It was Thursday 15th November, 2012
5:30am alarm goes off, and the heat comes on.
5:39am alarm goes off again, time to get up. Washed, dressed, downstairs by
6:05am sending an email to my son, who moved to CA, and has just (emailed me last night) been told by his insurance company that (we) have to do some work on his house here to keep the insurance. By December 7th.
6:15am Tea and toast for breakfast, while watching the morning news.
6:35am leave to walk to school.
6:45 arrive at school. Walk around to get computer carts.
7:00am student teacher arrived. She is upset because she’s working with the Chemistry teacher and had a lesson planned today, but all the Chemistry students are taking the PLAN test today, so her plans have gone out the widow, and she’s being evaluated in Chemistry tomorrow. We figure out what to do.
7:15am Go to stand in the hallway for 10 minutes while students go to their lockers and get ready for school
7:25 am bell rings to start school. I put out the laptops, then go to photocopier to make some copies for next week’s Algebra. Some students might finish the current project soon, so I have to be ready. I load up the warmup powerpoint ( Math Mistakes) and start up the projector. (My prep hour is 7:25 to 8:25am)
8:25am 9th grade students arrive for the second hour, Algebra lab. They are working on projects, some still on the first project, others are on #4. The student teacher and I walk around the room helping students in small groups. I put attendance into the computer, one set of 5 students at a time – there’s something wrong with the computer system, and it’s taking about 10 minutes to upload each screen. I get the attendance in by the end of the hour. I use my fabulous replacement remote to turn off the ceiling-mounted projector ( it cost me $40 but it’s way better than the 10 foot pole).We are working in understanding proportions, and what slopes mean. We’re helping students learn to measure and to create charts in Excel. We’re showing students how to read a rubric and self-grade. Some students have sent work to me, and are correcting their mistakes, which I sent back on email last night. We love this group of students. They are all working.
9:30am The first group of students leave. I turn on the projector, and I stand in the hallway for 5 minutes between classes. The second group arrive. These are 11th grade students who will take the state test in March, and plan on going to college in 2 years’ time. Student teacher leaves for Chemistry. My third hour (second group of the day) are in Academic Strategies. I have them do the same warmup as the math classes, then I give out a passage from a Science ACT test review. They read and answer the questions. After 15 minutes, we go over the answers. We talk about not second-guessing yourself if you are fairly certain when you choose your answer the first time. Then I give out 6 ACT math preview questions. After 20 minutes, I give out the solutions for these problems. Most of these students ignore this section. I collect the sheets of papers, to be graded for completion not correctness. 6/10 for a full name on a paper…
I turn on the projector with my fabulous remote. I stand in the hallway for 5 minutes.
10:40am. My 4th hour comes in. The group is older, 11th grade or repeating 10th grade, but is doing the same work in my class, and having the same struggles as my second hour. They are in Algebra II, even though they may not have passed Algebra 1. Another of the vageries of our school system. My student teacher shows up at 10:50am, because she has been talking with the Chemistry teacher about what to do tomorrow.
11:40am Lunch time. I turn off the projector, and I go across the hall to another math teacher’s room, and actually sit for the first time today. We chat to our student teachers for 10 minutes, and they leave. We talk about the new orders to do more ACT prep questions, that are now being supplied by our school district, and whether there is any point in ACT questions for students who are functionally at the 4th grade level. I eat yogurt, a piece of fruit, and drink a Fresca. I have added a piece of string cheese to my school lunch that I have eaten every teaching day for the last 11 years.
12:05 A student interrupts us, as he does every day. Every day we tell him we are at lunch, and he is supposed to be elsewhere, and every day he ignores us and carries on talking. He has some sort of undiagnosed disability, probably a result of his childhood in a famine area in Africa. I leave and go to the bathroom. Then I go down to my room and turn on the projector
12:10 I stand in the hallway for 5 minutes until students go to class. Students are pushing and shoving each other, throwing bags of chips at each other.
12:15 This group of 9th grade students are reluctant workers, doing the same work as my second hour. I decide to ignore the loud, bullying girl who always complains and does no work. No students in this group have completed the first project (I told the stduent teacher it’s because she’s not there). I block face book and twitter using lanschool. Students can get around this block, but they have to do so deliberately. I have one more student decide to start working on the first project, so I spend a lot of time working with her to remind her how to create a histogram, how to find the data on my website, etc. We went through all his in the first 2 weeks of school, but for students who are “reluctant learners,” it has been several weeks since they did any work in class. I am hopeful that they will now begin working.
At 1:20pm I send a message to the computer department that 3 of my laptops have stopped working, and I look up their serial numbers to document which ones. I attach sticky notes,a nd pile them on the cart. I get about 8 that fail over 2 days, and then a technician comes and fixes them. We have been unable to diagnose the cause of the problem, we just deal with the symptom. During this hour, I also scramble around with power cords for laptops, as the batteries no longer last all day. New batteries are $100 for each laptop, which buys a lot of extension cords. Our room looks like a spider’s web.
1:10 fifth hour leaves. I breathe a sigh of relief.
I turn on the projector (hooray!) and stand in the hallway
1:15 I have the second group for academic strategies. This group has some third-year 9th graders. We are doing ACT prep. I do wonder what to do to help them. I have one student come in from another classroom, where he is having difficulties not thumping another student. His teacher and I have decided that we can at least keep him from being suspended if he comes in to my room, even if he does no work. I talk to him a little about the robotics and science Olympiad clubs, which met on Wednesday, and he has decided to join. I promise him that next week when hw comes in during 6th hour I will make a place for him to work on robotics. I tell him that if we go to Science Olympiad on a Saturday we will pick him up because he can’t get to school on a Saturday morning before 7am. He’s got no support at home.
2:10pm end of the day. I put the laptops back in their carts, and tidy up the power cords. I drive the carts back to their safe nest.
2:45pm I talk to another math teacher about plans for next week.
3:00pm I enter my attendance data for the day. The on-line attendance is now working as usual. I put in the participation grades for the two academic strategies classes. I return two calls from other teachers, and respond to emails from school. I write an email to a local bike shop asking for their help with an upcoming project.
4:00pm I go home.
4:10pm. I put on water for tea, and sit down at the computer. My daughter texts me to email me that we are going out to dinner, but she will be late because her boyfriend’s car has broken down. I email back and suggest that he has run out of gas. She sends back a message that it is much worse than this, it has stopped for no reason. This the third disaster of the week ( daughter lost job, son has to get house fixed, now boyfriend-in-law has busted car. But nobody’s sick, nobody’s dead. All okay!)
I drink tea, listen to BBC radio 4 on the computer, and read Education Week and math bloggers updates. I wonder what it’s like to have time to document my day.
5:45pm I go back to school, in case they need help with Family Movie night. I find 2 people who have just started heating hot dogs, and I am given a bag of movies and am told to make the projector work. The projector has a DVD, but no remote, and has not been set up in advance. I find a place to plug it in, I get the projector working, but cannot get the DVD to run. The science teacher comes in and gets it working. He asks, “Doesn’t anyone ever beta test this stuff before we set it up for the public?” Heck, no.
6:30pm Looks like nobody needs me. There are 8 staff members eating popcorn, and 2 people heating hotdogs. The principal is missing in action – I have no idea where he is. I go home.
6:40pm. I get home. Daughter and BIL are there. He had his car towed to his aunt’s auto shop – it was out of gas. I roll my eyes. I tell my daughter I am at the end of my rope re. son’s house, and she persuades me to call my daughter-in-law’s father. I do, and he proceeds to tell me that it is easy to fix, all I have to do is… I tell him I know what has to be done, I just can’t see my way to getting it done by December 7th, and I’m worn out trying to keep up with everything. He says he will help, and will look at it at the weekend.
I take daughter and BIL to eat at a local healthy foods restaurant.
8:30pm Daughter drives me home (she has the car, at least there’s only one car payment now that she’s unemployed), and I go to the desktop computer, turn on BBC radio 4+ and find a story to play, then go on-line and begin to put in corrections and grade the papers that have been sent to me on email. I am pleased that using comments on Word and PowerPoint results in students redoing their work 90% of the time. It’s not a waste of my time. I make correction comments, save the file, and then send the file back as an attachment to the students, so they can fix it the next day. I enter grades on gradebook and in my own excel file.
I send an email to a parent who wants to know the grade of their child on the work they are competing from last marking period – our grade book does not allow us to show that, so I keep track via Excel at home. I get another email backfrom the parent, and send information about tutoring at school.
I have 2 more cups of tea during this time, most of which becomes cold, and I throw them away. This is now a joke in my family.
10:50pm I turn off the computers, and head to bed. The “squatter,” a friend of my daughter’s who lives in my house (as opposed to a box down by the river), arrives, and I say good night. I go to bed and complete a logic puzzle, before I make sure the alarm is set for the morning, and then I go to sleep. It’s about 11:10pm.