Monday, October 8, 2012

I Actually Enjoyed My Job, For a Day!

As a middle school teacher, my contract stipulates that I teach 25 periods a week.  You would think that means five periods a day, but students today need double blocks of math.  This isn't because we are teaching them more math, it is because the geniuses in cubicles somewhere, geniuses without any teaching experience, decided that we need to use a workshop model, which means that we're supposed to ask the children how they would add fractions, or how they would subtract integers.  Never mind that most would just take the path of least resistance and do it incorrectly, and then the teacher would need to dispel their misconceptions.  And, we only teach for 10 minutes; you heard that correctly.  It's called a "mini-lesson".  This is honestly how we're supposed to do it.  And we're supposed to do it with manipulatives, which is fabulous for some things, but others, not so much.  So, while we're futzing about with high level thinking tasks, which the students cannot do because they have not mastered the basics, the children are actually learning less than when we did the old chalk and talk.  Ten minutes of teaching, plus the rest of the period with the students "constructing knowledge" leads to the blind leading the blind at the best, and a total waste of time at the worst.

In any case, the double block schedule means that I must teach an even number of periods every day, so on three days I teach four periods, and on two days I teach six periods, plus a "common prep".  So, two days a week are quite a grind for me.  This year, Fridays are a six-period day.  And, in general, I barely survive them.  But, for some unknown, mysterious reason, I enjoyed teaching on Friday.  Not because it was closing in on a three-day weekend.  I just truly felt like I was doing my job.  And it felt good!  Those of you who follow this blog, or who know me, know that this is a rare event.  A one-in-900 chance event, since I don't think I've had a good day teaching since my student died, over 5 years ago now.  Why was it so good?  I really couldn't tell you.  If I could, I would, and then I'd sell the reason to the teachers of the world and be independently wealthy, because every teacher would be willing to shell out a year or two's salary for the secret.  Here's hoping there's more to come.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Tuesday was another good day, Wednesday wasn't terrible, but Thursday returned to normal.  But, things seem to be overall not quite as bleak as they once were.

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