Monday, October 05, 2015

A working life

I have been working full time. I’m very fortunate to have been offered a job for a term, which has been extended to two terms. I have ten classes, which means I have about 230 comments to write on reports. I’ve had nineteen sets of class assessments tasks to mark. 

I like teaching. I have realised that I do have a lot to offer, and there is a lot that I know and can share after years of study and workshops and exploring my own interests, although it has been challenging. I’ve been learning about staff and procedures, marking, parent/teacher interviews, writing reports, and working out when to be hard and when to be soft. I’ve come to the conclusion that soft is better. The more I get to know my students, their needs, interests and abilities, the better we all are.

My job is to deliver the programs, facilitate learning and fit in with the culture of the school. That’s what I’m doing. I’m enjoying the content and working. I’m coping, energywise. Although I did get sick and kind of miss the last week of school.

I’m finding a dissonance between what I hoped teaching would be and what it actually is. That’s to be expected. A wise friend told me that I’ve had the freedom to live according to my values for a long time. I haven’t needed to engage in anything terribly compromising. That’s true. There is compromise in any work situation.

I think a lot about my students. Another friend has told me that I could spend all my time working, but I need to set boundaries and know when to take a break. The job could be all consuming, but I can’t let it be.

Even though I’ve been marking and preparing during the holidays, there are still things about next term I haven’t been told yet. I just have to trust that I’ll be able to pull it together quickly as needed. That’s what I did last term. I can do it. I’m hoping this term won’t be as steep a learning curve as last term.

And nobody knows what will happen after this term. I hope to keep working.

This is what I've thinking about learning.
'Critical thinking discourages ideas'

This is what I've been thinking about teaching.


sister outlaws said...

That's interesting that you find a gap between your ideal of teaching and the reality. I'm considering doing an education degree because a) I want a job with meaning b)I want to do something I think I can do well and c) because I want a job that fits in with my family responsibilities.

Motherhugger said...

Hi Sister Outlaw

I've been trying to formulate an answer without sounding alarmist.

I truly am enjoying the content. And some students are curious and enthusiastic. Helping students to learn is satisfying. So is pulling together a lesson that works because you think on your feet and have a broad knowledge to draw upon.

Unfortunately, the students that pull most focus are the ones who are reluctant, disruptive, confrontational, liars (the bigger the display of offence at the accusation, the more sure I am of the lie), complainers, caught up in their petty issues (granted, some have real issues), attention-seekers, or confronted that I expect them to do work in class. Students comment on everything about me. Every day there are situations, unrelated to learning, that come up and I have to deal with them. Scarily, a student asked if I am on social media. For most classes at this time of year I think the students are sick of being together. Some classes do not have a healthy culture, simply because of the people in the class and how they relate to each other. Some students are just annoying. To everyone.

I have been staying back every afternoon and I often work on weekends. I went into school to work during the holidays. I now sleep nearly six hours every night, rather than eight. That's my new normal.

I have had to tell students what standard I expect, in terms of their application, and presenting work with correct spelling and grammar. Many have found this upsetting and have been resistant. They think they need to feel good all the time. I have had to tell my classes what school is for, because they behave as if they don't know. I have had to tell classes that learning should make you feel uncomfortable because it is challenging your view of the world and what you think you know. Feeling uncomfortable means it is working. I tell then that the cure for boredom is curiosity. I tell them that it is OK to have an opinion but it needs to be logical and supported with evidence. I tell them I love it when they make me think in ways I haven't thought before. I model saying 'I don't know, but lets find out'. I tell them to turn down the feelings and turn up the thinking. If they remember these things and not the content, I will be pleased.

My partner is at home, so he is cooking dinners and driving children around. I really don't worry about my own kids. Teaching has made me very appreciative of how good my own children are.