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Do you feel your life is a rush? Are you always trying to keep up, keep up with your program, keep up with lesson plans and the curriculum? Keep up with your life? My youngest son has just started year 7 and as part of the transition to high school this week we attended a study skills evening. It was a fairly dry topic for twelve year old boys, so keep them interested as various points during the presentation we had to complete minor activities. One of these involved our sons telling us what they liked and disliked about us as year 7 parents. My son volunteered that he disliked the way I rushed him.

Reflecting on the thought that he feels rushed has made me think about the first three weeks of this term for my class. Just how much are they being rushed too? In an effort to slow the classroom morning rush we have introduced a ten minute ‘homeroom’ time from 8.30 to 8.40 am. In theory this is a wonderful moment to connect, think, reflect and plan for the day or the week ahead. In practice I am finding myself rushing to remind them to post lunch-orders, to find their diaries, to prepare for the first lesson and more. If only I could have thirty minutes ‘homeroom’ time then perhaps my ideas of deep breathing or even classroom yoga could come into play. I reflect that I must find time for this in the ten minutes I have.

The first three weeks also seemed to have rushed past. I know that already we are behind in our English program. Since lessons which on paper take only 45 minutes have taken longer, not to mention discussions about the novel we are reading. I am not actually worried about this in English though, since I know that it is the learning that counts not the finished product. I reflect that I must find time for them to enjoy the process even if we have no product.

In Mathematics however it is a different story. We have this week finished a ‘Place Value’ unit and we must move on. My daily formative assessments using our mini whiteboards tell me I that not every student understands all that I want them too. I know that many of them need more time to truly understand this vital topic. Yet if we allow those students to spend another week exploring ‘Place Value’ in the classroom what will those who are ready to move on do? How can I split my maths program to suit two or even three mini groups?  Or perhaps more importantly what will we do with the next topic. I know that in Mathematics learning is incremental, by that I mean it is vital for students to understand what they learn one year in order to build on that learning the next. Yet the curriculum requires us to fit in many topics in a year. To cover many different areas and many different stands. I reflect that I must move on for if I don’t we will almost certainly miss something needed next year. And this worries me.

So what can I do about this need to rush? The need to fit in the learning, to rush through the topics, to rush through the day? I really don’t know. It seems to me a factor of the lives we lead. And although I take time out to slow down, to reflect to plan and to spend time with my family on the weekends, my son still feels rushed. Perhaps the answer is to wake him thirty minutes earlier so that our morning routines are not as rushed. Whether he would agree with this plan though remains to be seen!

 

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11 comments

  1. I’m glad I’m not alone in feeling constantly rushed. This year I’m finding it even harder as I’m only in class teaching two days each week, and I’m already finding that what I thought I could fit into two days isn’t really working and I feel as though I’m behind in just about everything. I’m not sure what I can do about this as technically I’m in the class 40% of the week but in reality I can’t cover 40% of the curriculum. I’m just glad the kids are coping with two teachers and the experimentation we’re putting them through 🙂

    How is the novel study going? My class seems to be enjoying the book.

  2. Thanks Pam, The novel study is going well, except that we are a bit behind! I am co-teaching this year with 2 teachers sharing the load, 3 days and 2 days. I know they too are finding aspects of it frustrating.

  3. Kim

    Hi Henrietta

    I can certainly assure you that you are not alone. Most days I feel as though I hit the ground running!

    I have started my library classes for another year – 21 classes x 45 minutes. Forty-five minutes once a week is like the blink of an eye! I squeeze as much in as I can into each session, but rarely get through what I have planned! I feel rushed and I think the students do too. I joke with the students that time goes faster in the library…

    I open before and after school for borrowing and that time is so precious…that’s when I have time to really connect with and talk to students. I’m sure the students who pop in to read and borrow enjoy that time to relax and escape the pace of their lives…the gift of time!

    I don’t think your son will want to get up any earlier than he has to!

  4. Cath Spurritt

    Great blog post, Henrietta!

    As a secondary school teacher, I too can relate to feeling constantly rushed at school… Do you think it might have something to do with the ever increasing demands being placed on teachers? Like nurses, wouldnt we all just love some more time and resources to do what we love properly?

    Cath

  5. If only! It seems to me that every year the demands get greater and the workload and paperwork increases. Last year for instance I dealt with over 4500 emails. That must surely have impacted on my time too.

  6. I think your day must be even worse, since you are also trying to build relationships with a whole school. I agree my son does not want to get up any earlier than he absolutely has to!

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  8. Monique Dalli

    THANK YOU!!

    I am not the only one feeling this way!

    I spent Saturday “catching up” after a week which felt like I was chasing my tail! Just skimmed the surface of what I still need to do 🙁
    I went home sick wednesday, only to go back to work still unwell thursday afraid of all that my students (and 5 period day) would miss out on! I know health comes first, but we all know sometimes it is harder to take a day off. . .

    I NEED MORE TIME or less to do ??

    The plus side is that my students have hit the ground running with me and are working as hard as I.

  9. Anthony

    Hi

    Couple small suggestions … save for the fact that I am ignorant of ed dept bureaucracy and some requirements which might overlay these … although I see it happening elsewhere so maybe the blockages are elsewhere.

    1. Notes / permissions slips / info updates – School should get them online and parents can simply log on to the school portal, update, sign-off with a password and teachers (or preferably admins) can then simply access who is and is not done (or even better an admin person drops you a report via email or the intranet/edmodo). I see this as a pretty easy win for all concerned.

    2. Similar to 1, for things like parent / teacher meetings (the 15min session) have school admin/tech look around there peers. My sons school (St Josephs Hunters Hill) have a pretty usable online system for booking these 2 x per year for 1,000 approx. boys x 8-10 teachers across one 10 hour day – now thats some logistics.

    Every little bit of paper pushing off your desk is more time teaching and that’s a win as far as I am concerned.

    In so far as feeling pressured about being behind it sounds like the curriculum is messed up if the pressure is to have things ticked off by some time/stage and in practice kids get left behind (and at a faster rate over time) because they have to move on to the next year … and this seems to be exacerbated in high school. Moving on without mastery isn’t … is it?

    Cheers
    A

    BTW: I am constantly amazed by what you and your colleagues do get done … multi-tasking and priority balancing el surprimo’s. Imagine how good it could be in a system that truly supported child centred learning.

  10. Great post! We all feel in some frantic hurry at the start of a year, it never changes I’m sure!
    As for your maths problem (nice pun!) new maths concepts are such an ongoing learning curve that they needs to be revisited over a LONG period of time and revisited often for them to become concrete for many students. I find that spending another week or two with new learning as maintenance works really well. I do it as a warm up for my group/s who need it and feed it in as a buddy activity also.
    Enjoy the year and slow down – smell the roses and try to do a few things well rather than lots of things badly. It always feels better that way!

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