Five P's for a Successful Teaching Career
No beating around the bush. Here are my five P's to having success in the classroom throughout your teaching career:
2. Planning *
3. Preparation *
* Combined post
Part IV: Perseverance
Early on, I encountered one of the biggest physical and mental challenges of my teaching career. On day one of exams, five of my six classes were to write during the last of three slots, with my sixth class scheduled a full week later on the following Monday.
It began to snow on the morning of the first exams, and by midday it was really coming down. I was about to be blindsided by the series of events that followed. Administration called for the buses and sent the students home early. It was the correct thing to do—the safety of our students should always be our primary concern. The unwritten exams from that afternoon were moved to the alternate day at the very end of exams. I would now go a whole week with no exams to mark. It took some time for me to get over the shock of this unfortunate news. I would now get my first class of exams on the second Monday, the other five sets Tuesday, and be back teaching on Wednesday. Each set of exams took me six to eight hours to mark and there were report cards to follow. This was an unexpected nightmare for me. How could I possibly get things done on time?
I realized I needed a plan, if I were to have any hope of success. The first week I proctored a couple of exams and did all I could to prepare for second term. On the weekend, I made sure to get rested for the onslaught of marking that was about to begin. The grading of Monday's exams was completed by later that evening. The marathon of marking would begin in earnest on Tuesday, some 30-40 hours worth. Though some of the marking was of the check mark variety, the majority involved evaluating written work.
On Tuesday morning I covered the window to my classroom with an emphatic "do not disturb!" sign, and as soon as the morning exams were collected I went at it full bore. The twenty-minute drive home was one of the few respites of the day as I proceeded to mark all evening and long into the night. After only a few hours of sleep, it was time to get ready and off to school. I told each of my classes what I was up against and that for the next two days they would be doing seatwork assignments. I let them know that I was determined to get their exam results back to them in a timely manner, and I kept them up to date on my progress. By making them feel part of it, I was able to gain their cooperation.
For the better part of three days, I marked and marked finishing sometime on Thursday evening. It certainly tested my mettle, but I proved up to that task and I even got my report cards completed on time.
Believe me, I hope that this never happens to you, but unexpected challenges are bound to come your way. They can be triggered by a poorly planned lesson, a situation with a student that was handled improperly, or an unexpected complaint by a parent, to mention a few. Though it's human nature to be upset by such things, do your best to maintain an even keel (See Tips 77 and 78 Ready-Set-Teach!) and carry on undeterred.
It's important to persevere through difficult times. Parents, students, and administration will all take note of how you respond to adversity. Such challenges present opportunities for growth and they often leave lasting impressions.