Making the Desert Bloom

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 01 2012

The Bureaucracy of the Job

The last two weeks have been insanely busy even by my standards. Even when I am not working, I am always thinking about teaching my kids, and everything I have to do get ready for them. However, I find that I spend so much of my time doing things that are indirectly related to my classroom that aren’t actually improving the outcomes for my students.

Every job has its layers of bureaucracy, and of course schools have plenty of them as well. I thought that since I was placed at a charter school, I would have less busy work paperwork than my colleagues at the Clark County School District. Boy, was I wrong. Since I teach at a charter school, we have to meet our own standard, county standards (same as the district), state standards, and finally the most cumbersome, the standards of Imagine Schools. So much of our time is spent with compliance issues from the principal on down that it significantly takes away from my teacher preparation. Then, by adding on my commitments with Teach for America and UNLV, it seems as though a majority of my work is not spent either teaching or preparing to teach.

As a first-year teacher, I need as much time as possible to improve my management and instruction strategies. I am getting better at both, but that does not mean that I am anywhere near good enough right now for my students. Some of the extra work with Imagine, Teach for America, and UNLV helps with this information, but some of it is irrelevant and less urgent to me right now. For example, I wish I was taking the class on teaching Elementary Science right now at UNLV since I have no idea how to teach science even though I do it three times a week. Instead, I am taking a class catering to English Language Learners. This class is useful to most other corps members, but I have no English Language Learners in my class. With so many things to learn, I wish I could have prioritized my classes rather than just following the prescribed path from UNLV.

At the end of the day, I like to see myself as a change agent. However, when I stuck completing paperwork everyday, I feel like my ability to be the best teacher possible is limited. One of the reasons I entered this profession was so that I would not be another paper-pusher, but often that’s exactly what I feel like. I know it’s part of the job, but it’s still disappointing. I guess I just have to truck along and keep finding new ways to get better than don’t take that much time.

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