As my Sunday night winds down, I have to say I have enjoyed my weekend immensely. It always amazes me how fast the weekend flies by as I spend time with my family and attend to things that need to be done around the house. Today it was mowing my behemoth lawn. Anyways, as I have mentioned in previous blog posts, my teaching assignment changed this year. I teach 7th and 8th grade language arts this year and it has been a smooth transition…so far. Before this year I was strictly 8th grade language arts with one section of science.
Prior to this year I always struggled with my balancing act. You know the one I am talking about! Going to school to teach, going home to have dinner, play with the kids for a bit, pack the lunch for the next day, give the kids a bath, put the kids to bed, spend some time with my spouse, then start tackling the mound of papers that need to be graded. I might even find time to go over the next day’s lesson. All I have to say is, phewww! This routine goes on all week and don’t forget, there may be doctors appointments and groceries to get too. The one thought that keeps going through my head again and again is I am not completely sure how I am going to get through all of the paperwork I am going to be swimming in this year and possibly years to come. I have been teaching for almost 11 years and I don’t think I have a solid answer or solution to my dilemma or many other teacher’s dilemma.
Based on my prior experiences as a teacher, I know it is an almost perfect balancing act. However, I do believe the scale can lean to one side or the other based on the circumstances laying in front of any teacher. First, I want to offer some advice I heard from Kelly Gallagher, the author of Readacide. Don’t grade EVERYTHING. He was specifically referring to the writing your students do. This was hard for me to do at first, but eventually I tucked that advice in my belt to use. Students don’t mind the fact you don’t grade all of their writing either. It is a conversation worth having with your students. Second, as an individual, you need to decide what are your priorities. This can even change on a daily basis. When I was coaching and I had a game, I spent little to no time grading papers or looking at anything concerned with my classroom. Don’t mistake that as neglect, because I didn’t neglect my students. It just took me a week or two longer to get their assignments returned to them.
Besides choosing between coaching duties and teacher duties, there are parental duties that I have and I am sure other teachers have too. I love my children very much and their are nights when I get home from school that may require me to spend more time pushing my daughter on her swing, or exploring the dirt with my son for more worms. I am sure everyone has something in their life that causes them think about their priorities when it comes to that heap of papers that are awaiting them on the kitchen counter. Everyone’s scale gets tipped. So, the question remains, is their a perfect balancing act we can perform as teachers? More specifically, a balancing act for all of us English teachers. I am curious to hear from people.