My first teaching job was a “hit the ground running” experience. It was October, two months after the year had begun. The school had a population boon in 4th grade and needed to add a class. Enter eager beaver me.
I hadn’t been sitting at home twiddling my thumbs. I had just finished a long term substitute teacher assignment, and had just started a new one. My teaching life was a constant reordering. After accepting the job, I was elated. Finally my own class. After 4 days of setting up my classroom, the job began. So too, began my abuse of my body. I rarely ate. I stayed up to the wee hours of the night, sometimes not going to sleep all in the service of preparing myself for the next day, week, month etc. Let me not forget that I stayed at school long after the last bell rang. By January, I felt better prepared, but I still burned the candle at both ends.
It took a couple of years for me to find a permanent teaching assignment. I accepted a couple more part year assignments before taking a break and becoming a substitute last year. Now finally I have accepted a teaching contract months before the new school year. I’m relishing all this time I have for prior preparation!
I’ve learned a great deal in my part year assignments. I must commit to balance and self-care if I want to continue teaching. I’m no longer a work martyr.
I’ve learned that I don’t have to spend inordinate hours planning. I know the standards. I have a framework, class routines, and a vast array of resources. Because I change plans based on observations of students and how well (or not) they understand, meticulously writing everything down to the detail is not an efficient use of time.
This summer as I begin planning, I’m not aiming to plan the whole year like I once dreamed. I’m teaching summer school, reading, and organizing.