Early spring can be rough for high school teachers. The students have registered for their classes, and the sections are decided. Then we have the talk: What do you want to teach next year? How many sections? Which off periods do you want? I”m 48 years old, but this process turns me into a defensive kid on the playground shouting, “That’s not fair,” before anyone has started playing. What if I have 3 preps? What if I have to take on any new preps? These are high stakes. The difference will affect how much time and energy I have left to spend with my family. Right now I think I know what I will be teaching next year, but they have to build the schedule first to see if it works. So I wait.
Besides talking about schedules for next year, this week we were reminded that we were losing our desktop computers in the classroom. We also just found out that we must surrender the Ipads they gave each one of us two years ago to make a cart for check-out. And one more thing. We learned this week that we will be moving to a 5/7 schedule next year from our current 6/8 schedule. That’s a lot of change to stomach.
After the schedules are finalized, the bloodiest battle ensues. Classroom assignments. We don’t have enough for each teacher to have his/her own classroom, so many people have to travel. I traveled for my first 5 years here, and I know I am a better teacher when I can stay in one place. And, some rooms are better than others. Some are bigger, some are quieter, and one lacks windows. We are like the monkeys in an overcrowded cage, hostile and violent waiting for the poop to start flying.
My better self considers offering to give up my classroom to a new teacher, because I can probably handle it better. Or, I could choose to take on an unwanted class or an extra prep for the same reason. But my better self generally stays pretty quiet when it’s time to make the decisions.
I decided to create a secular Serenity Prayer for teachers to help us during times like these.
Please grant me the serenity
To accept the schedule I cannot control,
To view a lack of rooms and resources as a challenge,
To hide my head in the sand as the political wind blows in a new direction,
Please grant me the strength:
To teach every student in my class effectively no matter how many there are,
To bring positive energy to my classroom every day,
To advocate for education, my students, and myself,
And the courage to make it ’till summer.