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    I Understand
    By G.M.

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    Hi Jan,

    Thanks so much for sharing more info. I really appreciate you taking the time to do so.

    I do understand how the passing of a loved one often leads you to reflect on your priorities.
    Three years ago while I was in the teacher education program, my father-in-law was abruptly and unexpectedly admitted to the hospital. After several weeks of various treatments and terrible suffering, he passed away. He died of cancer. Ever since then, I have been keenly away of how important it is FOR ME to spend time with my loved ones & friends.

    When I began my first (and only) teaching position last year, I had little time for anything else other than my work. I realize that this is the norm for beginning teachers; I accepted that and told myself constantly that it will get better. But what really got me was noticing that some of the highly seasoned teachers were working long hours, too! Many of them would be at school on the weekends, just like me. They always assured me that "It will get better." But seeing the hours they put in made me question this. I wanted to respond with a question: "How does it get better with respect to the time you put into teaching?"

    I don't know how teachers with children, especially young children, do it. My children are in their mid-twenties. It's only me and my husband now. But yet, I felt I had little time for my marriage, let alone my mother, sister, mother-in-law, etc. I completely lost contact with my friends.

    Besides the struggle to have a life outside of teaching, there are all the other challenges to manage. Discipline managment is a biggy for most teachers; but I won't go there this morning. But I'd like to touch on the testing craze that has stricken our nation's schools.

    I, too, think this testing thing has gotten out of hand. I remember being handed two different packets (math & language arts) for my students to begin preparing for "THE TEST" that would be administered around April. (This packets were designed to get them used to the format of tests - that is - fill in the bubble.) It was only October at the time. But I was instructed to begin using these packets immediately. I looked through the math packet and discovered that the second lesson was on fractions. Fractions is something I did not plan to cover until a month or two later. HOW WAS I TO REVIEW SOMETHING THAT I HAVEN'T EVEN COVERED?????? It just baffled me and still does. In hindsight, I know see that I drove myself crazy by trying to make sense out of nonsense.

    Another thing that greatly disturbed me, and this has to do with the testing thing also: Some of my students were sooooooo behind academically that I knew it would take a miracle for them to catch up. I was teaching to a wide range of abilities, like most teachers do in the upper elementary grades. I had one child, for example, who didn't understand the concept of place value (I taught 4th grade). When I asked for advice about how to teach to ALL my students, I was told to concentrate on those students who I knew could raise their scores on the test! I could be wrong, but I think that particular school was a little too concerned about test performance. That isn't why I went into teaching at the age of 45.

    Anyway, I felt I did very little teaching because I was always having to manage my "trio," or put it bluntly, my highly disruptive students. I think what keeps most teachers coming back for more is the satisfaction of seeing students light up when the "get it." Unfortunately, I did not have too many of those moments. Actually, I get more of those moments now that I am a sub, than when I was the teacher. I ralize that I had a very challenging class and that it would most likely get better in terms of the students' behaviors if I ever taught again. However, I am still reluctant to dive in again; I KNOW it can get miserably bad! I guess with time I will know what to do. Sometimes, I think I know the answer, I just don't want to admit it.
    In short, I'm confused.

    However, it sounds as though you are not. I am really happy for you. You appear to have made the right choice for you. I sincerely hope that you will find something that is fulfilling (work that is) And that you have the time to do those things outside of work that nuture you.

    We live in a very youth-oriented society. I look forward to the day when society recognizes that EVERY age has its plusses. Actually, despite the fact that I am confused over what to do professionally, I love life more than I ever did.

    I probably went on a little too long. Thanks again for taking the time to respond to my questions. It helped me and probably helped others who read this board. I sincerely wish you the best!

    Smiles to you, G.M.

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