Teachers Do Work Hard

Teachers work hard, I don’t think that we an deny that. I’m a teacher, there’s a good chance that you’re a teacher if you’re reading this. I’m just gonna go ahead and say it, teachers do work hard.

I read an article yesterday, Overwhelmed Canadian Teachers Quitting in Droves, and to be honest my first reaction was slightly negative. I’m only in my third year of teaching and I am already getting a little tired of hearing how hard teachers work. Maybe it’s because most of my friends are teachers as well, but I hear about it a lot. It seems to me like it’s some sort of competition among us, whoever works the most hours is the best teacher type of deal. I don’t think that the two of those correlate and it’s a tough argument for me. Because with our profession there is going to be times where we do a 12+ hour day at school. And if I did that everyday, then maybe I would leave the profession. But I don’t, maybe I’m the weirdo. I like to have my nights to hang out with my girlfriend and my dog. I wouldn’t say I’ve become the super teacher that I want to be (see my last post) but I also don’t hate my job.

The way I look at it is, don’t worry about the things that you can’t control. For example, many of my Sask teacher friends are off this week for their February break. My division has gone away for that this year. We get ours in March (we also don’t get an Easter break). I can’t do anything about that, the decision has been made so here we are at school. Why would I get upset about this? Was I a little mad when this calendar came out? Yes. Did I protest? No, whats the point?

Anyways, back to the article. There were some excellent points in there. They are totally right when they say that schools have changed over the years. I do feel like we, as teachers, are acting more as parents than we need to. I know in our school, homework is a big issue, and I’m assuming that this is the same all over the place. Kids aren’t doing as much school related things when they are at home. There’s nothing we can do about it. We just need to figure out what we can do in the brief amount of time we see them that will benefit them the most.

Teachers do work hard, we aren’t a 9-3 job, and we are teachers 24/7 365 days a year. That to me, is whats awesome about it. I don’t care if you come back to the school after supper and mark for 12 hours and then come in on the weekends and word for another 100 hours. I really don’t. What I want to see teachers do is to start telling people how awesome their job is. How they care so much about it that they will come in on a weekend and work for 100 hours. Which I might add is impossible, but that’s just how awesome teachers are, we can do the impossible.

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Trying to Find a Balance

I’m not going to lie to you, the first two months of teaching have been rough this year. I’m just kind of feeling overwhelmed at the moment.

It hasn’t been all bad, this is my second year at the same school, and I have mostly all the same classes. So that has taken a huge load off of my mind. Even if my classes were different I knew all the kids coming into the year. We didn’t have to have that awkward “get to know your new teacher” first couple of days. This is my third school in the last three years, it was kind of nice to skip that.

What I’m struggling with this year is trying to find time to get some real work done. I’ve been keeping up with my day-to-day planning and marking. But I really haven’t taken the time to try to make myself a better teacher. I’m feeling like I’m stuck in a rut, and I can’t get out of it. The biggest difference this year, has been that I actually own my own house rather than living in an apartment or basement suite. I’m finding it hard to actually want to do teacher stuff when I get home, knowing that there are a million things to do to the house. As of right now I haven’t found the balance between home and school. It seems that I am focusing my attention to either one or the other, and for the most part home is winning.

So I don’t know. Maybe I’m just complaining for complaining sake. History is full of people having jobs and a family, so why can’t I figure it out? Part of me is terrified that I will burn myself out, I don’t want to be the type of person that just works all the time. That doesn’t suit my personality.

So here I am, trying to figure a way to end this post. Trying to make sense of this “problem” that is bothering my so much that I needed to write about it. And now, after all of this, I’m starting to wonder if it even is a problem. Here’s the quick checklist I rattled off in my head:

Do you like your job? Yes. Have you been meeting your own expectations? Not really. Do you want to do better? Yes. Are you going to lower your expectations? No way. Then do better.

So, the conclusion that I came up with, is that input is going to be equal to output. If I want to find a balance between home and work, then I’m going to have to figure something out.

It’s as simple as that (probably not, but for now I’m going with it).

 

21st Century Learning

What is a 21st century learner?

I know when I was asked this yesterday I wasn’t too sure. I mean, it’s 2013, we’re 13 years into the 21st century. Isn’t every learner now a 21st century learner?

After a night of thinking about this, I’m still not sure if I know. For instance, I graduated high school in 06, only seven years ago. Still in the 21st century, but I would think my experience in high school is completely different than someone graduating this year. The biggest difference is the technology available to students today. I didn’t have a cell phone until the spring of my grade twelve year and all it did was text and make calls. now, everybody and their dog has a phone that can do anything under the sun, and then some. I’m not going to get my old man pants on and say how everything is easier today, and kids don’t appreciate what they have. But it’s true.

So what my definition of a 21st century learner is,  rather, how we should teach them. We need to recognize that most (if not all) learners today have the access to tools, whether its from technology or somewhere else. Our job is to show them how to use these tools. We need to tech them to be critical of these tools. Sure the calculator says the answer is 29, we need to show them why.

Something I tell my students on a regular basis (regarding technology): You need to be smarter than the $10 piece of plastic you’re using. Because if you’re not, they’ll hire the $10 piece of plastic over you.

I think I have an answer to my question. We need to teach our students to be thinkers.

Year 1B

Tuesday will be the start of my first day of my second full year as a teacher. Earlier this summer I was seeing a lot of new teachers posting status’ on Facebook and Twitter about how excited they were to start teaching, yada yada yada. And in my smug little way, I scoffed at them in my head. You know, because being a first year teacher was so last year, and I’m so much more experienced now being a second year teacher.

But then I got thinking, I am pretty much in the same boat as these other teachers. I’m at a new school this year, I haven’t taught 60% of the classes I have this semester, and I only have one year experience. That seems like very little in the grand scheme of things. The only advantage I have over these first years is that I will be able to handle things a little better. Both professionally and personally.

There will still likely be weeks where I am on a day-by-day basis. But hopefully I’ve learned through my one year (one year and 2 months if you want to get specific) that teaching in that fashion is no good for anyone. And I would be better off being as prepared as I can be. But who knows? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how the year turns out.

So if you’re a teacher I wish you the best of luck this year. And hey. Let’s go out there and have fun with it.

A Nervous Excitement

I went to my new school for the first time today, something that I should have done a long time ago but my summer was too busy. Yes, I realize this sounds bad. But I was only at my apartment for roughly 5-6 days this summer. Anyways, I only spent the afternoon in my new classroom. More or less trying to get a feel for it, taking it out for a test drive if you will. I didn’t accomplish as much work as I wanted too, which wasn’t a surprise to me. Upon my arrival I found out the photocopier was out of commission so that put a damper on what I wanted to get done today, mostly get a couple course outlines done and some first day of the year stuff.

But it was just about an hour or two ago while I was watching some How I Met Your Mother DVDs that I got this feeling in my stomach. I’m sure you all know it, that twisty turny feeling. Its a feeling I’ve experienced once or twice in my life. For the first time this summer I was actually able to focus on school, it made me a little nervous. This will be my third school in two years, the others being temporary contracts. Which means brand new staff, students, and community members to get to know. You’d think I’d be a pro at it by now but I’m kind of a shy guy and the thought of it is a little unsettling.

But underneath the nerves there is the excitement. I am very excited to be able to establish myself at my new school, the thought of being there for a whole school year and more is very relieving to me. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed teaching at my first two schools. I just like the thought of being able to master my craft at one place for more than a few months. I am excited to meet my new students, work with a new staff, and become the best teacher that I can possibly be.

So here’s to the nervous-excitement I’m experiencing at the moment. And here’s to another great year for me, you, and every other teacher out there.
p.s. I was going to write a “looking back on my first year” post (and I still might) but I haven’t really gotten around to it yet.

23 Was a Good Year

Tomorrow is my birthday. Which means today is my last day of being 23 years old. So like any good learner, I’ve decided to take a look back on my last year. It’s been pretty good.

First I will start two days before I turned 23. On May 29th last year I had possibly the greatest night of my life. I was in Winnipeg for a U2 concert. We were probably only 30 feet from the walkway that surrounded the stage. I can’t even begin to describe the concert. It was just simply one of the greatest moments of my life.

Two days later my birthday came around. I was at a division Math PD in Weyburn. There was nothing really memorable about the PD, but we got a free lunch, so it wasn’t all bad. That same day the announcement came that the Winnipeg Jets were coming back into the NHL. So there’s a neat little piece of trivia for you. That June was when I convocated from the University of Regina with a Bachelor of Education degree. That summer I also experienced my best summer golf-wise. Every round I shout was in the 80s or 90s. During the fall I played hockey again for the first time in 3 years, I also took up curling.

Professionally it was a very good year. I am on my third teaching contract, I have a full-time position waiting for me in the fall. I think I have done a fairly good job of expanding my PLN, both online and offline. In February I was selected for the Hire ME Campaign “30 Under 30” people to follow on Twitter. That was pretty cool. I didn’t blog as much as I wanted to this year. But knowing me, that’s not really a surprise.

Sorry for all of the bragging about myself. I think I deserve one of these posts every now and then. Here’s hoping that 24 will be even better.

Getting Tired

It’s only just after nine, I just woke up from a nap. When I started my nap, I’m not really too sure, but I know I’ve been sleeping for a while. I’ll probably be going to bed soon, not that you really care about what I do in my day-to-day life. What probably is a little more informative is that I only have one month left on my first year as a teacher, and I think I’m getting a little worn out.

My first year has been a little atypical,it has consisted of two schools, three temporary contracts, one week of subbing, and moving for what seems like the one hundredth time. My life has been fairly hectic, coming into a new school this late in the year wasn’t my first plan. I had just planned on subbing for the remainder of the year, and hopefully nail down a more permanent job in the fall (which I have done). I don’t regret taking on this position, I like the kids, the staff is friendly and helpful.

I think my biggest concern is that I may be looking to far into the future. I think I am too excited to have a full-time continuing contract next year. So far I have only taught in other people’s classrooms. I just really want to be able to have m own class for a full year. And to be able to have my rules/expectations/routines continue on for the year after that. I just really want my own classroom. But I’ll have to wait, it’s coming.