I’ve always thought in really broad ideas. I see the world of teaching as one giant canvas, and each unit and subject area plays a part in a masterpiece; their lessons and projects contributing delicate brushstrokes and colours of various hues.
While seeing the big picture in all its masterful glory is certainly a great tool for a teacher to possess, it becomes increasingly difficult to live in a “big picture world”, when you have to live your day to day life with the reality of the small window of time that you have to execute anything in on a given day. Living in the small screen can be really difficult, as you want so desperately to fit enough of the big picture in that you don’t loose the memory of it, but small enough that you can actually understand what you’re looking at.
I’ve written about this before, and yet it is still something that I struggle a lot with. This past week in my internship has been a great reminder of just how much I struggle with this concept of narrowing the day-to-day while having the big picture in my mind. The great problem comes not even in breaking down that big idea into tangible pieces, but in actually executing the small piece in a way that students will “get” the point of the lesson while being able to connect it to the much larger picture. Far too often have I come across a lesson plan, whether it is online, in a teacher guide, or from another teacher, and I struggle to see how you can either get all of it in one lesson, or how to get students to connect it with the previous days’ lessons, and the lessons you will have coming up.
In the science unit I’m currently teaching I also have the added challenge of teaching a split grade classroom. We have a rather challenging schedule too, where I sometimes have just one of the grades and sometimes both, so I must find ways to link their units together at some points, but also keep them separate! Then if that wasn’t enough, there’s also the constant problem of not always being able to get everything you want in a lesson, but not being able to move on until you do!
I’ve been running into this collision of worlds all last week and into this one…trying to think of the day-to-day lessons, while trying to fit everything into the unit that is needed, while also planning ahead, picking up more subject areas, and finding a way to keep it all together. I also keep thinking that it’s only going to get worse before it gets better, as I still have more subject areas to add to my schedule!
Maybe I need to start looking at things a little differently? I don’t think I’ll ever loose my big picture mindset, but I think maybe I just need to slow things down a little, and step back for a moment. If I’m really going to do this teaching thing right, I’ve got to. I need to find some time to think about things other than school. I need to have fun taking the time away from doing school things and not be stressed about the school things I “should” be doing! I think it all comes back to balance. There’s lots of talk about a good work-life balance, but maybe I also need some future-present balance too. Perhaps I need to take the time to remember the saying, “You can only do what you can with what you have.” If I only have an evening, or even an hour to plan a stellar lesson, then I will make it the best I can in the time I have with the materials that are available.
This is my goal for the rest of the week. Do what I can with what I have. All I can do is all I can do, and there’s no need to over-work and over-stress about it all. Tonight I will plan a fun lesson for tomorrow, and go in with my head held high, knowing that it will all work out in the end, because I know that I have the ability to take those kids on their small screens and show them the big picture.