I have just completed the week of inservice at my school. I appreciated all of the uninterrupted time in my classroom to prepare my room and my materials for the upcoming year. I am excited about implementing many of the new ideas I have for my classes.
One new idea that my wife gave me is using desktops as dry erase boards. Who knew you could use dry erase markers on desktops and wipe them off easily with wet wipes? Call me easily amused, but I thought this little known secret was one of the coolest teacher tricks I had heard in a long time. I thought it must be too good to be true so I went to Google to see if the internet had any wisdom regarding dry erase markers and desktops. Come to find out, lots of people out there have successfully used dry erase markers on desktops. Still a little nervous about ruining my room’s desks, I drew a tiny dot on a desktop, and to my surprise, the dot wiped off easily! I now have all kinds of ideas for using dry erase markers in my class this year. I think students will love this idea because of the novelty it presents.
Enough about the dry erase markers, I know. One thing inservice week has reminded me of is all the other tasks that go along with teaching. When someone grows up and decides he wants to be a teacher, he means he wants to influence young people, he wants to impart a passion for a particular subject, or he wants to make a difference in the world in some way. Whatever a person’s reason for becoming a teacher, typically the reason revolves around time spent in the classroom pursuing something bigger than any one person.
In reality being a teacher involves so much more than what we might call “teaching.” So far this week, I have made multiple bulletin boards, deep-cleaned my classroom, altered the seating arrangement, set up and connected four student computers in my room, reserved the technology I will need for my classroom (I am planning on using an iPad and document camera much more this year.), and paperwork, paperwork, paperwork! This list doesn’t even include my exploding IEP caseload, the five IEP meetings scheduled for students transferring to my school, and the three other IEP meetings I have held already.
I can easily get discouraged with these other tasks that are part of the job, but it is in these mundane tasks that I have to remember why I became a teacher in the first place. One of the best things for me is to bookend the extraneous tasks with things that I would consider actual “teaching” preparation: planning the semester, developing lessons, and searching for new, creative ways to present information.
Here is where the dry erase markers fit. In the middle of a week void of students and full of taxing responsibilities, I found something that excited me, something that I think will excite my students, and something that got my mind churning with all the possibilities for lessons with my students.
For new teachers, what surprised you most about the tasks you would have outside of teaching? How do you experienced teachers get through the extraneous responsibilities teachers have?