Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Two Deep Breaths

My daughter, now toddlerTate, has begun to exert her will through minor tantrums and crocodile tears. In those moments, we remind her to take two deep breaths to help calm herself down.
Tonight, Mr. McNamar needs to take two deep breaths to help calm himself down. I need to refocus on what I can control--which is my performance in the classroom. If you don't mind, though, let me tell you the reason:
I spent my summer reading about leadership and influence. Last year was hell--the entire year felt like a failure on so many levels. I was drained physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I even flirted with leaving after only my first year in that sweaty, humid building. But I decided to stay, for the kids.
I returned to the building last week to begin thinking about the year ahead. No one else was around. I knew my schedule would entail five reading classes--actually supplemental reading classes.
Apparently my previous experiences teaching READ 180 (even though I wasn't a certified reading teacher then, either) helped them to choose me. Okay, fine. What curriculum will I be using?
--We don't have one.
What books are available for the classroom library?
--Talk to so and so; she may have some for you.
Deep breath number one. I'm not prepared to teach a reading class without curriculum. The READ 180 program succeeded in spite of me.

Monday began with our convocation for the entire distrtict. It took up the first half of the morning for recognizing important teachers and casting some type of vision, of which I am still not sure. I couldn't help but think about my lack of curriculum which I could start to create upon returning to my building.
Not so fast. Instead, we were ushered into some professional development that succeeded only at developing my anxiety. That took up the second half of the day. I was so mad, I refused to work past my contracted hours--that has never been me.
Move to today. Like the day before, our every contracted hour was filled with professional devlopment or other business. No time in the classroom. Zero.
Deep breath number two. So, I head into the first half week of school with zero long term planning done. I'm in survival mode for now. But next week won't be better. I have two days during each week when I go the entire day without a prep period. Really. I can't make this stuff up.
So much for being positive.


At 8:06 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a lot more than two deep breaths.

Good luck.

Our district is nice enough to give us a full workday before school starts - but in order to be ready, we need a full week, at least.

My old district made us attend a convention... the mere thought makes me want to slit my wrists.

At 7:14 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a relatively new reader to your blog and I love it.

Keep your chin up. I can totally identify with your situation as I work in a very large city school district in PA and am in near panic mode myself when they rostered me for at least ten more kids than can fit in my class, changed my schedule, and have given me classes with 45% special ed enrollment. I teach science.

Breathe deep and do what you can...I'm pulling for you.

At 7:41 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get used to it! I just retired after 29 years in the classroom and, believe me, it's the kids that keep you coming back! All the PDCs,GLEs, MAPs, inservices, curriculum meetings, etc., etc., will take up any "free" contract time you have. All classroom prep, lesson plans, assessments, etc., are done on your own time. It's a stressful, trying, thankless, exhausting job, but the kids make it worth it!

At 2:08 PM , Blogger rk said...

Thinking of you as you and your Mrs. prepare for school.


At 2:17 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm new to your blog also . . .

I'm looking on the bright side & being the positive onlooker here . . at least your lessons won't be defined by a one "boxed" curriculum. You get to be creative in forming, finding, borrowing and combing curriculum using what you feel works best for each of your children/or groups of children. You also get to see your "teaching vision" take flight, right? Looks like this may be your year and a year of professional discovery!

At 4:12 PM , Blogger Dan Edwards said...

Good Luck with your upcoming school year. I hope you find a reading curriculum you like and can benefit your students. If you have any say it it, I'd suggest you try to find stories, etc. that your boys would be more interested in ( various articles about why boys won't read...not enough action and adventure, too much touchie-feely stuff that most boys cannot/will not relate well to).

Ever try using the old "Classics Illustrated" comic books ?

At 11:38 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hard to tell which is most upsetting--being made to teach outside your area of expertise; being denied curriculum (or any help in creating curriculum); being without a classroom library for a reading class; being given "development" that fails to develop; being denied professional planning time when it is most needed or being made to feel like they think you're the one making a problem!

If you'd like a wonderful place to start in planning a reading curriculum, I would suggest getting a copy of Reading For Understanding: A Guide to Improving Reading in Middle and High School Classrooms, by Shoenbach, Greenleaf, Cziko and Hurwitz, Jossey-Bass, 2000. It's practical with usable lessons. You can start using it immediately.

Good luck.

At 7:34 PM , Blogger rk said...


Had a break in my day so went blog surfin' in my link list. There is a really cool couple I met via blogging, His blog: http://haleyeah.typepad.com/brian/2008/09/calling-all-bostonians.html?cid=128992066#comments Her blog: http://haleyeah.typepad.com/jacinda/

Anyway, the Mr. half is on his way to Boston. These people are really, really cool. Friends with the Whittaker's in ATL (Ragamuffin Soul - who Loran has met). I am writing to let you know I referred them to your blogs in case he has questions. Here is the comment I made on his blog (link to specific post above).


Copy of Comment:
Hey, how's it goin'? I follow your sweet Mrs. blog, stopping over to you once in a while (just added you to link list - let me know if problem). This post caught my attention because some of our great friends live not too far from Boston. Great resource if you have questions (they are very cool young 30 somethings with a little one). I will copy this comment to let them know I referred them to you. Their blogs:

Career (Teacher/Education Blog):


At 10:54 AM , Blogger Margaret English said...

That is a familiar tune you are singing!. I had a similar experience last week, last year, the year before that etc. It is how it is and more than likely it will never change.

I have never had a full day for planning in school and therefore do not expect one. After five years down the tube in some of the worst schools the UK has to offer I have come to realise that planning and paperwork are what Sundays are for.

Keep your chin up and perhaps try to look for the positive, namely that you will not be restricted by a futile and irrelevant curriculum.


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