Could I have my life back, please?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by AbbyR, Dec 1, 2007.

  1. AbbyR

    AbbyR Rookie

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    Dec 1, 2007

    I wanted to teach. After 20 years out of the classroom, and now back in it (fourth grade,) I still want to teach. But I want a life, too, and the two things seem to be mutually exclusive.
    I live an hour away from my school, and leave home at 5:30 a.m. every day. If I'm able to leave school by 5:30 p.m., it's a good day. (The kids go home at 3:20).
    I'm grading papers, doing lesson plans, talking to parents, organizing papers to go home, trying to organize, trying to figure out how to survive in this testing-obsessed environment - well, you're all teachers. You know what I do.
    I end up working 12 or more hours a day and at least that much, usually more, on weekends, and I still don't ever feel caught up.
    Is there any way I can be the kind of teacher I want to be and NOT have to spend my entire life at it? I would love to knit and quilt again. I'd love to get outside and go back to exercising, but there just does not seem to be any time.
    Thank goodness my kids are grown - I don't know how I did it when they were little.
    Does anyone have any suggestions on how I could have just a little of my life back?

    Sorry for the rant, and thanks for reading.

    Abby in Arkansas
     
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  3. Steph-ernie

    Steph-ernie Groupie

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    Dec 1, 2007

    That first year getting back into the routine of teaching is bound to be tough! Could you take some of that work home with you at the end of the day? By leaving school earlier, you could probably avoid some of the evening traffic. I know for myself, I do all my planning at school, because there are too many "pieces" to bring home, but I do almost all of my grading at home. It's easier for me to sit in front of the tv and grade, than stay at school late and do it. Hope things settle down and become more manageable for you soon - but I know December is always one of the craziest months. :sorry:
     
  4. positiveautism

    positiveautism Comrade

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    Dec 1, 2007

    I can understand how you feel. It usually takes me 1.5 hours each way to and from my school. When traffic is bad, it has taken 2 - 2.5 hours to get home!

    I would think that your second year back will be a little less time consuming, because you will already have many lessons and activities put together that you can re-use, so hang in there! I keep all lesson plans in a file cabinet organized by topic, which has been very helpful.

    Does your school have a lot of parent volunteers? If so, you might be able to get some volunteers to make copies, cutouts, etc. Good luck!

    Nicole
     
  5. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Dec 2, 2007

    I know how you feel. I hate the feeling of living at school, and now it is even worse because my daughter is in school and rides with me. I hate that she has to wait on me after school. What I have done is pick a day that I absolutely will not stay any longer than I have to (4:00 at my school). My day is Wednesday-when the 4:00 bell rings, I hit the door. And if my papers don't get graded on that day, oh well. I have explained this to my students, who understand (Wednesday is church night here, so I don't give homework on that day either). This has helped me become more organized on the other days also, because I know I can't depend on Wed to get anything done. Another rule of mine is I do not leave on Friday until everything is done for the next week, copies, BBs, planning, etc. I have my hubby come pick up my daughter on Friday and I stay until I am satisfied. I am a lot more motivated then 'cause I'm ready for my weekend to start. My first year I was at school until at least 6:00 every night (my daughter wasn't in school that year thank goodness!). Last year I had only 6 students so it was easier and that was when I set my "rules". I have stuck to them this year and my life has gotten a lot easier. Good luck, and hang in there!
     
  6. srh

    srh Devotee

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    Dec 2, 2007

    I'm right there with you. Only I live a lot closer--6.5 miles, in fact. My problem is there is always a project, always a deadline...and I teach a half-day Kindergarten! I work at least 10 hours a day, usually more, and still go in on weekends. This week, I'm actually ahead of schedule, working on our parent gift calendars (kids art on each month's page) for Christmas.

    In my defense, I also am older (51 now) and in my third year. Each year has gotten slightly better. My dad died in September, and I had to be gone for 9 days, so in some ways, I'm still making up for some time. Also, I teach the English learners (1st-5th) in the afternoon, so I lost a lot of prep time I used to have. It's definitely a juggling act. BUT IT'S GETTING BETTER, I keep telling myself!! :-D (Good thing I'm not trying to date!!)
     
  7. RainStorm

    RainStorm Aficionado

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    Dec 2, 2007

    Dear Abby in Arkansas,

    Sorry you are having such a rough time. I used to be the same way you are, but have come up with some ways to spend less time at school. You can have an outside life!!!!!! You simply have to make it a priority.

    Here are my suggestions:

    1. Don't grade everything! Yes, tests have to be graded, and writing samples... but some things, like homework and classwork just need a check or a smiley face on them. You can walk around the room and do that as the children complete the work. I try to take one grade per subject per week -- nothing more. Practice work does not get graded -- it gets reviewed (ie I look at it to see if the child has the idea or needs more help.) In-class assignments are covered in class, so there is no need to grade those.

    2. Pick one night when you leave school as early as your school allows. Leave and take NOTHING home with you. Make that YOUR night and let NOTHING interfer with it. It will help refresh you and make you a better teacher.

    3. Send home a note telling parents that you NEED someone to come in every Thursday (or whatever day you need them) to organize papers to go home. Have a big basket to put all of those papers in until then, and keep a copy of your class list in it, to help the parent remember the names. Organizing papers to go home is a perfect "parent helper" activity. If you can't get a parent in, train the kids to do it. Keep everything in a big basket, and once a week hand them out. I prefer the parent method, but use the child method when all else fails.

    4. Keep parent conversations short and sweet. If they go over 10 minutes, they are going on too long, unless there is some sort of emergency. You have to be the "timekeeper."

    5. Try to split the work up with a colleague. If another teacher teaches the same grade level, ask her to do the science while you do the social studies lesson plans. (This only works if they do decent lesson plans!)

    6. Don't try to be perfect. Try to be "good enough" and add a little more each year. You'd be surprised.

    Good luck!
     
  8. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    Dec 2, 2007

    RainStorm, these are all excellent suggestions!
     
  9. AbbyR

    AbbyR Rookie

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    Dec 2, 2007

    Thanks for the suggestions - I think my biggest problem is lessons plans. I want to do EVERYTHING and have great plans, great activities, lots of variety - and it takes me HOURS to do them. Reading plans take all weekend.
    I appreciate the ideas and I really will try to be "good enough," and to get a parent in once a week.
    Thanks for the ideas.
     
  10. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    Dec 2, 2007

    I understand what you mean about planning, but once in awhile it is okay to just use the textbook.
    Also, try to set up some things that are routine - example, my spelling, handwriting, logic problems, are all set and I don't have to rethink them all the time. I find many of the students (I also teach fourth) actually like the routine of certain activities and knowing what to expect.

    Organize as you go; this will help keep your space workable, and make next year much easier.
     
  11. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    Dec 2, 2007


    if we tried to date, would we purposely make more time for ourselves?

    I think that avoiding the dating game keeps me focused on the job, but then once in awhile, I would like to have adult company

    and feel special...
    and not wear gym shoes
    or eat out of a paper carton
    and drink with a straw
    and correct somebody's speech
    just relax, and have fun

    ok...teacher night out!

    once a week...just go home at 3pm
    if we get a call, great
    if not, have a real meal, watch a real movie and get some real sleep after a real bubble bath!

    sigh!
     
  12. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Dec 2, 2007

    RainStorm brings up a lot of good points. Make sure the kids do things every day that require no planning on your part. It could be standard handwriting, spelling, reading with a partner, etc, lessons. Don't feel you have to grade everything. It is hard with young students who can't spend as much time on any one activity, but make sure you protect your own needs. That is so important. Have emergency activities on hand that you can turn to when necessary - ones that don't require much from you but benefit the kid.
     
  13. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Dec 2, 2007

    It's too bad that every teacher doesn't have an assistant.
     
  14. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    Dec 2, 2007

    It should be a law! I had a job where they told me I would have an aide, and then after I started they fired her. I felt cheated! Director said, "I can help and you have parents too."

    Not the same. :unsure:

    I have a friend who has been an aide for 20 years. she has a good pension and benefits. says she hates her teacher, and her teacher hates her, but they manage just fine in the classroom.:rolleyes: her folks always are down on her for not returning to school, and getting her teaching certificate.

    she is comfortable in her job.
     
  15. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Dec 2, 2007

    My 1st year of teaching & not only teaching, but special ed teaching, I was supposed to have an aide, but never really had one unti halfway through the school year. That was last school year & I'm glad to be done w/ it. I'm switching gears to something I believe I'll be happier in, speech pathology.
     
  16. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Dec 2, 2007

    You all seem to have really great suggestions that I am taking in. This school year I am the Language Arts tutor, but in the Fall I will be doing my student teaching, and I am already getting a glimpse of just how busy a teacher's life can be. With work and preperation and my school and homework to go along with it. I have been anxiously awaiting when I can "slow down" and just concentrate on work, but from the sound of it, my life won't really get any slower....
     

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