This post is part of the “Day in the Life” project by Tina Cardone.
12:46pm – I’m just getting settled at the coffee shop to work for the day. I didn’t get out of bed really until 9 (even though I had been up since 7 thinking of the hundreds of things on my to-do list), then I puttered around the house putting something in the slow cooker for dinner and just generally being slow. Plus the best coffeeshop in the area is a 10 minute bus ride, and it’s always packed in the middle of the day. But I managed to find a seat across from Sam with a plug so I’m good to go.
There’s so much to do I don’t really know where to start. I worked for about 5 hours yesterday and barely made a dent. I have to register half the senior class for their IB exams, and work on plans for this week, and start writing letters of recommendation that have a Nov. 1st deadline. I have 22 letters to write, most of which I agreed to back when I thought I would be the 10th grade team leader with a partner. Being the 12th grade team leader by myself is kicking my ass. Plus I forgot how much work writing a curriculum from scratch is. Overall I think we’re doing a good job with Algebra 2, but it’s a lot of work. And I’m not going to even think about the grading I have in my bag because that can wait and these other things simply cannot. So off to work I go.
3:17 pm – Finally finished registering students for their IB exams. That’s 2.5 hours I’ll never get back. The question is do I jump right into a letter of rec (since that’s what stressing me out the most) or do I give my brain a break and do some planning? Planning is energizing for me so maybe I’ll do that until 3:45. But I really, really, really have to get at least one letter done today. Rip the bandaid off.
4:18 pm – A lesson is planned (not even the one I meant to plan) but still no letter of rec. I really want to plan Thursday’s lesson for Algebra 2 but I’m forcing myself to write. Ugh.
5:30 pm – Finally done the first letter. I wasn’t writing for that whole time, there were also emails from a student asking about their quiz tomorrow and some emails from my co-planners about lessons later this week I was responding to. But I did spend about an hour on it. It was the first college rec I’ve ever written so I had to get my head into the right place. And I think it still has to be edited, but I’ve at least gotten the ball rolling. It’s one of those things that just learning how to think about it makes the whole process easier. Plus this wasn’t a student I was exceptionally close with so I had less of a thesis walking in. But it was nice to write, and from an objective point of view it was fun to think of nice things to stay about them. But I’m spent. I’m going to spend the rest of the night on the couch with my boyfriend watching TV.
6:23 pm – Ok, NOW I’m leaving. Had to write an email about a student in crisis. Never a dull moment. Sad Sundays are the worst.
The rest of the night was spent eating pot roast and watching TV. Specifically Westworld which everyone should be watching!
Reflection (Written on 10/26/16)
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?
Honestly when I’m working at the coffeeshop I don’t see myself as making a ton of decisions, but I probably was with regards to how the lesson I was planning was structured. I’ve been continually making an effort this year to get kids to make discoveries on their own. I think it’s been going well overall, and I try to save any “direct instruction” for after they’ve already had a go at the concept first.
The downside to that is we’re not making enough time for just practice, and test scores reflect that. I think we need to figure out how to reach a better balance of practice and inquiry. Trying to find this balance is really tricky, especially with a new curriculum that we’re writing as we go.
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?
Last week was PSAT day, and we always have workshops for our seniors. I was super, super, super stressed out about it all last week. Especially when I found out a few days before I’d have to lead a workshop. But when I started the workshop by telling the kids I was their Grade Leader I actually had one group that cheered. That was really flattering and nice to hear.
That said, all last week BEFORE the workshops was rough. I was so stressed out and overwhelmed and wondering how I would continue to get through the year. That part is exhausting. I want to be a teacher leader but there’s so much pressure to not waste other people’s time.
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.
Almost every time I go to the coffee shop I sit down and work with Sam. It’s great because I have someone I can talk through ideas with, or even just vent to. And while I hesitate to call my work “misery”, misery does love company. Having that relationship with someone not in my school is so important, and it makes Sad Sundays more bearable.
A more recent example (that happened yesterday, so about a week after the blog post was initially written) was when some of the seniors came to talk to me. Right now they have an EE due and college applications are coming up, all on top of regular high school stress. It was nice that they came to talk to me, and I think I handled the interactions well. I validated their feelings and also gave them steps to move forward. I know they don’t always see it but I do love the kids and it’s stressful for me that they’re so overwrought. But many of them do see it, and they show they appreciate it in their own way.
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?
It’s always amazing that the first thing to go when you’re running out of time is the exit slip. That’s happened twice in the last week. I worry that I’m not getting nearly as much feedback as I should be from the students, and I’m worried I’m giving even less feedback. Plus from what I understand the quiz we gave last week was a mess which further heightens this feeling that I’m not doing enough. I just don’t know how to find more time in the lessons.
I also feel kind of frantic about their note-taking. I’m doing better than I have in the past, but nowhere near as well as I think I could be doing. I really want to give a notebook quiz but that requires me to make it (and other versions so kids don’t cheat) and then check it and it’s just exhausting. But if you wait too long then kids are already set in their ways and it’s impossible to move them. Maybe I’ll try to make time for that today.
5) What else happened this month that you would like to share?
The “Explore MTBoS” workshop I lead at MfA was really successful! We got a ton of positive feedback which was great.
I know this post sounds super stressed out, but it’s been a stressful couple of weeks. Things have calmed down significantly now (hence why I finally have time to complete my reflections).