Friday, September 2, 2016

Year 7: Week 1 - The Heart Of The Matter

I’ve grown to understand that teaching means being in a state of feeling that there is never enough time and that I ma never as prepared as I would like, but the past week has been a little ridiculous.

Tuesday we started with teacher meetings and today we had our first day of classes.

Over the past two weeks, I came in four times to do work. I brought Ollie with me and had someone babysit Ollie at school while I worked. This arrangement allowed me to get some work done and for Ollie to play at school, which he enjoys. This time was helpful, but it felt woefully insufficient.

My wife’s schools started two weeks ago, Ollie’s school starts next week and I started this week. The stress of being on three different school calendars is difficult. Add into the mix the fact that Diana moved classrooms this year, which is a incredible undertaking. To help this past week, before Ollie’s school started, my mom flew in and stayed with us this week to watch Ollie.

As insurmountable as my to do list was this week, and continues to be, it was nice to be back in school with the other teachers and the students. There is a comfort in sliding back into Mr. Tang mode. I click into a certain mode with my 8th graders, 5th graders and 3rd grade. At one point there was deliberate thought in how I modulated the pitch of my voice and cadence of my speech for different ages, and now it’s a role that I slide into without much thought.

There is a good amount of beginning of the year set-up to do including labeling pencils with my little kids and making sure my band kids have all of their instruments and music organized. I rushed through this stuff last year and didn’t check up on these organizational pieces, which caught up to me in a flurry of misplaced music, locker disputes and pencils that were “stolen.” I have planned out more time to take care of this stuff before we get moving and one of my goals is to stay on top of these organizational pieces.

I love my job and I feel fortunate to be a teacher at this school, but this isn’t charity work. The union that I belong negotiated that a great new contract last spring, that provides a level of stability and great benefits that ensures that I can continue to work at this school.  "Changing kid’s lives” and “making a difference,” is a nice warm fuzzy feeling that quickly goes away when you are spending large amounts of personal funds on school supplies and have inadequate prep time.

I am able to be a teacher because of the work of my union and the positive choices my administration has made to ensure that part of my job does not include economic and personal sacrifices.

I don't feel great about the prep for this year, but I did the best I can do.  The balancing act of life and teaching is only getting harder, but it has resulted in me taking my time and my life less for granted. There's a lot of work to do, but it's good work.  It has value and at its center is heart.

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