All In A Day’s Work

Most people really don’t know what a teacher does in a given day beyond teach and even then, those outside education haven’t the slightest idea of what goes into a day.

So in order to better clarify that I’ll share with you all what my day (today in fact) looked liked.

4:45- I am awoken by the less than subtle wail of my alarm clock. I realize today is progress report day and I know that that extra 30 seconds of sleep will have to wait until tonight when I go to bed. I know I have to get ready and get in and start printing. Four classes of nearly 30 kids a piece takes a lot of paper and when the ink is running low in your printer and no replacement cartridges are to be found you better get it right the first time.

I shower, dress, make my morning coffee and by 5:30 I am out the door. It takes me about 10 minutes to get to work and I pull into the parking lot at around 5:45. I am not always the first teacher there but usually am the second.

I check my box look for the attendance sheet and other miscellaneous items to be disseminated to the students. Then I make my trek down the extraordinary long hallway stopping only to drop off my lunch in the teacher work room refrigerator.  Then further down the hallway.

I unlock my classroom door flip on the lights and get to work.

6:10: I fire up my computer and open up my grade book, online of course and prepare to print my progress reports. I go to my first class and print all 28 reports. I go to the printer and see the ink is a bit faded. After the class finishes printing I take out the cartridge give it a hopeful shake an put it back in. I print out the second class and bingo, coming out beautifully. Checking the first classes grades I see a mistake.

Darn it* (not really what I said)

I go to my grade book and my weighted grades are off. Somehow this wonderful technology (also not what I said) reset my grade weights to 0 across the board. I spend another 5 minutes resetting and having to reprint. It is now 6:30, the kids will be released to come to us in about 15 minutes.

I get my reports printed and go through each one verifying they are correct. I write on all of those failing a comment suggesting how those students can improve their grade. Being it is the first of the year and the first progress report there are a lot and I’m not feeling great about it, but I know most of the kids will treat it with a shrug of their shoulders.

I get the rest of my classroom set up for my first class. At 6:45 the first bell rings releasing the kids to come down the hallways to go to lockers and go to homeroom. Its Tuesday, so our classes are flip flopped so I can see another group of students for our tutorial period. Over half still have to finish taking a quiz, and the other half need to do corrections on a quiz we’ve already taken and most didn’t do so hot on.

I great all the students as they come down the hall and I monitor them to make sure no chaos erupts, because chaos among 7th graders almost never happens right? I share a brief conversation with a few of my coworkers all the time monitoring and helping kids who on week four of school, still can’t get into their locker. The tardy bell rings, we clear the hall and being the day.

7:05: Announcements, the Pledge of Allegiance, moment of silence and the School News presented by the SGA. Then we have our tutorial which more or less has become a time for students to try and do their homework from the previous night because they didn’t do it, make up work, or for the kids who are top of things read.  I don’t let them do nothing, so I assign them extra practice and offer tutoring sessions. I have a few students from other classes come in for help because they know today is progress report day and they want to do corrections on their quizzes they’ve bombed.

Forget they’ve had them for, in the case of the first quiz, two weeks, they are now just asking for help to make corrections.  Still I gladly help and answer questions of the few who come in and before I know it the tutorial period is over. A couple of cheerleaders who have practice after school ask to come in for 30 minutes. I agree to an impromptu tutorial period after school. I’m there anyway til 4 if not later most days.

7:50: My first official class (third period) starts. It takes little time to get everyone settled out. I give my few direction to start and quiet down and I hand out old corrected quizzes and then progress report. There is a buzz and the students get their grades. Some looked shocked, other surprised, but surprisingly, some of the students with the worst grades are actually laughing about their grades.

Not sure if it is a defense mechanism, but it is less than encouraging  to see and hear but we got to move on. We have to review for a test that is tomorrow and by the time reports are all handed out I have maybe 35 minutes left of instructional time. I use all of it. We go through each problem of the study guide I had assigned the night before.

It is in a similar format and has similar questions as will be on the test. I break down each problem and how the students are supposed to solve them. I let them lead and guide with questions. I want them to not only tell me the answer but how they got it.

I move about the classroom, I never sit down, I never allow a student to look disengaged and if they look as if they may just do that, I call on them and they snap back to attention.  I consider myself a fairly entertaining teacher. I’m full of energy, I have to be if I want them to pay attention to a less than engaging activity.

It works most days but it is exhausting. Coffee is my saving grace and never eating breakfast starts to pay a toll come the end of the first class around 8:50. I’m hungry and I still have one more class to go til planning.

8:55: My second class starts and this is the one where 23 of my 28 students are presently not passing. Poor quiz grades are the culprit and few have done corrections to the first quiz, same as my first class. I do a little pep talk motivation, they are more panicked than the last class but still there is a lackadaisical mentality that rubs me the wrong way.

The second class goes about the same as the first but I don’t get through the entire study guide. I will have to upload it onto the class website later so they can get those answers.

9:50: The kids are dismissed to their elective classes and we must escort them down the hallway because they can’t be trusted to make it the few hundred feet to the elective hallway on their own. Yes, I’m talking about 7th graders.

I go back to my room immediately check my e-mail. About six messages since this morning a form in our box, our grade system is back online, apparently I got in early enough before it crashed and what? I have a math meeting at central office at 3:30. Didn’t realize that, but I’m going to have to be late cause my students come first and I agreed to the tutoring session.

I e-mail the math program direction and explain, it isn’t a problem though.

Finally at around 10:05 I get to go eat lunch. Yes, I eat my lunch at 10:00, a frozen Digiorno personal pizza and a water. Yummy. As I eat I have to sit through a blood-born pathogens training given by the school nurse. We also learn to deal with kids with allergies as well as seizure disorders. We have all of the above.

After the presentation a teacher makes a sweeping declaration that she won’t call any more meetings involving her students regarding behavior. No reason why just that she won’t be involved or call the meeting and that she doesn’t even care. Another teacher calls her to task a bit and voices raise and the teacher who made the declaration storms out of the work room. You hear her classroom door slam just seconds later.

10:35: I receipt some fund raising money a student brought in and take it to the front office. Not sure which copy, the white, pink, or yellow, the book keeper gets I make the mistake of trying to ask. I am reprimanded for not reading her pamphlet that was put in our receipt books.  Mine of course wasn’t in mine, can’t honestly remember if I took it out. She finds an extra one I read it make the appropriate changes and walk back down the hallway to inform the other teachers about what not to do.

It isn’t like I have anything else to do beside remember how to receipt fund raising money that I will never ever see twice a year.

I go to the grade-level chair and sit down to discuss which students may need to have Personalized Education Plans because they failed their past End of Grade tests or are at risk of failing the grade. We are in our fourth week of school, yet we are supposed to devise a plan for kids we just met and not sure if they are at risk this year.

We create our list and I get charged with storing the forms in my room because I have a cabinet that is capable of being locked.

11:30: The kids come funneling back down from electives. Note the elective teachers don’t escort them, or at least some of them don’t, from the elective hallway.

They get their materials and lunch and go to their 7th period.

We are in class maybe 10 minutes, enough time to handout progress reports and give them the same spiel on grades and improving them and it is time to go to lunch. We are required to escort our students in a single file line down the hall to the cafeteria and monitor them in the cafeteria. No big deal, and it does give you a chance to interact with the kids outside the classroom.

The kids eat and at 12:20 we make our way back to class.

Today we are taking notes on Multiplying fractions. I walk them through the notes and how to multiply fractions. I’m just as engaging as before but this class is tough. They don’t like math and it shows but I’m no less enthused to teach them. I call on students to solve problems. I let them do group collaboration and just like that time is up and it is time for them to go. Homework in hand of course.

1:17: My final class of the day. Just like the first two, it starts with me breaking the news on grades. I teach the same concept as the first two (third time for the day). We review the study guide for their test. Just all other classes, I never stop teaching, never sit down, and never let anyone kids become disengaged.

Inquiry, probe, bad joke, back to examples. Some good questions are asked but by the end of the day the kids are mentally spent. I have to handout that form mentioned above. The kids have to ask what it is and as soon as they know it is a way that their parents can log on a computer and find out their current grades anytime, I hear the wadding up of that form across the room.

2:10 Announcements and students are dismissed. We escort them in a line down the hall and to the bus lot and monitor them there until the buses crank up.

I walk back in check my box, go purchase a soda from the work room and off to my tutoring session. Three cheerleaders await, all not doing so hot in my class but at least they stayed. We go over some old quizzes. I answer their questions. Probe them and encourage them about the rules, for integers and order of operations. At 2:55 they have to go to cheer-leading practice.  I pack up my things, papers to grade, computer and materials needed for my math meeting/training.

The intercom beeps in my room and they say I have a parent on the phone. I run to take it and as I expected it is about their child failing my class. I calm their nerves a bit and tell them I do offer after school tutoring. The conversation lasts about 5 minutes and then we hang up.

Back to my room pick up my things and head out of the building to my car and off across town to central office.

3:40: I’m 10 minutes late but the meeting hasn’t started. We go through a quick refresher of the program and do a sample computer program on how to calculate factors.

The meeting wraps up around 5 but I have to talk to some people about getting access to some information on line and acquiring some computers so this program I’m learning about I can actually use with the students. My wife calls around 10 after 5 and I know I need to head home for dinner.

5:45 Once home I eat, do the dishes and my wife, a nurse, is off to work for the night shift. I then take out papers and grade them, and check e-mails.

One parent e-mail about grades. I send a response about tutoring opportunities and back to grading.

7:45: I finally finish grading my last paper. Its early, I’m tired but I couldn’t sleep if I wanted to so I watch some TV. I get the idea after talking to a friend who jokes with me that because I have 82 percent of one class failing a class that I should be fired. He has no idea, even though he’s joking about what my days are like.

So I sit down and start writing a post about my day. And at 10:01 I’m finally done. Off to bed and it will all begin again.

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