This post is part of the “Day in the Life” project by Tina Cardone.
7:31am – The downside to having a lazy Sunday with your boyfriend is that you don’t do the grocery shopping and then spend the rest of the week overpaying for coffee. And it’s not even that good, it’s just on the walk to school, and today is going to be crazy. In addition to my normal classes I have three meetings with parents to discuss why their student is at risk of not graduating on time. i will say that this year I feel much more prepared and comfortable in those meetings, but that’s also partially because I just don’t have time to be stressed out.
The rest of the day is fairly easy. My IB Studies class is doing a practice worksheet on finding the equations of tangent lines ahead of their quiz tomorrow, and my Algebra 2 class is taking a test on Exponential and Logarithmic functions. Tomorrow Algebra 2 is doing an independent problem solving thing on asymptotes that is probably too hard for them but we’ll see. And it’s a dress-down day, which is always appreciated. Tomorrow I get to decide how much work needs to come home with me over break and how much waits until I get back in March.
11:03am – The first time I’m sitting at my desk since I wrote that last post. The meeting during first period went well, but there’re lots of things we’re trying to coordinate.
In Studies, I’m glad I just forced the kids to work on practice problems for the day. The basic calculus they’re doing is not difficult, but it’s all so new that I don’t think the kids have realized that yet. I’m incredibly curious to see how the quiz goes tomorrow.
Algebra 2 I think the test is an appropriate level of difficulty. If anything it’s probably too short for the time period we’re giving the kids. It’s always really tricky trying to gauge difficulty of an exam.
11:41am – Trying to type up a plan for the student that missed half of the first semester and it’s really hard to focus. Partly because I have a huge iced coffee that is setting me on edge.
1:24pm – Rushed lunch before 9th period, then a phone meeting with a parent to discuss graduation plans for the spring. The student I was supposed to meet with 4th period wasn’t here, so I was able to talk to some other teachers in the building. Of course now I have to find time to meet with that student at some other time.
It’s always fascinating to me how kids deal with stress. Especially at our school, if you start to fall behind it’s offensively easy for that to snowball. We as a staff have to do more to curb that trend and help kids stay on track, but it’s all complicated by the fact that the natural inclination of some students is just to run from the problem. Which totally makes sense if you were never taught coping mechanisms or you have anxiety about confrontations, but so many of my meetings are “We can avoid ALL of this if you just tell us what is happening to you.” After two or three of these conversations I’m always so exhausted and defeated. Why didn’t we check in sooner? Why don’t we have better systems in place to help? Why are we so focused on our “high standards” if it’s hurting kids? I am very conflicted about the whole thing.
3:41pm – Back at my desk. I have to do some planning for when we get back from break, but I can see myself wandering the building some more. Or just randomly finding a bunch of other things to occupy my time. I’m terrible about being focused at the end of the day. I also kind of want to put together a staff appreciation thing for tomorrow but I don’t know if I have the mental energy at the moment.
5:04pm – I completed the “Graduation Plan” for the student I met with, and I made little Teacher Appreciation cards for the staff. I need to buy candy on my way to playing D&D tonight.
5:36pm – I reach a point in the night when I’m working on 3 different things at once, so none of them actually get done, but all of them make progress. Like this lesson I’ve been half-planning for an hour and a half now. But I have enough that I should easily be able to finish by tomorrow before I leave.
Tonight I’m playing D&D with some friends, so I have to get changed and head out. I will definitely not be doing more work later on this evening.
Reflection (Written on 3/16/17 pretending it was 2/16/17)
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?
Whenever making a plan with a student to graduate or to catch up or really to do anything, it’s always a process of “Is this the right choice?” Are we cutting the right thing so the student will feel motivation without losing hope? Are we setting realistic deadlines? Is the student overly optimistic/lying to me about what they can reasonably accomplish? Are we making it too easy? So all of those decisions are both things that I’m proud of and things I worry aren’t ideal.
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?
Same stuff, different month. I honestly don’t know how to make things calmer and more balanced for myself. On the plus side I have break starting on Friday and I plan on not bring home work so I can just sit and catch up.
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.
When making those graduation plans with students, you can see that they really do appreciate someone stopping, listening, and taking the time to help. In the grand scheme I always worry that it’s not enough, or more that it’s too little too late. But in the short term I think students do appreciate it.
I also think giving candy to the staff is a little thing I can do to show that I care. I know some staff members roll their eyes, but I hope it does some small thing to improve morale.
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?
Honestly I’ve just been so focused on being a Grade Level Leader and helping these kids to graduate, while also just trying to get something up on the board for Algebra 2, that I haven’t had a chance to act on many of my goals. Writing a new curriculum is so time-consuming and stressful, especially when we’re not sure what’s on the test. I will acknowledge that my teaching is far more thoughtful than it was a few years ago, and I do give so many more exit slips than I used to. Still not enough checks for understanding I think, though.
5) What else happened this month that you would like to share?
I’m making a conscious choice to not bring work home over break, but I worry that’s going to come back to bite me when I get back in a week. It was ok over Christmas though. We’ll see.