Day in the Life: May 24, 2017 (Post #11)

I’ve decided to chronicle this school year through my blog. It’s part of Tina Cardone’s Day in the Life book project. This is the eleventh post in the series.

5:45am | I wake up. Boy, I’m tired. After staying up late to watch game 4 in Eastern Conference Finals between my hometown Cavs and the Celtics, I certainly feel it. The early sunrise this morning helps pick up my mood.

I take an hour to eat, sip some coffee, draft this post, and shower. I’m on my way.

7:05am | I make it to school after a wet, soggy ride in. I make it up to my room and change into the clothes I keep in my closet for rainy days like today.

One of the Spanish teachers comes in to say hello and we chat. He’s no stranger, as we have periodically had some in-depth conversations about a variety of things this year. Today we talk at length about how our school years have gone and how they’re shaping up. We both have had disappointing moments and growing pains, but remain hopeful in the future. He’s a great guy. Our random talks have been a welcome respite his year.

I also spend a few minutes for an interview with a senior whose working on a project related to discrimination, racism, and stereotypes. Sharing my thoughts on camera with a student is a breath of fresh air. I don’t know her well, but I’m so happy that she’s dedicating time to researching these social issues. Our school needs it.

7:40am | Just like that, a half an hour passes. I throw on some music and begin mapping out the day for my students. Because the state tests are around the corner, we’re basically in Regents prep mode. At this time every year, I become a machine.

9:00am | First period comes to an end. The class is basically all seniors and today is prom. So yeah to say that they struggled to maintain focus is an understatement. I usually go to prom, but I’m sitting this one out. This is largely due to my lack of connection with the senior class…which is a consequence of this being my first year at my school. Next year.

I make it back to my room and remember that I need to run off a bunch of copies for my after-school Regents prep session after school today. I do that and come back to finish off plans for period 4 and 5.

10:35am | Fourth period begins. The focus is on solving a system of equations graphically. Specifically, we are using the graphing calculator to approximate the solutions to a given system of equations. I also give back their mock Regents that they took the previous Saturday. The results of which were promising. The lesson is ok, but nothing to call home about. The kids see a rational function for the first time and sort of freak out upon graphing it. Oops. We manage, but my poor pacing this year has caused all sorts of hiccups like this. I also manage to screw up one of the systems because the logarithm that I included in one of the functions doesn’t display properly on the graphing calculator because of a logarithm. This reminds me of Patrick Honner’s talk at MT^2 a few years back.

11:25am | Fifth period gets going. I head across the hall to the customary standing ovation. These kids are a blast. (Did I mention that I’ve started clapping for them when they walk out of the room?) The lesson is the exact same as period 4, but I make sure to develop the rational function a little better and skip the erroneous system.

12:15pm | I go heat up my lunch in the teacher’s lounge and run back to my room to scarf it down. I have some minor prep to do for period 8. While on my computer, I get a notice from UPS that my You Can Solve the Cube class set of Rubric’s Cubes arrived today. Excited, I pick them up from the main office. I recently learned how to solve a Rubric’s cube myself, so sharing this joy with my period 7 students (there’s no state test) is going to be great.

1:00pm | Speaking of period 7, they walk in. Because most are seniors, it’s a smaller group today (prom). I forewarn them that path to solving a Rubric’s Cube can get very frustrating. They nod, passively. I hand out the cubes and show them the first step in solving the cube. They practice this step over and over before the end of the period. They’re excited, I’m excited. It’s awesome.

1:50pm | My period 8 is officially starting “Regents Prep” today in class. A colleague made these fancy booklets containing all the Regents questions from like 2013 or something. We use those to review finding and using regression equations.

2:35pm | After school Regents prep starts for my algebra 2 students. I really like how I chose to set it up this year. Based on each student’s overall performance this year, I assigned them X amount of tutoring hours that they must get in before the Regents exam on June 16. They have a sheet to track all the hours that I stamp after every session they attend. It seems pretty efficient and holds every kid accountable.

4:35pm | The students staying for tutoring/Regents prep head home. I sit at my desk, reply to a few emails, and wait for the students completing their mock Regents to finish. At 5:05pm, I head home.

8:30pm | I’m still grading the mock Regents that the kids took, so I dedicate an hour to knocking out a good chunk of that.

9:50pm | Off to bed.

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?

While bogged down by the Regents and essentially turning myself into a test-prep machine during the last week or two, I’m pumped about getting the Rubric’s Cubes for the kids. It’s different, fascinating, and fun. In fact, that may just keep me afloat until the last full day of instruction on June 13.

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?

Hmm. Why am I drawing a blank? Too many highs and lows to describe? I’ll rain check this one. TBD.

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.

This month, I had a powerful moment this with a colleague about a t-shirt that she wore to school. To make a long story short, we connected on her decision to wear the shirt and, unfortunately, the disciplinary action that took place as a result. The entire situation was off-putting, but through it I learned so much about myself and my school about we address race and representation with colleagues and our students.

4. Teachers are always working on improving, and often have specific goals for things to work on throughout a year. What is a goal you have for the year?

While not one of my classroom-specific goals, this school year was to make a whole-hearted attempt at National Board component 2. All year, I’ve had this thing in the back of my mind, but it wasn’t until February when I began to seriously think about the specifics of what I was going to do. After losing about two weeks worth of sleep, I managed to submit it this month. The focus was my mini-unit on complex numbers. I’m pretty sire that it won’t be the best that NBCT will read, but I was super proud of all the thought that I put into it. I learned a lot, too. Next year: components 3 and 4.

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

On an unrelated-to-teaching note, this month I’ve decided that I will be taking piano lessons during the summer. It’s always been something that I’ve wanted to do since I was young, a “lifelong goal” of sorts. I’m thrilled!


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