Saturday, 7 November 2015

Trying new things in a broken system

At the beginning of this week, I walked into the office with my October report in hand to talk to my administrators. We went over the report together, as we always do, and had a great conversation about the library program and the collaboration that is going on in the building. At the end of the conversation, I was asked if I was happy with the direction the library was going and if there was anything administration could do to help the library program and/or my own professional growth. Wow.

I thought about it then and I continue to think about it. I know that this year has been the busiest in my teaching career. I come home every day exhausted and most Fridays I'm battling a headache. Classes are packed with 30 students. The students have anxiety, or behaviour issues or things at home are falling apart. Whatever the case, there are more students who have very complex stories and it is hard to know them all. Our student population is up from 680 last year to 740 this year, so there are many students I don't know, and often the new students are either a handful or fall through the cracks of the system. Student apathy is rampant and parental support of the educational system barely exists. Teachers are stressed and no one has time - to breath, to mark, to plan, to talk, or to do anything other than struggle to stay afloat.

With all the stresses of the daily grind increasing, sometimes it is hard to look at my own professional growth without it being tainted but my frustrations with the system. But when admin asked me how I was doing, I realized that I am doing okay. I seem to have rediscovered my path and am pushing myself to try new things. The last few weeks have seen me present at the BCTLA conference, moderate my Twitter chat #yabookchat, draft up a lesson and collaboratively teach it with the IT teacher, book a virtual field trip, and book talk cookbooks to the Foods 9 classes. On Monday, I am trying an online quiz that I created in Jupiter Grades and am hoping works. I have plans this week to sit down and collaborate with the IT teacher again and I need to chat with the shop teachers and see if there's something collaborative we could come up with. I also have a list of potential project ideas from Friday's planning session for Science 7, Social Studies 8, Math 9, Science 9 and Social Studies 9 that I need to sit down and think about. 

Coming up on the halfway mark of my career, I'm frustrated with the broken system in BC that teachers are working too hard to keep together. I simply cannot fathom how I am going to make it through the second half of my career with the increases in workload and stress. But I am satisfied with my own growth and realize I still have so much more to learn in the years ahead.

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