Running on Empty

“I don’t know how to tell you all just how crazy this life feels
I look around for the friends that I used to turn to to pull me through
Looking into their eyes I see them running too”

I have had this blog post bouncing around in my brain for the past two weeks, but honestly, I’ve just been too exhausted to sit down and write it.

February dawned in Western NY with a major “lake effect snow event”, and we were lucky enough to have a Superintendent’s Day. So, on a day when no one should have been driving, my colleagues and I trudged into the school for some “quality” professional development. We had been told that we would have all our questions about our APPR Plan answered. We were told that we discover that there is really nothing to fear.

As we waded through the 26 page Danielson rubric (2007), I looked around the room and saw in the eyes of my colleagues nothing short of a look of utter exhaustion. Glassy-eyed, we were instructed to note the difference between “effective” and “highly effective”. We were told that our lessons will be scripted because our observations have to have “evidence” of our teaching.

Our observation cycle will involve a pre-observation conference, the formal observation, and a post-observation conference. I grew weary just listening to this – already my head spinning about the paperwork that needs to be completed. Additionally, we will have an unannounced observation, and a collection of “artifacts” to submit before the end of the year.

All of this is just for our 60 points. We have another 40 points coming from individual SLOs or District-wide SLOs based on State Exams. The charts, the graphs, the DATA was shared with us about how those scores will be generated.

For the past two weeks, I’ve watched as my colleagues pass in the hallways asking “Is it Friday yet?” on Mondays. I’ve listened to the reports of the lone Principal scheduling back-to-back observations and through no fault of his, arriving late for an observation and missing the entire opening. Of course, not to worry, we can discuss that at our post-observation conference.

In the meantime, I’ve sat at an RTI meeting as well: the meetings that suck the life out of you as you sit and rehash an intervention that hasn’t worked YET for a student. As we sit and look at STAR Assessment scores, there is the ever-present feeling that I am failing this child. I should be doing MORE, MORE, MORE to get those scores up.

Throw in a Board of Education meeting with the news that we are about $300,000 short,and the rumors of who’s being cut start to swirl. Good people become paranoid, fearful, and start to name the names of people they think could be cut instead of them. The questions about the viability of our district resurface and our Board sits and says “We’re going to TRY to look down the road to get in better financial shape.” Would they accept that as my answer at a post-observation conference?

And, if it weren’t bad enough that we’ve had grey skies, snow, cold, and enough bad news to last a year – toss in 100 Days of School celebrations, Valentine’s Day, and one day when half my class was absent.

Everyone – the adults and the children are sicker this year. Maybe it’s because the flu is worse, but I’d be willing to bet it’s because we’re all exhausted. Teach better! Learn faster! Do this! Do that! And, do it to a level of DISTINCTION! (although as we’ve been told – Highly Effective is a place we’ll visit, not live in)

I come home and I’m asleep by 8 PM, waking at midnight and then trying to get some sleep after that. My children, who are in high school, spend time at sports practices and games and then come home to at least 2 hours of homework EVERY NIGHT!

There’s no more gas in my tank – I am running on empty and my friends are too……………

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One thought on “Running on Empty

  1. lauriecq

    You have summed up our world so perfectly. We are trying valiantly to NOT let it suck the life out of us. We WANT to keep it from interfering with our day-to-day interactions with students. But, it is impossible. Even when we put in more time outside of the school day to get the paperwork accomplished, the structure of our day is changing so that it fits the expectations. Many teachers are hoping that “this too shall pass” but there is too much private money invested in this for that to happen.

    We can only support each other right now, and speak up as often as possible. THANK YOU for doing that!!

    with love,
    Laurie
    http://www.heartsforteaching.com
    http://www.EmbeddedReading.com

    Reply

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