Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Behind the Scenes

Here comes day three of me babbling on about what a teacher's job entails. Day one was about societal views of said job, day two focused on more up close expectations (parents and such), and now we'll look at realities that most folks may not realize happen.

Now that we've covered the basics of instruction and the work involved in knowing our students we can talk about what a teacher's daily life looks like. Those first two parts of my job are what I love. I love figuring out each individual student so that I can help them find books they want to read, topics they are excited to write about, and make connections to math and science and history with them. I genuinely love digging into the skills and facts they have to learn to understand what that means for a six-year-old and how to help them understand it. Those things are challenging and exciting and keep me going everyday.

These others are not. Some are just time consuming. Just coordinating schedules with an occupational therapist and a speech teacher can get complicated. Then actually supporting the student in using the skills he is learning with those teachers is a struggle. Mentoring new teachers and working with pre-service teachers is wonderful to me because it pushes me to be the best teacher I can be. But it also consumes precious planning time and requires me to think about what those teachers need as well as what my students need.

Some of these items are both time consuming and of questionable worth. Administering the myriad of required assessments takes many days out of each year. The reading assessment we use is given two to three times a year (depending on the student) and is done so one-on-one. It is, however, a pretty useful assessment so I don't begrudge the time. The math assessment we give twice a year (I do it in small groups) feels much less useful to me. I don't feel as though I learn much about my students from it so it doesn't help me as a teacher. Then there are the other random assessments for which I see little to no value for different reasons - we don't get the scores back in a meaningful time frame or the assessment doesn't seem to be developmentally appropriate (often a problem with young children).

Many meetings also fit into the time consuming and questionable worth category. Not all, some are well worth the time, but many. I'm lucky enough to be at a school that only holds school-wide staff meetings once a month and our team meetings are once a week for an hour. There are plenty of other meetings however. Plenty of these meetings are now focused on PLCs which require extra assessments and paperwork at other times.

Finally there are the tasks that I wish I had a secretary for: collecting picture or field trip money, collecting forms, stuffing Wednesday folders, hanging up artwork around the room and in the hall, and such.

I'm sure I'm forgetting plenty of what teachers do. It's a complex job that requires one to be constantly on their toes, thinking back and ahead at the same time while still being patient, thoughtful, and compassionate. I wouldn't have it any other way.

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