Thanks to everyone who enquired about why there have been no blog posts for over a week. The reason was that I was crumpled on the kitchen floor.
Actually I wasn’t…rather I was totally immersed (anyone interested in positive psychology would call this “flow”) in the planning and programming stage for this semester. I have pulled so many working hours at home in the last two weeks that I, myself, am horrified. People ask me why I have to do so much work. They want to know if I am perhaps marking books.
So, here it is. At present, I have been allocated thirty students across three grades. I say “at present” because there are more to come. These thirty students have varying degrees of learning difficulties and disabilities. I am responsible for ensuring that all 30 children improve their reading, writing and spelling skills. Looking at my timetable, that means I have 21 specifically scheduled lessons each week over four days. That makes 147 lessons that need to be prepared before the April school holidays.
147 challenging, inspiring, intensive and creative lessons that will encourage a love for learning in 30 children.
Each lesson needs to be carefully planned to make sure it works and that every child’s needs are met. Each lesson does not just happen on its own. Somebody needs to plan them. Me.
So, why don’t I do this planning at school? The school day itself is filled with teaching, parent and teacher conferences, team meetings, visiting classrooms, adapting programmes for students, lunch clubs, sitting on various focus groups and committees and let’s not forget good old playground duty.
So, at the beginning of each year I spend hours (and hours and hours) programming an entire term, right up to photocopying each programme and sheet. Teachermums don’t have time to stay after school planning the next day’s work. It needs to all be done beforehand, unfortunately sometimes in the wee hours of the morning when everyone else is sleeping. I work hard for my money…
Now, the term is planned for and I (being the total control freak that I am) can be calm and relaxed in my teaching, knowing confidently which direction I am moving in with each child. If I am calm, my students are calm. Calmness makes a great foundation for learning. I can go to bed at night knowing I did my best for my students today. I hope that the teachers of my own children go to bed at night feeling the same way.
I know the planning is worth it, because the kids love their lessons. They love coming and they never know what to expect, because each time there is something different happening. This combined with probably my own pressure I place on myself for my standard of teaching, makes me spend hours and hours working outside of school hours. Don’t get me wrong – I love the planning process – it is where creativity in my work takes over. It becomes and expression of who I am. The problem is time, or lack of it. For the other terms, I programme in the April, July and September breaks.
Am I the only one who does this? Anyone else out there find they do the same? Anyone else out there get annoyed by teachers who don’t make an effort?
I am looking forward to returning back to the real world with a bit of balance in it this week. I am sure Husband and children are too. I am also looking forward to sharing my ideas and strategies with you over the next few posts. Watch this space.