As school year moves beyond ice-breakers and seating assignments, reality—or at least a sense of “What in creation have I gotten myself into?"—is no doubt hitting many idealistic young teachers. Take the example of Jessica Shyu, an aspiring East Coast journalist who, on a Teach for America gig, is teaching middle school special education on a Navajo reservation in New Mexico. She’s apparently spent a lot of the past week crying, with good reason:
Despite working 18 hours a day, I am always behind. Each day I am a little more behind. Who am I kidding? Each day I am a lot more behind. My class size is growing. In case folks are unaware of how my Special Ed resource room operates, I basically teach several different lessons at once. Most secondary teachers write about one lesson plan for all of their classes. I write seven. Each lesson plan includes two to four separate subjects and levels. I have not recorded grades in two weeks. I am tired. I am far behind on my paperwork. I have meetings to lead and IEPs to write. I need to vacuum my house.
Jessica points out that she’s been buoyed by friends who tell her that the job will get better. (“Maybe it will and maybe it won’t,” she comments dryly.) She could also probably use a few helpful comments from fellow teachers. That’s partly what teacher blogs are for, right?
(From east meets west)
A version of this news article first appeared in the Blogboard blog.