I teach 3 ENGL 10 with 21, 21, 20 students, 2 ENGL 9 with 18 and 21, and Read 180, a literacy intervention with 17.
  3. I get a 30 minute lunch.
  4. Our day ends at 225p. I hold after school tutoring one day a week (until 3p), lunch tutoring two days a week and I'm usually home.
  5. I am home between 3-4p.
  6. I collapse then lacking the energy to do anything else.
I started teaching in 2001, so my life is easier than most. I have resources, and lesson plans I only have to add to and tweak, not make from scratch.
I don't believe in busy work.
My students have the following assignments per module:
  • Years ago I switched to Interactive Notebooks and they get graded at the end of the module. This does a couple of things- it models projects and notes, it cuts down on daily/busywork grading, and doesn't punish students for one missed day. I keep a model notebook they can check, or they  can check the class presentation which is set up as a model as well.
  • They have an in class essay for each module.
  • They have a project for each module.
  • They have an assessment for each module.
  • At the end of the marking period they turn in a project on their outside reading book project.
So each of those x 118 students.
I'm smart- I try to get the IN and tests graded as they come in. Projects are easy to grade.  But it's still a lot of work to get through.
I use my prep time efficiently. I try to make sure I'm not taking work home. This semester with juggling my UNM class, final dissertation revisions and this full time job, having a schedule for WHEN I worked on things was key.

In addition to this I have phone calls home to make. Every week. To every failing student. Plus weekly email updates to every parent. Plus emails to counselors.
We're a union state, so I don't have a lot of extra duties. But we've under renovation, and there's been an entire bookroom to organize, then pack.
Then there are the end of year stuff- tech (computers, laptops, etc.) has to be catalogued and returned. Same with class sets of textbooks. And library books.

So I'm tired. Exhausted. Ready to be done. Not necessarily because of classes or students, but because I just AM.

I've written before about taking policing out of my college classroom. And I tried to apply the same here- told the students why. But it's not been so great. Here every student is one their phone, all the time. They are listening to music, texting, snapchatting. Some days I get them to put them up and engage. Most not. In their end of semester letters, they said they knew it hurt them. But didn't seem to act on it. So next year I want to see what we can do about this. Because policing- the phones, the rudeness, the off-taskness, is exhausting.

I was asked back, but also received my pink slip, and haven't received next year's contract yet (which I hear I might not get until July) so I've had to balance prepping for next year to be here and NOT being here. In both a physical way and a mental space.
The HR form rejections are filling my email, but there were a couple of late posting jobs that despite it probably not being realistic, I still hope for.

But I also DID accept this job for next year. And arranged to renew my lease.
So it's a similar limbo to what I've experienced before.

I'm trying to cut myself some slack.
I'm trying to recognize that I've had an exhausting semester, and it's okay to be exhausted. That I've earned some time off, some sleeping in, some recovery time.
But I also admit to being a bit concerned that this week I've gone home at 3p, hit the sweats & couch and lacked the energy or will to do anything, even walk Nehi. I hope it's just a cumulative effect of what the last several months have been and NOT a sign that I'm depressed, or unhappy.
Because that's worrisome.
Because this is my life for the next twelve months.

So we'll see.

I've actually backed out of a couple of things I initially said I would do this summer, so that all I'm doing is teaching my online Shakespeare and Film class and defending.
I have one required training for APS that I'm trying to see if I can get it moved to the fall, since it falls the week after defense, which would just suck.

I'm trying to give myself the time to recover and hope it makes a difference.
Because it has to.

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