Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Crunching Numbers

I don't know how, but I'm supposed to manage to teach reading, writing, spelling, grammar, social studies, math, and science in the piddly number of minutes I have with my kids everyday. I'm also supposed to differentiate instruction so that each child is working at his or her instructional level, work with children in small groups, as well as work with students one-on-one. Someone tell me how to do all this when Chicago has the shortest school day in the state (and I believe one of the shortest in the country!). Some teachers would probably think I'm crazy for complaining, but I simply do not have enough time to do everything I need to do.

The school day starts at 8:50 and ends at 2:45. Subtract the 40-minute blocks of time for French (3x/week), Computers (2x/week), Library, Art, and Gym, and the 20-minute block for lunch, I have about 18 minutes left per week to teach. Half of that time is spent lining up and walking to and from the aforementioned classes, so now I'm down to nine minutes. It's a good thing my kids can already read, add, and subtract.

This time crunch causes major stress on my part and only my part. The kids are totally oblivious of time. Even though they are in fourth grade and can tell time and have a schedule written up on the board every day, they still don't know what's what. For example, they think it should be lunch time when they get hungry. It could be 10:00 and they're asking me if it's lunchtime yet. They always seem to know exactly when recess is, though, especially if we're late for it! For some reason, they don't care if we're late starting math or social studies.

Somehow I do it, though. I manage to cram in most of what I need to teach and give the kids time to use the bathroom. Now, time for me to use the bathroom is a different story...

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