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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Overwhelmed to the next step, I guess.

My classroom is covered everywhere in layers and layers of papers.  I spend 12 hours each day at school.  I am usually the first one to get there and the last one to leave.  During those 12 hours I get very little planning done.  I'm mostly just trying to catch up on the paper, which doesn't stop multiplying, seemingly exponentially.  With all the papers, I loose everything.  It's not funny anymore.  I loose papers that the kids can't help me find.  They're there somewhere, in some pile, but I haven't a clue as to the exact location - I don't even know an approximate location.

I forget to do things and I'm always one step behind where I think I'm supposed to be.  I don't know how to catch up and restore my sanity.  I'm too confused to feel very effective, or even a little effective.  I'm trying to get it all done more efficiently, but that's not working.  

The fact that I learned to educate using theory books (my cheerleaders, plus Vygotsky and Freire and folks like them) as opposed to practical books (none of which I can even cite) is, I think, part of the cause of my absolute cluelessness.  I don't know how to teach! I don't know anything about teaching.  And, yeah, there definitely is a difference.  I do know about education.  I know a lot about education and can pull out articles and research without much of trouble.  But when it comes to practice - I've got nothing.

I've been told by some of the people who observe me that I am a "natural" at teaching, which is ironic since I don't believe in such a thing.  However, their notion of my competence is, I think, covering up the fact that I feel that I am not teaching much of anything to the children.  I may look good when they come in with their notepad and watch, but I haven't a clue as to what I am doing, what I am supposed to be doing, or how one teaches.


Anonymous Amber said...

Welcome to your first year of teaching.... it gets better, I promise!!!! Hang in there!!!

9:52 AM  
Blogger miss bioteacher said...

I feel exactly the same way!

Everyone tells me I'm doing well, but I feel like I'm teaching absolutely nothing. I don't know how to teach.

It's so frustrating!

Good luck! - Heres to hoping that it really does get better... I'm not so sure just yet.

3:28 PM  
Blogger Mrs. T said...

It's not that you read the "wrong" books or studied the "wrong stuff. Nobody can teach you how to teach - none of us know what we're doing that first year. The only way to learn this one is by jumping into the water... you're going to swallow a lot of water, but you're swimming. Trust me.

Paper will kill you. Learn to toss it. It was a hard lesson for me to learn... but you have to.

You do not have to grade every paper the students write. You can throw some of them away. At the end of each six-weeks grading period, I would have a HUGE box of papers (student papers, agendas, fliers, memos, BLAHBLAH) to take down to the recycling bin. (I'd always wait until late in the evening, when everyone else was gone, to haul the box to the recycling bin, so nobosy would see me... but trust me, the other teachers are throwing the papers away too, I can assure you.)


You are teaching those kids. Take a deep breath, and throw some paper away.

10:50 PM  
OpenID theinfamousj said...

You may be interested in this post about clutter control. It has some excellent elementary-school tips.

For me, in high school, I'll occasionally declutter or not even grade a stack of papers I've been meaning to grade, because they've become meaningless with the passage of time.

No school of ed can teach you how to teach. There are varying opinions as to why from the fact that teaching is like walking, and all the modeling in the world won't help you coordinate your muscles quite like actual experience would - to - school of eds being populated with those who are no longer in the classroom, for a reason. I'm not sure what the real reason is, but there ^^ is the entire spectrum of opinions.

1:17 PM  
Blogger La Brown Girl said...

You've landed just in time in the downslope of the year. It does get better.

Here's a little secret, I think all good teachers feel like frauds. Sometimes, I wonder when my principal is FINALLY going to come in and bust me. When she'll walk in there and be like, "What in the world are you doing? In my office NOW!"

Hang in there, you'll be okay and do learn to throw away paper.

7:10 PM  
Blogger Not Quite Grown Up... said...

Those who say it gets better - I'm holding you to that.

I threw away some papers. But, there is so much I can't throw away - I need to at least look at it to see if the students were doing what they were supposed to be. I hadn't been looking at papers, and then I looked at a bunch of math things, and realized that a few students who I had thought were understanding what we were doing, were not demonstrating understanding based on their recording sheets. So, I need to look at everything, I just don't need to really do much with it all? I guess?

10:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I ever have papers that I don't have time to grade, I mark down that the student did the work and stick it in the child's PTC file. This way, when conferences come around I have a whole stack of sample work to show the parents, and I don't feel as guilty as if I'd just thrown it away.

9:08 AM  

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