Wow! I Didn’t Realize…

…that I really did THAT much in a day! And I don’t think that many others outside of the teaching profession realize how MUCH teachers really do.  We don’t just work from 8-2:30 (or whatever variation of the bell-to-bell schedule is at your school), and we don’t just work 180 days a year (or 175 last year when our district put us on furlough for 5 days). When teacher’s unions make it into the news (a la Chicago Public Schools in summer 2012) for going on strike or creating a fuss about working conditions, the general public sneers at them and tosses impertinent questions at them like, “What do you have to complain about? You have June, July, and August off!” Well, here’s my response to that:

A Day in the Life of Me: Thursday, 11/21/13

12:35 am: Wake up in a cold sweat thinking about my upcoming leave (I’m having back surgery mid-December), and how I’m going to handle giving appropriate feedback on quizzes and classwork  to my students to prepare them for their quarter assessments.  Turn on my phone, pull up the Notes app, and write down my thoughts so I can empty my head enough to go back to sleep.

5:14: Shoot up out of bed after I realize I forgot to set my alarm for 5.  Crap!

5:35: Go downstairs after my shower.  Get a cup of coffee going in the Keurig while I plug in the waffle maker and let our three dogs out to go potty. (Yes, I still use the word “potty”–I have a four-year-old…and dogs.  They understand words like that.)

5:36: Turn on cartoons for my little guy and get him snuggled in “Big Reddy” the big red blanket he likes to watch TV with.

5:37: Have a sip of coffee.  Get the dogs back in and feed them their breakfast.  Laugh at Vanilla (one of my little ones) who is doing her “breakfast dance”.  (That dog loves food…perhaps I should put her on a diet.)

5:38: Have another sip of coffee and go dry my hair.  (Thank goodness I have short hair–I don’t have time to mess with long hair.  I like to call my hairstyle a “dip-n-do”.)

5:40-6:00: Get breakfast ready for my two boys.  Waffles for the little one, reheated cinnamon rolls for the big one. Husband asks after returning from his morning run, “Did you get (big kid) up?” No! Oops.  Crap!

6:01: Continue with morning routine after getting the big kid up. Finish putting on makeup etc. while little guy eats breakfast.

6:10: Pull up lesson plans on my computer (I use Dropbox and have my school and home computers linked). I print a few items I need while still at home because my classroom computer is on the blink and I’m waiting for info-tech to come and fix it…again.  For the fourth time.

6:20: Make lunches.

6:30: Prompt little guy to get dressed (this always takes a long time). Get the dishwasher going and start the load of laundry that is sitting in the washer.

6:45: Get in the car to take the big kid to school first, then drop little guy off at pre-school.

7:05: Big kid is dropped off.  Stop at Safeway to get some boxes of tissue for my classroom.  (I saw this cool idea on Pinterest and want to use it so my students stop leaving nasty used tissues everywhere.)

7:30: Drop little guy off at preschool. Drive back to the other side of town to my school.

7:50: Get to school.  Make a few rushed copies, put lunch in the fridge, head out to the primary playground (we are a K-8 school) for my weekly morning yard duty.  (Note: I HATE primary yard duty.  The tattling makes me crazy. And there are SO. MANY. OF. THEM.)

8:07: Bell rings for school to start.  Have my students line up.  Give them the rough agenda for the day before letting them in the classroom.

8:09: IMP class.  We started a new unit on Tuesday–Overland Trail.  I have them discuss last night’s homework, Hats for Families.  I use a deck of cards to call on students (because I use them to make new groups every couple of weeks–Ace cards are group one, 2’s are group two etc.).  8 of hearts, 3 of diamonds, and 4 of spades were called to share their work.  Volunteers who have other ways of approaching the problem are invited to share after.

8:35: Today’s work is to Plan for the Long Journey and work on Family Constraints. They also have POW 8: The Hay Baler Problem that they work on when all other work in their groups is finished.

9:22: Clean up song–Today is the Benny Hill Show (thanks @MrVaudrey for sharing your music cues folder on Dropbox).  I’ve been having a conversation with @jreulbach, @algebrainiac1 and @shlagteach since Monday’s #MSMathChat about classroom jobs.  Here is what I decided on:

Class jobs--each card suit in a group is assigned a job.

Class jobs–each card suit in a group is assigned a job.

My classroom has been pretty darn clean since starting this new program.  I can’t believe I haven’t done it until now–I used to assign jobs when I taught 5th grade.  I guess I thought 7th/8th graders were too old for that.  Evidently not!

9:25: Dismiss and wait for the next class to line up.  (I don’t let them in the class unless they’re quiet–too hard to get them to settle down inside if I don’t.)

9:27: Period 2–7th Grade Pre-Algebra.  This class is one of my lower ones–I would classify it as an intervention level class.  We are working on adding fractions with unlike denominators.  They have the rule memorized like robots–my goals is to have them understand WHY that rule works and why it’s necessary.  So, I made some simple fraction problems and gave them all fraction strips to investigate with.  I walk around prompting group discussions with questions like, “How can you compare the 2/5 and 4/7? What needs to happen to both fraction strips in order to make an accurate comparison?” We are SLOWLY getting there.

10:16: Clean up and head out for break.  Run to the office to use the facilities.

10:26: Students come back in and “grab-n-go” to their next class. I wait for my next class to line up and give them the rough agenda for the day.

10:27: Period 3–8th Grade Intro to Algebra.  This is also an intervention level class and the resource specialist pushes in to help the kids who have IEPs. We are also working on fractions with unlike denominators, but I’m using a different adopted curriculum for this group–UCLA Algebra Readiness.  They use fraction arrays to explore unit fractions and discover equivalency.  I again walk around prompting discussion with questions like, “What do you notice about the fractions you shaded? How can you use that to generalize a statement about ALL equivalent fractions in the array?” I call on students to share their work with the class under the ELMO.

11:16: Clean up and dismiss. Wait for next class.

11:18-12:08: Per 4–8th grade Intro to Algebra.  We are doing the same thing as Period 3–luckily.  That doesn’t always happen.

12:08: Lunch.  Walk my 4th period to the lunchroom so they don’t run over any kindergarteners on the way.

12:09: Check my box in the staff room.  High five a few teachers who are eating lunch in there, and head back to my classroom to eat and open the door for students who are coming in to retake quizzes or get help on classwork.

12:48: Lunch is over.  Time for Period 5 to start.  It’s my lucky day–we are working on the same thing as Period 2!  However, this class is little more “with-it” and I don’t have to prompt with as many questions.  When discussion a problem with the whole group, one student took the class on a different path than I intended (we were discussing who did more of their project in the problem, Jamal who finished 2/3 or Kerry who finished 4/5).  This student made the observation that 4/5 is 80%.  This was great!  I wanted them to get to the point of seeing that you need to find a like denominator with fraction strips–I was hoping for the like denominator of 15, but this worked even better! So we went with it and converted 2/3 into a percent, then discussed what the word “percent” means (“per 100”) and turned them back into fractions.  SO MANY LIGHTBULBS WENT OFF!!! “OH!  I see now!  Kerry did more because 80/100 is more than 66.6/100!” So fantastic.  When I started the clean up song with this class I heard things like, “Class is over already! Wow! It didn’t seem like we were in here that long!” I ❤ this class!

1:38-2:25: Period 6: Math Targeted Instruction.  We have a class set of 19 iPads and 5 computers, so I have my students work daily on MobyMax.  They seem to like it and the program takes them through a set of individualized lessons based on a placement test from the beginning of the year.  (I’m supposed to be piloting ST Math, but I don’t know what happened with that plan.  I haven’t heard….)

2:25: End of the school day!  WOO HOO!! Walk the students out to the front of the school and make sure they behave until about 2:40.  Then I head back inside to grade a few comp books and POW 7s from my IMP class. (Thank goodness hubby picked up big kid from school today so I can do that.  Normally I have to leave right away to pick him up because his last class ends at 2.)

3:00: Head home to change for the gym.  Go work out with hubby, then go pick up little guy.  During this time I’m answering a few emails from students and parents asking questions about their grades or about late work they are trying to catch up on. I get a few emails from colleagues about grades–mid-term grade reports are due tomorrow.

4:30 Get back home and help hubby get dinner ready.  Big kid is doing his homework, so I help with that when he asks the occasional question.

5-6:30 Dinner, tidy, laundry, hang out with the fam.

6:30-7:30: Bedtime routine with the little guy.

7:30-9:00 Lesson plan, grade online quizzes, watch TV with big kid and hubby (ALL AT THE SAME TIME!)

9:00: Bed time for me!

Lather, rinse, and repeat all over again tomorrow!  So, despite getting paid for a 6 hour day, I really work more like a 10 hour day.  I’m exhausted just reading it!

3 thoughts on “Wow! I Didn’t Realize…

  1. Reading this I’m so grateful to stay with the same kiddos all day! I’m grateful that, most of the time, if I need a few more minutes or we’re finished early, we can do what is needed. I can’t imagine being organized enough to make sure that block of time is so well used and managing to switch gears for each group – both for content and personalities – so frequently! It’s impressive.

    • Thanks for the compliment. I think what helps is I always plan for more content than we actually get to. Very rarely so we have extra time at the end of class. Consequently, I fall behind in my lesson plans quite frequently!

  2. I hear you about not realizing how much we actually do each day until it’s all laid out. I’m blown away by your day…even before I got to the end of it, but I am glad it ended with you spending time with your family. I need to squeeze some family time into my life.

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