A teacher's work is never done....
In a lot of ways I'm like a new teacher. All the experienced teachers have the routine down and work as a well oiled machine with the curriculum, hand-outs, routines, procedures. I've found myself putting in 60 hour weeks just to stay up. I'm buying bins and files and dividers at K-mart to get my system in place and running. It takes too long to go through the requisition, purchase order, plead with the principal for the money, and 1 month wait to get the supplies.
I have also seen the best an the worst of classrooms and I am determined to mimick the former and shun the latter. Sometimes perfectionism is really hard.
I have the oldest and worst classroom furniture because any good stuff was "traded" by some unknown teacher elsewhere in the building that, say, noticed the desk chair in my room was better so over the summer traded up and I got the old one, etc.
My computers all had hard-drive crashes and it took 2 weeks before I was online. I just got my grade program installed last Wednesday so I was going to enter 3 weeks worth of student data this weekend into the program. I could have installed it myself, but didn't have the necessary priviledges and had to wait for the availability of a district tech. Still, the time saved by doing things on the computer is worth the wait over the old gradebook method. The district server is up for maintenance this weekend though and no one is allowed to log on until 8am Monday morning.
I have my lists of English Language Learners, my Special Education students, my students with health issues (asthma..some can have their inhalers on their persons, others in the health office, and I have to know which is which).
I have IEP meetings (Individual Learning Plans) for students needing accommodations or modifications (there is a difference between an accommodation and a modification and I have to make sure I am accommodating instead of modifying, or vice versa).
I am also "learning" how to communicate with my EL (English Learner) students since our school population is growing with students south of the border. I am taking a class for experienced teachers who haven't gone through the latest training on how to "effectively" teach the EL students in a regular classroom. I have spent 6 days of training so far to learn a whole bunch of industry related vocabulary, to talk slowly and deliberately (but NOT more loudly) and with exaggerated body language to make the EL kids more at home. I joked with somebody at yesterday's (yes, Saturday) class that it's taken 6 days of training in the summer and on weekends to have us act like American tourists in a foreign land trying to communicate. Interestingly, the methods taught are what any good, intelligent teacher would already be using to help these kids transition into the English speaking American classroom. Nevertheless the state needs to know I have been trained in their latest methodology, and I need the state's notation on my license that says I have the training.
So I have all my meetings, my trainings, my conferences, back to school night, and a myriad of issues great and small for my 33 to 37 kids (depending on the period). I'm worn out.
What's funny (not funny "HA HA") is that my experience is being repeated thousands of times across the country as the school year starts. I at least have the experience to manage my classroom well and diffuse the "situations" between students well before they become serious issues. Many new teachers have already been thinking they have made a mistake being in the classroom. Statistically half of the new teachers that enter public education will have left the profession within 5 years.
All in all it has been a really good experience for me. Especially now that I am homeschooling my kids. It further strengthens my convictions about homeschooling. All of the methodologies that need to be employed to meet the needs of all the students (gifted, retarded, EL, other-health impaired, average, auditory, visual, kinesthetic, Attention deficit, multi-cultural, motivated, unmotivated, affluent, neglected, impoverished, loud, quiet, traumatized, victimized, loved, unloved, etc.) will inevitably leave some children behind. All methodologies need to be incorporated, but not all work for all kids, and rarely can more than one methodology be used at the same time. That means that for many kids, their learning styles are being addressed only a few minutes out of each hour.
I mentioned this multitude of necessary methodologies conundrum to my table group yesterday as we were discussing methods for assisting EL students. You cannot effectively reach all of the students all of the time. Not nearly as effectively as in the home school environment. They all agreed. They all were frustrated at the enormity of the task to reach such a diversity of students in the classroom. All felt as if they wished they could do more, but do not have the time or stamina to do it all.
The bottom line is, for me, for anyone, is this: can even the best trained and talented public school teacher provide a better education for children in a public classroom as what the loving family can provide for their own children at home? I maintain that the public school system will generally come short for the children in it. Even when there are good and talented teachers in it like me :-)
I wouldn't even have my own children in my classroom with me as the teacher because I know I would be divided in providing instruction different ways to so many students. My kids would come up short, as would everybody else's. No, my kids will be at home where their individual learning styles will be accommodated, and learning customized as only a mother or father could do, in order to train them in the best manner possible. A learning experience so rich, so wonderful, so focused, so intimate, that it makes even the best public education seem outright pathetic.
There is no way the public school teacher can surpass the educational opportunity provided in the loving and disciplined homeschool.
That's not just an opinion, it's a fact.