Perpetual Pick Up Sticks

I’m technically doing the work of two jobs. I teach a 10th grade English class and am also the high school literacy coach. I’m currently (ok perpetually) struggling between finding enough prep time and helping teachers locate literacy resources, coaching teachers, and developing our new sustained silent reading program.

As for the teaching aspect, I constantly struggle with creation. I know the more tools I create for students, the more independent my students become. This means creating anywhere near 2-4 different “tools” for one single task. For example, students have access to paper worksheets as well as digital copies (and digital copies in at least 2 different formats–pdf/google doc/pages). Students can find daily agenda/assignments in 3 different places (PowerSchool, canvas, as well as google slides). I do all of this to prevent the constant iPad issues (I swear this is the closest I’ve come to going back to paper and pencil assignments) and to provide differentiation to students with varying needs.

You see, teaching isn’t a mud-race. It’s playing pick up sticks with a toddler that never wants to end the game, ever. Just when I start to get a handle on all of these tools, my other job throws the “sticks” back all over the floor, under the table, and behind that shelf that is too heavy to move and requires a rigged hanger to fetch lost items from the clutches of dust bunnies. I find that on days where I haven’t prepared the extra tools due to lack of creation time, class feels like whack-a-mole trying to get students on track. If I have a wider variety of tools prepped, I find class runs smoothly and I only need to respond with simple direction.

Every year I say it will get easier, as I have already created content, but to be honest each year is different, and I find I need to tweak or recreate content to meet the various needs of my new students. In other words, another canister of sticks.

I got so swamped at work today, I nearly forgot a heart-tickling positive from a student who showed up in my class this fall with a self-deprecating lament that he will never EVER pass the English EOC. He quietly announced today that he passed!

So when the sticks get tossed on the floor for the millionth time, I just have to remember not to take myself too seriously. After all, it’s supposed to be fun.

Originally written for #flipclass flash blog on 1/12/15 and then revised an hour later. On a side note, I’ve actually written on this topic before nearly 2 years ago and much better I might add.

3 thoughts on “Perpetual Pick Up Sticks

  1. We start over every year too. Hell, we start over every semester. It’s exhausting, and I love the metaphor of the toddler in the mud. I think we must have a trophy case full of canisters by now.

    But that gives us SO much flexibility, as well. It’s not wasted…it’s just potential. 🙂

  2. Love the analogy. That really is what we are doing. Playing a never ending game of pick up sticks! Now I have something to smile about!

  3. What a great reflective post Tamara, thank you! I really believe that great educators are involved with their work and tend to throw themselves into it too much. We need to take care to ensure balance without stressing out to much about it. I wrote something similar on Crystal’s post.

    Keep caring, keep doing great work and keep sharing with others.

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