Thursday, August 11, 2005

Admitting it is the first step

Well, first things first. I am an aunt for the third time -- my second nephew was born today. I haven't seen pics yet but I have heard him cry over the phone and he sounds cute! He is healthy and my sister seems to have had a (comparitively) easy delivery. Her contractions started at two minutes apart so things went really fast. I'll fly down Labor Day to meet him in person.

In school news, I have become very worried about myself. I am afraid I have become one of the "bitter" teachers. Thanks to all of you for sharing support and advice. There is not really a lot I can do about the classroom situation because apparently we were legtally REQUIRED to hire her back. I could make a bigger mess out of things and probably get a better room, somehow, but I would burn a lot of bridges in along the way.

What this really highlights is that our schools are in pitiful condition. Teachers should not have to fight about who gets the air conditioned room, or a room at all. EVERY teacher should have a clean, well-lit, and comfortable room. This should be non-negotiable. But in my district, a school is not even considred "overcrowded" until every classroom is filled every period. To do this, 2/7ths of the teachers would have to float. This is unacceptable. My classroom is part of my behavior management plan. My classroom is tailored to my teaching and my subjects. Things would be very different, and I would argue less effective, if I had to push all my supplies on a cart. As it is, I can guarantee you that I am not as good of a teacher when it is 82 degrees in my room, nor are my students the ideal learners they usually are.

Anyway, I've been teaching for 3 years now. I thought I had survived the early drop-out, burn-out phase in teachers that all the research points to.* I am good at what I do, to be honest. The students like me. They learn, even the tough ones. My principal and department head give me great reviews and there are several co-workers that I adore and find mutually supportive. So, why, with only one and a half weeks left in the summer, do I feel the same dread, the same burn-out that I felt at the end of the last school year? This is not like me. Usually, I am sad to see the lazy days end, but feel a twang of excitement at getting fresh students and starting over in the curriculum.

To answer my own question, I think the number one problem is that I spent three weeks of the summer in workshops. One should not spend 8-9 hours days with fellow teachers for extended amounts of time. If you think about it, we don't even do this during the school year -- we're mostly on our own. Professional development is frequently helpful but also always highlights what frustrates me about the education system. Those three weeks left me more frustrated than when I started.

I guess I am also stressed about teaching AP U.S. History at such a competitive school. I am not looking forward to the insane amount of work and self-doubting that go along with teaching a course like that. And all summer long, when I thought of it and got a pain in my stomach, I reminded myself that I would at least be doing all of this in a new classroom. Of course, that's not the case anymore.

So that's my story. I've got a little over a week to get my butt in gear and realize how lucky I am to be at such a good school. But, I'm not feelin' it. I'm just not feelin' it.

*I think those numbers are inflated though -- I think a lot of people go into teaching because they know they can leave after a few years and then come back with relative ease. It seemed like half the sorority girls at A&M were education majors because they really planned on being stay-at-home moms. People who go into teaching only PLANNING to teach for a few years shouldn't be included with those that quit in frustration.