Oct. 18, 2022

May Tired in October? - E104

May Tired in October? - E104

This week, we are chatting about how chaotic this school year has been so far. We will share some of the different things that are making it feel so crazy, and we'll also brainstorm some ways that we can improve our daily teaching lives.

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Featured Content
**For detailed show notes, please visit our website at https://edugals.com/104**

  • Teacher tired is happening already and it's only October!
  • Chaotic startup for both of us - new student information system, more newcomers as immigration reopens, large class sizes with greater learning needs, emotional needs and well-being
  • Why we're tired - introverts!, re-organization of classroom materials, fixing the mess of the pandemic, lack of downtime, sickness, busy in our classroom with a self-pacing learning model (intentional chaos), de-streaming and lots of change

Our tips and strategies for moving forward:

  • Lean on each other - collaborative planning
  • Give yourself permission to slow down and do a little less
  • Release time for course planning, if possible
  • Give yourself time to plan mastery-based learning
  • Re-package and re-chunk your current materials
  • Go for done, not perfect (create videos in one take!, worry less about making all the transitions or making your slides pretty)
  • Consider annotating over animating when creating videos
  • Be okay to say no and be selective about additional opportunities outside of the classroom
  • If you're struggling, reach out to your colleagues and ask for help
  • Be flexible with timelines - it all gets done
  • Consider creating and using a common template (see E103)
  • SlidesMania
  • Make effective use of planning time during the week so you have downtime on the weekend
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[00:00:40] Rachel: In this episode, we are talking all about how chaotic this school year has been so far.

[00:00:46] Katie: Yes, we will share some of the different things that are making it feel so crazy, and we'll also brainstorm some ways that we can improve our daily teaching lives.

[00:00:58] Rachel: Let's get started.

[00:01:06] Rachel: This week Katie and I are gonna be chatting a little bit just about like how things are going in general for this school year and how kinda teacher tired we are already.

[00:01:17] Katie: I've been talking to a lot of teachers and even seeing a lot of conversations on Twitter about how a lot of people are feeling may tired. And when I say May, I mean like the month of May, which means it's the end of the school year. But we're only a month in so we thought maybe we'd, we'd talk about this a little bit and because it's not right , it's kind of scary and it's a scary way to set up our school year.

[00:01:41] Rachel: Yeah, for sure. It's been really a chaotic kind of start to the school year, or at least it's felt a bit chaotic. And I don't know if that's because I'm coming back from being in a board sort of level position and coming back into the classroom or what it is. I'm loving every minute of being in the classroom, but at the same time, it has felt far more chaotic of a start to the school year than usual.

[00:02:08] Katie: It has been, and it's not because you're coming back. It's, I think it's a whole lot of different things happening all at once. Like a few of them. We have a new student information system that has created so much chaos around, you know, how we view iup. So individual education plans even school buses have been chaotic.

and I know that doesn't affect everyone, but as the ESL lead and I have newcomers coming in all the time, a lot of them are like, we're supposed to get a school bus. And then I have to try to track down why. And it's because our information system isn't showing that they're English language learners, which then means that it's not going to the bus company.

And it's like this, like back and forth, almost like an argument as to whose responsibility it is and who wants to help. So it's, it's that alone. has put a lot of chaos. So the student information system, I think has been a huge hurdle this year. but beyond that, like at least in my program, which is English as a second language, it's almost like immigration to Canada has opened up again. Like things have eased up and more people are coming because. I still have students arriving and, and they're coming with much lower language levels than we're used to over the last couple of years which means they need more language supports, but it feels like every day or two, I'm getting a new student.

And that's a challenge as a teacher when, when I have new students coming in with very little language. I can't just forge ahead. I have to take some time to orient them to the classroom, to build that community for them as well, so they feel welcome and not like an outsider. There have been a lot of challenges.

[00:03:50] Rachel: I would say like my ESL science classes are also been my biggest source of chaos for the start of the school year. Because you're right, like I'm getting new students all the time. I think it's finally settled, but this is, you know, a full month into

[00:04:07] Katie: Mm-hmm.

[00:04:07] Rachel: being underway Now that it's finally settle.

and you're right, I'm getting a lot of students whose language proficiency is super, super low and coming into a science course with low English proficiency to begin with, like that's tough on those students. And what I'm finding is, you know, it's, it's chaotic because I need to be able to sit with those students and work with them one on one and help them through, like I had a major breakthrough with one of my students who.

Step one at like all of their, their language proficiencies in, in all the different areas and was not engaging whatsoever in class. You know, we come in, just put his head down, you know, and it, it's super, super sad. But I finally got him to come and sit beside me the other day and we were, you know, I had Google translate open up on my, my laptop screen.

And what was, what was stumping him was that he didn't even know what to put into Google Translate to ask the right questions. And so I was typing in sentences that I would say to him, and then you could see it, you could see the light bulb click on. Right. And he knew the science, he just didn't know how to express any of it in English.

And so like, I don't know. It's, it's such a challenge to uh, get that going in your classroom. But having that, and then having a class size of 25 ESL students who are, you know, some of them are very needy and, and they need a lot of support. Like it's been, it's been very, very challenging.

Lucky though, in that it's being split next week. So I am looking forward to that and to be able to, meet their needs, I guess, a little bit better, right?

[00:05:54] Katie: Yeah. And it's, it's a different population coming in, which it's actually been kind of exciting because I feel like my, my students are making more. Connections with people from other areas of the world, but, but we do have quite a few coming from Ukraine or from Afghanistan or from areas where they're also bringing with them a lot of different emotions.

And that has been difficult as well because you can see their frustration and you can see like they, they wanna be back home. But they can't be. And so there's also like the emotional component and and wellbeing that, that, that is very, I guess it's put on my shoulders a lot because I'm that one that they see every day and I'm their English language, like their teacher.

And there tends to be a different connection with esl. But it's been a very challenging year.

[00:06:42] Rachel: Yeah, it's, It's funny you bring that up. Like I even had a student the other day who told me all about her boy troubles, cuz she just doesn't have a friend yet to talk to. Right. And so, yeah, you're right. You're right. You are. Sort of getting a lot of those sort of conversations and, and that sort of trauma that can be, it can be a lot on your own wellbeing and can make you feel kind of tired.

[00:07:10] Katie: Yeah. So tired is definitely how I would describe my current state it, it's been really difficult and I try to, you know, when I arrive at school, I try to have my energy and be positive and be ready to take all my classes, but it's extremely draining,

especially the introvert in me who, who needs that, like, alone time at night in order to be able to kind of refresh and re-energize.

I'm not getting enough of that

[00:07:37] Rachel: For me, I think some of my, my tired as well is coming from the fact that, you know, over the past couple years we haven't been doing science labs and, and a lot of experiments and stuff just because of like social distancing constraints and things like that. And so, The state of like our prep rooms and our chemicals and all of that.

It's, it's just been a lot of organizing and a lot of getting things back up to where they should be. So, you know, silly things like I've, had to find more waste containers. and, and you know, go through and like beg other schools to be able to get some waste containers cuz for some reason we didn't have enough and the re, you know, maybe they just weren't replenished at, at some point or, you know, all of our chemicals.

We had to kind of go through, take an inventory, know what we need to order. So I've been working on a lot of that ordering kind of stuff as well. Like, it's just, it's a lot of things that. You know, just sort of have been pushed to the side over the past couple years. And rightly so, right? But it's now catching up on those things.

And so that's like really sucked a lot of my time and energy while I'm at school that I don't even get any planning done at school at all. It's all done at home. It's all done on weekends, and so, You know, it's, it's feeding into this vicious cycle where I'm not getting my downtime and I'm not getting time to just rest and relax.

And as you probably can tell from my voice, I've even gotten sick now. So, you know, I'm just kind of getting over a cold. But so that hasn't helped matters either.

[00:09:19] Katie: No, it has been a challenging startup. I'm, and, and so part of why I think we're recording this is because, you know, I'm wondering what can we do different? How can we move forward without continuing in this cycle of like, Wearing ourselves so thin that we're not effective anymore as educators. And so that's kind of why we hit record today because we wanted to kind of brainstorm some ideas and think about, so this is the reality, but how can we change this reality?

How can we improve our lives on a daily basis?

[00:09:48] Rachel: My biggest one is we gotta lean on each other.

And I think that that is something that has pulled me through the first few weeks of school is that we are leaning on each other. For example, our grade nine team, it's such great collaborative. Planning that we're all kind of divvying up the work amongst us so that when we're ready to like say, go record a video, all I have to do is watch the person's video that's recorded it for the week and take their slides and record it quickly, and then everything else is planned out, which is being fantastic and is really saving me a lot of time and a lot of stress.

Because if I had to plan all this stuff out by scratch, like I'd, I'd be drowning right now.

[00:10:34] Katie: Yeah, I think that's key. And I think that, you know, we need to find the colleagues and, and the course teams, and we need to just give each other permission to slow down if we need to. You know, even as our mastery stuff, like we've had to take a bit of a step back right now because of the volume of students still coming in.

And we had to give ourselves permission because there's a lot of guilt, right? Like we have all of these plans and these ideas and these things we want to accomplish, but we also don't wanna botch it. We don't wanna like do this, this terrible rollout and then feel like we failed and just give it up so we see the value in it.

So we've had to take a bit of a step back over the last week or so because it's so much to handle with students still coming.

[00:11:21] Rachel: Yeah. And that, that makes a lot of sense.

[00:11:23] Katie: Yeah. It's, it's sad. It makes me upset, but at the same, at the same time, I see the stress that it's putting on all of us. And we, we need to be good educators. We need to be good teachers. And putting that unnecessary pressure on us to forge ahead, I think wasn't helping. So we've had some good conversations and, Yeah, I think it's been good, 

but we're, We have some release time coming up and so that will help us find our feet again and feel like we're not under water.

[00:11:54] Rachel: Oh, that's great. Yeah, no, we've been looking into getting some release time as well for grade nine team, because We got so much planned back in the spring for sort of our first few weeks of school, but now it, like, it's catching up to us and we're at the point where we're like, Oh no. Now we have to plan new stuff and we don't have time.

So yes, getting that release time is gonna be super helpful for us. I don't know, part, part of the saving grace is the next unit that we need to plan is chemistry. And for me that one's like gonna be. 

You know, an easy one to plan. But this biology unit we're doing right now, like ecology, this is so outta my element and stuff that I don't really enjoy.

So I tend to, to push off that planning and you know, I'm not, I'm not really enjoying it very much, but so I'm looking forward to getting into, to topics that will go quicker for me.

[00:12:51] Katie: Yeah, that's fair. And, and I think that's almost like a good reminder of. modern classroom is great, but give yourself the time to plan it.

[00:12:59] Rachel: Yes.

[00:13:00] Katie: There's a lot of lead time that you need to be ready for it. And so build in that time because I think that's a, a good thing that I've learned is it's more than I thought it was going to be.

But that's not a bad thing. It just means I need to give myself even more time than I thought I needed.

[00:13:15] Rachel: It is a lot of time. It's, it's totally worth the effort. I think part of, part of the reason why I'm not completely drowning as well is because my, my other course is grade 11 chemistry, and I've taught that course so many times and I have so many videos for. That I'm not really recording very many videos at all.

It's really just about repackaging and re chunking the information.

Now I say that, but I recorded four videos this weekend for it but then also like to go along with that. Right? Is that recording Chemistry videos for me is quick because it's like, it's something I'm super comfortable with and I did them all within an hour this morning and got them all up on YouTube, you know, cuz I, I don't do more than one.

It. It is what it is when it's recorded. You know, mistakes and all warts and all, like everything's left in there and it's okay.

[00:14:13] Katie: Yeah, and I think that's, that's a healthy way of doing it. Don't go for perfection. 

Please don't. That'll take you even longer. No

[00:14:22] Rachel: No, even, even the one I recorded this morning for grade nine science, like it was all about the sun and characteristics of the sun, and I had no clue what I was talking about, but you know, thank goodness for my colleague in their, they're very detailed speakers notes. I could pretty much just kinda read from it and go through, go through the motions, and I did it in one take.

[00:14:43] Katie: Nice. That's a good feeling.

[00:14:45] Rachel: Yeah, it is, it is. So I think that could be a really big, like time sucker is if you're really concerned about getting those videos. Perfect. So you, you definitely don't want to go for perfection.

[00:15:00] Katie: No, and it's almost, I've, I've learned that doing like transitions and animations in slides takes a long time. So it's almost worth if you're on a time crunch. You can worry a little less about making your slides perfect too. I mean, the transitions are still good, but just do the key transitions that are super necessary.

Don't do it all.

You can go back and make it better after you've gone through it once.

[00:15:25] Rachel: I think that's it's partly where like, if you're really, really comfortable with your curriculum, you can even just kind of go off the fly, right? And so a lot of the videos I make, I use, explain everything because annotating for me is uh, like really important with, with any of the chemistry content that I explain.

I very rarely make videos where I'm animating content in.

So by using Explain everything and just annotating on my iPad as I'm recording, that saves me time in setting up the slides because I'm just setting up like kind of the bare bones and then I'm writing on top of it. And so there's not as much time going into the planning piece.

And then recording is, like I said, one and done. Right.

[00:16:12] Katie: Mm-hmm. . Yeah.

[00:16:13] Rachel: But yeah, I th I think leaning on your colleagues is, is really, really important right now.

[00:16:19] Katie: and, and give yourself permission to do a little less . I know that sounds terrible, but There's a lot on our plates right now, and there's a lot of opportunities that are coming out now for professional development, and they're throughout the day, which is great, but it can also be challenging to find supply teachers or to put together all these supply plans for multiple days.

So do what you're comfortable with. Don't take more than you think you can handle. Because that's an additional stress too, right? Being away is often harder than being there. So I think it's awesome that there, that the boards are showing they value the time and are putting PD back throughout the day, but don't feel like you have to do it all.

[00:16:59] Rachel: I think actually one other kind of piece of advice I have too is if you're working with a team, like, and you're struggling, reach out

[00:17:07] Katie: Yeah, don't hide it. 

don't don't just forge ahead. Because that's not gonna help anyone in the long run.

[00:17:13] Rachel: No, it's definitely not. So, you know, reaching out and just saying, Hey, like, I need a hand with this. Can anyone help me? There are even things that I'm planning right now for a grade nine team that I'm like, Oh my God, I'm struggling with this. And so I need to take my own advice and say, Hey, like, can, can someone help me with this?

Because, you know, it's, it's not going so great. I, I think I've like figured out what I wanna do for it now, but it's taken me so long

That I should have, I should have just said, Hey, you know, you know what team, Like I'm struggling with this. Help me.

[00:17:45] Katie: No, definitely. Or even just saying I'm struggling. I have ideas. I just need time. If you wanna talk through the ideas, we can and then you can help. But I know that there's like this, well, this sense of responsibility of this is what I was given. Don't feel that way.

No, I would much rather, like in our team for esl, it's, it's easier for you to say, Hey, I am really struggling right now.

I just need. Two minutes to catch my breath and then I can go ahead and forge ahead, but just don't expect it right away.

Be flexible with timelines.

[00:18:19] Rachel: Yeah, for sure. I mean, it all gets done right. It, it will get done. Might not be what you had envisioned, and that's okay. As. You know, we, we just, we, it just needs to be done. Doesn't need to be perfect. I feel like that's, you know, I'm on, I'm like a record player that's skipping right. Non repeat, but really, it's, it's going for done not perfect.

[00:18:43] Katie: and I'm just as guilty because I'll be honest with you, I'm trying to avoid. Plain slides. So I spend a lot of time trying to find templates, and I sit there and I say to myself, Why am I doing this? It doesn't have to look beautiful the first time. Like, I really just need to get through this. And then when I have more time, I can find those good templates and then I'll be okay.

But I, I put so much pressure on making it all beautiful now that I, Yeah, I take longer than I need.

[00:19:13] Rachel: Yeah, see I've been stepping back a lot on that. I have not even gone on slides mania to look for a template yet this school year, because I've been just working from the plane like white with black lettering, keeping it really simple. Everything amusing is Poppins fonts because I am obsessed with that font right now, and.

You know, I've got my, my little template that we shared out on our last podcast episode, which is the one that I'm using to populate all my slides for all the different tasks within a lesson. And I have to say like that as being a huge time saver as well, is having that template and not like stressing about finding things that are gonna look pretty.

[00:19:59] Katie: Ah. See I'm making them look pretty

[00:20:01] Rachel: Yeah. You gotta stop doing that

[00:20:04] Katie: I know I do. And I know that it's taking a lot of time cuz then I have to like, play with the template in and of itself and then make what I want, work with it. So I know that that's an issue that I need to stop. But it's hard.

[00:20:17] Rachel: mean, you think about it, right? Like you go to slides, mania, you go, and I love slides mania. 

Like we've, we've talked about them so many times on the podcast and how much we love their templates, and they're fantastic. But you'll go download a template. Maybe you don't like the fonts, or maybe you don't like exactly where something is.

So then you fiddle with all of that, and all of it takes time and it takes time away from. What's really important and what's really important is getting your message across for your curriculum and making sure that students understand that.

[00:20:49] Katie: Yeah, I know, I know Rachel

[00:20:53] Rachel: And it's funny, like we, we tell our students that all the time, right? If they're making a presentation, we're like, No, Focus on the content first, and then if you have time at the end, make it pretty. And I know as teachers we're, we're so guilty of doing the opposite.

[00:21:07] Katie: know we're hypocritical. What's with that

Yes. And so that's, that's been my downfall. But I'm trying to give myself permission to make it not pretty and fix it later.

So we'll see how that goes.

[00:21:21] Rachel: Yeah. No, I, I, I cannot talk about creating your own template enough. I, I've found that to be such a time saver. This year.

[00:21:31] Katie: Yeah, I could see that.

[00:21:32] Rachel: I think the other reason why it's felt a bit chaotic this school year is because with doing something like a self-paced, mastery based kind of classroom, I am busier in my classroom than I normally would be if I was doing a traditional like, Here's our lecture, here's the homework. Go practice. You know, maybe one day we'll do a lab, whatever.

it is way, way busier doing a self-paced mastery based learning model because I have so much going on in my room. So I'll have students sitting with me doing mastery checks. I'll have other students that I'm working with one on one or in small groups, and then hopefully circulating around the room and checking in with groups.

You know, I might have groups up at the white boards doing activities. I have other. Teams sometimes doing laps. Like it's, it's chaos in my room. And I love the chaos because it's it's intentional. Chaos is, is what I like to kind of say, but it makes for a very, very busy sort of teaching period and then that's tiring.

And I think it's tiring, partly because I'm an introvert as well, so it's, you know, sucking all of my energy and I'm not getting that chance to recharge. And then not only that, but I teach three periods in a row. So that's kind of like by the end of that third period, I'm really done.

[00:22:52] Katie: Oh totally. I could see that. That'd be tough. One good thing that's happening, cuz I feel like I don't just want all negative. My, my ESL class is so loud,

[00:23:02] Rachel: That's amazing. Mine's so quiet.

[00:23:05] Katie: so we really focused on like games and interactions and we even gather as like a whole ESL program and do a lot of like drama games and moving around and. And the other day we, we did get together and then we were walking down the hall and the ESL students were so loud that every other teacher in the hallway was coming out to be like, What's happening right now?

And then they saw it was all the English language learners and then afterwards they were like, What did you do? They were so loud. I never hear them so loud. . So I think that one positive that has come from, you know, how we've been structuring our classes and, and focusing on community is what we actually have them all talking a lot more.

And they're, they're comfortable and they're not afraid of authority or anything like that. They're, they're embracing school in Ontario. And they feel okay talking to each other, which is huge in English. 

[00:24:03] Rachel: That is amazing. My ESL science class is still a bit quiet, although they can, can get pretty chatty too.

And it's, it's been really neat. I have one student who's already taught me how to count to one from one to 10 in, Chinese,

you know, she gave it to me one day and she's like, You have a quiz tomorrow, I'm like, Oh, no.

[00:24:25] Katie: That is awesome. And I, and I have a student from Mexico, which has been fun because then it's been forcing my, my Spanish side, like of my brain to finally come back

So it's been neat to speak other languages again. It's been a long time. But no. And so there are great things that happening that are happening, but.

But the exhaustion is real. And I think it's worth mentioning because I think we're all feeling it a little bit, and it's a good reminder to slow down a bit, recenter yourself, figure out a good way to de-stress and, and get more rest you can be more effective.

[00:24:57] Rachel: Yeah, for me, it's gonna be figuring out how to get this planning done during the week so we can take, take a break on the weekends.

[00:25:05] Katie: Yep, that's gonna be fun.

[00:25:07] Rachel: I feel like though, like, you know, this semester is nuts because we're teaching this grade nine science course for the first time. It's d streamed, it's new curriculum and while the curriculum hasn't changed that much, it's still like rethinking how we're approaching 

it. But once we kind of get through this semester, doing it again next semester is going to be much easier because then it's, it's just about tweaking, right?

And, and changing things here and there, and refining as we go. So I'm very much looking forward to semester too. I feel like I will be a little bit saner but yes. Right now it's, it's, it's pretty crazy.

[00:25:47] Katie: I I do think you bring up a good point. I think d streaming has been probably a big part because a lot of teachers are wondering like, How do we do this well? How do we kind of change what we're doing? How can we make sure we get all kids learning the content effectively? And, and, and I think that combined with everything else going on is certainly one of the factors.

[00:26:09] Rachel: Yeah, it is a lot of change that's happening this year, right? Like we've had a lot of change. We've had our student information system change. We've had all of our D streaming being brought in, um, all the covid protocols are gone now. So it's, it's a lot of change that's happening in a very short amount of time, and I think, like you said, like that's contributing to the, the tiredness as well.

[00:26:34] Katie: Yeah, and so part of me feels like when our student information system is working more effectively and smoothly, I say when? I don't know if I should be saying if but maybe when they're able to figure out how to program that properly to make it work for our board, I think things will settle in that way and we'll get used to it.

But I don't know. We shall see.


So our big message for today is hang in there. Give yourself permission to relax and lean on those around you. Because we're a team and I think that we need to remember that we're all there to support one another.

[00:27:12] Rachel: And I think that sums it up perfectly. So we're gonna wrap it up right there, and what we'll do is we'll put any of the links or resources we talked about here today in our show note. You can access our show notes for this episode@edugals.com slash 1 0 4. That's edu G l s.com/ 1 0 4.

[00:27:31] Katie: And if you like what you heard today, then feel free to share it with a colleague or a friend. And don't forget to subscribe on your favorite podcast app so that you don't miss out on any future content.

[00:27:41] Rachel: and as always, we'd love to hear from you. So let us know. Are. This teacher tired already, Like is it just us? You can go onto our flip at edu gals.com/flipgrid and leave us a video message there. Or you can go to our website@edugals.com and leave us a written response.

[00:28:00] Katie: Thanks for listening and see you next week.