July 31, 2009

Where Do Teachers Live?

How important is it that teachers live in the same community in which they teach? Does living in your school's community create more school spirit or community pride? How important is that for teachers?

I find myself facing this decision for the second time. Last year, I taught in a very rural community (pop. 10,000) about twenty minutes away from a medium size city (pop 90,000). I chose to reside in the small town where I worked. It was very nice being so close to school; I could just hop to work in a couple of minutes if I wanted to. Deciding whether to attend after-school events was trivial. Had I lived in the larger community further away, I would have attended fewer school functions, commuted more, and spent more on transportation.

Honestly, though, I didn't really enjoy living in the small town all that much. I got bored. My personal and social life would have been better had I actually lived where the action was.

I'm faced with the same choice this year. I live three miles from my suburban school now and my lease is up at the end of August. Do I stay out in the burbs or go into the city? I've lived in the city before and rather liked it. The commute would be about 15 minutes, which really isn't that terrible. Many other teachers at this district commute in. But still, there's something about actually living in the community, right?

Part of me likes the idea of having a bit more distance between my work life and my home life, but part of me likes the idea of being a bona fide resident of my school district.

What do you think?

July 20, 2009

Avoiding The Death March

Last year, I discussed how teaching can be compared to a death march and how easy it is to become overworked and burnt out. Almost all of my time was spent on work last year, so I'd like to be a bit more prepared this year.

Fortunately, I've already taught all of the classes I'm scheduled for before, which means I've got a good set of lesson plans for them already. Of course, I'll be making some changes to the classes, but the fact that I've taught them before will significantly reduce the amount of prep time for the classes.

I'm going one step further. This summer, I'm laying out the lesson plans week-by-week, so when I ask myself what I should do in class that week, I can just look in my file and pull out a bunch of lessons. That's not to say that I won't be customizing the lessons of course. But it will help tremendously.

I'm also making some changes to my grading procedures. I'm going to research some web-based tools to help me grade keyboarding papers. Also, I won't be grading every single Java program line by line. I'll do this for some, but I'll be spot checking others to make sure they compile and run properly.

I'll also tighten up my policy for late work. I've accepted late work in the past and assessed a minor penalty for it. The point deduction will be much higher next year, and students will not be able to turn in work that is more than one week late.

I have to say that I'm getting pretty excited to get into the classroom again. I'm really excited for what we'll be doing with DECA as well. The rest of the summer will go really fast.