Friday, February 12, 2010

Snow Day - a Teacher's Best Friend

Back in September, I wrote one of those "I'm frazzled!" posts, and haven't recovered since. Nothing has changed. In fact, things may have gotten worse.

I don't know that non-teachers would ever understand the incredible relief and joy I felt when school was cancelled for the past two days due to snow. I wasn't the only one stuck to the television and weather websites on Tuesday night, crossing my fingers, thinking "Please, oh please... please let's have a snow day!" I imagined I could hear my colleagues shouting YESSSSS! in to their phones as we got our snow chain calls late that night.

How shameful, you might think. Teachers have it easy, you might suggest. After all, teachers only work until 3, have summers off, and enjoy several holidays built in to the yearly calendar. So why the giddy excitement over a snow day?

Classroom teachers have it bad. I'm serious. It's gotten so out of control that the "teaching-is-my-life" mantra I used to wear like a badge, has become "teaching's gonna kill me, and lots of the folks I work with." I'm not exaggerating. Spend a day or two in my shoes and see what's happening.

Were it not for the pure satisfaction in watching children grow as readers and writers, the eye-opening discoveries that occur in math class, and the simple sense of community that comes from relationship-building, I would have totally lost it by now. However, in the scheme of NCLB and the desperation of local administrators to raise scores, time spent teaching and learning has decreased dramatically, while test-taking and useless transportations of paper have taken over.

I teach after school twice a week, and on Wednesdays I stay after for the required monthly staff meeting, as well as one or two additional "staff development" Wednesday meetings, often at the whim of my principal. On the two other days, I stay in my classroom after hours to clean up, and to be honest, to catch up. One school day can result in an enormous mess on one's desk, with no chance to get to it during the day. During the week I reach my home exhausted, with no desire to do much of anything. And yet, you can find me at my desk, after dinner, doing school work until 10 or so.

Typically, I spend most of my weekend at my desk in my chilly basement, grading papers, doing research for my lessons, locating appropriate reading materials (I don't have enough books at my students' reading and English levels), calling parents, and marking the numerous district assessments I am obligated to give - as well as completing special answer sheets and tracking sheets and data sheets. I also spend the weekend preparing fundraisers, planning and organizing parent workshops, and completing referral forms. I should not leave out lesson-planning, which is the most time consuming of tasks. Those that wish to control, rather than see what and how we teach, require pages and pages of descriptive lesson plans. (My principal has not stepped foot in my room even once this year...)

So yeah, I wanted these snow days. I prayed for them, danced, chanted, and wished for them.


Okibum said...

Congrats on your snow days/catching up days. My students never understand that teachers love snow days as much as they do!

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed those snow days as much as you and the kids did. I did absolutely NOTHING because I figured I would have been in school so it was a gift!
Bete(I forgot all my passwords)

Anonymous said...

Didn't get snow days here. We still got to trudge through snow, in the dark for another weary day. Working with young people, educating and enlightening them should be such an enjoyment, but it's not. NCLB, the economy with the threat of job cuts is part of it. Educating in the midst of such drastic technological and societal changes is such a challenge!

Teachers have always had long hours, little pay and fewer thanks. Take care of yourself! Let some things go if you have to. Get plenty of rest and do stuff you enjoy. When I was in the classroom, I stopped taking papers home because I felt like I never got away from work. Now, I make Wednesdays Latte Day. Find silly little things to celebrate!