Monday, September 15, 2008

The annual realization that keeping up is nearly impossible

I used to say that October was the roughest month for a teacher. It's the month where the optimism of the beginning of school has faded, just a little, and the month where you just have to accept that there is simply more work at this job than anyone can really keep up with in a timely fashion.

This year, I think it's happened sooner. I could sense a mountain of papers throughout the week, but felt like I really needed to plan more than anything else. I had to create a new document about incorporating quotations, this time for The House of the Spirits. I hemmed and hawed over that document for hours, and then emailed it to my colleague, and the two of use hemmed and hawed over it for hours afterward. I had to create adapt a document about Socratic Seminars, and the same process occurred. Re-inventing the wheel is one thing that makes teaching interesting, but it can leave an annoying sense of deja vu. Haven't I made this sort of thing before? Where is it? And then you find it, and you realize that it's not very good, and you have to adapt it, or, heck, make it anew.

It's important for me to get work back quickly to the students, particularly my 125 ninth graders, who need to see some immediate feedback of the work they're turning in. I was proud of myself in getting last Friday's quizzes back to them quickly, and hoped to get this Friday's quizzes back to them quickly, as well. Didn't happen. I took home stacks and stacks of work, and got through maybe one stack. I did create a pretty cool new document about incorporating quotations, this time for Fences and for 9th graders and not 11th graders, and that took a while. I also mapped out the rest of my unit for my two current texts. But grading? Didn't do that so much, despite my kitchen table being covered with stacks and stacks of grading to complete. Also didn't call home like I wanted to - since I make nearly all my parent calls on my personal cell phone, I was hoping to do that when the minutes were free on the weekend. Didn't happen.

And it's frustrating, because I want to be a teacher who can just get work back to the students right away, and I just wonder if that's possible with a load of 150. And then I wonder if I'm just using that class load number as an excuse, that I just need to work harder. And that's usually a dilemma I feel in October, not September 15th. Let's see if I can get out from under this mountain of work this week, though...

1 comment:

jackie said...

I have a much smaller load than you (not to rub it in) and never match my own expectations of when I hsould get work back either. It's good to have high standards for yourself, but also good to keep yourself at a realistic pace.

The thing where you hunt for a document you know you made, and then realize it was never that good and that you might as well have just as started over? Been there too, my friend :).