17 February 2005

Too Many Pies, Not Enough Fingers

I had another day of professional leave today in order to work with some other teachers of our sophomore honors program. I didn't relish another day away from students, but I do have to admit that the conversation was productive.

Most teachers I know are involved in (too) many things. As if working to ensure that each student---regardless of ability or motivation---can read, write, and do math and science at a proficient level weren't enough, we manage clubs, plan field trips, attend student performances and athletic events, and so on. How some teachers do these things and still manage to have some semblance of home life is a mystery to me.

This year, I am on our school's accreditation committee. I also help with our Sophomore Honors program. Another teacher and I run a recognition program for seniors who have a high GPA, have taken rigorous coursework, and who have completed a project. I am in charge of the academic lettering program. I have four classes of students deserving my attentions. And, I have 6000 more of them and 60 teachers who are supposed to be getting my time 1 hour each afternoon. Not to mention the other work I am doing for the district. In the fall, I am the "spotter" for our home football games (and I was the announcer once). And did I mention I'm one of the mentors for gifted and highly capable students in the building? It's good to be busy, but this year has just been nuts.

Learning to pick your battles is an important part of surviving in education. In my meeting this morning, I realized that it is time for me to scale back. Too many items are drawing my attention and while they are all getting some, I'm not sure I'm giving any the very best that I can. My decision? Even if it means $1500 less in my bank account next year, I'm doing away with the mentoring, the recognition program, and academic lettering. I am also tempted to let go of my involvement in the Sophomore Honors program, which has been a labour of love for me for 8 years now. But there are new things on my horizon and in the meantime, my partner for these activities has become almost impossible to work with. Perhaps it is best to move on to something else.

Stay tuned for some upcoming drama regarding teaching evolution. I have been waiting for someone to squawk about this in our district---since it seems to be such a hot issue these days---and now the cows have come home to roost (or something like that). Whatever happens, I'm sure that it won't be the last battle I'll have on this front. After all, with more "W" and his cronies in D.C. conflicts over curriculum are going to be more and more frequent.

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