Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Another Day in the Life of a High School Teacher

-Alarm goes off at 5:15 a.m.  My wife and I chit-chat for a little bit and discuss the why’s of needing to get out of bed.  She goes and works out, I take a shower.

-Breakfast is oatmeal and coffee.  Instead of taking my coffee to go, I slow down a bit and watch the morning news and enjoy the dawn.  I wear slacks and a button down shirt.  No tie today because I don’t feel like wearing one.  I grab my backpack and my basketball bag and I’m out the door at 6:20.

-I get to school at 6:30, one hour before classes start.  I’m hoping for computer lab time for 1st and 5th period to review, track, and buy and sell stocks for the their stock project.  I reserved the library lab for 5th, but my building’s lab is taken by another teacher.  I plan to beg him later for it.  I begin to make a quiz.

-By 7 a.m. the first students arrive.  They are fantastic kids that are not only bright, but social towards teachers and are the exact kind of kids you want around in the morning.  The other teacher still hasn’t showed up.  I talk to my neighbor teacher about students using the teacher bathrooms in the building.  We are going to start writing kids up for using them, even if another teacher allows it.

-I get a call at 7:15, my 5th period library computer lab spot has been taken by a science teacher that reserved it by e-mail the night before.  I’m furious, but prepared nonetheless.  The other teacher gets to school and tells me he can’t give up his lab spot either.  No stock portfolio time this week.  Believe it or not, our school as less than 100 computers available for student use, for a school of 1,700 students.

-First period Economics starts with a quiz on business organizations.  One student comes in late and starts on the quiz.  We correct the quiz with seven students getting “perfection” and I write it on the white board.  They compete with Fifth period Econ for perfect papers and usually lose.  I send the one tardy out with a referral.  I tell them that today is a stock trading day and that they can turn in “trading tickets” (they must buy/sell/organize everything by hand, no online stock simulations) by Sixth period today.  I then show them how to create a line graph in Microsoft Word.  We then watch the news.  It lasts about 7 minutes.  Couple of questions and on to business organizations.  The focus today is corporations.  The class attention is good, the discussion is lively, and overall it is a nice day. 

-Between First and Second I take a phone call from the Varsity basketball coach.  We discuss the station drills I’m going to run tonight.  I then go outside and greet students.

-Second period is AP U.S. History.  The students go straight into the lab and begin to research information on Andrew Jackson.  Using three articles of impeachment, the students are putting President Jackson on trial with some students trying him and others supporting him.  I monitor the class in the lab and grade a few papers.  This class is lively, but a small group has maturity problems.  Two opposition groups playfully go after each other on whether or not Jackson committed genocide on Native Americans.  The discussion is good at first, but two students can’t focus and it ends up distracting people for a majority of the period.  It isn’t enough to toss out of class, but I’m pretty close to calling home on the group.  All does end well however, and it looks like people used the class time wisely. 

-Break is next.  The 12 minute break allows me to put up Mock Congress research links on my blog, and I spend 5 minutes out with colleagues talking about nothing in particular. 

-Third period is American Government.  We watch news and answer questions, then get to the bill writing portion of our Mock Congress. Students have divided themselves into Democrats and Republicans, and are using the computer lab to write bills.  They jump right into the process without a single problem.  The entire lab time is used to research statistics and begin the actual format of bill writing (which is very specific).  Everyone is engaged.  The entire period is me going from place to place checking on format and statistics.  It is a very productive period for a class that can be challenging at times.  They are totally engaged until the bell.

-I head out between Third and Fourth to converse with students in the halls.  I talk to an ex-student who is now a waitress.  I talk to two students about golf.  I talk to another about basketball practice tonight.  And talk to many about nothing in particular. 

-Fourth period starts out with a laugh.  I have a fantastic relationship with many students in the class, and the current ongoing “argument” is whether or not one of my students is actually Portuguese (which I am).  He brings in a book called “Portuguese Families of Mendocino County” and there is his family.  I act dejected and everyone gets a good laugh.  News and questions, and then (since this is also American Government) the bill writing begins.  This class is more deliberate.  They meet in party caucuses and discuss the bills they want to write, then set off and get them going.  Again, full engagement with no hiccups.  The Majority Leader and Minority Leader are very active in the class, making sure that the bills are on target and trying to sway some fence sitting members of the opposition.  It is another good class. 

-I begin lunch by shooting an e-mail off to Ning to ask them to remove Google Ads from my social networking site.  I’m looking to launch my Ning site this January, maybe.  For sure for next year.  The rest of lunch is at the table with colleagues.  We talk about lack of participation in sports and the overall negative atmosphere at the school this year.  Student apathy is bad, and it seems like teachers have no support from parents in the matter.  We shoot around the table the stories of parents who seem to not care that their kid is doing poorly or is not attending school.  It is the most negative I’ve heard my lunch table in a long time.  I leave in a little bit of a bad mood until one of my Fifth period students shows up with a tall Cafe Mocha for me.  I can’t help but smile.

-Fifth period begins with a quiz and the perfection number is 11, beating First period, again.  Fifth will be allowed to trade stock through tomorrow but must get me all the stock tickets by morning on Thursday.  We watch news, I show them the stock graph in word, and then we start on Partnerships and Corporations.  This class is full of incredibly bright kids, but some like to try and manipulate the conversation into something more interesting than the current topic, if that makes sense.  Most of the questions are valid though, and the period flies by quickly without problems. 

-Sixth is my “prep”.  Today, it will be non-existent.  I walk to the Varsity basketball coaches room to discuss try-outs, tournaments, funding, and a myriad of things related to basketball.  I then walk to the Athletic Directors office and we head down to the Admin Building to try to solve a problem with student physicals (like students not having them).  I collect some of the completed ones and walk down the hall.  I talk to the principal for about two minutes regarding a basketball issue.  I then walk to the vice-principal’s office and spend time in there discussing one of my students about attendance.  I return to my class with 20 minutes left on my prep.  Some students arrive with completed stock tickets.  I take those and head to a computer tech office to try and get my Ning issue resolved, meaning the schools filters won’t allow for students to access Ning, which creates a problem in using it.  I return to talk to some students about stock portfolio numbers and my prep is over. 

-The end of school begins at 2:45.  I sit and do some work on a business organization power point when after 10 minutes a student comes into my classroom from the computer lab.  Apparently the credit recovery program supervisor was absent today and didn’t tell the students.  The lab is full of kids.  I head to the Admin Building to let them know the deal, get more basketball paperwork, and then start dealing with my basketball physical issues.  Some parents are mad because we (coaches) won’t let players play without all the paperwork.  The next 30 minutes is a flurry of going building to building looking for student paperwork, calling parents, and trying to resolve issues that are usually related to students not getting their responsibilities in order.  I’m not amused, and by 3:45 I’m pretty much ready to say, “If you really wanted to play basketball, this would already be done.”

-I leave campus at round 3:45 to get coffee.  I’m tired and irritated and Coffee Critic gets my business.  I run into a student who is filling up her caffeine intake before going to work, and another teacher who I chat with for a few minutes.  Back to school.

-I get back at around 4:10 to find that students are looking for me and parents are calling me, all about basketball paperwork.  I haven’t had a bite to eat before practice, but I need to address the paperwork issues now that they are at my front door.  More calls, more visits to the Athletic Director and the Principal, and it is 4:30.  The issue is not resolved, but I’m not budging and it is a “No” until Standards and Practices are met.

-I cook my microwave Chicken Alfredo and start to download The War Room off of Youtube.  I can really use some of those clips in my Government classes.  I change clothes in my classroom and head to the gym at around 4:50, after one last stop in the office to see if any more paperwork was turned in.

-Practice starts at 5 and lasts until 7:30.  I won’t comment on it because if one thing gets more negative attention than anything else in this town, it is athletics.  Oh, I will say that basketball paperwork problems were involved.  When practice ends the coaches retire to the coaches room to discuss the day. 

-I drive home at 8:30 to my wife, who is also very tired.  I watch the Kings-Thunder game until 10 p.m., then read and write blogs until right now.  Tomorrow is a day off, so I can stay up late and not think about schoolwork.

But I promise you, basketball paperwork will still be around tomorrow.  

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