I’m finally admitting it to myself, I am frustrated with 90% of my teaching situation because I am not in charge, nor is it really my classroom—ever. And while this makes me sound like I’m not a team player, I would like to argue the opposite side of the board and say that maybe I’m too much of a team player.
For 4 of my 5 days of work I am asked to be in classrooms lending support to Units of Inquiry that are taught in English. These units are structured around a specific theme with various lines of inquiry that focus on improving a few different attitude types and getting our students to be more curious…in short, to be learners. During U.O.I/English I work with the core teachers—or I should say that I am supposed to work with the core teachers. What I am finding instead is that no one really knows what the dynamic or roles are during these courses. I’ve shown up on multiple occasions with the core teachers saying “okay so you are teaching blah blah blah today,” and I’m left standing there wide-eyed because I have no plan. I have no plan because no one really knows what I am supposed to be doing and work I have done since arriving is consistently left unused, again, due to a lack of planning as a team.
Adding to the pile of hazy expectations is the fact that we have no schoolbooks so we all do independent research. This means that each classroom is taught whatever the teacher gleans and fact checks themselves from the good ole W.W.W. on each specific theme laid out by the International Baccalaureate framework. And while the flexibility of curriculum specifics would normally be a dream, as a new teacher feels like a roller coaster filled with soaring highs on the days when communication happens and wobbly, twisty lows when it does not.
And at the heart of it all I am finding that what really makes me sad is quite simple:
I miss being a language teacher.
I miss talking about parts of speech, having my students run up to the board and identify different vocabulary words or making them stick out their tongues and say THHHHHH only to roll over giggling hysterically. I only get to do this one day a week during their dedicated English lesson. The rest of the week I’m like a human English dictionary pulled off the shelf when a core teacher needs additional support.
I’m a worksheet publisher, an editor of letters home to families and a pronunciation guru—all of which I am happy to be, I really am (HEY publishers, I want to write for your workbooks!), but I really miss being the conductor of the orchestra.
So how does a new English teacher assert herself in the classroom without seeming pushy? How do I get my co-teachers to include me more in their planning and then in the followthrough of that planning? What is the key to being flexible with what appears to be a very loose planning style without my losing my mind? How do I get back to being a teacher, back to conducting the orchestra instead of cleaning the instruments?