Saturday, February 03, 2007

The week in teaching

This has been a really, really tough week for me. No, the actual teaching itself has been fine — better than usual, in fact. No, it's just that the stress is getting to me worse than usual. I'm barely holding it together, to be honest, trying to juggle two jobs and the rest of my life. And now, thanks to winter break and the days missed due to snow and the storm, my paychecks are not enough to cover the bills right now, either. This is not going well at all, and something's got to give soon. I just hope it's me. I almost had a breakdown while I was tutoring the other night, and apparently scared a sensitive student at another table. Fortunately, the staff there has my back, and has given me some outs if it gets to me again. And midwinter break is coming up in a couple of weeks, that ought to help. I've never quite seen the point of taking a week off in February — right after the start of the semester — but I've always taken the time off anyway when I've been offered it!

So, besides that, here's how it went:

  • Monday: Junior high math, in a room I've worked in before. I got to show them how to solve a pair of linear equations through elimination.
  • Tuesday: The day I lucked out! I took an elementary music job in which I was promised an easy day, and yes, it was. This teacher only has five classes on this day, and one of them is a twenty minute kindergarten class. So she has about two and a half hours of break in there. But wait, there's more! She needed to be there for her first class to tape it for her national certification. If I'd been in the room and made it on camera, we would have had to both sign a lot of forms, so I decided to hang out in the teacher's lounge instead (hey, it's not like she actually needed me there). Let's just say that I got a lot of reading done that day.
  • Wednesday and Thursday turned out interesting. I was called in to sub for a science teacher at the junior high up the road, so I got to walk. But his classes were scheduled to take a field trip that day. Since the teacher next door, who I'd subbed for before, had already done the trip and knew what to expect, she went ahead and went while I stayed behind and took her classes. This worked out fine, as I'd subbed for her before and her students and I knew each other well enough to have a successful day. It was a video — admittedly not my favorite thing to do, but this was a good one. It was a news special from a local station profiling the Seattle police department's new Crime Scene Investigation unit. So naturally the name of the special was CSI: Seattle. This was one of the very few times I didn't mind watching a video five times in one day. (The only other one I can recall was in a high school Spanish class: Two episodes of The Simpsons taped off Mexican television!) The teacher I subbed for was out again the next day, so I finally got to work with his students, but it wasn't too hard. The classes were starting a gardening project which should result in a salad party in June. These sessions were led by a master gardener, so I had to play back-up, but not disappear totally into the background.
  • Finally, on Friday, more junior high math, for a teacher I've worked with before the last couple of years, and who knows I will actually teach the math. All they had was a basic solve-for-the-variable algebra worksheet (and she apologized, saying she'd have given me something more to teach them if she'd known I was going to be her sub), but it proved to be just the right length for the short classes I had that day. This school had it's snow-delayed Martin Luther King, Jr. Day yesterday. The most enlightening part of it for me was a video on the Children's March in Birmingham in 1963, which included interviews with many of the marchers. I really need to read up on that some more, and other major events of the Civil Rights movement.

I have two upcoming jobs lined up this week, and three next week already, believe it or not, so I'm going to stay busy, at least. Now if I can just hold it all together...

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