Tuesday, November 15, 2016

I am Dying - A Rant

It's year 7. I'm supposed to know what I'm doing. spoiler alert: I don't.

I have been treading water every single school day for the last two years.

Last year, I took on a new prep and a new course - IB Biology. We previously taught it with AP Biology (wrong! - Donald Trump) and finally separated the two, so I started a new IB Biology course. It's a two-year class, but in the transition, we had to offer one section as a double-period course and another section as a single-period, two-year course. Then I also was teaching mixed-level Freshmen Biology (honors and on-level) with a new curriculum that was supposed to be project-based. Because the IB Biology course was only now getting separated from the AP course and we had never really done IB Biology correctly, I pretty much started from scratch and worked my way through it.

I should mention that I personally like starting from scratch. I'm a burn it all down, build it back up type of person. I love that my mark is on our IB Bio course. However, teaching the same course at two different speeds really messed up my mind. Also, while I was building this course, I had no time to learn the how the county wanted to run the Honors/On-level Biology course. I thought I could just go through day by day and read someone else's plan (they laid it out almost by script) and solely worry about IB Biology.

spoiler alert: I couldn't.

Actors can't act if they're only reading the script for the first time, so I'm not sure why I thought I could teach that way.

Oh, I also forgot to mention I started graduate school to pursue a master's in education last year.

So put all of that together, and you get someone who barely held it together. I asked to go part-time mid-year, at the semester break. Then I shed Freshmen Biology and was able to focus on IB Biology and grad school. Things felt doable. But then two months later, my school needed me to be a long-term sub for another teacher and I not only went back to teaching two IB Biologies and Freshmen Biology, I also added on Anatomy and Physiology, which I had never taught before.

Let me tell you, it was an absolute shit show and nobody learned anything, but everyone survived.

This year, I was slated to teach IB Biology 1 and IB Biology 2 (taught the correct way, with some incorrectness of the previous year carrying over). I was also slated to teach Freshmen Biology or Anatomy, but then our AP Biology teacher decided to stop teaching that course and I was asked to pick that up. And so I returned to this never-ending cycle of new courses. People act like it's great to have teachers cycle in and out of teaching classes so we don't get lazy or complacent or bored. I haven't been bored. Teaching something three years in a row isn't boring. It's an opportunity to hone and get better. I think it takes about 3-5 years to get really good at teaching a certain course. I haven't been afforded that luxury.

So this year, I am dying. There isn't enough time or energy in the world to properly plan for three classes and they're all lab sciences which add to the preparation load a more. I'm not doing a good job. I'm barely surviving day to day. Literally 4 out of 5 days of the week, for the last three months, has been a sprint. I want to do better than survive, but at the end of the day, there's not much time or energy for reflection and change of approach. I feel exhausted just describing the situation!

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