Friday, September 12, 2008

A Day in the Life of a High School Teacher

For those that haven't had a taste of a high school teacher.

-Alarm goes off at 5 a.m. As usual, my wife and I lament at the fact that night was not nearly long enough for a good sleep. On the radio is the KNBR Morning Show and I stay in bed and listen for about 15 minutes.

-Shower and breakfast follow. Usually it's cereal, but this morning I fix two eggs and a couple of frozen waffles. I watch the morning news and e-mail a couple of documents to myself at the school. I wear a shirt and tie almost every day. But today I decide to wear khaki shorts and a history t-shirt that says "Ain't No Party Like a Boston Party" with a tea bag on it that has 1773 on the tag.

-Out of the house by 6:25. The radio says that there was an earthquake centered about 18 miles north of town, but I felt nothing. I head to Safeway for a sandwich and coffee. Unfortunately, I had no lunch stuff for today and had to spend the money.

-At school by twenty minutes to seven. I wander into F-6 and turn on the lights while moving towards the center of the room. They are on one of those motion sensors and won't turn on unless you go towards the middle of the room.

-Turn on an episode of Imus in the Morning where I listen to an interview with Tom Friedman while I make two quizzes, one for U.S. History, and the other for International Studies. I also start to look for a video reenactment of the Mayflower and find one from Discovery Channel's website. I'll use it as a prompt today.

-The first student wanders in 15 minutes before class. I'm moving my laptop to the cart that I use for my Smartboard while chatting with the student.

-The first bell rings and I wander outside to greet students and make my presence felt. I enjoy giving a smile early in the morning to the students and will often break out in song. Today it was "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" by Elton John.

-The bell rings and I enter AP Comparative Government. No absences. I get a good response from the t-shirt and I go right into the news (Newshour with Jim Leher news summary). The kids get a good laugh about the Department of the Interior trading sexual favors to the oil corporations. I prompt the period with the "Greed Is Good" speech from Gordon Gecko in Wall Street. We then discuss what "self-interest" means to a market economy, and then move into a power point about the evolution of the market economy. Good questions and fairly good energy for a Friday. Before they leave I give them a reading from Atlas Shrugged, and they are required to read it and type three questions for a Socratic Seminar on Monday. The bell rings and I head back outside.

-While outside I talk to a variety of students who stop by and discuss basketball, Algebra, and other important topics. When the bell rings I head for my first U.S. History class. Two absences. I tell students to take out paper while the morning announcements are read. As soon as they are done, it's quiz time. They have four minutes to answer 6 vocabulary questions that are on the projector board. When they are finished we grade them as a class immediately. I note the number of perfect papers on the board, where the other U.S. History class perfects are also listed. The number is lower than past quizzes (they get 3-4 a week), but the over all class grade is rising. News, and questions about the President's issues in Pakistan. Another student wants to discuss Iraq, but I deflect the question because we have to move on. I try to play the Mayflower video on the project, but it won't work. I take about 20 seconds to refresh, but it refuses to play. No matter, I drop it and we move on. I string a butcher paper timeline on the side of the classroom and have the students create their own timeline. We add a couple of events we have already discussed and then move to a power point about the colonizaton of the United States. Full participation and good questions. No homework for the weekend and the bell sends them off.

-Break time. I head to the middle of the building in our communial area and talk nothing in particular with collegues.

-Third period beings with my second U.S. History class. Five absences. Silent reading for the first 15 minutes of class and I nose into The Stand by Steven King. I haven't read it in years and I find it engrossing. Silent reading ends and we do the quiz. Again, low perfection but better overall grades. News and a couple of questions, timeline and U.S. colonizaton. Again, good questions and good discussion. The bell rings and they are out of there.

-I head outside and watch students mill about. The bell rings and I head inside for International Studies, who immediately start a vocab quiz. Only one absence, and since today is Club's Day (Club's have boothes to make money during lunch), that's great. We grade immediately and the grades are much better than the first one. News and many more questions. We are beginning to discuss the United Nations and I prompt with a seven minute video of Ali G during his schtict at the the U.N. It's funny and the kids get a kick out of it. We then discuss the main premise of the of the U.N. and the conflicts with national interest. We end with discussion of what Model U.N. is and a preface of Stanford MUN. Interest is high. Note, a student added today to bring my International Studies numbers to 30. That is very good news. Students are respectful, but ancy to leave for Club's Day at the end of the period. The bell sends them off and I head to the communial area for lunch.

-Actually, I head out to the quad and buy a cookie from the International Club, who promptlly raze me for not buying more (all in good fun). I head back to the building and eat while checking my e-mail on my iPhone. Another teacher comes in and we talk about the weekend. Then another teacher comes in and joins in. A fourth comes in and brings up politics. We have a serious disagreement and lunch ends on that disagreement.

-Fifth period begins the third U.S. History class. 10 people are absent at the beginning. I beginning the quiz and four come straggling in during the quiz. We grade it and the grades are the best of the day. News and U.S. colonization power point. With 15 minutes left in the period, the kids are giggley and pretty rambunctious. Club's Day has worn some people out, a football game is tonight, it's Friday, and Homecoming is now becoming steadfast in people's minds. The kids are actually fairly respectful with only a slight exception and I end the discussion about 3 minutes early. I let them go about a minute early. Sue me. The kids were great for a vast majority of the period on a day when they have been given a half dozen distractions.

-My prep is sixth. I head on over to the admin building and chat with office personel, make some copies, and have a meeting with an admin about my teacher evaluation later this semester. After about 20 minutes I'm back in my classroom. I turn on the podcast of the KNBR Gary Radnich/Tony Bruno face-off and start creating my agenda for next week.

-I start updating my AP Comp Gov Engrade calendar for next week. I become interested in finding a command economy-to-market economy video and find a Frontline World video on the evolution of capitalism in Russia. I watch it and create question for next week. I finish the calender and start grading student blogs posts. Some are good, others need work. The varsity coach comes in and we discuss the forthcoming year, including our concerns about funding.

-At around 3 p.m., the teacher that disagreed with my about politics at lunch comes in and we talk more politics for about 15 minutes. We disagree again.

-After grading blog posts, I check my role sheets and add/delete students onto the online Engrade system. Then I add some assignment grades to the gradebook and add information to the white board agenda in the classroom. Finally I search for music and cartoon prompts for next week.

-Before I head out the door, I grab Lies My Teacher Told Me, Legends-Lies-Cherished Myths of American History, and A People's History of the United States. I want to find some stories to give to the my U.S. History kids next week. I then pack away two Choices Series lessons; one on Manifest Destiny, and one on the United Nations. I leave school at 4:30 and listen to my MP3 player on the short drive home.

-I get home and update the new firmware on my iPhone, which makes a huge difference in 3G signal strengh. I then download a bunch of podcasts which consist of Fantasy Football and wine lovers shows.

-Wife gets home and we talk and start dinner. We both make dinner and chat about the day. In the background is the ESPN Fantasy Football podcast. I'm lucky, my wife knows my fantasy players and we chat about something other than work.

-Dinner is fajitas and we talk about work during the meal. Afterwords we watch mindless Tivo'ed shows and sip wine. She heads to bed early and I read The Stand in the bathtub, trying to get the day out of my head. After the bath I watch the Giants beat the Padres, switch to Houston Hurricane Ike coverage, and blog to you.

As you can tell, the day is still in my head.
blog comments powered by Disqus