30 August 2009

"Miss Newman, I have a question!"

For those of you who may not have known, I started teaching school two weeks ago. It is exhausting for more than one reason. The hours alone are hard because I have never, ever, been a morning person, and I hate going to bed early. I have still found, thus far, that it is something that I mostly enjoy. It is a job that allows me a certain degree of freedom. I get to talk about books all day, which is great. I get to organize and color code and, most importantly, I get the chance to help (hopefully) some students believe a little more in themselves than they would have if they hadn't been in my class. It's frightening and exciting and fun and obnoxious and any number of things all in one day. But, like I said, I mostly like it.

There is one thing that tends to frustrate me more than other things, though, and that is the repetition. The school I am working at was shortsighted enough not to give their students planners. I don't understand this. When I was in school we were given planners every year starting in 5th or 6th grade so that we could learn to write down our assignments. It's no wonder, really, that so many of my students forget to turn things in: they have no where to write it down.

Even so, I do what I can to remind them. We have certain due dates that happen every week. We have a vocabulary test every Thursday. They have a reading log due every Friday. I keep both of these due dates on the board all week in red so that they are seen. We repeat these due dates before they leave class.

We do this repetition with lots of things. Papers I hand out. Worksheets. Procedures. We repeat over and over again because there is always someone spacing out or not paying attention.
And yet there are still questions about things we've reviewed. "Wait, what am I supposed to do with this worksheet?"/"We had a reading log due today?! You never told me! I never got one of those logs!" The impatient part of me wants to take that student to the board and make them point out where I write down assignments every day so that they can see it. I want to tell them that it is not my job to give them worksheets whenever they miss them, but theirs. I want to start charging a dime for every worksheet I have to re-give.

But then that little voice in my head that sounds like Liam Neeson says "Joni. . . how often do I have to repeat things for you?" And then, feeling both guilty and humbled, I repeat directions again because it is not fair of me to be impatient with my poor, overwhelmed brood after only a few weeks of new responsibility. They will learn to take directions better, and I will learn to give them more efficiently. And in the mean time, I will learn to take directions better myself.

(Small side note: I have also started an anonymous teacher blog that I update somewhat more frequently than this one. If you are interested in reading said anonymous blog and promise not to give me away so that I don't get sued and all that jazz, let me know, and I would be happy to send you the link.)


Brad and Kimberly said...

Joni I am so with you. I even have my students repeat the directions to me and they still come up and ask me where they need to turn in the test! I am loving it though. So so much. I hope you are too.

Rebecca O'Bryan said...

You know the Utah budget, planners for everyone would probably just be excessive. Although I certainly remember receiving one (and hardly ever using it at the time). But listening to your concerns makes me wonder if I was like that...

Deborah said...

Joni, I miss you!! Reading your blog reminds me just how much! As I was reading, it was almost like you were right here talking to me. I could picture perfectly the expression on your face and hear the tone of your voice; you are a very descriptive writer. I'm glad to hear the teaching is going well. Hang onto your patience and keep smiling!!