Teaching is Hard

Teaching is an incredibly difficult profession. You make hundreds of judgement calls and snap decisions each day. You manage the behavior of 20-30 students who are each an individual who requires attention, reinforcement, rewards, encouragement, motivation and of course, the actual content knowledge you are trying to teach them. You have to teach the content in a variety of ways, have them repeat the skills and provide accommodations and differentiation so each student learns the skills and content fully. You have to grade the student’s work and give it back with feedback that informs them how to improve without making them feel poorly about their work. You have to manage petty conflicts between students, ensuring each feels they were supported, that they learned from the encounter and can move on. You have to manage an entire community of learners, support positivity and encourage compassion for each other. You have to communicate with parents constantly, coming up with positive things to say so that when the not-so-positive things come, they will actually listen. You have to gain parent’s trust, show competency so they feel their kids are spending time with a trusted, knowledgeable adult 6-7 hours a day. You have to teach Content, Standards, Skills and Test-Taking. You also have to teach Social and Emotional Strategies, how to interact with others, how to have a conversation, how to give and take feedback and criticism, how to make friends, how to deal with those you don’t get along with, the list goes on.

All of this can feel impossible or at the least, overwhelming. How is one or two or even three adults supposed to not only teach students Math, Social Studies, English, and Science but also How To Be A Fucking Person?? How to not be an asshole? How to Function In Society? How to Care About Others Instead of just Yourself? Things even many adults struggle with?

But this is all expected of you, if not by others, it is definitely expected by you of yourself. You spend so much time with these kids, how can you do any less than try to prepare them for the rest of their lives?  And this is my job. And I think I enjoy it. Some days more than others.

This post doesn’t really have any point to make. It is simply a rant, a venting of pent-up frustration at times as well as an acceptance of the path I’ve taken. Take it for what it’s worth.

 

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Exploration in Video Games: EuroTruck Simulator 2

What have I been doing when I find some time to kill but have not the willpower, nor the creative energy to write after a day or week of teaching? I enjoy playing video games, sometimes multiplayer if I’m feeling the competitive edge, when I want to use skills and strategy to overcome (or terribly lose to) an opponent.

Other times, I’ve found myself wanting to explore. I’ve always enjoyed exploring virtual worlds just as I enjoy exploring fictional realms and stories in books. In video games, there’s interactivity and you can affect and change that world to some extent. Sometimes, I enjoy affecting change, altering the world to my whims and witnessing the results of my actions.

Still other times, I simply want to see things. See other places, other worlds, other creatures. To be an observer in the world. I enjoy the simple games, where the action is perhaps not that exciting but the thrill comes from the views, the scenes, the simple pleasures, not the adrenaline rush but a pleasant joyride or a casual stroll through a virtual world.

This sort of fascination began when I caught on to the game EuroTruck Simulator 2, a simulation game where you drive a truck through a simplified (and shortened) version of Europe. You literally are in a truck, you pick up a trailer, you drive on the road avoiding other cars and following the rules of the road (mostly) until you reach your destination, wherein you drop your load off, get paid and move onto the next job. This is all it is. You drive around Europe, carting trailers of ice cream, or logs or hazardous material. There isn’t any racing, or storyline or anything. There’s just the hum of the truck, the winding roads and the landscape that goes by. Sure, there’s a management aspect, where you own a trucking company where you take out loans, hire other drivers and trucks, there’s a role-playing aspect where you gain experience as you complete jobs and work your way up to longer jobs or jobs that have a stricter time limit, etc. But that’s all just hitched alongside the game play, which is simply driving.

 

sunrise

There is excitement at times, close calls with other vehicles, taking a corner too tightly, running low on gas or sleep but needing to finish the job, etc. There can be rain and slippery roads and storms. These things happen but rarely. Most of the time you’re just driving, watching the scenery pass by, making sure you stay in your lane, that you’re not speeding, etc.

fun with colors

And I enjoy this.

big city drivin

You can turn on the radio and choose from a long list of internet radio stations from a handful of European countries as well as the good ol’ US of A itself. These stations have everything from Local Indie bands to Electronica to Drum N Bass to Country to Rap to Pop. Did you ever want to drive through along the highways of France listening to Polish Indie music? Well, you can.

 

what a lovely day for a drive

The game also has a great Camera Mode so you can pause the action, move the camera around and take a great screenshot. I enjoy this as well, becoming an amateur photographer on the spot, just to take a picture of my sick truck running down the road.

 

a lonely road at night

Some would find this game tedious, I’m sure. Repetitive, boring, useless.

spooooooooky

I find it pleasant, an escape, simple fun. You just focus on the road and the truck and the tunes and it’s good times.

sunrise or sunset?

I even saw a horse!

look at that horse!

Any traffic incidents are obviously other people’s faults (and by other people, I mean the computer game that makes the vehicles go vroom)

look at that jerk

It’s the simple experience that drives (heh) the joy of playing EuroTruck, the relatively easy and yet at times tense game play of maneuvering a big ol’ truck going down the road, taking turns and trying not to hit things, the beauty of the scenery passing by, farms, forests, mountains, lakes and rivers, etc. It’s the simple things.

thanks for reading

Time Is Not On My Side

Being a teacher has been far more difficult than I anticipated. It is rigorous, exhausting, demanding and draining. I end the day at 3:30 with the kids leaving to go home, feeling tired and yet there is likely an hour or two (or more) of paperwork, planning, grading or meetings to deal with. Mentally, this job is taking a toll.

It leaves me with little creative willpower and motivation to do other things, such as writing. I am constantly thinking of the upcoming day, week, upcoming meetings, appointments, tasks and other things that need doing. I am thinking of the classroom, how to improve it, how to be organized, and how to better manage student’s difficult behaviors. As much as I love this job, it takes a lot out of me.

I’ve found it difficult to find the time, much less the will to think of and write blog posts. I have been somewhat successful in keeping a to-do list and staying on top of things using a Bullet Journal (more on that in a future blog post but google it if you’re curious because I have no idea when the next blog post will come), but I still find myself barely keeping my head above water.

It is slowly getting better, I’m learning so much everyday and getting into the routine of this particular school and my various roles within it as English Co-Teacher, Math Co-Teacher and Special Ed. Teacher. Every week I feel slightly more competent, more in control and more prepared. Mindfulness is helping me stay grounded and calm (a future blog post on that is in the pipes as well). I just need to continue taking one step at at time. If I consider everything I need to do, it becomes overwhelming but if you just do one thing at a time and focus on that, eventually it all gets done.

All of this is simply to say I do not know when the next post will come. Writing happens sporadically, if at all. For those continuing to come and read, I appreciate it. It is nice to see the notification that some one has viewed something I wrote and is actually very motivating in pushing me to write more, so thanks for that.