Month: May 2007

Total 23 Posts

Punctuating This Conversation (and the year, sort of)

Woulda Been: “Chris Is Concerned,” But That Theme’s Played Out

Thanks for the discussion this weekend. I’ve gotta acknowledge straight off how grateful I am and how cool it’s been that a bunch of vets would take the time to wander by and register their concern for my stress level and blood pressure.

Some highlights for me:

Jonathan‘s comment that the more I invest in lessons this year, the harder they’ll be to scrap next year even when experience demands a fresher approach. That’s a new (and consequently invaluable) lesson. I’ll try to stay vigilant but, frankly, if I scrapped half the lessons I made this year (a broad estimate) even that 50% savings would make next year downright lazy.

Jen‘s point that a blogger’s job-hating, stressed-out post quantity oughtta correlate pretty neatly with his actual job-hate and stress, a metric that feels intuitively right to me and by which I seem to be doing fine.

Chris‘ concern for my relationship with my yet-to-be-born-or-conceived kid, concern which reflects kinda sweetly on his relationship with his own boys.

The only lowlight has been the ambiguous and self-fulfilling, though obviously well-intentioned, anti-burnout advice offered. Maxims like “avoid burnout,” “be careful,” “heed the advice you’ve been given,” “listen seriously to their concerns,” and “scale back,” are awfully difficult prescriptions to fill and sometimes only true in hindsight.

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Christian Is Concerned

This might seem gratuitous. Jeff, Christian, and Chris have been fretting over my work habits and, because they’re smart guys, odds are good some of my new- and preservice teacher readership shares their misunderstanding of exactly what I’m endorsing here.

From Christian (fourth comment down):

Dan, ALL of us as young teachers (passionately attacking the opportunities with fever) proved that we could spend as many hours outside of the classroom (as inside it) prepping and constructing lessons that demonstrated OUR ‘gift of teaching’. Fear and excitement does that to a guy. So does ego. Just like a young varsity coach still believes she/he has to be able to one-up every one of his/her players to prove they ’still got game’, whereas experienced coaches aren’t breaking a sweat or worried about their 4/40 split on the sidelines.

The kids get it – you know more than they do.
The kids get it – you love the subject more than they do.
The kids get it – you are able to research and plan and all the rest harder than they can.
The kids get it – you’re the teacher.

Imagine back to a recent post-about-a-lesson of yours, for instance, if you had asked the kids to make their own graphing relationship movies (et al) first…maybe you’d do it alongside them…and then watched to see what happened as you ‘both’ learned from the other side along the way. Your expertise/instinct would have been ahead of them, to be sure, but the ‘process’ would have been centered on learning, not on the teacher’s performance or presentation.

If you’ve been reading this blog the same way Christian has, you see my lesson-planning efforts as:

  1. a response to fear
  2. an outcome of excitement
  3. a result of insecurity
  4. sharply focused but pointed in the wrong direction

Two right, anyway.

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Jeff Is Concerned

Jeff registers his concern over the hours I work and the ethic I keep (third comment down; dunno why the anchors aren’t working):

I’m concerned that you’re going to burn yourself out before you can get in and make the kind of impact that I know you want to. 18 hours on a 45 minute lesson is NUTS, my friend, and though I know you and TMAO are all about the “bring it hard every minute of the day” approach, to which I say: respect. But we’re going to lose you guys to frustration, to exhaustion, to all the side effects of slamming your head into the wall to entertain adolescents who’d much rather be anywhere else, no matter how much they like (or you think they like) you and your class.

To which I say: thanks for the concern. I’d be a dunce to disregard the counsel of anyone who’s been at this longer than I have. Two reasons why your concern is misplaced and one important point of clarification:

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