Saturday, July 26, 2014

Working my way back

Hello everyone! Hope you all are enjoying your summer with however you are selecting to spend it. Despite my best intentions to spend my own summer doing things of relaxation and leisure, I have been doing nothing of the sort. :-p Sometimes divine callings and the complicated demands of life simply require things that deviate from your best laid plans. 

Despite the aforementioned, I'm definitely thinking about the start of school (in less than 25 days!) and returning to the classroom AND blogging here. *YAY!* As always, I have grand dreams and great intentions. However... it's safe to say that that sort of stuff always lands me within my own embarrassing failures (AND in front of quite the audience at that). I'm doing my best to avoid the previous though and one way that I have learned aids in such prevention is coming up with a reasonably sound and executable plan. Does this make me sound like someone who lacks the ability to dream and spontaneously create? (Which is an individual who is far from the one I have known myself to be most of my life) I don't know. All I do know is that I have learned very much that it IS true that failure to plan all too often lends to me planning to fail no matter how/what I might intend, hope for, dream of, or scramble to make happen. 

All of this said, this coming year marks the 9th year of my teaching career and the 7th year at my current school where I am in my 2nd year as department head but incidentally? It will be my FIRST year as the sole Visual Art Teacher and having my very own classroom (though I had my own classroom years ago when I was in public school). 

It's all very exciting but also quite daunting at the same time. I'm going to be teaching all of the courses that I have been teaching in addition to three other intermediate/advanced courses. I will also be working closely with the principal and the academic dean to "chart" a better path for the visual art curriculum which will likely involve a huge overhaul of the courses offered (including new course descriptions, clearly defined and communicated study "paths" for art students to navigate, and other things that fall into the realms of "etc."). Does all of this sound a little like chaos waiting to happen? I am being realistic and saying that it quite possibly does. Still, I'm determined to take all of what I have learned and know I'm able to do in order to steady myself so that when the waters (that I'm metaphorically on) start becoming choppy, I don't end up so motion sick that I cannot do what I am determined to try and do - which is stay the course!

For the past couple of months, I've been anticipating all of the things that I know I will need to do better and one of those things is being more organized, concrete in my forward thinking ways, and documenting all of because my memory and retention isn't nearly what it used to be. Truth be told, I don't use a Teacher Planning book despite trying to use one year after year only to have the thing be crushed at the bottom of my teacher tote bag before even half the year has arrived. In thinking back on my failed attempts to do this better (because I NEED to do this and I don't deny it), I came to some conclusions about what my natural work habits are and how to adhere to those so that it's not such a chore to do classroom and teacher planning.

One thing in particular that I learned is that the teacher planners/organizers that I have used in the past aren't that well suited for the curriculum/content that I teach and/or the approach that I take in the classroom. I was able to identify the things that I believed would be essential for the unique things that I sort of require that seemed like they should be readily available. I set out to find a teacher planner that would as many of these things as possible and despite my best efforts (and they're pretty decent and it's safe to say that if something is out there I. WILL. FIND. IT.), I was turning up empty handed and becoming increasingly frustrated. 

As things happened, I was about to give up after MONTHS of dealing with this and then I finally found what I believe is a bit of a "holy grail" for my finicky teacher planning needs... HELLO, ERIN CONDREN TEACHER PLANNERS!!!!!!

I don't know where these things have been and why I haven't ever heard of them before but I know about them now and I have already ordered my own planning book and I am IMPATIENTLY awaiting its arrival - that should come just in time for teachers work week a week and a half BEFORE the first day of school. 

Please know that I'm not plugging this product because I'm getting any sort of compensation from them at all and I haven't even gotten mine yet (but I hope to share an initial review and then follow-up review eventually) about my thoughts on it. If you know anything about Erin Condren products, you might note that they are a bit on the pricy side but honestly? I am not a big shopper and so when I do spend money, I am always willing to have it be something that is worth the money (however much it might be) so that I don't have to spend any more money again because I have to replace what was supposed to work to begin with. 

I've ordered my Erin Condren teacher planner and I'm so excited to get it soon!!! If you don't need a teacher planner, she also has a life planner (that's still pretty amazing if you ask me) and a wedding planner (also amazing and I recently bought one for a friend as her engagement gift). If you are interested in ordering an Erin Condren planner (of any type) too, you can do so and get a $10 coupon toward it by way of THIS LINK (which is a referral link from me and it allows me to accrue credits toward my next year's planner). 

Anyway, I'll let you know when I get my planner but just wanted to pop on here to say hi with an update of how things are in my niche of the world and also let you know that I am certainly interested (and thinking deeply about!) how I will get back on here more often than not (at all). 

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