Saturday, November 21, 2009

Life in November

They say the longest and hardest months that first year teachers experience are October and November. In my mind October and November were not what I anticipated. Both months flew by very quickly. October was a lot like August and September but November has been extremely difficult.

An average week I work anywhere from 60 to 85 hours a week. Sounds like a lot but I promise I'm not stressed. This is what I signed up for and I could probably work more than I do now if I wanted to. November has been crazy. I am the first one at my school every day. I get to school anywhere from 5:30 to 6:00 in the morning. Some teachers go in that early because they feel as though they "have" to go in and work but I just prefer getting an early start and I enjoy working in the morning. I appreciate the little things like coffee, an empty school, and loud music in my classroom. Because I go in so early I usually don't stick around after school that long. November has shown me new challenges and I find myself leaving school later and later each day.

Each week I teach at least one Math core standard and at least one English core standard. Monday through Thursday I give lessons on these specific core standards and, depending on the standard, I test my students on the standards. I then put the student data into my computer-based trackers. The past few weeks I have been teaching my kids some really tough standards. Due to the difficulty of the standards I have had longer days than usual because kids have a hard time understanding these elaborate learning goals.

There is nothing more frustrating than doing dozens of problems on the board, countless one-on-one sessions with struggling students, and constant reteaching just to continue to see blank faces and confused eyes. I believe being a good teacher means constantly being in reflection. What did my students learn today? What worked? What were my actions as a teacher that led students to success? What activities led to understanding and excitement for learning? I believe that asking these key questions will lead to better results in the classroom. And, after all, that's why I'm here.

I've been working my butt off. The last few Saturdays I've pulled close to 8 hour days. Things are hard. There's always hope. The long days, early mornings, and frustrating lunch breaks will be worth it if my kids grow. I feel as though I always say that but it's truly the case. I can't imagine the look on my kids faces if I am able to tell them that they grew two years in reading or that they finally passed the ISTEP. But, for that to happen there has to be work in the trenches. Bring a flashlight, a spade, and some will power because we'll be there for a long time!