This post is part of the “Day in the Life” project by Tina Cardone.
7:22am – Been in the building for about 10 minutes and have been looking over the materials my coworker made for today’s Algebra 2 class. It’s still dark out because we’re reached the point of the year where it’s dark when I wake up, dark when I get to school, and usually dark when I leave school. It’s frankly depressing.
We have parent teacher conferences this evening. At our school we try to focus on having the students lead the conferences, talking about what’s going well and what they want to improve. The goal is to have students be reflective about class and about their performance. It’s nice because it’s less talking from us, but it’s still draining to have to be “on” for another three hours every night. I like meeting the parents though. Meeting parents/families/guardians always puts so much stuff into focus. You can start to see where kids get their personalities from. It’s also fascinating to see how parents respond to hearing about their kids. Sometimes fascinating good, sometimes fascinating bad, but always enlightening. Unfortunately, more often than not the parents you see are not the parents you need to see, but we’ve made calls home to try and fix that. I’m still really, really bad about reaching out though.
Students are supposed to see me to schedule a time to meet ahead of time, but for some reason I haven’t had many kids sign up yet. It’s pretty typical that juniors and seniors don’t sign up, but I expected many more sophomores to sign up. Somehow I have a 50 minute window in the middle of the evening tonight. Which actually means I’ll have a bunch of parents just dropping in. It’s good that the parents have come in and are looking to meet teachers, but it’s frustrating to not be able to predict which conversations I’ll have to have.
In between writing this I’ve been tweaking the prompt sheet I have on the table for kids to read from. It helps guide the conversation and is less work for me. I also give the parents a little contact sheet with pertinent info to get in touch with me. I don’t think they ever use it (and I usually see it on the floor in the hallway later) but hey, due diligence.
7:53am – And so it begins. A kid just came in to sign up.
8:10am – Our department meeting was cancelled today so I have some time, but I’m not sure what to do. Updating some slides, looking through the classwork for today. Nothing super exciting.
10:24am – Two classes down. During the morning meeting time I didn’t do as much as I probably should have, but I’ve been feeling kind of unmotivated. It’s not that I don’t have a ton of things to do, it’s just that none of them feel especially pressing.
In IB Studies we’re finishing up the Statistical Analysis unit by doing some practice with the Chi Squared test. This has been the first time I’ve ever even done the Chi-Squared test, much less taught it, and it’s been really interesting. I have a much, much stronger understanding of the underlying math than I did before and it’s been really interesting.
In Algebra 2 we’re teaching the Quadratic Formula, so we get to sing the song. We showed kids the derivation, but honestly that level of algebra is a stretch for a lot of kids. We’ve been flying through the Quadratics unit because it’s presumed prior knowledge. Except we don’t offer Algebra 1 at our school. So some kids saw all of this in middle school, while others never really mastered linear equations. The range of skills is crazy, and we’re trying to give them as much guidance as possible. I think we’re doing alright, but overall they are struggling on assessments. It was nice that today we weren’t trying to fly through material.
11:13am – During my planning period I had a quick meeting with the department chair who taught IB Math Studies last year. We’re starting the Internal Assessment and I don’t really have a grasp for what I need to do. The meeting was helpful, but really just reinforced the idea that I really have to sit down and read through all the materials. Not really sure when that has time to happen. I’m off to go try to complete some grading before my next class.
11:43am – Well, grading didn’t happen, but I fixed a worksheet from earlier this year on completing the square with algebra tiles. Anything to avoid grading, I guess.
2:37pm – My R6 class went similarly to my R2 class, with not quite enough practice for the amount of time. But the problem is we’ve been going so slowly through this unit, and all the problems are exactly the same structure. So once they’ve seen 4-5 examples it doesn’t feel like the best use of time. But I also want to make sure they’re adequately prepared. Finding that line when practice goes from meaningful to perfunctory isn’t easy.
Because of parent teacher conferences I didn’t bring lunch, instead planning on ordering an early dinner. But I was starving so I went to the market next door to get some chips and a juice and a soda. I’m already very tired and the fact that I still have 3 hours of parent conversations ahead of me is even more tiring, so I needed some caffeine. After I got back I was able to get some grading knocked out so that was good. Hopefully I’ll be able to finish the grading before conferences start so that won’t be on my list.
Kids are still coming in to sign up for conferences which start in 2 and a half hours.
4:07pm – Finished my grading! It was only 30 short quizzes but still I hate grading. Now I’m trying to scarf down dinner ahead of conferences tonight. I don’t know if I’ll manage to print stuff out for the bulletin board or not, but I’ll try.
5:29pm – Two conferences so far, and I have a 10 minute break. That said I have 8 in a row next, which basically comes out to an hour and a half of just talking to different families. It’s not that the conversations are hard, and it’s nice to see the families, but also socially draining. Luckily I don’t think I have any super stressful conversations tonight.
7:06pm – The problem with how we do conferences is that every conference is supposed to last 10 minutes, but then they’re also supposed to start one right after the other. So if I start at 5, talk for 10 minutes, I’m done at 5:10. But then that family has to be somewhere to start at 5:10. So the second one of the night is a minute late. After 6 in a row, you’re almost ten minutes behind, so conversations are rushed, and everything falls apart. And it’s shitty because you don’t want to rush important conversations, or make any parent feel like you’re tapping your foot to get them out the door, but then you also don’t want to waste a parent’s time that is waiting. It’s stressful and messy. And what’s silly is that now I have only one conference over the next 50 minutes, so it was RUSH RUSH RUSH and now nothing.
7:56pm – Well, the family that was supposed to show up at 7:40 didn’t show up, so I guess I’m done for the night. I was able to make a key for the quadratics practice we’re doing in Algebra 2. But I just realized I never made copies of the quiz I’m giving tomorrow so I’m off to do that real quick.
8:06pm – Copies made, so I’m out of here. Home to sit on the couch and not think about school for a few hours.