Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Just really feel the need to tell you about my day today.

Started out, technically, last night at 1 a.m. when I still couldn't sleep, after laying there 2 hours, b/c I was thinking about all I needed to do this week. It's a short week, which is awesome, but also means I missing out on a full instructional day. So much to do!
Awake by 5:10 and at school by 6:00, and if you think teachers have it easy, just think about the line of teachers that were at the door trying to get in, trying to get a jump on the day. But everyone was laughing and smiling, giving each other a hard time- "What are you people doing here so early?"
But 7, I'd had breakfast, made copies, and was ready for the first lesson of the day- place value. If you haven't pulled teeth lately, just let me tell you, it's a lot like teaching place value. But with place value there's a lot more blood and screaming.
7:30 a.m.- time to serve breakfast, take roll, collect beginning of the school year paperwork (all 11 forms per student), distribute (again) the paperwork that wasn't filled in correctly or that hasn't come close to being turned in yet, take breakfast roll, put the remaining breakfast in a specifically marked bag, put the breakfast trash in a specific trash bag, say the pledges (including the new, deranged, Texas pledge), and get a math warm-up in the works. Then do the other attendance, and send in the completed forms, each one complete with it's own specific set of instructions- (green sheets in order of student id#, pink sheets in alphabetical order, blue sheets by date of birth, etc.). Then the principal does a random walk-thru ("Ms. Lee, why are you not in the midst of your place value instruction?") Give out table points to the quietest, most attentive table and individual points to those dedicated to their task and helping their neighbor without giving answers. Okay, time to teach now.
So, my new goal this year is to not do more than 15 minutes of instruction at a time, considering the average 11 year old brain is already stretched pretty thin by 15 minutes of instruction. In the midst of those 15 minutes, there are 2 interruptions- one to remind me to sell school t-shirts, and the other to let me know we need more family members signed up in the PTA. Back to instruction, and the kids are starting to get it. This year, a lot more hands-on, a lot more interactive instruction, a lot more "forming their own theories" about numbers. And it seems to be working. 15 minutes are up and so we play place value bingo for the prize of one gooey brain, for which the majority of the class is willing to give up a major organ. 2 games and they're still begging for more, and I can't believe my ears. Finally I have to give out homework, just to make sure everyone can apply this stuff on paper. Did I mention I have a kindergarten level kid in my class, for which I've had to modify and come up with lessons that look the same, but really are 4 grade levels lower? Also I have one student from South America who's parents refuse to put him in bi-lingual classes, so I've had to translate enough parts of the lesson so that he is learning English, but still able to fallow along. It seems, by the look of the homework, only about 10% (around 3) are really not getting it. This is about average. It's 9:30, and time to teach the other class math now. Start all that over.
It's 11:10, and time for PE. Two kids having a little anxiety about going, and I've got to figure out why. One is obviously being bullied, but I have no idea by who. This is the PI piece of my job, and I've got to get to the bottom of it quick. The other, I finally figure out, doesn't want to go because of headaches. The headaches are caused by vision problems, and the parents don't have the money for glasses. I know this because I saw the application for free lunch- six people in the household on an income of $300 a week. They make so little because probably illegal, and they make it under the table. These families come here so their kids can get a decent education, but the problem is the gangs fill these low income neighborhoods. My bully, she's being hasseled by older kids in her apartment complex, and they all wear red. We wonder why she bullies others- because she feels so powerless outside of the classroom. And my poor vision kid, he'll get the glasses he needs but it'll be 4 weeks easily. So, I'm off to the counselor's office, who is good. Last year, the counselor just tried to avoid all the paperwork, so she did nothing. At least she's gone. 45 minutes of paperwork to get some intervention on the bully. I pick up the paperwork for the glasses on the way back, and will have to get to it later. Time to pick up the kids. We go back to the classroom and read a few pages of the Ron Clark book. The kids eat it up, they really want to explore character development and they say please and thank you in the lunchroom, a phenomenon that does not go unnoticed. Same thing happened last year, and the lunch ladies love it! I have 2 minutes for a Lean Cuisine while I fill out the paperwork for low-cost glasses. Pick up the kids, and now back to the classroom for science, a lesson on the scientific method. You thought place value was bad. Luckily, we're doing a "swing bear pendulum" experiment that makes it come to life, and the reward of a gummy bear at the end of the lesson gets everybody working hard. More individual points and table points, and I'm amazed how hard these kids work for a little recognition. 15 minutes of recess as a reward, but the winners vote and tell me they'd rather eat lunch with me than go outside. :) I'm all warm inside, and feel blessed by such good kids being in my life. The bell rings, and the real work begins, getting ready for tomorrow and the rest of the week. 3 teachers come in and cry between 3 and 5, because their class is so low and the pressure is so high. I remember this from last year- good grief, I had no idea how to deal. This year, I'm much more able to roll with the punches. Still a struggle, though. Copies and laminating for the activities this week, but the copier shuts down mid copy. Third time since school started that this has happened. I'm amazed that the teachers never complain. A grumble or 2, but no serious bitching. I go down and try to help destress another new teacher, and we laugh it off with stories from the day. It's 8 o'clock, and I know my hard work tonight will allow me to leave by 5 probably the rest of the week. I should go work out, but need to be able to sleep. I gotta start leaving earlier, but I love the satisfaction I'm getting from my job and from the kids. But I miss Bobby, too. It's all a toss-up, you try to balance. I get a text message on the way home, a kid from last year who tells me middle school is "fly." I'm happy that last year I lasted, even though it almost killed me. And then I get to see Bobby, the best part of my day.
Time for bed!


Carver said...

Hey Lori,

My head is swirling just reading about your day. It's a truism that teaching is the hardest and most important job around. The reason it's a truism is because it's obvious but also true so I felt the need to say it. You have one of the hardest and most important jobs around and I'm sure your students are lucky to have you. I hope your recovery has gone well from your surgery. I know it can take a long time. That's another truism for the day.

As ever, Carver

faye said...

Ah, the life of a teacher...is so "fly."

I also received a phone message from a former student this summer that went like this: *long pause* Miss, this is So & So. I'm as high as a bitch. *giggle* I love you. *long pause* I don't know why I called...*click*

Our little babies growing up...

That's cool that you're there for the newbies. You know they need it...there should be more support groups for that, prozac in the water fountains, crisis intervention hotlines...

Glad you're having fun. That's one things teaching always seems to be, in addition to everything else...fun.

Taking notes on your little place value game ideas, etc.

Kim said...

Oooh boy, yep. You are a hero. Thanks for a brief look back at 'day in the life.'
I think teaching is a performing art...all that prep work and then you are on stage for hours without even a pottie break. I know the kids appreciate the structure you provide at school. It is their haven.
They just don't know it.
And Bobby is there when you get home.
You take good care... I won't say don't work too hard, 'cos I know you will.

What doesn't kill you makes you want a margarita.

Anonymous said...

Uhhh! I got so tired reading this I'm gonna take a mnp when I finish this post.

Bill G


I'm Too Young For This!