Teaching in the D

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Oct 01 2011

One Month Gone – An Update and a Cute Story

Wow, I’m failing pretty badly at updating this blog. I understand now why people so rarely update their teachforus sites… teaching is a 26/7 job! Here’s a quick idea of my life:

6:00 – Wake up (if it’s a good, sleeping-in day)

6:30 – Get in my car, drive to school (oh how I miss the days when I could take mass transit and use  my commute to work!)

7:00 – Arrive at school, set up my room for the day. Print any last minute homework assignments, set up labs, neaten desks.

7:45 – Realize kids are going to be here any second! Start writing the agenda on the board, make sure projector is plugged in, etc.

8:00 – The babies have landed! My school has 800 kids, so they actually come in in shifts for a few minutes. Class technically “starts” right away, so I have to be ready for students to be in my room right away.

8:10 – Tardy bell rings, and my conference class (homeroom) of 8th graders and I get started with announcements.

8:20 – First hour begins! I teach three classes of 8th graders and 3 of 7th graders. An average 8th grade class is 30 students, the 7th grade classes are all 35 and they all show up – I’ve got a gloriously big room and it is PACKED!

12:00 – Lunch! We usually have staff meetings. I’ve taken to letting kids come to my room to catch up on notes or make up lost class time, even though they’re supposed to eat in the cafeteria. I just need more time with some of these kids!

12:30 – Back to teaching!

3:25 – School lets out. I have “hall duty” to help with dismissal (which I affectionately call “evacuation”). My school runs like A PRECISION ATOMIC CLOCK at dismissal and arrival times. We get 800 kids out of class, out of the building, in buses/cars, and off our property in under 20 minutes. Yeah, it’s amazing. Keep in mind I have the oldest kids in the building.

3:45 – Kids are gone! I usually have a couple come back in the building with me for tutoring or to make up quizzes.

4:30 – My tutoring kids leave, and I start calling parents and grading papers.

6:00 – I get kicked out of the school building (yeah, they kick us out!). Tuesdays and Wednesdays I have two hours of evening class with the University of Michigan or TFA (this will increase in the winter, when I start taking classes for my master’s degree as well as my certification); let’s assume this isn’t one of those days (add three+ hours for each of those days to subsequent times, since I have two hours of meetings and a 45 minute commute each way to downtown).

7:00 (thank you rush hour) – Arrive home, start making dinner.

7:45 – Finish grading 200 papers (or more, if they had homework AND a quiz), enter grades. Answer emails from students, call some more parents.

9:00 – Stop calling parents, start making new handouts and PowerPoints for class (sometimes the next day’s, sometimes a few days in advance).

11:00 – Fill out paperwork for school and TFA (PD logs, visions and goals, tracking data, and more!) quickly, answer my emails from that day, get on the phone with C, have a life.

Sometime between midnight and 2am, depending on  whether lesson plans are due, how many handouts I need, etc… – Go to bed!

My kids are brilliant, but totally unprepared for my teaching style (I run it a lot like a college class). We’re adjusting to each other. I’m incorporating more activities, and they’re taking more notes. They talk way too much in my class, so my administration isn’t thrilled, but it’s actually getting a bit better. I’m starting to have relationships with some of the kids, and I’ve absolutely fallen in love with some of them. (The sort of fallen in love where I have the thought “of course I have to stay here next year! This student is only a 7th grader and I couldn’t let someone ELSE teach him!”)

One story from today, which I loved enough to stay awake long enough to write this post. I’m giving a quiz (I do every Friday, which may have to change since it takes WAY too much time). I realize that the last question isn’t very clear (it’s the only one I didn’t steal from a state-released exam, since I’m trying to discreetly prep them without doing “test prep”, since they hate that). I pull the class back together from where they’ve been working shockingly silently on the quiz to remind them that I’m looking for one of the three types of rock on that question.

“One of those three types of rock, guys,” I say. “If you wrote all three types, cross off two. If you wrote two words, cross off one!”

One of my smartest and maturest students raises his hand while crying out, “BUT MISS! What if we put a space between ‘meta’ and ‘morphic?’!”

One of his friends from across the room yells out “THANK YOU!”, because, of course that’s the right answer.

I burst out laughing. I just couldn’t help it, I could barely process that someone had just shouted an answer (the right answer!) and clearly had no idea he had just technically caused the whole class to cheat (many of them had completely ignored his voice, and so still missed that question). The kids were completely confused and rapidly became amused as I began turning colors I was laughing so hard. It was some combination of my yeller’s earnestness, his utter ignorance of what he had done, and the enthusiasm of the few kids who realized they now got a free answer.

Time to head off to bed for me. Love you all!

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