Wednesday, October 20, 2010

When Is It Too Much?

This is one of those weeks that I wonder why I ever wanted to go back into the classroom full time!  Sometimes the load on a teacher's shoulders is almost unbearable.

First of all we've been working on a class pumpkin. The tradition is to have your class choose a favorite book and then illustrate the book in pumpkins. It's a tradition I've always loved as the lobby is adorned with pumpkin creativity. However, most teachers have worked out a system that includes having their Room Mom take on most of the responsibility for the project so as not to take away from instructional time. I'm not quite as good at that! Our room mom was already committed to a run in Atlanta to support her sister with breast cancer - a noble cause - so we've been painting and designing and hot gluing in between each lesson all week. Today someone came in and said the instructions (there were instructions?) said not to use hot glue! Too late!

Then there are the grades that are due on Friday. That's a big undertaking any nine weeks - especially with our on-line system (which is suppose to make it easier, but until we learn the system well, only makes it harder) but this nine weeks we have had seven new students and each of them has a different set of circumstances so we have been running around trying to find out just who needs what - driving the office nuts as we try to get the paperwork we need from states across the country. We've been making up assessments with children that have been absent and trying to make sure that our grades reflect what has actually been going on this nine weeks. We never seem to have everything we need. We've been working at every planning time- coming early, staying late. We still have comments to write for each student and the social growth and development grades to finalize before the Monday deadline.

Then there's the standard-based bulletin board that is due on Friday. My teaching partner has taken most of this on her shoulders as she prepares a Math board, but I am impressed again with the time that it all takes. Doing the student work is the easy part. It's the commentary and actually designing the board that takes the time. Even covering the board with paper and scraping the hot glue from the last board takes time! And did I mention the expected creativity and quality that is a given?

Then there's the Mem Fox Celebration Day on Friday. We are completing the four week unit which we have really enjoyed. On Friday we will be Skyping a class in Australia and then having a teacher's son play the digideroo. Then it's on to themed centers and activities and the students performing Readers' Theatre of Mem's books. We also need to look up a recipe for pavlova which is a Mem Fox dish and which we will be preparing as our Fun Friday treat. Lots of prep for the special day.

And did I mention that next Friday is our parade of book characters so we have to decide how to dress? That might be the most difficult decision of the entire week! And of course, I've been buying the supplies for our Fall Centers all week. We'll have parents in for that fun day after the parade to help so we certainly want it to be fun and organized. That night we will be dressed again and at school to give out trick-or-treating candy. It's also our responsibility to decorate the basketball toss, which is one of the games that evening.

Today we met with our RtI group and I was again reminded that we are at the end of a nine weeks. One fourth of the year has flown past. Have we done enough to make sure every child is getting what they need? Because in between all of the other "stuff" we are suppose to be teaching! It's the teaching that can't suffer, no matter what else is going on.

I know I'm at a school where much is expected of teachers. I sometimes think so much is done that it begins to be more expected than appreciated, but I wouldn't want to be at a school where we were satisfied and didn't want to do more for our students. It's just important that the fluff doesn't overpower the important stuff - that teachers stay true to their main mission - that when teachers have to let something go because it's just too much that it's the extra things that go - not the strength and depth of instruction. If we keep our mission in mind, all the other pieces will fall into place...won't they?

1 comment:

Maria Mallon & Cheryl Dillard said...

It is amazing that we can fit everything that we do into a day and still not have instruction suffer. Parents are such an important part of our class. Luckily, we are able to keep the class going in between students going out to the hallway to paint their pumpkins and all the other extras that we do without even thinking about it. It is these little traditions that make our school special and in the end we are so proud of accomplishments. The children love seeing their pumpkins on display at the entry of the school and can't wait to show them off to family and friends. Looking at the bright-side - at least we don't have to prepare for Pow Wow this year :)