Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Take a seat...a back seat

This afternoon, my principal gave my grade level a half-day to review recent data and collaboratively work together to plan our next steps.  It was a much-appreciated and well-utilized time frame from my perspective, because it isn't often that we have a 3 hour block of time to focus our conversations so much on the art of teaching and enhancing our practice as well as student learning, without the interruption of having to pick up the kids, grade papers, respond to emails, etc, etc, etc.

While this time was fruitful and productive, I left the session feeling inadequate in my career.  None of these feelings were brought on by the actions/conversations during our session...oh no, my own insecurities and desire to give 100% in all that I do left me feeling as though I simply should be doing more.  I recognize the amount of work I do as a teacher, and know that my students are doing well and enjoy learning.  That being said, I have an absolute passion for the art of teaching.  I have wanted to become a teacher since walking into Mrs. Toney's kindergarten classroom at Rainbow Elementary.  My entire life's focus in terms of my academia has been centered around the craft of teaching.  There is always something I can improve upon., tweak, or modify to further enhance student learning.

When I left work today, I ran one quick errand before shifting from 'teacher rmode' into 'mom mode'.  My mind was still racing with all the things I have to do in order to feel even more effective in my daily instruction.  I envisioned spending a few uninterrupted hours at home scouring the world wide web for resources and ideas for my upcoming units of study, as well as organizing a restructure of my reading strategy groups.  At the end of this planning session, my lesson plan book would be perfectly filled in, with the necessary components for instructing every one of my students with their individual needs at the forefront of each mini-lesson. 

Then, reality hit.  The backseat of my car soon became filled with the sounds of chattering children who wanted to share the moments of their day that were important or funny to them.  There were a few fights about who was 'talking over' whom, and a few stories that seemed to have a little 'extra' for the dramatic effect (not to mention playing the unspoken game of 'one up' against sibilings).

As soon as my literal backseat filled with kids, my career and all the plans of grandeur I was concocting took a hypothetical backseat.  I was quickly thrown into play time, dancing, chasing, singing, preparing dinner, cleaning...you get the idea.  My plan book sat unopened on the counter, beckoning me to open it and begin creating greatness for my classroom, beginning to apply the 'a-ha' moments that I had today.  But Randy was at work.  Raegan was fussing, and the older two were fighting.  I felt like my plan book moved into the way back seat. 

After the older two were tucked in, I sat with Raegan to give her a bottle, and I cried.  I had just sent my kids to bed without a bed time story.  That doesn't happen often, but tonight, right before their bedtime, it clicked with me that it was Tuesday.  Normally, just another day, but for the past month, Tuesday has represented the night before my course work for my online class is due.  Eeesh.  The expectation is that we spend about 2-3 hours a week working on the assignments, and based on my previous weeks, I knew that was an accurate amount of time.  Restructuring my reading strategy groups by way of my plan book and *fancy* color-coded folders immediately became one of those stickers on the back windshield of my car, because the third row seat wasn't 'back seat' enough for it. 


One could argue that while I am spending my time typing this blog, that I could be working on lesson plans.  And, you could have a very valid argument.  The good news about being a teacher with the passion and experience that I have, I know that while my plan book might not be perfectly filled in as I ideally envision, I know what my day looks like for tomorrow, and the next day as well.  I have a good system in place with my students and they are familiar with the schedule and routine of the day.  I am confident that I am still doing a good job instructing students, even if I had to put some of my work into the 'back seat' of my mind.

Life is full of prioritizing.  I spend a lot of time making 'to do' lists, whether it be in my mind, on my iPhone, or on Post-It notes (I am a sticky note aficionado).  I've been working on making sure that I don't let the urgent things crowd out the important.  That means that I ocassionally have to check out the contents of my back seat.  Sometimes my teaching takes a backseat while I focus on my family.  Sometimes my family takes a backseat while I focus on something I need to complete for work.  Sometimes I need work and family to take a backseat so that I can focus on my friends.  And sometimes (just sometimes), all of it needs to take a backseat so that I can focus on me (hence, the blog).  I'll find the time for the planning tomorrow.

Gavin, I love that you work so hard during the school day, that sometimes you just need to 'veg' for a while when we get home.  You're learning so much and trying so hard.  We are so proud of you.

Brynn, I love how you emulate mommy by working on your 'co-poo-ter'.  You're one adorable little blogger-in-training ;)

I found these cuties in the backseat of my car this afternoon :)

Raegan, I love your sense of adventure.  Your fearlessness to try and climb stairs at the age of 9 months is adorable, yet aging.


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