Archive for January, 2016

Day in the life

“Woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head… ”  The Beatles.


I woke up before the 5:55 alarm and debated getting up 10 minutes early.  The debate ended with the alarm.  My husband and I do our usual dance as we both try to get ready for the day in our small kitchen.  He’s making lunch and I’m getting coffee, then he’s brushing his teeth at the sink and I’m reaching around him into the medicine cupboard.  I’m taking up space to do my daily injection and he’s trying to get behind me to the frig.  Finally, he’s off and I have the space to myself.

I start prepping a pizza muffin recipe that turned up on my Facebook feed.  Today is extended advisory after second period and I am testing a recipe on my advisory.  I might also have another advisory joining us, since their teacher has to attend a senior exhibition.  I think he has 9 students, so I need enough for 18 people.  The recipe calls for 26 oz of dough and I only have 16 oz.  How did I not notice that when I was buying the dough? Reminding myself that I teach math so I should be able to manage this, I do a rough adjustment of ingredient amounts.  Finally, I have the dough in the pan and covered.  I even remember to make a post-it with the temperature and time for cooking.

I listen to the weather while I make my lunch.  A big messy storm is coming tomorrow morning, which means I’ll have to visit my daughter tonight.  I make a mental list of things to do before school starts while I pack my bags.  I need to print work and attendance lists for the sub to give to students, make sure I have my charging cords, ask the art teacher about the roll of red paper she gave me, check in with another math teacher about the final for Basic Math/Pre-Algebra, talk to a student about a show we both auditioned at.  I hope I haven’t forgotten anything.

Two trips to the car later (because of the pizza muffins), I am finally off to school at 7:10.  I am about 10 minutes later than normal and worry that I won’t have time to get everything done before homeroom starts.  Instead of being 2nd or 3rd to arrive, I am about 6th.  I manage to get everything into my classroom in one trip, muttering that it really is time to get a cart.  I put my purse in the locking cabinet, hang my coat, and turn up the heat.  The pizza muffins sit forgotten on a student desk while I start my MacBook and start sending documents to the printer.  I take a few minutes to put plates, cups, tea, and dipping sauce on the long bookcase, then head for the mailroom to get my printouts.  I grab them then hunt down the art teacher to ask what the big roll of red paper is for.

“I thought you might make something with it,” she tells me, “because you are always folding paper.”  Well, I might make something with it; I even have an idea of what I want to try.  But I don’t have time to pursue that thought, yet.  I go back to my room and put all the papers in order for the sub, then remember I don’t know who the sub is.  Back I go to the office to ask.   “Sub? You need a sub?  I don’t have your form!”  Gah, I know I filled out the form and put it in the inbox, but now I second guess myself.  “I don’t need one for first period,” I tell the secretary.  It’s ok, she can call someone.  She’s really nice about the missing paperwork.   But I’m still positive I turned it in.  Maybe.  Sub issue resolved, I go back to my room.

My homeroom kids are starting to filter in.  EN is there with his girlfriend, as always.  RG sees the pizza muffins and asks who they are for, so I remember I need to put them in the frig in the staff room.  When I get back, SB keeps trying to talk to me while I am checking my emails; I finally explain that I really can’t multi-task.

The bell rings at 7:50 and the day begins officially.  I remind my advisory there will be a sub, then we listen to the Pledge of Allegiance and announcements.  Five minutes later, they are off to their classes.  Standing in the doorway, I see the resource room teacher and we try to remember where we are meeting for the day.  Then I see the teacher whose advisory may need to come to my room. He isn’t sure yet if they need to come, so I tell him to let my sub know.

The resource room teacher comes back and tells me where the meeting is, so I get my laptop, cord, coffee, and a notebook and head to the meeting.  The Great Schools Partnership guy (facilitator) is there, and the rest of us filter in.  The life skills teacher comes in.  Then the resource room teacher comes in and explains he is going to be in and out because he is working on rescheduling the basketball games to avoid tomorrow’s storm; he leaves.  The principal pops in and says he will be a little late due to a discipline issue that came up;  he explains what the plan is, then he leaves. The rest of us make small talk about ear worms, then I start setting up a document with one standard from each content area, the indicators for each standard, and four freshman who have different needs, but are clearly below grade level.

We are meeting to talk about what proficiency based grading looks like for students in special education.  The state has been quite clear in its guidance that IEP goals must be standards based, that there must be a goal for every standard where a student is working below grade level, and that standards cannot be modified.  Now we are trying to figure out what that means in practice for a student who is working significantly below grade level.  We blocked out the whole day, 8:00 to 1:30 for this.

Finally, everyone is there and we start by reviewing the state’s guidance document.  We agree to a flow chart based on the document, then start looking at the standards.  Beginning with a math standard, we narrow our focus to an indicator:  The student interprets, represents, and creates expressions in the context of Algebra 1.  We talk about what that  means at a 9th grade level and what means at a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th grade level.  The discussion is not linear, but we do keep cycling back to our original question.  How do we write IEP goals that are both appropriate for students and based on our graduation standards, and how does that impact the curriculum for the student.

Suddenly I realize I forgot to put the muffins in the oven before extended advisory started.  I excuse myself and walk fast (no running) to my classroom at the other end of the school.  The closer I get, the more I can smell pizza.  Someone must have put them in the oven for me!  I walk in my room and there are lots of kids eating pizza muffins, hooray!  I suspect RG has put them in for me and ask her.  She says yes, she cooked them.  I tell her several times she is awesome and I am very thankful.  Then I scoot back to the meeting.  Phew, she pulled that one off for me; I owe her a favor.  Maybe some type of recognition on Tuesday when we hand out first semester awards.

The meeting continues, then we break for lunch at 12:00.  I have started taking my lunch to the cafeteria.  Our ed techs rotate monitoring duty, so teachers don’t normally eat there.  But at a recent event, our whole student body and staff sat down to lunch together and it was pretty awesome.  Even the students thought so.  So I’m going to start eating lunch in the cafeteria.  I sit off by myself to give the students some teacher-free space and think about special ed.  Some students talk to me as the go by and I see one student throw something across the room.  With a sigh, I put my trash away, then give his name to the principal.

The meeting continues after lunch.  We don’t get as far as we hoped, and make plans for continuing the discussion.  However, I am pretty happy with how much we did get done; it was more than I expected.  When I get back to my room, it is a disaster.  I find a giant tape ball, someone broke my points of congruence Christmas trees, there are papers left on the desks, and my Sierpenski Triangle printouts are missing.  Meh.  I hate having a sub; it’s always more work.  I have suspects for the damages, but the sub didn’t leave any messages.  I pick up the mess, then grab my computer and head for the staff room.

It’s time for Friday PLC’s.  We spent most of the beginning of the year trying to revise our leadership model.  We finally came to some agreement and can start using PLC time for other things.  Today we are supposed to map the rest of the year in terms of content and groupings.  16 1/2 staff members is not too large to stay as one group, but we may have smaller groups break off depending on topics.  The planning gets off to a slow start, but we finally get something down for at least the next month of PLC’s.  The plan includes monthly video/webinar learning experiences, monthly common scoring of assessments, and an open monthly slot for topics generated by the leadership team.  Finally, it’s 3:00.

I stop by my room to collect my things, then head out.  I still need to stop at home, get groceries, and visit my daughter (50 miles away).  After checking in at home, I head for the SuperWalmart, getting groceries for me, some cleaning supplies for my daughter, and a mystery character for my grandson.  I deliver the supplies to my daughter and we chat for a while about her failed housing inspection. Finally, I head home and discover that I talked a little too long; every single Dunkin’ Donuts I come to is closed.

It’s after nine when I get back from visiting my daughter and there’s a message from the director of the show I auditioned for, but it’s too late to call her back.  I spend some time online checking the news, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon.  Then I’m off to bed around 10 pm.





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