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footwhere

Although we're all different in how we approach our jobs, I've always said that I define my job and I would not let my job define me. I have tried to keep in touch with my social circles as much as possible without it getting in the way of my marking and prep work and I have to admit that it sometimes affects my teaching. But as a person, if you're not happy outside the classroom, what makes you think you can be happy inside it?

Expat Nomad

It does get better, I swear. The first year of teaching is always the most time consuming. I recall doing the same thing my first year. Staying in my classroom until 11pm, getting in at 6am - it was not my favorite thing to do.

But as you get some experience under your belt, the time you have to spend at school gets less. You'll learn how to save time and get back to a somewhat normal life. As normal as a life is as a teacher... :)

Chin up, the school year is over half way done. Next year will be better, promise.

EdWonk

Boy, your really said it. Teaching takes so much out of you. Work, sleep, eat, work again. Until the weekend. Then rest.

It's when "vacation" rolls around that my wife, daughter, and I get to go anywhere.

Captain Sunshine

A former student of mine came up with a rule that seems to hold true for anyone in education, regardless of which side of the desk you're on:

Work.
Have a life.
Sleep.

Pick two.

This is too often the choice we make, but you can renegotiate this on a daily basis :) .

It hasn't been too long since my first year teaching. I hope you can at least find one day a week - Saturday was always mine, or a random weekday night - to set aside the work. It will always be there when you come back. But it is important to take a little time for yourself. footwhere is right - you have to be happy in your life if you want to be happy in your classroom. It's an easy lesson to forget, and hard to relearn, but it's true.

And the third year is the better year - the second year, I was too consumed with fixing my first-year mistakes to settle down :) . But it does streamline a bit, as you build your files and idea stacks.

Good luck.

CS

Dan

When I first began teaching I never used to believe that June, July and August were the best part of teaching. Part of me still doesn't agree. But this is year 17 and June is looking pretty nice right now.

This is a consuming job to do it right. It was more fun before AYP and testing gained such a focus.

MrWalker

In my field, it hasn't happened after five years. I do electives and summer is new classes to train for, new preps, new courses to take to be able to ..., regional/national conventions to attend with students - "publish or perish", and my favorite annual call back to work two weeks before the callback date since that time is "so busy".

While the mantra of bygone days "your summers are free" seems to echo in the halls, I truly hope you find time, it will be a matter of continuance and is very tricky to find (hence the numbers on our side of the equation). Those who do find it, however it is acheived, have the necessary difference.

Friends are worth being passionate about, glad to see you are thinking of them.

marc

Seems to me that you must be an important part of that person's life if other people are willing to intervene and find out what's going on between the two of you.
We all get busy.. sometimes too busy to sleep or do much of anything else, but at the end of a long life when looking back, the true measure of a person isn't how good of a job they've done.. it's the people around them who will remember them when they are gone.
When all is said and done, your job won't be there for you in the bad times, and it won't be throwing a party for your latest accomplishment in the good times. Friends are generally understanding of the constraints of time.. however, in the time it took you to write all about your friendship in this blog, an email that said "things are crazy just wanted to say hi" could have been mass emailed to all of your friends. Instead, the silence has left them wondering if your relationship is damaged, and if somehow it is their fault. I think taking a few minutes to clear up the confusion isn't all that much in the grand scheme of life.
It is a noble thing to want to be a great teacher, and the difficulty in getting through the first year is nearly behind you.. So take the time to cultivate those friendships with the people who you care about and who care about you.. and for God sakes go out on a date with your husband.. Surely grading papers a day late is worth spending some time with your man.

Good luck and remember
The making of friends, who are real friends, is the best token we have of a man's success in life."
- Edward Everett Hale

marissa

I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your blog. I am a student teacher and it is comforting to see other teachers out there going through what I am going through. I know exactly what you mean about the friends situation. Many of my friends think that I am overreacting to teaching, they don't believe that it takes up all of my time. So they are mad at me. I just told them to wait it out with me until I get my schedule down, even if that doesn't happen for a couple of years. Thanks again!

bari

Not to take away from any other subject, but it is so hard being an English teacher. Many papers, not many phone calls and dates. It does get better if you teach the same subject. I had a pretty easy year last year, got bored and mixed up the curriculum a bit. Now I am buried again. Friends? Who needs friends...:(

jackie

I quickly found out that it's hard to be single and teaching. Dates don't seem to mesh with the job. And socializing...how many times do you have to tell people that you can't "meet them at the bar at 10" on a Tuesday?

Abigail

I agree with Captain Sunshine. When I first began teaching,my husband (who is a PhD student) and I both agreed to set Sunday apart. We never, ever do work on Sunday. It's not some kind of legalistic religious rule, although for us it does help us focus on our religion. We just chose that day and stuck with it. It makes working your butt off the other 6 days easier to handle because you know that 7th day is not too far away. Additionally, I think it helps me get more done in those six days. I'm refreshed and motivated. I don't get sick as easily because my body is rested.

Thanks for your post. We feel your pain.

Ginny

Hang in there! It really does get better. Even the second year is better, because you at least know what not to do. You even get into a groove with the grading. And you learn more selective grading. Even after you've taught for 20 years, your husband will never understand your job. And there will always be the people who say, "You only work 8-3 and you get summers off!" Argh!!

olivia

Like I said in my email to you, it was nice to see your post. I am one of those friends and I can attest to the fact that you are one of the best friends. I am (one of) a person who you have stayed up with all night through my worst times. And that is what makes your absence so sad.

madhatter

hey, just to throw another log in the fire... i'm in my second year and the friend situation is getting better. this year i made the choice to carve out time for my friends and i'm actually rekindling some of the friendships i lost in the chaos of last year. it's still hard but there's hope...i think...

michele

i think we forget sometimes that spending time doesn't have to take that much time. you have to eat, right? i try to spend some meals with friends every week. or even if i can just meet them for a cup of coffee before going off to do work helps. it doesn't have to be a big commitment to see folks, sometimes.

nicole

i am the same way. it's better this year- my 2nd year- but also worse because i'm in credentialing classes on top of teaching.
one friend told me "you've been a great friend to everyone for many years. we can all let you slide for awhile." that made me feel SO much bettter.

Carrie

I feel like an interloper here b/c I couldn't hack teaching. I taught high school English for three years and it just ate away at my life. The first year was by far the worst. Things really calmed down by the third year. I learned some valueable time saving tips from the more experienced teachers and thought I would pass them along to you. You probably already know them, but if you don't you may or may not find them useful depending on your situation and philosphy.

1) Don't accept essays that don't follow format. I stopped accepting essays that weren't 12 point, double spaced, times new roman. The first couple of times I had a lot fewer essays to grade, and then eventually the essays I did have to grade were much easier on the eyes, which made it go faster.

2) If this fits your curriculm, switch off the classes giving speeches and turning in essays. I taught four sections of frosh English, so when we were all doing Romeo and Juliet, 2 of the classes handed in essays and the other 2 gave speeches. On the next unit I flipped it around. I never had my 10th grade class turn in essays at the same time as my frosh.

3) Use an answer sheet for all tests (or at the very least put an answer blank out to the side). This makes grading go sooooo much faster if you just have to skim down the columns looking for letters. I made a generic answer sheet with numbers 1-5 going across. Then when I made a test I could just cover up the unnecessary numbers with a blank piece of paper when I ran off the copies for it.

4) Don't feel like you have to explain every little thing that you mark wrong on a paper. I know when I first started out I tried to explain every mark and it was just overwhelming. Honors classes want this, but the other classes don't care. I ended up making everyone happy by doing the "sandwhich method" that a very experienced, wonderful teacher taught me. At the end of an essay I'd say something good, then one or two things that could be improved upon, then finish off the sandwhich with one more thing.

5) Make a standard rubric for all your essay grading, preferrably tied in to your state assessment rubric (if you have one) and use that. Once you get used to it, it will make grading go a lot faster since you are looking for specific things and you will have trained the kids to look for it (for example, in Oregon we had "Ideas and Content," "Mechanics," "Sentence Fluency," "Word Choice," and "Organization." I would grade them each on a scale of 1-5 then times them by a certain number to come up with a score for the essay.

And two things that are totally not related to time, but that made my classroom so much more pleasant after learning them in a classroom managment workshop:

1) Write the name of each student down on an index card. When you are lecturing/having the students read/whatever, go through the index cards to call off people to answer questions/read. When you get through everyone, shuffle and repeat. It keeps everyone on his/her toes and it makes sure everyone gets a turn.

2) When kids ask to borrow a pencil say "sure, you can borrow one from anyone but me." They are getting a yes answer, but you are not constantly dealing with pencil problems. I can't BELIEVE how much easier this simply strategy made my lessons.

Anyway, take it all with a grain of salt, of course. Even though I quit teaching I am still very interested in education and sometimes want to go back to it, till I remember that I would never see my husband again. I somehow always managed to take one night out for myself just by sheer willpower, but at the time I was single, so that night out was with friends, not hubby. Good luck!

pismire

Your post really hit home. Between my job that pays the bills, going to school, and observing (soon-to-be student teaching), I find life is a little overwhelming sometimes. I have to really search for the motivation to get off the couch (that is, when I have time to sit on the couch). Lately my escape has been going out with my boyfriend for dinner. Everybody has to eat, right? Or we'll order in. I find it much easier than making dinner (although I really can't keep it up cos it does eat the cash). I RARELY find time for friends (one of whom is a teacher and has no time herself). And I miss that. I know that in a month when I'm teaching full-time as a student teacher the smidge of free time I have now will vanish. Sigh.

shamash

I love your blog, Hip Teacher. Just let me say that for the record.

And: some of the suggestions by Carrie are really helpful, especially the rubric idea. I don't know HOW I graded essays before the rubric!

It gets better: honest. And: the fact that you CARE that you're not spending as much time with your friends means that your friends really matter to you.

Teaching is one of the greatest professions, and can be one of the most subversive, in a good way. Hang in there, Hip Teach.

Elizabeth

Glad to see you got the email I sent. :)
I will agree with Olivia, your absence is sad..
Your friends aren't trying to be a burden, they are just reaching out to let you know that they miss you and care about you.. my only reason for writing you was that it's been a year of silence.. and that seemed strange.. while it would have been nice to hear from you as opposed to reading about it in your blog (I'll get over that), I suppose it's better than hearing nothing at all. Good luck getting it together.. I'll be sure to tell M that she need not fret, perhaps she will hear from you when you get some time. Warmest Regards and love the blog ~E

Dree

I can totally relate. I never really blamed it on my job, but that could very well be the reason. Teachers are just more tired at the end of the day than people in other professions. We take our work home with us (physically and emotionally). Making idle small talk just takes too much effort sometimes, and I've been trying to use email in place of phone calls and visits. It was actually one of my New Year goals to "be a better friend." I think I'm failing miserably.

Oh, and what Jackie said about teaching and being single - SO true. Glad to hear I'm not the only one going through that!

Sara

I know this is easy for me to say...but it gets better. I am in my fifth year teaching. I had to make a hard and fast rule that I would not take school work home. If it meant that I would arrive at school at 7 AM and stay until 5:30 PM, then that was it. I still follow that rule. Sounds like the foundation to your friendships are there so they'll be there when you are ready.

Beekie

I'm lucky that people in my life have gotten used to the fact that they have to uncover me from rocks. I'm starting to disappoint students, though. I promised to buy beeswax for a dread wannabe and bring students over to the house to work on the landscaping. Three weeks and counting. Where does the time go? May I offer a suggestion?

Write an umbrella email to everyone you love. Tell them the basics:what consumes you, your guilty conscience, what's good, bad, and ugly, how much they mean to you, and promise to write another in a week.


Andy

I have been wondering why I no longer feel compelled to talk on the phone.

Carla

I never thought of myself as a career driven person- until I started teaching. Lately it's easy for me to be consumed by lesson preparation and grading. I need to find some short cuts for grading...
I'm trying to get most of my work done during my planning period- but most of the time it's not possible. Between meetings, duties, parent phone calls, photocopying, and squeezing in lunch with colleagues, my time dissapears very quickly.
Does it get better soon?

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