15 January 2005

Gotta love a 3-day weekend. :)

I brought home a ton of work to do over the MLK holiday, all of it having to do with the district part of my job. I must admit that there are many days when I long for a "regular" job---some sort of role where I show up, do my job, and come home without homework.

The general perception is that teachers get summers (equating to 3 months) off, in addition to a significant amount of holiday time throughout the year. This is not completely accurate. It is true that teachers usually get time off at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other national holidays. And it is time off that has been scheduled for us---we don't have to ask for it. As for summers? It's not three months: it's usually about 6 weeks. Six weeks? That is still a lot of vacation time...except for a couple of things. First of all, many teachers are required to take courses (on their own time and at their own expense) in order to keep their certification. I don't know that there are many professions (such as doctors and lawyers) which make that requirement. Secondly, an average work week for me is roughly 60 hours. If the "average" work week is supposed to be 40 hours, then I work the equivalent of 54 40-hour work weeks per year---no vacation time included. "Summer" doesn't even cover the "comp time" I might be entitled to.

Now, it's true that I don't have to work so hard. I could just put in the hours I'm paid for and call it good. I'd get paid the same either way. I've known several teachers throughout my career who had figured out that much. They'd put the students' assignment on the overhead, then sit back at their desks and read the newspaper or something. But I can't bring myself to do that.

In my district role, I am assigned to helping science educators and students at 6 different secondary schools. This roughly equates to 50 teachers and 6000 students. This makes me a little more high-profile than just being a teacher and so I can't slack off, even if that was my predeliction.

Which brings me back to my weekend. The length of my "to do" list is frightening. I have several small requests from schools and individual teachers to fulfill. It has always been my personal policy to take care of these requests as soon as possible. I want my colleagues to know that I value what they do in the classroom and that I am available to support them as best I can. This means doing things efficiently and with integrity.

Meanwhile, I am in the throes of planning for our Scope and Sequence meetings. We are (finally) going to lay out what will be taught and when. These are the first large-scale meetings I have been asked to lead and the content represents the most important decisions made in this district (for science) in many years. It is crucial that they be the best that they can. I have worked on building trust with other schools in the district. These meetings could well be the final part of the foundation needed to move forward as a team.

I have been consulting with someone at our Central Orifice about these meetings. She is a staff development specialist who knows about group dynamics and running meetings. So far, I've really been struggling. I've asked for help with several items (how to set group norms, establish a common vision, etc.). Sigh. I'll keep forging ahead. I do so want this to be good and for people to feel good about what we're doing.

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