Sunday, December 11, 2005

Required: My First Semester

The mystique is gone. No more, “Wow, wouldn’t it be neat to be a teacher?!” The aches and drudgery have crept their way in. I love the teaching, the kids, the flow of learning – especially after school. But what I don’t love are the hours I lose. I wake up, I drag my ass to school twenty minutes late and then BOOM, I’m home again 13 hours later. My mind is chunked-full (I like this expression) of ideas, but my reactions are slowed, my lids heavy, my brain dulled, my senses needing a rest. My legs sore (from standing!), my belly empty. I type constantly; I’m like a general (I’m not sure exactly what that means; I wrote it several days ago and think it’s odd as hell). Nothing I say is novel or particularly interesting – even to me. I feel like a Khakied shell. This blog is horrible. No imagination. All wit drained dry.

There is much I could do to be a better teacher – especially later in the day. Grading papers is hell and a half. I hate it; I really, really hate it. Never do I feel like I’m wasting myself and my life more then when I am grading papers – what the hell am I even grading them for? I digress.

I feel long over the hump as a teacher – especially since my EEF-bought supplies arrived the other day. I now have 120 black dry-erase markers, and 72 colored dry-erase markers. Not to mention 35,000 sheets of paper, 4 staplers, an industrial hole punch, construction paper, and enough post-it notes to cover the floor (thrice over!). Clubs are going well; classes are chugging along. The biggest measuring stick: I now feel comfortable failing students. For the first nine weeks I was extremely wary of failing students because I knew that I hadn’t done “a teacher’s duty” to help that child pass (i.e., phone calls home, remediation, one-on-one conferences, etc.). Now, however, I am ready and willing to fail 10-20% of my students because I feel confident in my ability to justify every grade, to address every parental tirade, and to answer every challenge. In short, I am empowered – even if I don’t yet know where to get a bulb for my overhead projector…

The semester has gone by quite quickly, and I really have nothing to say in this “required blog.” As far as EDSE 600 goes, it was largely a waste of time. I’m glad to have seen my cohort on the weekends, and I enjoyed my solo drive to Oxford because it afforded me the opportunity to do nothing but think – without guilt. I could just drive and think. Unfortunately, EDSE 600 did not offer the same opportunity. It was mostly hoops and nonsense.

I appreciate the handouts and did find some of the discussions helpful, but this class did not address my most salient issue: time. I would’ve loved to do something proactive, or at least to engage in forward-thinking thought, in class; but that was not to be. Again, I understand that a master's degree requires work, and if that’s the attitude, then fine. But the class was billed as a toolbox, and it most certainly was not. Help us or burden us, I don’t care. But don’t bait and switch.