What to say about this week?
Every week, our Upper School Director sends out a weekly missive: “Coming Attractions.” In it, there are some shout-outs for big events and successes from the past week, a rundown of events coming in the next couple of weeks (meetings, deadlines for grades, schedule changes), and often a few links to articles addressing “current issues in the field.”
In last week’s “Coming Attractions,” he linked to this article about fair compensation for teachers: Are Teachers Overpaid? A Response to Critics. The article itself says nothing new, and is not even worth the energy it would require to form a coherent response. I only mention it because it was constantly in the back of my mind as I had one of the most jam-packed, exhausting, but ultimately satisfying weeks I’ve had in a while. THIS is the week I would have liked the author of one of these articles to just follow me around. (Or anyone, really, who has a doubt about what a cognitively challenging, physically exhausting, emotionally draining job teaching can be.) At any given moment, every teacher in my school is doing at least 7 different jobs at once – pulling off this insane, beautiful balancing act that requires skill, precision, good humor, and tough love. We are constantly accountable to our students, our colleagues, parents, administrators: as teachers in the classroom, as role models in the school community, as coaches on the field, and as advisors guiding our students towards greater levels of maturity, curiosity, and empathy.
I don’t trust my memory enough to try to list out all of the things that made this week such a perfect representation of all that I (we) do. It’s not that any one moment was so special, anyway. A smattering: I was observed by the Upper School Director, met to discuss the class he observed, sent several emails to parents and colleagues about students who are struggling and those who are succeeding. I designed and prepared lessons (rational functions in Algebra 2 Trig, graphing trig functions in Precalculus), copied (endless) copies (only one of which ended up with every other page upside down, oops), gave (pop) quizzes, and graded quizzes. I worked with students one-on-one and helped groups of students after school each day – from different classes, with different needs (all the while lamenting my lack of cloning machine.) I stayed at work late Monday night for the Senior Fiesta dinner, stayed late Tuesday to try to catch up (and had a nice conversation with a coworker I hadn’t seen in a while), stayed late last night in semi-frustrated “will I ever finish all that I have to do” anxiety mode, and spent tonight seeing one of my senior advisees (and several of my other students) playing Ice Hockey against our big rivals. (Just got home. We won.) I started working on my variety show number with Lisa and Molly, spilled coffee on myself, talked to seniors about college, advised my senior project mentees about putting together their project proposal. I met to discuss the Red Cross blood drive that my advisory is organizing in March, brainstormed with a colleague about the use of QR codes in the classroom, and found out more details about the Model UN trip I am chaperoning in February. I tracked down some little whiteboards to use during a lesson (and managed to escape the clutches of the math storage closet full of dismembered mannequins fully unharmed!) I discovered that trig is full of SO MANY TEACHER TRAPS (“period,” “full cycle,” and heaven forbid you leave a letter out of secx.) I laughed more than I have in a while at things like “you might not graduate,” my entire Blue period class singing in unison to Taylor Swift while working on whiteboards around the room, and the “flo’ squad” (tipping back in your chair? you get to sit on the flo’.)
Our job is exhausting. But I can’t lose sight of the fact that it is also rewarding and powerful. And on this Friday night at the end of a long week, even with the prospect of spending the weekend fighting YET ANOTHER cold (third one this year), I can’t help feeling the full impact of that.
Damn it. I love what I do.