This was the perfect week to do a ‘Day-in-the-Life’ post. What a week! School dance, PTA presentation, bunches of parent/teacher conferences, and…well, the details are below in the craziest 24 hours of 2016 so far. It all started on:
Tuesday, January 12
2:55pm – Last bell of the day. Took care of a bunch of different individual student questions, most of which amounted to “Miss, I have a missing assignment” and my reply of “Did you look in the no-name folder?” And yes, all papers were found in the no-name folder.
4:30pm – Finish debriefing, and then planning, with student teacher. I observed her teach my EL class today. It went well, and she got the first decent feedback from her supervisor all year. Her supervisor is, of course, crazy. I met her last year, and no matter what, she starts out by giving really bad marks and then gradually improving those marks over the year. Regardless of what is actually happening most of the time.
5:45pm – Put the final touches of the PTA math department presentation on the clickable Google doc agenda. Set up tech in the library.
6:00pm – Dinner run at Blvd Burger for everyone. Blvd Burger’s menu is rather dizzying…mixed up the Blvd Melt and the Blvd Burger and got my colleagues orders wrong. Whoops. Sorry! I’m glad it was good anyway.
7:00pm – PTA meeting starts! We are third on the agenda, after announcements and some info from the new high school engineering program coordinator. But apparently the district’s new superintendent and her assistant showed up, so they are going to speak too.
7:20pm – Superintendent still speaking. The PTA meeting ends at 8:30. They told us we would have an hour, so we planned for an hour.
7:40pm – Superintendent still going. Politicians like to hear themselves speak? True.
7:50pm – Superintendent’s third attempt at wrapping up. Failed.
8:05pm – Wait…yes! She’s done! Onwards to math! Jargon-free explanation of the differences from old standards to new Common Core standards (at the secondary level, there’s not much different, IMO), an introduction to our new textbook and the accompanying online resources, as well as a bit of program planning in visual form.
8:30pm – Made it to the Q&A session in record time. WEIRD ass questions from these parents. Who cares what the other middle school in the district is doing? Why do you not know how to contact your student’s teacher in JANUARY? And I don’t even know what you mean by ‘Why do students have to learn multiple concepts?’ and how can I answer without making you appear dumb?
8:45pm – PTA meeting wrap up. As I was packing up the document camera, got ambushed by an unhappy parent who wants her son to be in the Accelerated Math course. Now. IN JANUARY. When he had already gone through the evaluation process back in spring of last year. But of course, now he has a tutor. Now he’s more prepared. Can he take the assessment now? No. Why? Because the assessment is the SBAC and we don’t have it. Why? Because we don’t. Contact the counselors in a couple months and they will have more info on when it’ll be. Counselors have already been contacted, with no new info to be had. Then why are you still asking? I don’t have any more info on it either. Why? Because apparently, I’m a horrible person, and won’t help you, and I’m being unfair and uncooperative.
8:50pm – Principal and AP comes to my rescue. Yay! I can go home!
9:45pm – Arrive home. Shower! Skincare! A bit of Harry Potter reading! Sleep!
Wednesday, January 13
5:15am – Alarm goes off. I want to chuck it out the window. Instead, I get up and get ready for the day.
6:15am – Definitely a coffee day. Swing by my local donut shop for a croissant too. The nice donut-lady drops 2 extra donut holes in my lovely paper bag of yumminess.
6:40am – Arrive at school. My student teacher doesn’t arrive until 8:30am, so I have my classroom all to myself. Grade and log homework, update my calendar while checking and replying to emails, set up materials for the day, xerox.
8:05am – Slightly late for the EL team meeting. I’m a definite no-go to CABE this year, no matter how much I want to go. Assistant superintendent of instruction is round-about with the dates for summer GLAD training. Apparently, she wants to know how many of us can go. But we can’t tell if we can go or not unless we have dates. Of course. 8th grade EL teachers request support – 27 8th grade EL students means we are failing them drastically (EL classes are supposed to be capped at 15).
8:45am – Meet up with my student teacher and we review the plan for the day. I also give her an update of anything new since 4:30 yesterday. This happens all the time, so I shouldn’t be surprised. This is also why I no longer plan weeks in advance. There’s just no point when things change anyway. Which is tough on new teachers who need to write full lesson plans.
9:30am – 3-Act-ifying [sort of] a super boring problem about writing and graphing systems of equations. Long prep days are the best! Especially after not having my long prep the previous week due to a professional development day.
10:40am – Issues with the xerox means copies are a bit delayed. My student teacher goes back to the classroom to start class while I finish up.
10:50am – Return to the classroom with a ginormous stack of papers in my arms, plus a couple of copy paper boxes. I always snag the empty copy paper boxes whenever available. It was a habit I formed over 6 years of moving house 8 times. I bought my own place now, and I don’t anticipate moving again for awhile, but I can’t quit the habit. I’m a copy paper box addict. They are free, and with a bit of contact paper or fabric and glue, they become very pretty, very sturdy storage devices for both my classroom and home.
11:00am – I take over the main lesson after my student teacher finishes the appetizer and homework check. Graphing in slope-intercept form is still rather shaky from the group, but they seem to get the concept of systems.
11:20am – Direct instruction over. Students take a few minutes to glue stuff into their notebooks. I go around picking them up by the spine and giving them a good shake to check.
11:25am – 3-Act-ified Camping Trip problem. Students have no clue what tubing is. YouTube is an awesome teacher. Everyone gets super into planning their camping trips.
11:35am – My student teacher relays that she sent two students to the health office, and neither of them have come back yet. I leave her to watch the class and investigate. The nurse tells me both students have come and gone with a note back to class nearly 20 minutes ago. I seek out the student services clerk, our campus patroller, and the APs. While they make a search of campus, I return to my classroom and phone the parents. I am super, super mad.
12:23pm – Lunch. Swing by Zeros Aren’t Permitted (a lunch-time program run by the counselors for students to do any missing work for some credit – I give full credit to the students who go) to check in on my students. Out of the 8 assigned to ZAP, only 2 show up. I address their misconceptions and leave only when I’m sure they understand what they are doing.
12:50pm – One of my ditching student’s parents calls back and says she tracked her son’s phone to the main office. I go there and find out that my two ditchers had hatched a plan with another buddy in a different class earlier that day. All three of them would excuse themselves to the health office. All three would then say they were well enough to return to class. Then, they would sneak out of school and walk over to Pizza Express together, and have a grand old extended lunch. They timed their return a bit too early, and were caught by the APs hanging out on the fire trail before the bell for actual lunch. Such. Deep. Anger.
12:55pm – Return to my classroom to formulate emails to parents of ditchers. They are no longer allowed out of my class for any reason. They can just pee in their pants, or vomit into my trash can. They cannot leave unless an adult is available to escort them. The assignments given today will also be counted as late, even if they manage to get them done and turned in on time.
1:03pm – My next class starts. The students are super loud and rowdy. When I make them give me an extra 6 minutes of SSR time, they finally settle down.
1:24pm – Content specific language work with 27 EL students ranging anywhere from arrived-in-the-country-two-weeks-ago to advanced bridging skills is TOUGH. And takes forever. But it’s going to be worth it. I hope?
1:55pm – Yay! They all can at least write and speak a sentence regarding slope-intercept form. Woot! Now moving on to systems.
2:30pm – Direct instruction done. This camping trip 3-Act thing will take much longer with my ELs than with my mainstream classes. We watch YouTube videos of RVs, kayaking, water skiing, as well as the tubing videos from earlier this morning. The students write about the similarities and differences between camping in the US and camping in their own country before pairing and sharing. My Mongolian student says, ‘In Mongolia, camping is not called camping. They ride horses, and build fires, and that is just their life. Nothing special.’ My Hindi-speaking students say, ‘In India, many people go camping. But they do not have tents. And they do not have food. And it is done on city streets, not in the woods. Camping in America seems much funner [sic].’ I forgive them instantaneously for being rowdy after lunch.
2:55pm – Last bell of the day. My ELs pack up. And this is no joke: ALL of them say bye to me. ALL of them say ‘Thank you, Miss!’ when they leave. They ask me to take them camping for real, because it sounds so fun! And we would all have fun together! And that I could teach them math outside! On a lake! While tubing! I love these EL kids. I do not understand why the other middle school thinks they are a nuisance, a wrench in their cogs. Well, they can send all their ELs to my school! These kids are better off without them.
I spend the rest of the afternoon grading, planning, checking in with my colleagues, and plotting and thinking of when I’ll next see my two ditchers, and how I’m going to kick their butts.