Monday, January 4, 2010

A better way

Aaaaaaand we're back! I left my house this morning at 6:20 am and arrived at home this evening at 6:30 pm. In between, I saw zero hours of daylight and spent nearly eleven hours straight in my classroom, punctuated by brief trips (avec class) to the cafeteria and (sans class) to the bathroom. (I read Julia Child's My Life in France over the vacation and still have Paris on the brain. In fact, I kind of wish I were there right now. Ah, c'est la vie.)

I thought I had done a good job preparing my classroom for January, and I had -- I had already (sneakily) changed over my calendars and set up the schedule. So this morning all I had to do was switch around the jobs, fill in my teaching points, print out the homework sheet, put reading logs and newsletters in the mailboxes, return the math tests, take down the chairs, pull out the new Fundations materials, take out the pre-tests, set up the unit overview -- deep breath -- you see where this is going.

Then the kids arrived. Welcome back, I had a party, I made goo, I went to the history museum, I exploded confetti, you cut your hair really short this time Miss Brave, when are we going to use the computers, next week is my dad's birthday, is the trip this week, etc.

Then the kids left, and I spent what felt like a zillion hours filing and organizing papers and grouping my kids by goal for strategy lessons, which is pretty much what I feel like I spend every waking minute of my teaching life doing. Like, did I plan any concrete lessons for the immediate future (i.e., tomorrow)? No. I spend soooo much time grouping and organizing my kids that by the time I've figured out what strategy lesson I'm going to teach them, I have no time or motivation to actually plan the lesson. Which is completely backwards, no? There has to be a better way.

I've mentioned before that we're expected to make sure each of our students has three goals for each unit in reading, writing and math. While students are working independently after the mini lesson, we're supposed to meet with two small groups for strategy lessons to help them meet these goals. What I've generally done, at least for writing and math, is create a monthly "pool" of ten goals for the class, from which I select three for an individual student. The kicker is that each goal has to be addressed three times (our lame-ass motto is "Three days, three different ways"). So, for those of you keeping score at home, that's ten goals, over three days each, hmmmm, poof, thirty lessons! Miss Brave, you may be asking, are there even thirty days in a unit (which is usually a month long)? Well, no, there are not, hence my valiant (and often futile) attempts to meet with two strategy groups per day. But guess what, sometimes it's last period and three-quarters of my class leaves for early dismissal, or sometimes it's first period and it takes seven-year-olds too long to unpack, or sometimes there's a fire drill, or I have to send someone to the nurse, or -- you see where this is going.

Meanwhile, in the car on the way home, I was boggling my own mind with the sheer volume of lessons I'm supposed to be planning. In reading, writing and math, I teach a mini lesson, and two strategy lessons, each day -- that's like three lessons per subject, or nine altogether. Plus word work, science or social studies, and a read aloud -- that's another three. So twelve altogether. Multiply that by five days in a week and that's sixty lessons a week.

I'm exhausted just thinking about it. Which is why I'm going to go eat my Monday night sushi and not think about it until it's time to get up and do it all over again.


Ms. M said...

The actual logistics of what is expected by administrators is unreal. They really never stop to consider these kinds of things.

NYC mom said...

Now I understand why I have to work with my child after school and teach the actual content of a lesson...... I now see that the teacher spends so much time focusing on strategy lessons for multiple groups in a classroom for 3 subjects....... This is NOT utilizing the teacher's time most effectively, to say the teach. How can the teacher find the time to actually teach the lesson??

Peach Pod said...

I'm on the same page with you. I find it frustrating that the people (politicians) who are mandating this type of instruction and came up with 'no child left behind' do not send their own children to public school and have never had any real dealings with public school. I have actually been expected to teach a class while a child has literally crawled in a corner and acted like a roach (yes, I said a roach) because his parents didn't give him his meds that morning. I am expected to teach algebra to a another child that doesn't know that when you multiply something by 0 the answer is always 0. I would love some of these people to come to my room and experience my world.