The bell rang and none of the students moved. Sure, a few heads tilted toward the clock, but they remained in their seats. "What time is lunch? I think we have a few more minutes, right?"
My school has a funny bell system where the bell will ring five minutes before the actual lunch bell. I'm sure there is a reason for it, but I have not fully determined its purpose. It is probably for the younger grades at lunch.
Entering the classroom as a first year teacher, I knew that there would be challenges. I expected that it would be different than my year student teaching, time subbing, and other jobs with children. However, there were a number of things that would prove to be a greater mountain than I had anticipated. Time is one of those mountains.
The ability to stick to a schedule is the most commonly thought of flaw for new teachers. Can we plan the length of a lesson accurately or will it be too long or too short? There are so many things that go unnoticed, until they need to be addressed: when do I address a question immediately or move on, ignoring hands in the air; when do I wait for students to finish side conversations and when should I redirect and intervene.
Then there are the personal time questions that were not as great during the credential process, but take large roles now. How late do I stay at school each night? When do I decide that it is enough and put grading/planning/problem solving aside and take a break or begin another task? What balance should I have between investing in personal time and professional time?
I know that the first year amplifies the teacher work-load, but I think these are questions that will be readdressed annually as each group of students bears different needs. However, I still believe that the lost time - away from social lives, sleep, family, personal interests - really is not lost, but is actually a transferred investment that will yield dividends far greater than the challenges encountered now. I look forward to the small, daily rewards and have great expectations for those that will follow in years to come.
What about you? How has your perspective around time and school life evolved? How have you seen the rewards from your work?