The Life of Bon: Some thoughts on teaching

Friday, November 04, 2016

Some thoughts on teaching

I used to call these posts "What We Did in Class this Week"  I feel like it should be "What we did in class this year" this time around.  So much to say about school and I haven't said one thing this whole year.  Well here goes!


Maternity dresses on repeat!  This one is from Old Navy, cardigan is from J. Crew (two years ago?), shoes are from Gap (also probably two years ago, but in general I LOVE Gap's flat selection).  I hope you're not sick of the high school pregnant bathroom selfie yet- we got 13 more weeks of these bad boys! (All high school pregnant bathroom selfies can be found in all their glory on my instagram account @thelifeofbon)


I am teaching four classes every other day.  I teach two AP Literature classes in the morning, scarf down my lunch in thirty minutes, and then teach two Honors 11 English in the afternoon.  Each class is 85 minutes long.  School starts at 7:55 and it gets out at 2:25.  I only teach every other day because our high school is on a block schedule and that means I can teach these four classes and then on the other days, I just don't come in!  Instead I stay home, take June to the park, work on our small business, make dinner.  It's awesome and a total dream.  I wish every woman who wanted to could have a schedule like this.  I hope I live in a day where employers everywhere value their female employees enough to provide part time work, onsite day care, and maternity leave for all women.  For me it is the difference maker in being able to continue to work professionally without being overcome with mom guilt.

Because I teach four classes straight, the days I work end up feeling quite chaotic.  A full time teaching schedule is to teach 6 periods and have 2 periods of prep time- teach 3 and prep 1 each day.  The four in a row means I go without the prep period, and it can leave me feeling way burnt out and stretched pretty thin.  After last year I promised promised promised myself I wouldn't do it again, but because of the way the numbers shook out at our school it was either that or cram 60 AP Lit students into one period so.... four classes a day it is!

To be honest, I feel like I am at a bit of a crossroads with teaching- trying to figure out exactly the role I want it to have in my future.  We feel so grateful for our business venture and it has been able to replace Greg's full time teaching income.  If I quit teaching part time and spent that time marketing and working on our business, I feel confident that I could replace my teaching income as well.  I have so many small business ideas, but I just don't have the energy or time to do them because I am devoting so much time to teaching.

BUT I devote the time to teaching because I honestly love LOVE teaching.  I really enjoy working on our small business too, but I wouldn't say that making earrings quite carries the satisfaction or fulfillment that teaching does.  When I'm teaching I really do feel like I'm making a difference, contributing to the world, making a positive impact on teenagers.  I love getting to share my passion for literature and writing.  I love kids.  Analyzing Shakespeare and acting out battle scenes from Lord of the Flies and showing students how to effectively write arguments- it is everything I ever wanted from a job.  I honestly feel so lucky to have had the 7 years of teaching that I have had.  Making necklaces is rewarding and fulfilling in a different way- it's rewarding to help provide for a family, to work with Greg, to make and pass entrepreneurial goals.  It's fun to be our own bosses.  But I don't exactly feel like I am contributing to the overall good of society by making and selling jewelry.  And if I'm really being frank with you, I don't even necessarily feel like it takes unique talent or ability.  With a little training anybody could easily do what Greg and I do in our shop. Whereas I feel like teaching needs me specifically- who I am and my unique talents and skills- on the front lines.   If I quit making jewelry, somebody else would make it instead and the world would continue on in pretty much the same fashion.  If I quit teaching there isn't someone waiting in the wings with that same passion to take my place.

But on especially busy weeks I feel the pull toward leaving teaching.  I could be done with this and have so much extra time for my family, my home, my blog, my business.  I would feel so much more balanced!  On days like yesterday, when we have pointless meetings and are introduced to new ways to evaluate teachers and new programs that we all know will last max two years, I feel like I have one foot out the door.  The very bottom line is that I absolutely absolutely love teaching.  I love the kids, I love the content, and I love everything that is happening in my little second floor classroom.  I don't love all of the core.  English has shifted over the past five years away from creative writing and literature to technical writing, nonfiction reading, rhetoric.  This stuff doesn't speak to me on the same level that the good old fashioned reading books and writing stories does.

I don't like the constant push to collaborate,  I don't like the incessant meetings just to have meetings or the tests just to give tests.  Somewhere I feel like we've maybe lost sight of the bottom line of education- what are we trying to accomplish here?  It ends up feeling like a rat race followed by a horse and pony show followed by one big hoop jump.  Instead of giving me extra time to create engaging lessons and grade my AP papers, I spend two early mornings a week with other teachers, analyzing and collecting data to send to the district, creating more and more "formal assessments".  Whether or not the district actually looks at this data is a mystery to us all.  The assessments we end up changing or throwing out every two years and then we start all over again.  I survive these meetings with the help of fellow like minded teachers- who grumble about the many hoop jumps, who sometimes sluff the meetings altogether, but then go to their classrooms and kick butt teaching with passion and love.  Most days I just try my hardest to ignore legislators and curriculum specialists and lock myself in my room so I can teach my kids The Kite Runner.

Which reminds me... I need to tell you what I'm actually teaching these days!  But that will be a post for another day.  I did just finish Kite Runner with my AP kids and it was a profoundly moving experience for me, and I think for them too.  Reading the book is powerful, teaching it was insane.  At the end of the day I am so grateful for these little tikes and how eager they are to learn.  Sharing literature with them really is a dream for me.  Hopefully I can figure out a way to keep that dream going.

As always, thank you for reading!  You guys are the bomb.  And sorry for the low frequency of posts- again, I'm hoping come winter I can really get my hibernate on and get back to more consistent posting around here.

And I'll leave you a picture of my adorable students getting their brainstorm on.  Follow me on snapchat (@thelifeofbon) for the fun behind the scenes stuff that happens at school.

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