Friday, September 9, 2016

Year 7: Week 2 – The Work

It’s easy to forget what is the real work of a teacher.

At the beginning of the year my time is filled with a lot of department chair work. There’s purchases to take care of, meetings to set-up, projects to move forward and more emails to write than I care to count. Then there’s room preparation. I’m blessed with the fact that I haven’t ever moved a classroom (which is a ridiculous and a challenging prospect that deserves all of our greatest sympathies). There was work to be done in my rooms but it wasn’t too bad.

The other big part is lesson planning. This work is never-ending. Planning a lesson is like creating a piece of art or writing a story. It’s never done. You can always do more research, and the plan can never be perfect. A lesson plan is done, when I feel like the structure reflects a level of thought ties together the individual activities in the context of the lesson and the scope of the larger unit . . . or when I run out of time.

All of this work has overtaken my life for the past couple weeks, and filled my mind as I try to manage my work responsibilities with the multitude of tasks and stresses that come from my roles as a father, and a husband and an adult. Ugh, adulthood is the worst . . .

The thing is that all of that work really isn’t the “work” of being a teacher. This week I was reminded that the “work,” what I’m really here to do is what I do in front of my students. I don’t love the beginning of the year because it takes so much desk-work to get going, but I’ve really enjoyed the start of the year from a teaching perspective.

My 3rd graders have been delightful. They are new to me, so I’m getting to know them. My bag of tricks has a level of depth that it hasn’t had in years past. They don’t yet feel comfortable with me yet, which allows me to establish a working relationship that is respectful and fun. Every year I start with teaching me “Starfish & Coffee,” by Prince, which is hilarious fun, and this year I’m doing movement activities with Brandi Carlile’s “Dreams,” which is a blast.

My 8th grade band had their first full band rehearsal today. There was a great vibe in the room as we got down to work. The focus in the room felt right. While there is a lot of work to be done and summer rust to shake off, I finished the rehearsal feeling optimistic and proud.

The 6th grade students are trying out band instruments, which is a little crazy (and loud).  This process takes a lot of planning and preparation, however the moment when I make a small adjustment for a student and all of the sudden they produce a sound on an instrument and they get excited really is awesome.

And my 5th graders, oh those 5th graders.  This year, my 5th grade has a truly amazing vibe and they are really into music.  We are getting through lessons faster than I expected and learning music at a great pace.  They get "it" and the challenge of helping them go deeper and more is stretching me as a teacher is the best way possible.

The work really felt good this week.  I'm tired but more than that I'm excited and optimistic.

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