Time After Time
(I totally hearted Cyndi Lauper back in the day…)
Scratch that. Time in a public school.
Talk about one royal clusterf*ck. Am I right?
I mean, you either never have enough of it to get everything done, or everyone wants a piece of it, or there’s so much of it that the clock could not be moving more slowly and you swear that someone has messed with your second hand! I’VE RUN OUT OF THINGS TO TALK ABOUT AND IT HASN’T MOVED!
Or maybe that’s just me.
It seems like time never is on my side. There are the mornings that fly by and you think, “Holy crap! We have got to get our behinds to lunch STAT!” And there are those days when every specialist, administrator, staff developer and any other individual who doesn’t actually have to practice what they preach is telling you how much time you have to spend on each subject, yet hasn’t stopped to realize that WHEN YOU ADD UP ALL THEIR DEMANDS IT EQUALS MORE TIME THAN PHYSICALLY EXISTS IN A SCHOOL DAY! And then (Yes, there’s more) there are are those days when you speed through your afternoon and realize that you still have another half hour before it’s time to pack up and you’re wondering if you can possibly stretch out packing up to take that long.
Teachers have to be INSANELY CREATIVE at fitting it all in. I mean, we are like artists, contortionists, human pretzels who bend and mold time in crafty ways to get everything done because at the end of the day it is ALL UP TO US.
Last week, I saw a genius bulletin board made by a fourth grade teacher who had combined geography, writing, and social studies content into one big project in order to get it all done. The more she told me about her project, the more respect I had for teachers who are so dedicated to not putting their heads down and crying from all the pressure. (Although, I have not been immune to a little after school cry fest from time to time…)
All of this has led me to the following conclusion:
Schools are time sucks.
(Is that even grammatically correct?)
(But you know what I mean, right?)
And on top of all the aforementioned Time Traps, there is the After School Chit Chat. I am an expert in this particular Time Trap because I have been on both sides of this tricky, tricky little fence. It always seems like the days when you mountains of paperwork and a huge science something to set up for and oh yeah, like a bajillion copies to make are the same days when everyone (And I mean EVERYONE!) wants to stop by your room to gossip/chat/blow off some steam. Enter the After School Chit Chat Clusterf*ck. It’s a slippery slope, because a) you have TOTALLY been the chatter and understand where this need to stall going back to one’s room comes from, b) you are good friends with the chatter and want to be there for them and c) you don’t want to come off as a total b*tch. So what do you do? Shut the door? Turn off your lights? Pack everything up and just take it home to do there? Give in and chat?
Usually, I gave in. I chatted. I listened. I nodded at the gossip. Because, really? Teachers have to be there for each other, even if it means that pile of tests has to wait another day. Super colleagues are nothing without their other Super Colleagues and so we give in to the chatting.
Man, I miss it.
Come by and chat anytime, Mrs. Mimi. My husband (who teachers at the same school I do) often calls me Gabby McChatterington. I'm cool wid dat :).
I try to limit my chatter to before school and lunch time… also recess if I don't get the stink eye from the Recess Nazi… I try to bolt as soon as the kids leave most days because as much as I love my class, I love my dog just a little bit more. 🙂
I would definitely agree with you about time never being on a teacher's side. I'm a K-5 ESL/ELL (pull out and co-teaching)teacher, and I spend each day at a running pace from one group to another. I dream about having enough time to teach each topic thoroughly. I'm big on depth over breadth, but there is just so muc breadth.
I am usually caught in the time trap by my 5th graders. Out of all my groups, these kids are masters at getting me off topic. They know that I will always answer their questions, so they ask me all kinds of crazy stuff that is only vaguely related to the topic at hand. For example, we're writing memoirs right now, and this results in lots of sharing. For every topic I give them, I must personally give my own answer. This morning, it was "Did you ever get in trouble when you were in school?" Boy, did that spark some discussions! Their writing was far richer after our sharing session, but time flew.
Our school just added an extra hour of instructional time, and it still never feels like enough time.
We have back-to-back specials on Fridays where we are supposed to finish gym at the same time we start art, AND the gym teacher makes kids take their shoes off if they don't have special gym shoes. In the midst of a transition with no time built in to get all the way across the school, we have kids scrambling to put shoes and socks on and then to get drinks because they're hot after gym.
The best way I've seen to creatively fit everything in is to use cross-curricular units. Unfortunately, we have mandated schedules like one 90-minute block of reading and only reading each day. It makes integration way tougher.