Friday, October 7, 2016

October 7, 2016 - Monthly Post #DITL

The following post is a contribution to the Day in the Life Book Project initiated by Tina Cardone:

This morning I work up at 5 am, feeling exhausted, and with a stuffy nose.  This has been the norm lately.  Well, the stuffy nose and sore throat have been normal.  I've been waking up and feeling rather chipper after the initial grogginess.  I've been waiting for an actual cold to develop, but the stuffy nose and sore throat seem to go away after a hot shower.

Today is Friday, and although my school has no dress code for faculty, I have declared it my personal jeans day.  I have been looking forward to this day all week.  Thanks to the Jewish holiday we had a four day week, but after spending my 3-day weekend preparing for and hosting a house warming party, this week has seemed to drag on.  Luckily, I have another 3-day weekend to look forward to.

I have been working to make a habit out of waking up right at 5 am.  To not hit the snooze button, and to get right up, and start getting ready.  By doing so, I have been able to get ready, and get out the door by 6:40, and ensuring a 7:00 arrival time at school.  Our school day starts at 8:05.  I had an hour to make some copies for next week, arrange my desks into rows for today's tests and quizzes, and to conduct my general daily preparations.  This is the time of day I find most relaxing.  It's the one time of day I have solitude, aside from some "good mornings" from my colleagues.  I often describe myself as being a morning person, but not a people in the morning person.  In other words, I am very productive in the morning, but cannot function socially aside from small talk pleasantries.

My students were taken aback by the new desk arrangement.  My first period class only had a quiz, but since my second period class had a test, and I don't have the necessary amount of time between periods, I had to switch to rows.  I am a little stressed out to think about how I am going to have to switch back and forth between rows and groups all year.  It's a little worse because my schedule alternates the two classes throughout the day, but I am sure I will figure it out.

In my first period, we used the Do Now and homework to review, and then we took our quiz on angle pair relationships.  I was surprised by how long the quiz took, and how poorly students did.  They seemed to understand yesterday.  We had about 10 minutes left at the end of our 42 minute period to start our notes on parallel lines.  I've resolved to complete the notes on Tuesday and add a short activity.  I have a parallel line card sort that I made over the summer that should work perfectly.

In second period, we took our first unit test.  I had students put their interactive notebooks in the bin for their class period, asked for any late homework because today is the last day that students are able to turn it in, and then I had students clear their desks and passed out the tests.  During the test, I graded the notebooks.  Students are doing well with their notebooks overall this year; I was quite impressed.  Students turned their tests in as they finished, and I began grading them.  I was actually able to grade the tests just before the bell rang, and told students that they would be able to see their grades in SchoolTool, and that on Tuesday we would talk about how to improve their grades.  Overall, my students are going to be disappointed.  I decided that Tuesday will now be a day for discussing my re-test policy and to make test corrections as a class.  This is beneficial because I can model for students what my expectations are regarding how they turn in their test corrections. 

Third period is my prep period.  Since it's Friday my main priority is updating all the grades from the week in SchoolTool.  I spent most of my prep taking care of the grades for my first two periods, and grading the quizzes from first period.  I also started labeling the new TI-Nspires we received yesterday.

Fourth period is another section of my first period class (General Geometry), so again we had the quiz and ten minutes for notes.  Quiz results for these classes were not great either.  Students are having a hard time remembering when to add angles to 90 degrees, 180 degrees, and when angles are equal.  I will be targeting this skill further in our Do Nows.

Fifth period is a repeat of second period (Geometry).  This class was amazingly silent throughout the test.  Sadly, this is an anomaly.  When I explained to this class that if they finish early they may work on other school work (ahem, missing homework assignments), and may not use their phones at any time or talk, students mumbled, "whoa this is serious."  I wish I could bottle whatever it was that made these students so compliant, because any other class tries to quietly whisper until everyone is finished.

The next period is my lunch.  I finished grading the tests from fifth period, and updated everything in SchoolTool for fourth and fifth period, and I ran couple of quick errands.  I did also manage to eat lunch.

My next class was my SAT Prep class.  This course has been challenging because there are no teaching materials.  I have been looking since May.  One obstacle is that the SAT was changed last March, so there is a limited selection of materials to begin with.  The other obstacle is that the SAT materials that are available are geared toward students practicing for the SAT on their own.  Whereas, I need materials for reviewing topic by topic more than actual practice materials.  Today these students took a diagnostic test to get an idea of how they would score on the math section of the SAT.  I still have yet to grade these tests.  The goal is to get it done sometime this weekend.

After SAT Prep, I'm basically done for the day.  I have my last prep, and then hall duty.  This year I took on the role of senior class adviser.  Today I had to coordinate with the company taking senior portraits.  The fall re-takes were scheduled for a conference day, and they had to re-scheduled.  During my prep I took care of this issue, and one of my favorite seniors came in to get some work done.  We had a lovely time chatting in between accomplishing tasks. 

The last period of the day I walked around and monitored the hallways.  I checked in on senior lounge and answered a few questions about the class trip.  Our day ends at 2:52 pm.  I went back to my classroom, gathered my things, and left for the day.  I find that leaving right after school at least once a week keeps me sane.  I'm aiming to have no after school commitments on Mondays and Fridays so I can go right home and maintain my sanity. 

Today I was home by 3:30.  I had a snack, started my laundry, and then began writing this post with some tv on in the background.  At 5:30 my husband and I went out to dinner with one of our former students.  Getting sushi together once a year has become a tradition of ours.  I met this student while doing my student teaching, and became his tutor when I was subbing the district.  Then he had my husband as a teacher too.  He graduated in 2012, and we've always kept in touch with him.

We did a little bit of shopping after dinner, and ran into some more students in the mall.  We were home around 8:30, and now I'm getting ready to watch some tv before bed.

Reflection Questions:
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?

Today I decided to scrap my plans for next week, and spend a day doing test corrections and a day completing the re-test in class.  It will be less stressful for the students,and less to keep track of for me.  It seems that every year students struggle with their first test.  However, I am also worried that this decision is not ideal because next week is only a three-day week.  We won't be able to move on to our next unit for a full week.  (The third day I plan to teach students how to use the TI-Nspire calculators we just received.)

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?

Last week we had Open House.  I didn't get home until 9:30, and I had virtually no time to relax and unwind before bed, and yet I was so very excited to be able to return to work the next day.  I am looking forward to going to work again, and it is such a wonder feeling.  My challenge lately has been struggling with time management.  I have had very little time for myself.  I like to craft in my spare time, and love doing yoga and different workouts.  Lately, I haven't even had time for a quick 10 minute yoga routine.  I am hoping to get my time management under control so that I can take care of myself, and prevent burnout.
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 feel like I have a good bond with my fourth and fifth period classes.  My SAT Prep students are all students that I've had in the past two years, so I already have a bond with them.  I need to create a stronger bond with my first and second period classes.  I wonder what the difference is between my classes that makes my bond stronger with one over another.  The class dynamics are definitely different.  I feel more myself in my later classes, and I wonder if that is because of the bond I with those students, or if that is why I have a stronger bond with my students.  I would put my money on the latter.
4.  Teachers are always working on improving, and often have specific goals for things to work on throughout a year.

My goal for the year is incorporating group work and collaboration.  In the past two weeks I've used some great activities that I found on another blog.  I've experimented with students working in their table groups, choosing their own groups, and having assigned groups.  The draw-back of students choosing their own groups is that students work with friends and distract each other.  I also saw a few groups having one or two students do all of the work.  The draw-back of assigned groups was that not all students were comfortable in their groups (although some students are not comfortable working in groups at all).  I will keep practicing group arrangements.  I think my next step is to design some different group activities that rely on discussion.

5.  What else happened this month that you would like to share?

The past month has been insanely busy.  I haven't been able to post until now, but I hope to return to regular blogging soon.

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