Thursday, 23 July 2015

Year of Help

This is kind of a follow-up to “Year of Hell”, posted last July (2014). That was the year I decided I needed to fund a leave of absence (which will be coming up in 2016). I went through a bunch of reasons as to why 2013-14 might have driven me to that. What did that lead to this past year?

I hit a low in 2014-15 that was even lower. But on average, things were better. I’ve also been seeing a social worker. This after a short term counsellor. (Hence, “Year of Help”.) I might as well break this down further. Have an AMV with relevant music, as I like to do.



WHAT GOT FIXED


Grading is still killing me. Tasks are still killing me. Reducing the size of tests to a more manageable level, given how it takes me a week to mark... was successful. Which is good, since it was part of my “Annual Learning Plan”.

I didn’t feel completely beaten up at the end of the year. I believe a break from “Data Management” projects, which was more happenstance than anything, was also beneficial (I forget how many years in a row I’ve had there without a break). I traded it off to give someone else an increase in status.

The new electronic grading system also proved to be helpful, in terms of cutting down on paper tracking. Even when we started reducing paper trails due to striking efforts, I was able to print off a bunch of placements and keep things together. So, progress is occurring, in terms of less suicidal thoughts... even as I hate hate hate that it still takes me 8 times as long to grade as it did in the points system.

I managed Extra Curriculars better. Math Club went under, and I didn’t let it get to me. Anime Club was mostly self governing. I did even less with drama than usual in Semester One (coming off “Pygmalion” in Scotland), and helped with the musical in Semester Two with an eye to my mental state. I may have ended up doing more extra math help, as an alternative, but I don’t think I hit a breaking point.

WHAT’S STILL A PROBLEM


December, apparently. In 2013, I cried. In 2014, I lost myself. I scared myself. And I was already seeing a counsellor at that point, after a breakdown in mid-October. This December coming (2015) may even be worse, because with Labour Day being late, the Board has moved the usual November PD Day back to early September, removing any semblance of a break. (As opposed to moving the October PD Day.) Yay. So I should watch myself.

I still can’t seem to mark other than doing all page 1, all page 2... despite logical arguments towards doing all student 1, all student 2, in order to avoid having to make an extra pass that still takes about two hours. My brain works better with the constant repetition. Late work/tests is also still a pain, because of tracking. Maybe I need a sheet for students to self track?

Ugh, then there’s how we’ll be a year without a contract soon, because the province (and school boards) want to remove class size caps, and increase their control over our prep time. Because, I don’t know, they think we spend it making paper airplanes or something. The Union’s resisting, which is good, but politics is a new problem going forwards.

WHAT’S STILL GOING RIGHT


Important to note this side of things too. The Christmas Math Song still went over well. And while I took a complete step BACK from online math conversations and PD (as compared to last year), I hooked in a lot more with Web Fiction Guide, and was writing 2,000 words per week from September through March. Which I enjoyed, so that’s good. I think I really am a writer first, a teacher second.

I also achieved the stuff in my “Annual Learning Plan”, including my attempt to find a seating system that would work out (which I’ve previously blogged about). In the end, 40 signatures in the yearbook last year, 48 this year. Granted, over half of them were me going up to people and saying PUT YOUR NAME IN HERE PLEASE, but most were happy to do it. I think I even signed 2 or 3 in return.

SUMMATION


So, another year to get through on 2/3rds salary, then time away. Once this is all dealt with, I should probably give serious consideration to a part-time workload. (I spoke about this with a coworker; there’s a few in our department who are morning or afternoon only.) That’s the sort of thing that not only gives you more time to prepare, but less classes to prepare for.

In the meantime, time travel story continues, personified math is coming back, I still want to blog about some PD over the past few months... and, oh right, course prep for the actual teaching. One more month!

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