The last two days have been nice — an inservice day followed by a work day, otherwise known as two days off from having students — but today it was back to reality, and I must admit I'm currently still a little muddled about where exactly I'm going.
The priority first quarter (which we just completed) seemed to be survival. Now (starting second quarter) I feel like I should know where I'm going, but sadly I don't think that's reality yet. To get there, I feel like I need another work day or two, but unfortunately our next one isn't until January——a long way still off!
I hate walking into my language arts classroom and only being able to see one or two days ahead. Teaching with workshops, I feel like I need a sense of the big picture, a way to figure out how to make sure everything we need to talk about gets fit in. The number of days, hours and minutes we have together as a reading/writing community are so few and precious that I want to be sure each and every one is used well. However, in truth, I'm afraid (particularly this year) that that is not always happening.
I finished reading through a number of students' self-evaluations from first quarter this weekend and minus one student (who obviously got it) and a couple who had some promising answers, the majority had very little to tell me when asked questions that guided them to describe some of what they had learned. It worries me because at times I feel like I'm failing them as a teacher. With the time constraints and larger numbers, our workshops are running, but I don't think they are running well. I'm really struggling to find time to conference regularly with everyone. I'm trying to cover whole-class issues in mini-lessons, but right now am finding the areas of critical need greatly outnumber lesson time. Even the classroom doesn't work to our advantage — I never imagined myself complaining about having too big of a room, but I think this one is. When I'm in one corner, it seems like there's always an issue popping up across the room (talking, kid off task, etc.) and the continual need for check-in with so many students is really limiting the amount of conferencing on actual writing or reading thoughts that can get accomplished.
I'm really hoping that my feelings of current failure are imaginary, but I don't know. I know I'm tough on myself — I'm probably my worse critic, but I know it IS a fact that we're so much further behind this year than I've been at this point other years, and that does worry me.
BUT, as I did tell my students today as I gave them time to reorganize their folders, it is a new quarter...a new beginning...a fresh start, and maybe things will turn around. I least I'll hope!