Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Over-extended. And Loving It.

Blog posting.
Weekly eligibility.
Dentist appointment.
Kindergarten registration.
6:45 student review.
2:30 PLC.
Copies. (Xerox down)
ILP's and MAP scores.
MUSE layout.
5 unexcused absences to check (nobody came for make-up work).
PowerPoint presentation to create.

Stack of papers to grade - another late night.

Sound familiar? Typical week? Typical day? I'm not complaining. Seriously. This is my life, and I love it. But after 12 years of teaching, I'm STILL learning to cope with the mixed load of professional and personal responsibilities. Nothing can be dropped (as a matter of fact, more gets added). Nor do I want to drop anything - minus the dentist appointment. It still hurts.

I don't know about you, but even with all the stress and anxiety, when I pull into this parking lot, I feel energized (even without the caffeine, though it never hurts. Just ask my students and Ms. Korn - they'll tell you.) The goals of our chosen profession - college prep, love of learning, life skills, rigor, relevance, relationships, positive decision making - continue to push me to be better than I should have the right to be.

5:00 am comes early. 11:00 pm is a long way off. But I could not ask for a better way to fill the time. Only one question. Any concrete task management or stress reduction ideas?


Blogger ChingyenG said...

I have always found FAC's helpful in reducing stress. For the lack of a better word, "misery" does love company. A bunch of people sit around to share triumph or frustration so you know you are not alone in whatever you are dealing with. That's very therapeutic, in my opinion. After that you go home to enjoy your weekend with your family. Come Monday, it starts all over again.

With that said, FAC anyone? :-)

3:52 PM  
Blogger Mwiebe said...

This may sound strange coming from a first year teacher, but I try to work hard enough while I'm here that I don't take any work home. This doesn't always work of course, but ususally it does. When I'm at home (especially weekends) I really try to not think about school at all. That one is almost impossible because I am always seeing things that give me ideas about lessons, but I at least make the conscious decision to not think about any of the stressors associated witht the job. I do find myself talking about work without realizing it at times, so when that happens I try to be really conscious about what I am saying to others. If things are negative, I change topic to talk about positives. After all, if we only say negative things about our profession, why are we doing it?
Realize that I am not a Language Arts teacher and I don't have to read hundreds of essays. If that were the case I would definitely be taking work home with me.
I have also found that skiing all weekend is a great way to relax, refresh and clear my head. Let it snow!!

9:46 AM  
Blogger Caroline S said...

I live the pace. I find the more I do the more organized I get. The students energize me, putting in grades take it out of me. Luckly the students energy helps with the later

11:17 AM  
Blogger K Schneider said...

As the wife of "over extended and loving it" I can attest that this is true every day (with the help of a little morning coffe). We pull into the parking lot and the energy seems to flow from the minivan. I feel so fortunate to work with Michael so he can be the first person to say "have a great day" and mean it. We say it every day and then I pass it along to someone else, and mean it.
As for combating the stress I'm learning this semester to leave my office for a few minutes when I feel bogged down. I stroll out to the cafeteria and say "hello" to a student or two that I know. These relationships with my students truly help to energize me and allow me the opportunity to return to the grading, planning and writing of those pesky IEPs.

Although, I do like Ching-Yen's suggestion too! I feel that our relationships with our peers are as vital as our relationships with our students. I feel very fortunate to already have many "friends" on staff that I can go to, to celebrate successes or discuss issues.

And I try to keep the McDonalds campaign at the forefront of my brain everyday - "Smiles are free" (and infectious).

9:16 AM  
Blogger Ms. Fine said...

Michael -
I think you raise a wonderful question and I'm anxious to see the suggestions that come with it. I agree with Kimber in that leaving the office and visiting with student’s relives stress. Having the opportunity to talk with someone and ask about their lives and focus on something other then the "stuff" we are doing is truly nice. Ultimately I love kids and that is why I'm a teacher. Using what I love to help energize me and revitalize me is one way in which I reduce my stress.
Another way in which I deal with my stress in through collaboration with colleagues. Sitting down with other people and sharing my frustrations or problems helps me reduce stress. Having someone else listen and either empathize or just listen has been wonderful. I’m not sure this helps but there you go!!!!

10:58 AM  
Blogger Krueger said...

Stress, stress, everywhere! I know that we all live our own hectic lives, but I've discovered one thing that really helps me deal with stress. I set aside about 10 minutes each day for me. I usually do this at night when the kids and husband are already in bed. I just take a few deep breaths, reflect on my day, and be thankful for what I have.

11:42 AM  
Blogger Cheryl S. said...

I'm exactly where you are on this Michael. This is my last year of a 3-yr graduate school program which required full-time work during the program in order to attain all the practicum hours. It was a juggling nightmare, but I am getting better at juggling! Actually, technology has been a huge help with managing all the to-do lists and schedules (home, grad school, 2 schools for work, etc.). My Blackberry has become my constant companion - who never forgets to remind me of the various meetings and to-do I just have to pray that Blackberry doesn't become extinct! Despite the craziness of the juggling, I love what I have chosen to do for a career & wouldn't change a thing! I try to handle the stress by fitting in some "get to" activities with the "have to" activites :-)

2:44 PM  
Blogger MickiL said...

I have enjoyed reading the ideas on stress reduction! I think Michael did a great job of summing up how most of us feel. We love our job and the satisfaction it brings us, but truly it is an enormous work load to juggle. This is my ninth year of teaching but my first year at AHS. I forgot how difficult it is to be new and go through the curriculum the first year. However, I know I am a better teacher for being here and being exposed to so many new ideas. Melissa and Ching-Yen both mentioned the value of colleagues. My stress relief has also come through converstations with colleagues. I feel very lucky to work in a department where we laugh a lot, and make many trips to Starbucks. I have also taken advantage of the weight room after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I would reccommend that to everyone. Jerry is willing to help you set up a program. When I go the weight room after school I usually get the opportunity to talk with members of the staff I would normally not see during the day, like Linda and Karen from attendance. Also, there is a group of us from science and foreign language that run after school. It allows me to get outside and enjoy the afternoon while listening to others who have a similar experience as I do during the day. Take note that I said listen and not talk, I am usually winded and can only nod in reply! If anyone wants to run with us you are all welcome!

9:07 AM  
Blogger Kitch said...

I also feel that Michael did a perfect job of summing up how we feel. With a rambunctious toddler at home, I often feel like sitting for ten minutes is a vacation. My stress relief comes from two things: keeping things in perspective, and chosing my battles. If my two year old really wants to wear the same Dora shirt all week, so be it.

7:07 AM  
Blogger jaredr said...

Michael, sounds like the affirmations are working! But as you are in the middle of it all, grading, meetings, etc, are you still "loving it"? I get energized several different ways. New lessons that work well in class, helping kids and seeing kids learn difficult concepts, seeing the lightbulb turn on, going to conferences to learn new things myself. The school year is a long haul and staying organized and on top of every class, incorporating these new lessons as we go along, it is difficult to manage. And you have to love it to keep it going well. Good luck and I'm interested to see other responsed and ideas on this subject.

7:58 AM  
Blogger Sally G said...

I find myself in the unusual position of having more free time here than I ever have had as a fulltime high school teacher. For the past ten years I taught six classes five days a week with one fifty minute planning period. As a speech / English teacher, I usually had a minimum of four preps. The afternoons were filled with either coaching kids in speech (with 50+ on squad) or rehearsing a school play or musical.

Now I have "unscheduled hours" which I fill with planning and grading instead of having to cart much of it home. My speech club here is a comfortable 20-25 kids who are commited and self-motivated, so working with them is a pleasure, not a chore. I no longer direct plays. (To my Louisiana past students and colleagues, I am happy to report I don't miss it!) In short, as busy as I am, I feel like I have received a reprieve. I LOVE it here!

3:06 PM  

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