Sunday, October 14, 2012

Parapraxes (Freudian slip)


So, I just started this new job two weeks ago. It's a doozy, teaching at an alternative high school where the majority of the student body don't work well in a traditional school setting. I'm finding myself teaching students that would normally be kicked out of my classroom, and having to manage their behavior and their abilities in a more flexible manner. Every day I walk the fine line of balance, trying to help motivate students and work with them where they are, while still trying to maintain (or establish) a respectful working environment in the classroom. It is trying. I come home mentally and emotionally exhausted every day. For the past two weeks I've focused on building relationships with my students, learning the ropes of what I do through trial and error (no training here!), and documenting, documenting, documenting! Because of the nature of the work that we do, everything needs to be documented for communication purposes, legal purposes, and in case we get audited in regards to our funding. It is crazy.

Needless to say, I have not done a whole lot of marking since my contract began two Tuesdays ago. I teach the self-paced math class. Normally math is not that bad for marking - students check their answers for homework assignments, I mark those for completion, as well as quizzes and tests. But the way the class is currently set up (and because I'm coming in partway through the school year, I'm keeping it as it is, at least for now), workbooks have been photocopied for students, and when a student has completed a package they hand it in and I am the one to check all of the work. Considering I have 5 different courses running, and students working within the same course are at different places, my marking load is very broad. Anyone who is a teacher knows that this is a huge time suck. For those of you who have never marked anything, I'll give you this one key point: it is far more efficient to mark 50 papers of the same assignment by marking page 1 all at once, and then page 2, etc, than it is to mark separate assignments in their entirety. As the marker, you start to form what is an acceptable answer, what you will give part marks for, and you're able to mark with consistency and be very quick. I look at my pile of marking and all I can think is, this is going to take me two whole days :P And, by a whole day I mean 8 hours of uninterrupted marking.

So, on Friday afternoon I got all my marking piled into one container. I placed on top my special colourful marking pens (hey, you got to make it enjoyable somehow) and my marking guide binders. Then I got my things together and left with only my lunch kit. The realization that I left behind my marking didn't hit me until 930pm that night, and I don't have after hours access to the school yet. Can we say Freudian slip?

Oh, and I left my knitting at my parents this afternoon. I think this evening I'll bake some muffins and cast on a new project. Goodness knows once tomorrow comes I'll be using any spare time to chip away at that marking!


  1. That's a real bummer about having left your marking at school for the weekend. UGH! Because you KNOW it'll still be there for you to do with even less time to do it. Something else that made my stomach drop (as a teacher) was realizing at about 10pm on a Sunday night that I needed to have a test ready to run off on Monday morning for my first period class and I hadn't even started yet. It's Oct 28 as I write this so I'm sending good vibes your way that you've gotten caught up. One more thing, late in my teaching career I read a terrific book by an educator, Ron Morrish, called "With All Due Respect". I cannot recommend it more highly, especially when managing challenging students like you're teaching. If you ever get a chance to attend one of his workshops (he's from Niagara Falls, ON but does a lot of traveling to do PD sessions with teachers and parents) find a way to go. I've given my book away or I'd send it to you but see if you can get your hands on it.

    1. Thanks for the book suggestion (and the advice on my last post topic - pensions). I've ordered the book off Amazon... it looks really good, and I've been searching on some reading to help me with the students I teach. I like how he differentiates between classroom management and discipline. I definitely feel like classroom management is just not cutting it - with a self-paced, alt ed classroom, there's just too much going on all at once! It's really easy to get burnt out. On the marking front, though, I took Friday off and managed to get completely caught up! Kindof sucks that I had to take sick time just to accomplish that, but I did feel much better going into the weekend.

    2. I bought the book and have been reading it! It's great! So to-the-point and well put. I can definitely see applications to both my parenting and my approach as a teacher. I've already had some "aha" moments. Thanks for recommending it!

  2. Good for you, taking the day off to mark. In teaching, mental health is #1. Whatever you have to do to keep your head above water is OK. Glad you're finding the book useful. It honestly revolutionized my approach to teaching and directing my students' behaviour. Hope you are having a wonderful Christmas holiday with your family and enjoying the break from 'the grind'.
    All the best to you in 2013.