Hit the Pause Button

Returning back to the classroom after a 10 day layoff was difficult yesterday. Considering the final 3 days before break included a review day, district assessment, and pre-spring break movie (Transformers – or as I told the students, a movie on Polyhedrons), it’s been a grand total of 13 days since we learned anything new.

Yesterday’s agenda:

1. Overview results of district assessment.

2. Review volume formula of prisms and cylinders.

3. Introduction to volume formula of pyramids and cones.

Straightforward enough. I knew it’d be a difficult today so in the morning I promised myself that I’d go in with a good attitude and that the day ‘is gonna be alright.’ I know other teachers can definitely relate to that 1st day after a break. All my Oakland Teaching Fellow colleagues dreaded the day.

I thought it’d be fine, but it wasn’t. Classes were difficult. Students were filling each other in on their breaks. It was REAL difficult to keep things in order. Students did things I KNEW they’d do yet when they actually did it, it bothered me like no other.

I forgot what it meant to be an authoritarian. I forgot how often a teacher must resort to authoritarian antics to keep a class in order. I forgot how to discipline. And, as I went through my lesson unorganized and unknowing of what should come next, I forgot how much time is required to construct a thorough, well-planned lesson.

Lastly, allergies kicked in. Allergies + teaching = hell. I would be in the front of the room, instructing the class, going through slides, answering questions, teary-eyed, nose-stuffed, would have to pause just to blow my nose. “Try out this problem real quick as I clear up my sinuses. Sorry.” “Mr. G, did I do this right?” “Let me see, yeah.. wait hold on.. A-Chooo! Yeah, looks good. But, you know.. you could also….” It was hard.

Tough day.

So, cowering behind the rationalization that allergies are preventing me from teaching effectively, I hit the pause button. Sometimes the pause button is necessary in life. Sometimes you need a day to recuperate and regather yourself. Because let’s be honest, sometimes this teaching life is unsustainable. As one edublogger noted, handing full teaching responsibilities to a first-year teacher is irrational.

Now, as I sit and think about the next 10 weeks before summer’s start, I realize that I must get back into the a flow and rhythm of planning, teaching, grading, a flow and rhythm that sometimes seems unsustainable but can be wonderful and fulfilling all at the same time. The flow and rhythm that is my life, that is teaching.

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