That's the eternal debate, isn't it? I didn't get it when I worked in a public school. Maybe I didn't work hard enough or something. Although I remember the despair my first year, when there was just so much to do and no time to do it. I faithfully brought home piles of paper every night for grading or organizing...and I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Each day was so intense that I was just too fried.
Charter schools are a whole other monster, though. There's somehow more to do and even less time to do it. Plus extra things--duties, meetings, extra activities--take up the little "prep" time during the day. (Forget about lunch; that was scarfed with one hand while frantically typing, grading, or copying.)
And this year I'll have all four subjects! I'm not shy about admitting how terrified I am about that. Fortunately, there are packaged curricula for each. We haven't had time to work with it yet, so I'm not sure exactly how they work and how easy or hard it will be to implement them each and every single day. I'm hoping it will be a good way to ease into the work and then as I get used to it, I'll be able to work some creativity into the lessons and units. Because somehow it sounds like we are also expected to create interdisciplinary, multiple-intelligence units. Not sure how those two things happen at the same time...but I suppose it's good that the school trusts us and wants us not to just be parrots of the chosen textbook.
It's really something I can't get my mind around. For five years I had to create everything I did. So naturally that's the way that teaching happens in my head. And holy crap! Four subjects! Every day! Yikes!
But shhh, no, there will be brand new materials! Books, teacher guides (GASP!!! those were like GOLD at Original Middle School, because having one was so rare), workbooks, all kinds of stuff. I have to say, I love that charter schools take away the worry and tension and excuse of broken, old, or non-existent materials.
Oh! Another thing that I have to keep reminding myself is that even grading and homework and stuff won't be such a huge chore--twenty-five things to deal with is infinitely easier than a hundred. Right? And elementary schools seem to not assign homework every day in every subject (even charter schools fall prey to the Magical Packet Assignment), so at most I figure I'd have one set per day. Psh, that's cake!
The last, biggest part of this is work/life balance. It was a huge struggle last fall. I got up before dawn, worked my ass off for ten to twelve hours, and trudged home, spaced out in front of the tv and/or computer, and had to go to bed. The weekends were an all-too-short respite from the grind; just as I felt a bit of myself recovering, it was Sunday night and time to worry about the week again.
I really need to not do that again. It took a huge toll on me--I lost weight, I couldn't sleep, I barely saw my boyfriend, I never saw my friends, not to mention all the crying. I had no time to read or do anything for fun, there was no room in my mind or my life for anything other than school.
The sad thing is, there were so many people working harder and longer than I was!
Anyway, so this year I plan to be strict with myself about going home by a certain time. I figure one hour after school per day will be enough. I joined a gym last week, and went twice last week. Yesterday I dragged myself out the door in the humidity, but I was really glad. It felt good to sweat and let my mind be blank for an hour. So I plan to go at least one time during the week and once on the weekend. The BF and I are hoping to set aside one night a week to spend some time together, either at home or maybe going out for dinner. I'd like to have some friend time at least every few weeks too. I'm crossing my fingers that my so-far friendly colleagues will become friends or at least invite me out to happy hour every once in a while. :)
Because god knows I'll be needing a drink!