Operation “Life Balance”

I want my LIFE back!!!

While I am absolutely dedicated to being a great teacher, passionate about educating today’s youth, and committed to improving our nation’s intellectual capital, I REFUSE to continue spending EVERY waking moment planning, instructing, assessing, and reflecting…it is TOO MUCH for the educational system to ask of anyone! It is my mistake for allowing it to happen to me these past 2 months…implementing Operation “Life Balance” as of today!

– I posted the “status update” above on Facebook earlier this hour…This is my first blog post since early August 2011, right before starting in my new role as a full-time teacher.  I have been CONSUMED by it since…I have many ideas for blog posts, but no time to write them, spend time with my family, make time for myself, or anything else that does not have to do with my 150+ students…

Additional Comment to my Facebook post:  Forgot to mention…I still need to grade 50 algebra 1 tests from Fri, 100 algebra 1 tests from prior Fri, print & copy 35 calculus tests for tomorrow (form A & form B since their eyes wander), AND prep for tomorrow for my 3 courses: calculus, AP calculus & algebra 1 AND fill out a bunch of BTSA forms AND fill out my student loan deferment forms BEFORE “Operation Life Balance” goes into effect…

[I do not have time to write what ALL I have accomplished this weekend either…it includes grading AP Calculus quizzes, algebra 1 tests, and much more…]

About Dave aka Mr. Math Teacher

Independent consultant and junior college adjunct instructor. Former secondary math teacher who taught math intervention, algebra 1, geometry, accelerated algebra 2, precalculus, honors precalculus, AP Calculus AB, and AP Statistics. Prior to teaching, I spent 25 years in high tech in engineering, marketing, sales and business development roles in the satellite communications, GPS, semiconductor, and wireless industries. I am awed by the potential in our nation's youth and I hope to instill in them the passion to improve our world at local, state, national, and global levels.
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18 Responses to Operation “Life Balance”

  1. Dan Meyer says:

    Well done, sir.


  2. Jason Buell says:

    Wait. I thought teachers only worked 8-3 and got summers off. Clearly you haven’t been watching the news or you’d understand how this whole thing is supposed to work.


  3. Katie says:

    none of the steppies believe you when you tell them 1st year is harder, but it TOTALLY is. no comparison. good luck finding balance, it’s not easy.

    Also, I got super annoyed whenever somebody said this last year, because you want it to be better now, but it’s really true, and you should hammer it into your head, 2nd year is really way better. Like, unimaginably better.


  4. Justin says:

    I’m in my third year in my current district and my 7th overall. It does get easier, but there is nothing more important to your life and sanity than finding a balance. If you go insane and start painting half of yourself blue and screaming “FREEEEEDOOOOOOOM!” you won’t be able to help your students.

    I wish you the very best of luck and want you to know that you’re not alone. Keep up the good work!


  5. jtops444 says:

    This is my 9th year and I am more stressed this year than ever before. Maybe it is because I am also math chair for my school. Or maybe it is because I have a toddler that keeps me busy. Also my school was number one in the county for math scores (and number 5 in the state). You would think that would mean less stress, less pressure, but for some reason this year has been crazy. Maybe it is my principal.


  6. The first year is truly the worst. Even at year 16, I find myself being overwhelmed mid-October. I’m not sure why that is – but I’ve been reflecting on it lately (and in a post).

    I wish I could suggest ways to make assessment quicker for a High School math teacher. When you come up with some efficiency tricks, please pass them along – I’m sure us elementary folks can benefit from them.

    Janet | expateducator.com


  7. crazedmummy says:

    High school math – go to project based work. One giant wodge of grading every 3 weeks or so (so one living hell of a weekend) but the daily slog is gone. It’s such a relief. You can then spend a couple of hours each evening thinking calmly about what you are doing tomorrow, and changing things around based on today.
    Give the work back to the students. You can’t do the work for 300 students like this.


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  9. Susan says:

    The first year is the hardest. You will find the balance and next year you will just have to tweak your lessons and assessments, which you will do every year anyway. You can have the students switch papers to check their answers, at least on quizzes, unless your school has a policy against it. If you have electronic learner response systems that allow for you to get instant answers from your class in the form of open-ended numbers and text, multiple choice, sequencing and much more then your grading time would be considerably decreased. I hope things settle down soon.


  10. Chris Brownell says:

    If there is any of the “grading” work that is not truly involved with assessing learning (and let’s face it quite often there is, most homework, quick quizzes etc. not the assignments where you hope to understand what they understand.) as I was saying for any of the work that is not truly involved with assessing, this is appropriate for students to score. Devise a system that allows them either peer correct (I think the best option) or self-correct. This increases the time the students spend on these tasks and reduces the time you have to. Any time you don’t have to spend “grading” is time you can spend on saner pursuits.
    Best of luck, and those who encourage you with the thoughts of the second year and beyond are better are correct.
    Also remember every school year is finite. While the whole summers off idea that most outside education think is great isn’t true for the most part; the idea that at some point in June 2012 this first year will be finished and you can set it behind you has been a great comfort to me many times.


    • Thanks, Chris. I’ve very recently ventured into the students grading others’ quizzes arena. In fact, I started with my 4th-6th Algebra 1 periods today. It worked out fairly well. I still have to check them since sometimes they take off when they should not and vice versa. Allows me to focus more on understanding what they undertand though.


  11. Norma says:

    I know the feeling! I am a first year math teacher as well (Algebra II) and this is my first career job since graduating from HS and College. I felt I couldn’t keep up with all of the demands of the job. It is still pretty crazy, but I can’t believe I have almost made it to Christmas break! The one thing I want to work on is getting better at the teaching. Thanks for sharing!!


  12. Pingback: Still Struggling as a Second Year Teacher | Reflections of a Second-career Math Teacher

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