DITLife – August 17th

4 AM: Wake up due to a storm. Try to go back to sleep.

4:20 AM: Start reading emails, Facebook, news articles on my phone. Practice Duolingo (I’m 3% Fluent in Spanish, I may be slow, but I’m getting there!)

4:45 AM: Get out of bed, exercise and get ready for the day.

6:05AM: Leave home, stopping at Dairy Queen (on behalf of my 8th grader who “insists” on eating every day and who gets an out breakfast once a week to temper the early start) and the public library (also on behalf of same child who doesn’t want to rack up more library late fees).

6:30 AM: Arrive at school.

  • Start printing pages for activity that I reworked last night to make it better for students today.
  • Realize the hall printer is broken and reprint to another hallway.
  • Head to the new hallway to pick up prints and make copies.
  • Say good morning to a few teachers and chat briefly with a collaborating teacher about writing projects for DonorsChoose.
  • Set up the websites and activities needed for the day so I can transition without much fuss.
  • Be extremely grateful for the 7th-grade group of girls that comes by to say hi in the morning and who do not mind doing the jobs I put them to work doing each morning. Today it’s adding sticky notes to an activity page and folding menus for an activity I’ll use in a week or so.  It was a high moment in my day for me when my former students came back to my room as they have every day this week to talk to the teachers they had last year and help me in the mornings. And while it may fade as they warm up to their new teachers, I appreciated their sunny faces and helpfulness. They were a group of students that won my heart in a way no other group ever has. My low was later when I realized I had missed hugging a student who hugs me (side hug) every day (usually on the way to buses, but I was standing in a different spot today and missed her). 
  • Write the agendas for my classes on the boards.

7:40 AM: Students head up to homerooms and that day rushes on. I hardly stop moving from Homeroom to 4th Period. We take the students to lunch, eat in the cafeteria with them, take them to break (10 minutes we carved out, it’s not actually on the schedule) and let them run off their energy before heading back into the last two classes. Today I have to pick up a copy a student needed for 4th period, and I printed to the other building this morning. Our printer is fixed now, but I’d already sent and wanted to save paper. I picked up the paper and went to make copies for the other students who needed a copy. The copier is broken. My walk alone while the other teachers on my team watch the students allows me to get a bathroom break in before I open the doors to let the students back in the building. I realize how much I’ve been walking my room today going between groups of students working when I sit down on the floor to help a student on a problem. The student was slumped down in his chair feeling discouraged, and I was going to squat next to him to be at eye level. Sitting was a lot more comfortable at the end of the day!

How to structure the activities of my class kept moving to the forefront of my mind today as we worked through them each class period. Sometimes I will alter the method greatly, but I resisted changing things today too much other than moving up my timing on things. I kept questioning whether the change would be because I thought the students needed to complete the activities whole group or because I thought that would make it easier. I decided to keep it the same so I wouldn’t be tempted to make it easier and push a discussion in a whole group along for the sake of “getting it done.” I wasn’t sure I had every student engaged, but when we do whole group things, I know I don’t have every student engaged. I had a lot of conversations with students about what they struggled with and helped them understand the problem (it was more difficult for some of them than I had anticipated and I’d purposely chosen an easy problem, so the structure of the new activity wouldn’t be too much). I questioned whether I was expecting too much, but decided that I needed to keep the expectation high and let my students struggle to get there and that the struggle would be beneficial. I heard more math talk, more students talking period with the structure I stuck with than I would have if I’d changed it to whole group instruction. My favorite comment today was a student telling another student by way of encouragement to get started on the problem, “It doesn’t have to be right.” Yes! 

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1:30 PM: It’s the end of my 4th period and today I don’t have to walk the students over to Connections since we split that duty up and my day is Friday. So, I can start planning time as soon as the students walk out the door. Today is a blessed day where I have no meetings, and no one walks in my door or needs my immediate help; I can work on my own things for the entire time. I accomplish the following:

  • email parents back who have emailed during the day
  • sort and code my students from last year based on their test scores and reflected on what I could do to improve
  • sort and code my current students based on their previous year scores and flagged students who I want to focus on
  • adjust my lesson plans for the next two days based on what we accomplished in class today
  • follow-up on a Make Stuff club issue
  • send items to the library to get laminated
  • find a solution to a technical problem with a website integrating correctly with Google Classroom and send emails to affected students asking them to try my solution
  • hope the solution works!

3:05 PM: The bell rings for bus duty stations and I head outside.

3:30 PM: Faculty Meeting I sat next to a dear friend at the faculty meeting, and she leaned over to tell me about something going on with her, and I thought of the many small moments that we as teachers share together. The small moments and the big, horrible, scary things of life that we go through too and I was so grateful for the wonderful people I work with, who are friends. I like seeing the retired educators in my area who are actively involved and who volunteer and spend time with each other – still friends, after they are done being colleagues. 

3:50 PM: Head home with my school age children so my adult son can use my car to go to work.

4:30 PM: Start working at home. On the agenda,

  • Grade papers and give feedback
  • Answer emails that come in from parents and admin.
  • Finish a training course as part of PD for my online teaching job
  • Write this blog post

I need to note that I have a very supportive family who all pitch in. Everyone has chores, and that means I don’t have to worry about making or cleaning up dinner on school days. Hooray for teenagers who can do things! And husbands who like to cook and help the children cook! So at dinner time, I get to take a break in my work and go to the dinner table and enjoy the dinner with my family.

This is the first Day in the Life post I’ve done, so I’m including my goals for the year. One goal is to participate more in the MTBoS. I think previously I had been walking around the edge of it and this year I started wading in, and now it feels like the bottom has fallen out and I’m left to either swim or drown, so I’m swimming the best I can!

My goals at school are as follows:

  • to develop a local PD community to help my students love math (and if not math at least math class)
  • help my students see themselves as learners
  • help my students develop a growth mindset to help my students grow as people
  • increase student engagement in my classroom

8 PM: Usually I set an alarm to remind me to power down at 9 PM and go through my bedtime routine. Tonight, I’m ending early, and after I make my lunch for tomorrow, I’ll read a book!

10 PM: Sleep

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