Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Teaching Funk

It was a little scary to come back here and realise that I haven't posted anything since September.

Quite frankly, I'm in a teaching funk.

It's strange, because all in all I have a wonderful class, with brilliant parents. We've completed some really cool stuff this year. And there's only a week left of school. Yet I just can't get myself excited - really excited - about school at the moment.

I talked it over with a trusted collegue on Friday and came to some realisations:

I'm at the 5 year point
I am told that this is the point where teachers get dissatisfied. I've been in this teaching business long enough to know something about it, but I'm also at the point where I'm staring down another 30 odd years (give or take) of the same job.

I have an opinion
Oh boy, do I have opinions. And there are times where I'm beginning to say them. Except the admin seems so far away, on a lofty perch somewhere ('that's the way it is, there's no discussion, it's mandated') that there's no way to express those opinions. And I'm not the only one with these problems.

I haven't learned anything new this year
Well I have - I've learned about science teaching and I've learned about curriculum audits and I've done a LOT of professional reading and I took on a practical student and you always learn from them . . . but for the last two years I actually did something - ICT in 2008, gifted and talented and indigenous in 2009 - where I had to complete and hand something in. My study and hard work felt valued. This year, all the reading I've done hasn't felt valued.

I'm not happy with the direction we're heading
A month ago I applied for a job in a prestigeous private school. Although I didn't get the job, I got an interview and an insight into how things could be different. And it saddens me that the public system that I went through and I used to believe in, has strayed so far far away.

I can't count how many meetings I've been to this year where our students have been regarded as pieces of data. They're being judged by their NAPLAN results. We've stopped talking about how to reach the individual child, and instead we're being told what works in 'successful schools'. Next year we're going to have to 'do' certain lessons, even if what we've already been doing has worked. No one is an idividual anymore - not teachers and not students. We're supposed to teach the same way, at the same time, to identical students.

While this may make things easy for the administration (and it looks good to curriculum auditors), it's completely draining if you don't - as teacher or student - meet their definition of the middle ground. If you want to try new ideas, if you want to explore a topic in depth, if you want to give open ended options, if you want to read your own books . . . you won't be right.

How do I pull myself from the 'funk'
This is where it gets hard. I know I'm not at my most effective when I'm feeling like this. I'm more irritable and cranky - and the kids cop it. I'm less motivated to plan interesting lesssons (particularly when I'm spending so much time 'inputting' data) which leads to more disruptive behaviour. I need to do something myself, because that's the only way it'll be effective.

Some thoughts:
  • Renegade teaching - I teach how I teach.
    The joy of often being forgotten in the school is that I could probably get away with this
  • Find the joy in what's happening
    I need to find and celebrate the good parts of each day
  • Keep in contact
    As I got more tied up in what was wrong, I stopped watching twitter or posting - I stepped away from the enthusiastic and experiences PLN I'd built. 
So hopefully, this means I'll be back to posting on a regular basis. I still have plenty to say about reading, and probably some really good rants up my sleeve too :-) 

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A Reader's Community

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Queensland, Australia
A Reader's Community is a place to find ideas, information, resources and recommendations about Reader's Workshop.

This Blog has five main types of posts.

About Reader's Workshop - information about Reader's Workshop in my classroom and how it works

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