Friday, May 26, 2017
The last day of school
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.
Yesterday was our last day of classes. There were a lot of interruptions with Baccalaureate and locker clean out, so only two of my five classes actually met. But today, there are no classes at all, just assemblies and a goodbye for the summer party.
7:15 – I arrive on campus. Usually, there would be about half the faculty here, but today only a few cars are in the parking lot. I guess no one comes in for early help when the last day of classes was yesterday. I am met in the parking lot by a student I taught this year, who hands me a card. What a nice way to start the day!
7:45 – I have my tech checkout meeting. We go through the checklists that include every device I have in my room and if they need and repair or replacement. Since I “only” have a laptop, iPad, and document camera, my checkout is considered an easy one and I have a 15-minute time slot.
7:55 – The tech coordinator is ready for me now, but I have to be in class at 8:00. She lets me just drop everything off and go to class. She can always ask me next week if there is anything I left off my checkout sheets.
8:00 – I take attendance and we go downstairs for our last assembly. This one is “Fourth-grade Fly-Up” where the lower school head reads stories imagining what groups of fourth graders will be doing 20 years from now. After the story, they get a feather from the middle school head, then run along high fiving the middle school faculty on their way to their new seats in the bleachers, where the fifth-graders sit for assemblies. It’s really sweet and the kids and parents seem to like it a lot.
9:00 – We’re done with fly up and I talk to a few parents about my engineering course for next year. They want to know how to get in and are excited when I let them know that it is required for all sixth and eighth graders. I also ask two of the parents who work in engineering to come in and speak in class next year. They are very willing.
I run around looking for the teacher who is supposed to be showing a movie to the sixth-grade students, and wind up passing her on my search, so she gets to the group before I do. I bring my laptop and late papers to grade while the kids watch the movie. While I’m getting my things together, one of last year’s students brings me a card. I’m touched because I was his teacher last year, not this year. But when I read the card, I am even more touched. He said that he always liked math before, but being in my class ignited a passion for math that he hadn’t imagined before then. It is definitely the best card I’ve gotten in many years. When I see him around campus, I make sure to tell him that.
9:30 – I sit in the back of the room grading the late papers that were turned in the last couple of days while the kids watch the movie. I think it’s funny that they talk continuously throughout the movie. I wonder if this is generational or if it is just the way kids watch movies. I remember going to the theater in high school and being a lot more interested in talking to my friends than watching the film, which I know annoyed some of the other moviegoers. There are still a lot of things I have to learn about kids, despite the fact that next year will be my 20th year in the classroom.
10:15 – The late papers are graded and entered. The only thing I need to do now is update the late homework that the kids did in IXL. I’m not sure I can focus clearly on that in this environment, so I’ll save it for later. I can do it after our 11:30 dismissal today.
10:40 – It’s time for our class party, so we turn off the end of the movie and move the kids into the small gym. There are enough parents in there that I decide to go get some work done. I bump into a student who has lost his fidget spinner and wind up spending time looking for that. Before I know it, it is time for dismissal.
11:25 – I help move the kids to the front of the school, and work as a car hop connecting kids with cars until we’re down to one student who needs to go home. It’s hard saying goodbye to a couple of my favorite students (not that I have favorites!) who are moving away. Hopefully, they will visit.
12:05 – I go back upstairs to pack up. The headmaster stops by to check in on the new teacher mentor program. There are a couple of people who are fired up to do it, and he asks if I would mind stepping aside. I assure him that I am happy to let someone else fill that role. It was something I took on when another person left unexpectedly, but it’s not something I feel a particular passion for doing. We chat about weekend plans, and I head out. I grab my sandwich from the fridge and eat a quick lunch before I leave.
12:20 – Traffic is unexpectedly heavy. I don’t expect a lot of people to be on the freeway at lunchtime, but here they are. My sandwich wasn’t filling, so I stop in at Starbucks for a snack.
12:45 – I arrive at the quilt shop for my 1:00 class. There are already several students there and working. I wonder if I am late, but I am not. They are just early.
2:00 – I’m enjoying the class a great deal, but I am so tired that I think I’m going to cry. I make my apologies to my teacher and go home to take a nap.
4:00 – Although I’ve been home for an hour, I’m still fussing around taking care of chores. I’ve scheduled three summer doctor’s appointments for checkups and took care of one last form related to my tech checkout that I did this morning. Now I’m updating this post that I haven’t touched since 10:15 this morning. I wonder if I still want to take a nap. I’m supposed to be at a friend’s house in two hours for a surprise birthday party. I don’t know if I am going to stay up and go, or give up and nap. I was just telling my headmaster at noon that I’m getting better at knowing when I’ve reached my limit, rather than looking behind me and seeing that I’ve already passed it. Now I wonder if I am so much better at it after all. Tomorrow I need to run errands, drop off a cake at the church, get my eye exam, and I’m supposed to go to a meeting for better understanding at a mosque. I would prefer to spend the day on the couch in my pajamas. We’ll see what happens.
4:55 – I’ve finished updating my grade book with the rest of the late work that I received. At carpool today, one brilliant, but disorganized, young lady told me that she had left some papers on my desk. I’m so relieved to hear that because the zeros were bringing her average down a lot and given her abilities she really should be earning a high A. Now she will. I start to set up groups to track the students’ summer math work and then realize that I don’t have the class lists for the students I don’t teach. I could look them up, but I’m tired. I can do it tomorrow. The only reason I need those lists is that I’m tracking summer work for all the middle school students. There are two other teachers in the department, but one hasn’t been hired yet and the other won’t look at the students’ work over the break, so I offered to do all the students. It isn’t that much more work than just tracking my own. I think I’m going to try for that nap after all.
7:00 – Well, I was supposed to be at the party at 6:40 to rehearse our version of the Hallelujah chorus with joke happy birthday wording. I guess I’m not going. I get up and eat dinner. We walk the dogs and run some errands. I exchange emails with the tech director about how to get my classes set up to watch everyone’s summer math progress. Because she has different privileges than I do, she can see information that I cannot. I’m trying to make that clear to her so she will send me what I need to complete the setup.
10:15 – Well, there’s a lot more to do, but I have a three-day weekend to do it. I can write comments and plan summer school and run more errands another day. For now, I’m going to check in on the #MTBoS on Twitter.
11:00 – All is well in the world of math, and I downloaded a few freebies and a few paid items from Angela Watson on TpT. Time to sleep. Tomorrow’s another day.
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?
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?
Putting one foot in front of the other has been difficult this last week. As I write this, a week later, I realize it is just because I was tired. I have slept for 10 – 12 hours a night every day since school ended, plus taken a couple of naps. Clearly, I didn’t take my own advice about treating school as a marathon, not a sprint. I think I’ve been sprinting since about spring break and I’m exhausted.
I am really looking forward to my summer because I have tons of fun activities planned. I am starting a 2-week graduate course at Rice on June 5th. That’s also the day that Dr. Jo Boaler’s new MOOC starts, which should be excellent. Then I’m teaching three weeks of summer math camp through Rice, doing math with a STEM focus. It’s ungraded enrichment, so we can just do all the fun things and play for 3 hours a day. I’m going to theme each day, so we do one day on Art, one day on Flight (with a paper airplane contest!), one day on Space, maybe one day on Music? I’ll have fun planning it and have fun teaching it. After that ends, I get two weeks off, which will hopefully be spent with my husband goofing around. I’m not much for rattling around the house by myself.
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 can think of is receiving the card that I got from my former student who graduated today. It encourages me to know that I made a connection with him and that there will be more students in the future with whom I will connect. Certainly, there will also be those that I don’t connect with, but that’s ok. We just need each student to connect with someone on campus, it doesn’t need to be with everyone. As long as I am that someone for some students, then I am happy.
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?
I am very happy to have completed my curriculum re-write for including conceptual understanding activities with each lesson in grades 6 and 7. My main priority for next year is going to be communication with students and parents to make sure that they are clear on what I am trying to accomplish and how I am providing support to each child so they can learn. That was something that snuck up on me this year because instead of asking me questions, people went straight to complaining to my principal in several cases. I’d like to be more proactive next year so there are fewer people upset because they don’t understand what I’m trying to do and how I’m doing it.
5) What else happened this month that you would like to share?
Our school had some students who made poor choices at the 11th hour and there were a number of faculty members that were unhappy with how things were handled. The more I hear about the whole situation, the more I think they handled it very well. I don’t know how to do their job and I don’t want to know, so I’m hesitant to criticize their work. However, it’s natural for us to have opinions about how to interact with children because we all do that every day. Still, I’ve come out of this year very happy to work at the school where I work and I’m looking forward to another year at this school.