I took on a new grade level this year. I jumped from fifth grade to first in an effort to avoid my own child and her friends being in my class and the potential headaches that may arise from this situation:
* accusations of favoritism – both toward my daughter and toward her friends who are dear to me (and some of their parents who are close friends)
* accusations of “class building” and/or special treatment (both by parents and fellow teachers) because I chose to have my daughter and her friends put in the other class (this was offered up to me)
People can be petty and parents are often times the reason I dislike my job as a teacher. We, as teachers, are blamed for many of the ills of a child. Or we are the scapegoat when we have to deliver disappointing news that little Johnny isn’t quite delivering academically as expected. We’re usually the reason little Johnny isn’t doing well. And sometimes that may be correct…to some extent…but not usually. We aren’t miracle workers. We’re human.
Regardless, I switched grades.
I had a nice rhythm going for fifth grade. I had been there for three years. I knew the material well enough now. I had created many of the assessments and units I taught and have a great set of files for if I ever return.
How hard can switching be? You may ask…
First grade material isn’t more complex than fifth grade material.
Yet I find myself bogged down by a never ending To Do List. I have been trying to figure out the best way to write up my lesson plans for the week so that I can show the skills being taught, the way I plan on teaching it, connect it to the standards that I’m required to teach and SHOW that connection, and then explain how I plan on assessing that skill. For all subject matter: Oral Language, Reading, Writing, Math, Science, Social Studies.
Then I have to determine those lessons for how to present, find or create materials to support the lesson, assess the skill and ‘grade’ it and then determine any interventions or extensions that are needed and address those (we no longer just teach to the grade level expectations, we must address our outliers in creative and meaningful ways)
Add into the curriculum that I have 23 unique students with a laundry list of issues to deal with (emotionally and behaviorally). Two have parents in jail, one is so extreme ADHD that I want to go on meds for him, three are way below academically, and then you have the parents that are just “you can do no right” because my Sally is PERFECT, didn’t you know? Get on the bandwagon!
But my schedule doesn’t just include being a “new to first grade” teacher status. I am also the primary custodial parent of three super kids. All extremely involved in their communities. The “default parent” if you’ve read the article on Huffington Post that’s going around right now…(I have no idea how to link it back, but it is a great read so you can search for it with the key words “default parent blog”)
Here’s a taste of my schedule this year.
Every morning I wake my crew to prepare for the day. My oldest rides the bus, but I take my middle schooler to school before driving to work, where my youngest also attends. I arrive about 20 minutes before students begin arriving. Prepping the class for the coming day: turn on electronics, log in to accounts, clock in, pull up attendance, make sure the lunch choices have been set, reset behavior system to the new day, assemble materials for the day’s lessons…and any last minute items – like going to the bathroom…I won’t have a chance to go again until lunch at 11:55.
I sometimes have students during lunch as a reward, so lunch is “sometimes” with students, but often with coworkers – so I have about 20 minutes to be an adult. Then the kiddos return until they have their “specials” around 2:30. This means that my entire day needs to be organized and ready before the day starts, as there isn’t really time to “prep” for things throughout the day. The planning time from 2:30 – 3:15 is used for parent conferences, meetings with my grade level, and general preparation. Dismissal starts at 3:15.
Yay! Look how early your day ends! One might comment!
Remember that custodial parent thing? My most important job…
Four days of the week I must leave school no later than 4:15 to take daughter to swim. One of those days it’s 4:00 because two have to be at different places at the same time, so one gets dropped off early…here…this is what taxi service entails for the week…
Mon: 4:15 leave for swim, swing by to pick up wrestler at 4:30ish, take home and prepare dinner for 2 of the 3. Leave at 5:45 to take little to theater class, swing by to pick up swimmer at 6:45 (not enough time to go home between, sometimes enough time to run a quick errand). Drop off swimmer so she can eat, then run back out to get theater child. Bedtimes no later than 9 pm.
Tues: this is a visiting parents night, so wait for him to get them around 5:30 (sometimes pick up wrestler at 4:30) I actually get a few hours in my classroom…unless of course he cancels. Which he does. More regularly than I really want to look at. Lately I think it has been close to every other week. (he has work travel you know – because he is uber important) On those occasions I like to take advantage of the fact that we are all home in the evening and cook a meal. I know, silly me, don’t I know there area like a million things on my to do list?
Wed: This is a light night, just swimmer at 4:30 – 6:45 and wrestler at 4:30, so I try to get some work done this night too. I often go back to school after dropping off swimmer and picking up wrestler for an hour or so until I need to pick up the swimmer again. Then home around 7:00.
Thurs: My CRAZY night…swimmer at 4, dancer at 4:30, wrestler at 4:45, back to dance for pickup at 5:20, drop wrestler for night practice at 6, pickup swimmer 6:45, then wrestler again at 8:00. Dinner is out of the question. Fend for yourselves. This night SOMETIMES has relief from visiting parent…he will pick up at dance and then swim (sometimes wrestler – but more often lets him (encourages him to) skip)
Friday: swimmer again, dance 6:20-7:20.
My kids are involved. You may say I need to limit them. That I’m overscheduling them. Honestly, the only one overscheduled here is me. They each have one sport. My youngest is “trying out” the theater, because she is figuring out of if she wants to quit dance and do theater exclusively. I agreed, on a trial basis. I can’t tell one they can do an extracurricular activity, and the others just have to sit and watch.
So the week is hectic, to say the least.
Throw in there the ex drama, trying to maintain adult relationships, church and community responsibilities, household chores and upkeep, pets, and you can say I’m a bit over extended.
Now I should probably go back to sleep for the exhaustion from just writing that all out, but I have to go to work now.
I give elementary teachers SO MUCH CREDIT! I teach high schoolers…I couldn’t imagine 30 little ones! You are making more of a difference than you know….
Thank you so much for the kindness…