As it is now the week of Thanksgiving, cue the conversations to persist in the teacher break room: "It's so busy this time of year...The kids are all wired up...This month is so crazy..."
Of course, ag teachers say the same thing about a) October/National Convention time, b) Proficiency season, c) fair season, d) state convention season, e) CDE season, f) beginning of school, g) end of school, h) summer, i) spring...you get the picture. In fact, it is too easy to get wrapped up with all the extra things going on and demands upon us that it's not hard to feel overwhelmed, no matter how long you've been teaching.
This year has been a particularly interesting one for everyone at our high school. August in-service was the start for a whole host of changes and new challenges for us:
- a new grading system that didn't work as advertised,
- a new state-mandated evaluation and goals system that was less than clear,
- a new standards-based report card that caused some neighboring schools to jump over the cliff of proficiency-based grading (only to try to climb back up within two weeks),
- new graduation requirements that over 50% of the seniors in Oregon weren't meeting at the beginning of the school year,
- ramping up to take on the Smarter Balanced assessment with the Common Core,
- all on top of the usual hustle and bustle of paper-work, meetings, challenges, and tasks.
Depending on who you talk to, the last twelves weeks have either been a six-month sentence or a six-minute blur. Either way, everyone agrees: it's a lot on the plate and some are feeling the stress. Every educator knows the job goes a long ways beyond the classroom hours, ag teacher or otherwise. It's time like these that I go to my default:
I teach kids.
It's too easy to get distracted by all these other items that we forget what job number one is: educate youth. So when push comes to shove, my classroom comes first. I focus on having great curriculum prepared for great kids. I HATE grading but value the feedback it gives students on how they are doing, so I get it done. I make sure that when the bell rings that I am ready, and now that they are experienced they know they should be ready too. Here we go.
So folks, Keep Calm and Teach On. That's what we are here to do. There are a lot of other important things we need to do, but don't lose sight of priorities, regardless of what happens.
When your 50 minute lesson plan is complete at 20 minutes, Keep Calm and Teach On.
When the Department of Eduction releases its newest/next-generation/common-competency-objectives-proficiencies/latest reform, Keep Calm and Teach On.
When you have your kids running around with notched pig ears taped to their head identifying numbering and your assistant principal walks in, Keep Calm and Teach On.
When the LCD projector bulb burns out and the overhead stops working, Keep Calm and Teach On.
When you are two weeks behind of turning in purchase orders, Keep Calm and Teach On.
When the power is out and you teach welding this period, grab the chalk, Keep Calm and Teach On.
When you're in charge of three local and regional committees who are all meeting next week, Keep Calm and Teach On.
When you've scheduled a trip and the bus is 30 minutes late in showing up, Keep Calm and Teach On.
When you get the email saying your re-licensure paperwork is due next week, Keep Calm and get it done so you can Teach On.
When you are on a field trip in the middle of nowhere studying rangeland and a student falls fourteen feet into a hole at a BLM recreation site, Keep Calm and call the closest ag teacher who lives ten miles away. Then Teach On.
Keep Calm folks. We're ag teachers. Do what we do best.
READER RESPONSE: what curve balls do you deal with and just have to Keep Calm and Teach On? Add them in the comments!