I really want to reflect more this year, and various challenges like MTBoS Blagust are a great way for me to encourage myself. I also signed up for Tina’s “Day in the Life” book/challenge/compliation. Since it is Friday, I finally have enough time to do one of these, so here goes!
6:15 am Wake up. Pebble watch buzzes and wakes me up so I do not have to wake up my dear wife. Unfortunately she wakes up anyways. I am wondering how many more mornings I will still wake up to just a buzz on the wrist. My phone is my back-up alarm and is across the room so I have to get out of bed to turn it off.
7:00 am Arrive at school. Today is our last day (of 4) teacher workdays, so it is the day that admin gives to ourselves to get ready for the year. Since I just moved into this school and have a new classroom (and did not have my own classroom before) I started two weeks ago with nothing. I got some things laminated last night, so all morning I am laminating more, printing more signs, and putting them up. Yes, I stole liberally from Math Equals Love. She has awesome stuff. Here are some of my results:
11:45 am Our PTA sponsored lunch is announced “ready to be served”. I sit down and talk a little Star Wars with the 8th grade counselor. The food was good and it’s always very kind of parents to volunteer and support teachers.
12:15 pm A question about “where the EL students are” comes up. (EL = English Learner) I am supposed to have EL students in my 3rd period, but the other 8th grade teacher is finding them in her 6th period, and there is no label for them in the online student database. After an hour of talking with various people (counselor, EL teacher, assistant principal, and the principal), it comes out that she’s the EL teacher and not me. I feel really badly for her because she’s also co-teaching the with the SPED teacher (SPED = Special Education, though it’s not labeled that anymore in this district, I think), so she has to organize and plan for 3 classes: 2 with one teacher and 1 with another teacher.
1:15 pm I meet with the other 8th grade math teacher and her SPED co-teacher. And on top of that we’re expected to have very similar grading practices and lesson plans. Fortunately I had a rough outline of week 1 for 8th grade math (26 squares, shortened version, followed by Cheez-it rational approximations of roots followed by a quiz), and fortunately the other two teachers liked many of the ideas. They both believe strongly in massed practice, however, and especially for the “lower” students, so I am not sure what to think. I would love to try lagging practice/HW with mine (therefore doing interleaved practice instead) and compare, but we will have to see. It will not be a fair comparison because of the number of SPED in those classes. However, I really appreciated the feedback they gave me–especially when it came to their approximations of how long activities would take and whether our students would have certain skills (i.e. know their multiplication tables? or be able to rationalize a fraction?)
We ended up roughly planning the whole first week, which made me excited. We will make that process more efficient the more we work together, and I will continue learning about the ability level of the students.
2:45 pm I get back to working in my classroom. I still have more posters to put up and more busy-work to do. I create sign-out sheets, tutoring sign-ups, etc. The AP walked into my room and asked if they could borrow some of my whiteboards on hooks because apparently some of the other classrooms do not even have somewhere that the teacher can write, so they were sort of in panic mode. The AP was very appreciative and it was at no cost to me because I will probably not use those whiteboards until next week. We are using manipulatives in our activities today, so it would be harder for the students to be at the wall and their tables at the same time.
My wonderful wife made me an awesome wizard for the “Wizard Wall”, where I’m going to allow students to sign their name when they are the first in their class to complete the “weekly challenge”. I got the idea from my father-in-law who did this nearly every year he taught for the 24 years he taught. He is a deeply respected teacher in the community and at his school, so if he says something worked well, I thought I should try it out. See photo below:
5:30 pm I head home (the first time). I get home to hear that my 2 year old behaved very well today though my 2-week old was very fussy in the afternoon. I was able to play with the first while holding the latter, yay!
7:00 pm After dinner I go back to school. Because I cannot get into the school on the weekend, I need to make sure that I have my materials printed for Monday and my classroom is cleaned up a good bit.
8:15 pm I head home (the second time). I get home in time to play with my 2 year old before putting him to bed. I sit and talk with my family for a while and then sit down to type this blog around 11 pm. It’s now 11:30 as I type these words.
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?
I was proud of how I worked with my colleagues in deciding the details of next week’s lessons. I am worried that I am not pushing enough for interleaved practice rather than massed practice, but it is a hectic time of year to be having that conversation. Maybe if the school year gets under way, we can talk about the differences in a few weeks or months.
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?
Challenge has been finding time to do all the different things. I feel I’ve dropped the ball on memorizing students’ names. I want to know them all by Monday but that might not be possible, as I still need to lesson plan for an entire class all week, including Monday!! I am looking forward to meeting the students, and seeing them interact with the warm-ups, ticket outs, and my 1st night’s homework (a get-to-know-you sheet).
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.
I tried to comfort my fellow 8th grade teacher when she was stressed about now having to teach EL. I kept looking for ways to help her, though this will be something that I will need to do for a while. Even though she has far more experience with middle schoolers and more experience at this school, I can look for ways to help her and build that relationship.
4. Teachers are always working on improving, and often have specific goals for things to work on throughout a year.
- First post: What is a goal you have for the year?
One personal goal for the year is to do ticket outs, read them, and use them to inform my teaching. With a watch that buzzes at the right time, I think I will be better than I have been in the past.
5. What else happened this month that you would like to share?
Well, we had our second son, Daniel, born on August 1st. Wohoo!