Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Day 8 - Kids

It's Day 8 of the December Photo A Day Challenge!

Day 8 - Kids
What follows is just my opinion!

Today's topic is kids.  Today's picture is a quote that I wish more teachers would take to heart.  

". . . when in doubt, choose the kids.  there will be plenty of time later to choose work. . . "

I should mention at the start of this post that I don't have any children.  However, most of the teachers I work with do.  Most have more than one child.  And, I see most all of them struggle to find the balance between school and work.  I think we all do, even people like me without children. But, I believe having children makes finding this balance a particularly difficult struggle. 

The field of education is always evolving, however it has undergone some significant changes in the past few years that has resulted in teachers being asked to do more and more in the school day. With the common core and new evaluation models, we are asked to revamp what we teach and how we teach it.  This doesn't just magically happen.  It takes hours and hours of time to revise instruction and create new activities, lesson plans, and materials.  We then are asked to find time to reflect on what we teach, correlate data, and revise instruction again.  I'm not making any statements that this is good or bad.  I am simply saying it is tremendously time consuming.  Time well spent? Usually, yes it is.  But, it is often time teachers are hard pressed to find.

For the most part, prep periods haven't gotten any longer.  Also, we tend to do this thing with the rest of our day called interacting with children and teaching which makes it impossible to do all that revising, planning, and creating.  Oh, and then on that prep period we still need to grade the work the children are doing, return parent emails and phone calls, handle discipline issues, counsel that child you know is bothered by something but not talking, and try to get in all the miscellaneous paperwork required in general.  

How do we try to keep our heads above water as the demands continue to increase?  We take work home.  We take lots of work home. We spend weeknights grading papers and Sundays writing lesson plans.  But here's the thing.  We've always done that.  It's nothing new. Any new teacher coming into the profession learns during their student teaching that it's just part of the job. But, as the demands increase, when do we cry uncle?

Our students are important.  The work we do is important.  How we do it is important and deserves all the attention and effort we can give it.  But, sometimes you just have to take a step back and realize you can only do what you can do.  Teachers have families, too. Their families are important, too.  I see teachers who regularly work through their lunch every day so that they can try to keep up and maybe take one less assignment home that night.  I have seen teachers bleary-eyed because they stayed up until 1:00 in the morning to get grading done as they couldn't start until their own kids finished dance/sports practice, had dinner, took baths, went to bed, and lunches were made for the next day. I see teachers who arrive at school almost two hours early so they can get some work done and others who stay so late the parking lot is pitch black when they leave. 

Still we can't get it all done. And, that I believe is something we teachers need to accept.  We just can't do it all.  Don't get me wrong.  I love teaching.  I love working with my students.  I love creating new projects and lessons that will capture their interest, motivate them to work, and teach them what they need to learn.  And many a nights I have worked on lessons to do just that.  But, many nights I have thought that if I had children this would just have to wait.  I am in awe of the teachers I work with that try to get it all done and raise small children.  But, I also see them frustrated and upset that they must continually struggle to find time to get all the school work done. I have to say my advice to them would be. . . 

". . . when in doubt, choose the kids.  
there will be plenty of time later to choose work. . . "

It would be so much easier if we made those infamous widgets.  We could put it on a shelf and get back to it the next day.  You can't put students on a shelf.  We know that the new day brings new demands, and we have to be prepared.  But, sometimes you just need to choose your family.  I'm certainly not advocating any dereliction of your teaching responsibilities, but we need to realize it just may not be the end of the world to put your family first at times. Leave no child behind applies to your children, too!  And quite honestly, no matter what your profession, sometimes you just need to put your family first.  Hmmm, kind of feeling like Scrooge at the end of A Christmas Carol right now!  God bless us, everyone!  :-)

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