Saturday, October 8, 2011

Back On Track

So... I got kinda sick this week, as I tend to do every fall. I think it's the weather change + stress + 20 small germ-infested bodies around me all day. It's the gross mucus cough/sore throat combo. Anyhoo, by Thursday afternoon I had zero voice. So on Friday, as per Hubs' suggestion, I spent most of the day on "vocal rest." I whispered to the children and asked them to be respectful of my hurt voice, and I taught in the quietest voice I know how to use. (Which isn't all THAT quiet... but whatever.)

I also got observed by my principal on Friday. This was a big deal, mostly because the man hired me after a phone interview and has never actually seen me teach. I let the kids know he was coming, in hopes that they would be on their best behavior. In the end, they behaved just like a normal day (i.e. making me repeat directions/wait for them to be quiet), which was what he wanted to see anyway. His feedback after school was really positive - so yay for me!

The real reason I titled this post the way I did is that for the first time in a while, I spent a huge block of time on a weekend purposefully planning my week. Another teacher on my team and I got together at a coffeehouse and workworkworked. As much as I would prefer to be outside on a gorgeous Saturday, the change in my mood/anxiety level is worth every second. I actually feel like I've gotten a jump on things, which is great because I am leaving town Thursday night to go home to New Orleans for weddings on Friday and Saturday.

Once I got home from planning, I actually did housework. My kitchen is actually clean and fit for cooking food. I have loved so much being out of town/having family and friends in town the past few weekends, but it's taken its toll. I'm not good at getting ahead during the school week, so I've been operating in last-minute-emergency-wing-it mode for a while.

Now that I'm actually remotely ready for the week, I don't have to push guilt/anxiety to the back of my mind before my fun portion of the weekend. Hubs and I are leaving this evening to drive to Charlotte because our beloved Saints play the Carolina Panthers tomorrow. I have missed going to Saints games every Sunday SO much; for a few years now it has been a major family pastime. Watching on tv is just not the same.

I'm just so excited to finally feel marginally on top of my game. I still have a lot more to do - unfortunately work begets work, it seems - but I am planning to let Hubs drive to Charlotte while I work in the car.

Have a great weekend and WHO DAT!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Letting It Go

OK so I have been SO remiss in updating this thing, but sadly that's what happens once school gets into full swing.

And full swing it is.

At the moment, I oscillate between totally stressed out/anxious (most of the time) and unable to focus/get work done. It's a lethal combination that guarantees my being in a constant state of frenzy, either external or internal.

Most recently, this has been due to all of the "formative assessment" that our district has implemented in math and reading. For those of you not in the world of education, the purpose of a formative assessment is to inform your instruction. In other words, you take the data you gather from the assessment and use it to improve your instruction and the kids' learning. In this case, the kids take the test, and the results are scanned and available to us online the same day. Then, we spend the rest of the week doing "corrective instruction" with students who need more work and enrichment or extensions with the kids who already know the material well.

Sounds fantastic in theory, doesn't it?

Besides having issues with several aspects of the assessments (2 right answer choices, reading passages that are too long for my kids at this point, etc.) - I really do like having the data on my kids, and it enables me to better meet their needs. It's great feedback on which concepts give the kids trouble (estimation, anyone?)

Where the problem really lies is my expectations. When I look at my kids in the "red" section of scores, and how many of them it is, it gets me thinking about what I need to do to get them where they need to be. I mentally and emotionally tend to take the burden of getting them there entirely on my own shoulders. I am so competitive and driven, and it leads me to doubt myself when I see my class' scores lower than others'.

Basically, all of this converged into the following: during a data meeting with my team, two administrators, our AIG teacher, and our instructional facilitator, I lost my sh*t and cried.

So. Embarassing.

Anyway, the story has a happy ending. It comes down to the fact that I need to let go of some of the emotional burden I attach to my job. My teammates and the administration have been so supportive and positive, and I've gotten such good advice from them.

Hubs is also, of course, fantastic about it. I feel like I've been such an insane person lately - alternating between apathy and anxiety. I've got to find some balance and begin to let some of it go.