Usually when I mention overload, I mean me personally, trying to teach 4 preps, trying to create content for 2 of them, juggling my own 3 little hellions, much like all of us.
For me this year though I have a lot of overload from the amount of things I want to implement to make my kids better learners. I read some awesome stuff over the summer about ways to get kids thinking in visible ways, about making them become better questioners and I was seriously fired up with full intent to jump right in and make it a focus of the classroom day to day.
I haven't....maybe 5% implementation.
Inspired as always by @crystalkirch, I started to implement a WSQ system in my class, hoping we would spend good time each day examining their questions is a collegial, collaborative atmosphere.
We do WSQs, but the real meat of it in the classroom, maybe 10% implementation.
The plan was to have a great mastery gradebook and system set up for each student so that they could monitor their own progress and we could work together on their progress.
So far, I still give my standards based assessments and with a few exceptions, keep trucking along.
I wanted to do amazing labs and activities each and every day with the kids, then really examine the ins and outs of each in detail, with reflection and analysis by the students.
About half there, we do a lot of activities, but I've found myself becoming the worst parody of the "hands-on" teaching style, that we do a lot, but don't spend enough time tying it in, making it concrete.
I promised myself that I would personally be a lot more reflective this year, blogging, talking to others, etc.
It's Friday on my "fall break" and I just finished a video, and am blogging about my failures this year.
The weird thing is that despite what it sounds like, I'm not really down on myself. We as "21st century" teachers talk a lot about being the chief learners in our classrooms, but that's not really what we expect. We assume, like the kids do, that we will have it all figured out, that we know what's up every single day and are masters at the art and science of teaching.
Last year was a super productive one for me as far as learning new stuff as a teacher. But you know what, it was really tiring....there was a point last fall that I would not have been shocked had I passed out from exhaustion.
This year has been that, but more...I'm doing what I did last year, but twice as much, with 8 times the parent load and expectation, with 10% of the equipment (outside of tech) that I had last year.
My wife is a super-teacher and I'm trying to be one here lately, but it is pretty rough. Today on our off day we were both feeling guilty about not doing school work. I tried to do this video tonight at school on Wednesday, but that is almost impossible because of interruptions, so I did it tonight, on break...
The point of all of this navel gazing is that it is ok to not accomplish everything right away. We are 25% of the way through the year, and yet I seem to expect 100% mastery of all of my teaching goals. I don't expect the kids to master that way, but I kill myself trying to achieve it.
My goal for the rest of the is to not overload myself, to better the classroom for the kids, to be a better teacher with cool new strategies, but more to the point, to be a better teacher by being sane and happy.
Word to the rookie teachers out there, or to the rookie flippers, don't beat yourself up when you fail. Despite the well intentioned but wrong idea that failure is not an option, nothing gives better lessons than failure sometimes, both for students and yourself. I've failed at a ton of things this past couple of years as I try to go from a teacher centered to a student centered model, from a hard line,"if you don't get it you aren't trying hard enough" teacher to a hunt my students down and pursue them with knowledge until they learn to seek and find it on their own.
I still want to do all of these cool things, all of these things that I genuinely believe are best for my kids, and I will....but not today, maybe not next week, maybe not til next term. And that's ok...
My wife was having a mommy guilt day where she was upset because on our off day she wasn't giving painting lessons to our boys or crafting with them or whatever. I told her, look at our boys...are they healthy, happy, smart, and full of life? She said yes, and I said then we are doing OK today as parents.
I don't want to be just OK as a parent or a teacher, but you know what, on an average day, my students learn, they have fun while doing it, and most of them don't hate my class or subject, even though I teach Chemistry, the class that makes people recoil visibly when I tell them what I teach. So you know what, I will keep it up and strive to get better, but also try to sleep knowing that I'm doing ok, and that trying to do it all at once is just my ego writing checks that my body can't cash!