Documenting my experience as a teacher with FLVS!

Posts tagged ‘Education’

11 months later…

Okay… so 11 months later… wow I’m really not good at blogging regularly!  I need to add blogging to my calendar.  If there is anything that I have learned in the past 11 months … I have learned that if it’s not in my calendar it does not get done.  I live and die by my calendar these days.  So here’s the 11 month update…

Virtual teaching is AH.MAZ.ING!!!  It is definitely a LOT of work and I have realized that I am in fact a type-A personality.  It is so hard to step away and S.T.O.P. working when there are no custodians to kick you out of the building!  There is always “just one more thing” to do.  I was getting better at putting my work – life and my family – life in balance and then … SUMMER!

Yes, summer, that time of year that most teachers look longingly forward to all year, dreaming of sleeping in, going to the beach, traveling, curling up with a good book (Mr. Grey & Ms. Steele … wooo!), and of course the planning for the new school year (righting all the wrongs of years gone by), workshops, and professional development.  Most of all summer is the time when teachers recharge their batteries.  It is a much-needed break from the insanity that is the school year.

Prisoners of Time is a publication that, “resulted from the 1991 federal legislation that created the National Education Commission on Time and Learning (PL 102-62), whose sponsors included Senators Jeff Bingaman, Edward M. Kennedy, Claiborne Pell, and Mark Hatfield and Representatives William D. Ford and Dale E. Kildee.” [1]  It’s interesting to me that the idea to shake things up in education started in 1965 (see the letter on page 1), the report was originally published in 1994 and the version above is the 2005 reprint.   An abridged version of this report was emailed to me with my interview day instructions.  In addition to the other instructions I was told to read the report as it is “the cornerstone of FLVS philosophy and integral to our work.”  In virtual learning, because students are able to work at their own pace, they are no longer prisoners of time as they are in physical schools.

Why did I mention Prisoners of Time when speaking of the bliss that is summer?  Well, because in the virtual world summer does not exist as it does in the world of physical school because students are NOT prisoners of time!  In physical school at the end of the school year if the student hasn’t yet mastered the standards they are assigned a failing grade and have to repeat the course, in the virtual world given the same scenario, the student continues working until they master the standards and are assigned the grade they earn.  During the 8 – 9 weeks of summer I have students (some who were assigned a D or F at the end of their 180 days in the course and others wanting to get ahead) trying to complete a course that is paced out for 32 – 36 weeks.  So instead of completing 5 assignments per week their task is to complete 21 – 22 assignments per week and now multiply that not by the 150 students that I normally have but by the load of 175 students (upped due to a waiting list for the course of over 2000 students – our course is VERY popular during the summer) and you have one very busy summer!

Life balance is OUT. THE. WINDOW.

Here’s the craziest part… I still LOVE my job!  First was the insanity of senior season, then closing out the school year and now … the insanity of summer.  The one thing that I know is that when August rolls around in a little less than a month and I start to get loaded with kids needed to complete the course in 32 – 36 weeks that I am going to feel as though I am on vacation!

I was told that the learning curve for this job was one full year, and nothing could be more true.  I am looking forward to that time of year but for now, I’m managing to keep my head above water by clearing my grading every day.  I’m nervous about catching up after this 5 day respite we were given for the Fourth of July, however in the meantime I am enjoying the downtime.  Today, I fixed two of the computers in my house, had lunch with one of my FLVS colleagues and her daughter, watched some TV and did some reading.  All in all, a very relaxing and wonderful day off!  My Instructional Leader (Principal) instructed us to shut down the black box, step away and enjoy time with our families.  I didn’t finish my grading on Tuesday so I finished on Wednesday morning and shut the laptop down.  I have not touched it nor have I looked at my email, text or voice mail messages.  I am soooo tempted to peek and see how much work my students have submitted, but I have managed, thus far, not to.  It is an incredible struggle because I know that my stress level is directly proportional to how much work is in my inbox UNgraded.

Most likely, I’ll check it tomorrow and possibly do some grading so that I don’t have a horrible week next week. My routine is to empty my inbox on Sunday evening, pull my data from the previous week and get my progress reports sent or ready to be sent on Sunday.  Last week that meant going to bed at 3:30am on Monday morning.  I know how horrible that sounds, HOWEVER it allowed me to have an awesome Monday.  Not only did I sleep until 8am, but I was able to focus on my students, call parents, and tie up loose ends before the 4th.  Tuesday was not quite as successful due to a series of horrible DBAs (Discussion Based Assessments), but sometimes that happens.

So, for now, I am looking forward to the end of summer and the beginning of the “physical school” year and then Staff Conference in September!  I will be registering on Monday morning for conference and although I attended last year and it was awesome, I didn’t know enough to really appreciate it.  Now that I have nearly a year under my belt, I can hardly wait to be in Orlando at the Hilton with all of my colleagues.  I hope to blog again soon, at the very least before conference!

[1] Prisoners of Time. Rep. Denver, CO: ECS EDUCATION REFORM REPRINT SERIES, 2005. Prisoners of Time. Report of the National Education Commission on Time and Learning Reprinted with a New Introduction and Examples. Funded by a Grant from Washington Mutual to the Education Commission of the States, with Support from Learning Point Associates. Web. 05 July 2012..

Here we go… AGAIN!!!

Okay.. so I didn’t ever really blog/vent last school year about my frustrations or celebrations at my school.

Instead.. I resigned yesterday!!!

Mrs. Marsh has left the building!

Yes I RESIGNED from my teaching position at Andrew Jackson High School!  Congratulate me because I have accepted a position to teach with Florida Virtual School!  My commute has gone from 60 miles round trip daily, to a walk from my bedroom to my den.  I will now teach in whatever comfy pajamas are clean that day!   My life is good!  I have partially set up my home office although I need a larger desk!  I did find a decent wooden one at the Salvation Army for $99, so I’m going to go back today and see if it is still there because on Fridays at the Salvation Army (the one near me anyway) they give discounts on furniture!  They had an okay bookshelf for $69… but I think I’m going to pass on that for now.  If it’s still there next Friday.. I might get it!

So, you are wondering what one does as a virtual teacher!?!   Well, I will be making a LOT of phone calls!  And equal amount of grading will be done, but NO LESSON PLANNING!  Let me say that again… NO LESSON PLANNING!!!  Gone are the nights of sitting up writing three-page long Intervene School Compliant lesson plans, with pre-written higher-order questions, and all kinds of things that should and do just come naturally to me.  However, the lesson plan must be written so that the billion or so people who walk through our classrooms in any given week will know exactly what is going on… as if they couldn’t just sit down and watch!  LOL  But…. I digress…  The curriculum is all packaged so no lesson plans, just grading, talking on the phone and helping the students who need the help!  WHAT???  Did I just say helping the students that need the help???  Yes!!!!  Differentiation at it’s finest!  The students who can do the work on their own – DO and they move on, no more holding capable students back because some of the other students haven’t gotten it yet!  So, time is spent focusing on those who need the help the most!  Now, I will have to make contact with all of the students on a weekly basis and of course their parents as well!  This is the time-consuming part of teaching online… playing phone tag!  I’ll let you know how it goes!

So… I will be blogging about VIRTUAL TEACHING rather than teaching at an inner-city school.  Stay tuned!

Here we go!

After spending more hours than I care to admit reading blogs this morning, I have decided that I need to use this medium to share/vent my celebrations/frustrations about teaching at an inner-city high school facing closure by the powers that be at the state level.  I spent the morning reading blogs by other math teachers and am now inspired.  I feel better about the fact that I work nearly 24 hours a day honing my craft for students that could really care less about math.  I think know that my husband, especially, will appreciate the fact that I will now let loose on the “blogosphere” rather than on him regarding the daily trials and tribulations of my career.

So, hang in there for a wild ride!

Mrs. Marsh =)