The Author

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I am a high school English teacher, and mother of two charming little ones of my own. I teach in a high poverty urban charter school, while I live in a typical American suburb that has frequently been rated one of the safest cities in the country. It is a paradox I struggle with constantly, but it is my life.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Confession... Trying Hard Not to Mentally Check Out

I do not know if there are any other teachers out there who read my blog, but if so, perhaps you can empathize with me.

We are nearing the end of the year. The California Standards Tests are right around the corner (we start testing on Monday). The end of the year is right around the corner (June 18th). When I look at my schedule, considering the days of testing when I will not get to teach my classes at all, the two minimum days for other reasons this month, the field trip I will be taking my drama students on in a couple of weeks, the Friday and Monday off for Memorial day, and a business trip to Houston for which I will be missing a Friday, plus finals week... I have only 13 regular school days left within which to finish everything I need to teach them this year. How in the world am I going to do that? I really don't know (Okay, I do have a plan... I just feel like they haven't learned it all, and that is frustrating to me).

In addition, counting up all the days that I will be on campus between now and finals (taking into consideration that many of those are testing, field trips, etc.), I have only 20 days left to finish everything I need to finish for work on a personal level too. SO not going to happen, which means that I am going to have to do a lot of work at home between now and then if I want to get everything done. What is everything?

- BTSA. Ugh!!! BTSA is a dirty word in my vocabulary these days. It is a teacher induction program that is a total pain in the butt. It is a TON of paper. Basically, it is me proving to the State of California that I am actually a good teacher. That is sort of what a credential program is for, but once you have your credential and start teaching, they want you to prove that you actually are a good teacher before they make your credential permanent. New teachers get a temporary credential for 5 years. BTSA takes two years to complete. I am nearing the end of year one and I have a HUGE pile of year one paperwork to get ready no later than June 9. Given the picky nature of the BTSA coordinator at my school, I should probably have it done before that, since I got a 30 minute lecture for turning it in on the last day last time.

- I have a stack of papers to grade that I need to catch up on because I put off a lot in order to get through the play without losing my mind.

- My classroom is still kind of a mess. There are props, make-up stuff, and crafts supplies scattered throughout the nooks and crannies of my room. I may be moving rooms next year, and besides that, I am going through the teacher version of nesting and stressing about what a sub is going to make of all this when I leave for maternity leave.

- Maternity leave... that's another sore subject. I haven't found a good sub yet. I tried one out, but he wasn't so great. I ideally would like to find someone who has a degree in English, all the sub stuff cleared, and appreciates my teaching style and will follow what I have set out. I also ideally want someone who the students aren't totally going to walk all over. I don't know if I am going to find that.

- While on the topic of maternity leave... OMG, I am going on maternity leave! I have two choices- give the sub general objectives to accomplish and let him/her do whatever or provide detailed daily lesson plans for each unit to cover while I am gone. Obviously, I would prefer the latter, but do you know how much work that is? Even though I will be having the sub repeat units I have taught before, I don't exactly have daily lesson plans written for these units. I have unit plans... but I need daily lesson plans and I really wanted to get it done before summer break. I would love to have the opportunity to go over them with my department chair/mentor/friend Alicia (not that she won't give me time in the summer, because she will, but I'd rather not take her time in the summer for that), and I would also just like to be done and have a break. My break is not that long (only 5 weeks- we are not on a standard school calendar) and I will be in Washington D.C. for a conference for school for a week of that, so I really am going to want to spend that time relaxing.

- I am on a team of English teachers for the International Studies Schools Network (hence the traveling in the upcoming months) and I am supposed to be writing up a unit for other ISSN schools to pilot. I know which unit it is, it is well-planned needing very little changes, but I need to actually write it up in a way that it can be distributed to other English teachers. I will get paid extra for this, and I am excited about doing it, but nonetheless, it is another thing on my list of stuff to do. I really need to get it done before I go to Houston on June 4, like way before, so that means like... this week.

Given my current feeling about all of this, I have to admit, I am mentally just yearning for vacation. As much as I am logically saying to myself, "Need more time to get all this done," there is this other very exhausted and somewhat disenchanted part of myself that is saying... "Poke me with a fork; I'm done." I am so ready for break. I am longing to go to the beach, lay out by the pool, make nice dinners, take Vinny to the park, go on play dates with Vinny's friends. That's really all I want right now. When I look at the piles on my desk or my list of things to do, I am having a hard time enthusiastically working through the piles. Instead... I just want to put them all in a box somewhere and sit here doing nothing until June 18th. How do I get past that point of mental "check out" and get to work?

I don't know. I really don't know. Maybe a Frappucino would help.

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