The middle of spring break

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

This blog post is part of an ongoing series to capture a Day in the Life of a Teacher, a collective project started by Tina Cardone @crstn85.

Ah, spring break.  A time to rest and catch up on projects for school and around the house.  I prefer not to travel on spring break, because this far into the school year, my to-do list has gotten out of control and I need a chance to catch up.

Unfortunately, I’ve been sick for the past 4 weeks, so I don’t think much is going to get done today.  I have bronchitis now and my plan is to sit around the house in my pajamas all day, which should make for a short blog entry.

9:00 – I wake up, catch up on email and twitter.

9:30 – For breakfast I eat some oatmeal and make a pot of tea to share with my husband when he gets up.  He is also on spring break, and usually gets up around 9:30 on holidays.

10:15 – I decide to take a nap, so I read a library book for half an hour and then sleep.

1:45 – I have some leftovers for lunch and then catch up on my last DITLife blog post.  I hadn’t had a chance to do the reflection questions until now.  I really like the reflection piece of this project.  I am a highly reflective teacher by nature, so these are the kinds of questions that I enjoy.  I also email a student who is (hopefully) doing some remedial work over the break with suggestions on things she can do.

2:45 – We watch the last half of a movie that we started last night.  It’s not unusual, even on break, for us to start a movie after dinner and then I get tired and go to bed halfway through, so we have to finish it the next day.

3:45 – After the movie, I have a snack and look at some resources for upcoming units.  I fall prey to the lure of TpT and wind up ordering some games for my classroom.  This is a seller that I’ve seen a sample product she listed for free and liked it a lot, so now I’ll have a complete set of her games so I can have one available for every unit for the kids to play.  I just need to round up 10 used Pringles cans to keep them in.  With that in mind, I ask my husband to buy Pringles when he goes to the store.

5:00 – I put on some Star Trek Next Generation and play with my new teacher planner that I bought from the same seller on TpT.  Right now I don’t have a good organization for things like sub plans and emergency information.  This will be a good way to keep track of things.  I would also like to start keeping attendance and grades separately.  Right now I keep them together and sometimes I don’t remember to take attendance every period.  (We’re only required to take attendance first period every day.  I always ask the kids where missing classmates are, but I don’t always remember to write it down.)

6:15 – It’s amazing how long you can spend playing with fonts and organizational tools.  As fun as that was, I’m going to see about making dinner and finding something else to do for the evening.  I think the day of rest was helpful, I’m feeling better than I was.

8:00 – While hanging about on Twitter, I stumbled into the NCTM chat for an article from MTMS.  It was on teaching for conceptual understanding before procedural fluency, which is something that I only explicitly learned about last year, but has been an idea near and dear to my heart for all of my teaching career.  The chat was great, and I came away with an Ignite talk from Annie Fetter that I was excited to hear.  Then I listened to two more Ignite talks of hers on YouTube.  I really see how Notice and Wonder connects with the idea of developing the headache before we give kids the aspirin.  Her premise that students can’t hear a solution to a question that they didn’t ask makes so much sense to me.  I’m going to keep looking for applications to the problems that I create and I’m going to start presenting situations with the question removed so the kids can just notice and wonder and ask questions themselves.  Then we can solve the questions that they ask and hopefully that will help with both their interest and their memory.

9:30 – I’m going to read my library book and go to bed.

Reflection questions:

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?

Well, I’m sure I shouldn’t have spent money on Teachers Pay Teachers.  I told myself that I wasn’t going to keep pumping money into my classroom after the outrageous amount that I spent last year.  But, I’m looking forward to the games I bought and to the new planner system.  Hopefully, it will keep me a little more organized.

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’m really excited about the new courses that I’m teaching next year.  We haven’t ironed out exactly what I’m doing, but it’s going to be some combination of engineering and some math/coding based on a series of lessons that Khan Academy put up about how Pixar makes their movies.  I’ve mentioned a little bit to the kids so far and they are excited.  My only challenge lately has been not overcommitting on all the things that I’m excited to do next year, and this summer.  Right now I have two weeks of vacation this summer, and given the amount of work I usually do over the summer, that isn’t enough.  Still, I’ll make it work.

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.

The most relational moment I’ve had recently was with my husband.  Last week we celebrated our twentieth anniversary.  A long time ago my mentor teacher told me that it was good that I cared so much about my students and their one shot at my class, but when I said “My husband will always be there” she said “Don’t be so sure.  If you don’t take care of your marriage, he might not be.”  That was good advice.  Luckily, my husband really likes to work a lot too, so we muddle through.  He’s been a great role model to me of what a dedicated teacher looks like.  He’s teaching an extra class and coaching the robotics team next year, so we’re both going to have to continue to be mindful about carving out time together every week.

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?

Well, I had originally planned to spend a lot of time this week digging through some NASA engineering curricula that I picked up at the LLI conference as well as planning that self-paced unit for the end of the year.  However, sometimes you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else, and that is where I find myself now.  All of that work will still be waiting for me next week, and I’m sure I will find a way to get it all done.

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

I had some good conversations with my principal and with the headmaster about the work that I am doing at the school.  They’re continuing to ask me to teach more classes and I’m having to push back to ask that they balance the teaching load more fairly between myself and my colleagues.  I love to teach and there is a part of me that wants to teach all the classes!  However, I also know that I can offer more to the program if I am not overloaded.  I never want to take on so many classes that I start teaching them poorly, and I think my administrators understand that.  I’m curious to see what they will work out for my teaching assignment for next year.

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