September 13, 2016

DITLife: First Student Day

I've decided to catalogue this year, my tenth year teaching! I'm going to write at least one Day in the Life post each month.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016
First Student Day of the Year. 
Two hours of just 9th graders, full school classes 9-2.

The alarm went off at 6. Feeling tired and allergies acting up but I pulled it together and was dressed by 6:30. Make breakfasts and lunches. Start to leave at 6:58, so proud of myself we're leaving before 7! Realize it's trash day, but still leave at 6:59, yay! One day of on time departure down. Send my daughter and her friend off to the auditorium and head up to my classroom.

Last week my room was chilly, today it's stuffy. Sad. Good thing I got a fan on sale last week. Take some time to put stuff away and get the room ready. Run to the bathroom quick before freshman start practicing finding their classes. They rotate through their entire schedule (A and B day) spending just a couple minutes in each room. Greet lots of kids, congratulate them on finding the right room, clarify how to read our schedule, explain how lunches work. Jordan's friend stopped by three times to get directions. When I saw her other friend in the hallway later in the day she said, "Hi, Tina!" and then realized that we're at school. This should be interesting.

After the 9th graders are done practicing finding their classes they head back to the auditorium for an activity fair. I check in with teacher next door a bunch about our plans for the day. Get a chance to check in with Jordan's liaison and fix a glitch in her schedule.

9:24 - the rest of the students have arrived and it's advisory time. The rest of the year we meet with our advisory once a week for half an hour, but this week we'll see them each day to hand out and collect paperwork. Advisories stay together all four years, my crew graduated last year so we have a group of freshman. My co-teacher for advisory picked up all our supplies and printed a roster and spreadsheet to record everything they return. Go competent advisory buddy! We play a getting to know you game (choose vanilla or chocolate, summer or winter, born here or moved to Salem), went over some school rules and sent them on their way at 9:50!

My first block is team time which we got to use to make copies and finish getting ready today. We have a new dean for the freshman house and I haven't even met her yet. I'd like to get the team together and clarify some protocols but I'll take the prep time, especially when my prep block today is only half as long as usual with the delayed start and advisory. By 10:00 I've had four conversations about some students who want to do an independent study for honors precalc (band conflicts with the only two blocks it's offered, I'm happy to hang out with them in the library and grade while they work. It puts my total number of students up to 60! I ended up with some ridiculously small classes this year, partially due to teaching a contained double block but mostly due to scheduling strangeness (the other honors precalc class has 28 students, mine has 15). So my grading load is small and I'm happy for the chance to interact with a few more students, especially motivated ones!

Next door neighbor and I head down to the library to make photocopies. Encounter a broken copier (first day! already!) Fix the copier. Help someone with their copies. Get my two days of copies done. Organize my classroom a bit more and plan my journal blue books structure.

10:53 am notebook software (to make slides for the SMART board) crashes
10:55 am notebook crashes again
10:56 am and again! Finally quit trying to look at that file.
Set up paper notebook planner instead. Prep a bit more.

The principal walks by and says hi. I flag him down and ask for advice playing the double role of parent and staff - his son is now in tenth grade. He is very laid back, no concern about me driving students who are also Jordan's friends.

Turn on my classroom fan. It's stuffy and not improving in my room. I'm glad I bought a fan on sale last week! Get my slides done for the first two days by 11:30 (never got that other file open but worked around it). Hit the bathroom and grab a snack - lunch is late due to the delayed schedule today.

11:45 Algebra class starts. There are only ten of them and they're happily working quietly. I don't know what to do with myself so I putter and try not to interrupt. It still felt too quiet, so I turned on some background music. Two kids show up a half hour late because they went to the wrong lunch. I understand because their freshmen but annoyed because I specifically told them during the morning rotation the math department has second lunch.

12:35 - 1:05 Lunch! Chat with colleagues. Varying levels of stress in the room but the veterans remind the newbies that it gets easier!

1:10 Last class. I pronounced a student's name correctly and they were appreciative. First day win. Two separate students do some fraction operations successfully!! Big surprise on the first day and in my class of students with learning disabilities. Kudos to their previous teachers.

2:02 Bell rings. Update the bell schedule for tomorrow. Sit down and realize I'm tired! This three days in one schedule is too much. Since I'm not ready to stand up again I read my student's end of year reflections from last year. Until the other three precalc teachers show up at 2:30. I talk them through my plans for the first couple lessons and am once again thankful for new teachers who make me look ahead. They depart at 3 and I finish reading the reflections. Take a few minutes to check in with some algebra teachers about how today went and what we'll do tomorrow. Update my calendar and finally head home at 3:30.

When I get home I sit again! So tired! Take some time to catch up online. While eating chips I realize there's marker on my hands. Back to teaching life. From 4:30 to 5 I have a call to plan my ten year college reunion. Jordan's homework is entirely for me - I get to sign lots of paperwork. I open my email but decide I can't deal with it today. Start writing up this post while watching netflix. Pause at 6:20 to make dinner. Too tired to finish typing so continue scrolling the internet until bed time.

1) Teachers make a lot of decisions throughout the day. Sometimes we make so many it feels overwhelming. When you think about today, what is a decision/teacher move you made that you are proud of? What is one you are worried wasn’t ideal?

I was tempted to stop students to have a discussion when they were being super quiet, but they were working so I'm glad I resisted the need to have more control! I'm not sure what the best response was to the students who went to the wrong lunch but I didn't say much of anything to them so that certainly could have gone better.

2) Every person’s life is full of highs and lows. Share with us some of what that is like for a teacher. What are you looking forward to? What has been a challenge for you lately?

I am looking forward to settling into a routine. The rush of setting everything up and explaining routines and meeting new people and helping everyone else do all of those things is a major challenge!

3) We are reminded constantly of how relational teaching is. As teachers we work to build relationships with our coworkers and students. Describe a relational moment you had with someone recently.

I met almost all of my students today! That was exhausting. But step one toward building lots of relationships.

4) Teachers are always working on improving, and often have specific goals for things to work on throughout a year. What have you been doing to work toward your goal?  How do you feel you are doing?

My goal is to create space for other people's ideas. I let students work creatively on their four fours activity and gave them space to try a variety of approaches. I also asked what the precalc teachers had done and were thinking before telling them my lesson plans. Progress!

5) What else happened this month that you would like to share?

Since I just posted my teacher day last week not much is new!

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