Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Day in the Life of a Teacher

Most of us have spent time in a classroom as a student.  Today I'm bringing to you one day of my life, a day in the life of a teacher.  Every day as a teacher is different but this is one (real) day of my life.

5:00AM The alarm goes off.  No matter what time of year it is it will be pitch black outside still and I will curse the alarm clock.  I stumble downstairs, use the bathroom and then pour myself the biggest cup of coffee I can find.
5:05AM Go back upstairs.  Wash my face, put in contacts, get dressed all while sipping on that lifesaving cup of coffee.
5:25AM Go back downstairs.  Put my (pre-made) lunch into my bag, check my blood sugar and take my insulin.  Eat breakfast and refill coffee if it's a particularly rough morning.
5:45AM Go back upstairs.  Put on makeup, brush my teeth, and style my hair.
6:00AM Grab my lunch bag, purse, and iPad bag and dash out the door, being sure to say goodbye to all of my kitties before I leave.  Listen to NPR on the drive to work to catch up on current events.
6:30AM Arrive at work.  It's usually still pitch black or very dark so I be sure the stretch between my car and the gate to our school is safe before I get out of my car.  I've never had any problems in the neighborhood where my school is but better safe than sorry.
6:35AM Arrive in my classroom.  Unpack my lunch box, plug in my cell phone and iPad to their chargers.  Answer emails that were sent while I slept last night or that I couldn't answer without being at my work desktop computer.  Work on grading some papers and putting them in my online grade book.  Work on lesson plans for the next week.
7:30AM Another fifth grade teacher stops by to ask how we decide if a student is considered on level, below level or above level on interims and report cards.  Explain the answer to them and discuss how stressed you both are, how there aren't enough hours in the day and how too much is asked of us.  Sigh, with nothing resolved and get back to work.
7:45AM Pass out the iPads to student's desks, pass out scrap paper for them to complete the problem of the day on.
7:50AM Go up to the front office and sign in and check my mailbox.  Since I get to work so early, the office isn't even open when I get there.  My report time varies but the earliest time I have to be at work is 7:45.  Stop and talk to some coworkers in the office.
8:00AM Turn on the projector and set up the morning work problem of the day, which is a math problem in the form of a QR code that students scan and then solve on paper.
8:03AM A fellow fifth grade teacher stops by and asks how reading class is going with your students and what you're planning to use as an assessment this week.  Decide what some good options are.
8:15AM The bell rings to start the day and students start to gradually come into the classroom.  Greet them and collect lunch money, pizza money for a fundraiser, and notes to the front office.  Watch the morning news and then walk students to the library for class.
8:40AM Talk some more with other teachers about how math class is going and share some ideas about how we can teach division for students who still aren't getting it.  We agree it would be helpful to have students use base ten blocks as manipulatives to see why the standard long division algorithm works.  Afterward, squeeze in two minutes for a bathroom break because you won't get to go again until lunch.  Glamorous!
9:10AM After returning from library class, students read independently as I pull students one on one to conference about their reading.  I take notes on my iPad about the conferences.  Meet with four to five students each day.
9:55AM Teach the whole group lessons for reading, vocabulary, and writing.  Marvel at what funny little people these fifth graders are and laugh multiple times at the silly things they say.
10:50 Students write independently as I conference with students one on one again about their writing.  I really enjoy this time, as you really get to know the students when you are one on one.  This is probably one of my favorite times of day.
11:18AM Take the students out to recess and enjoy a break from the go-go-go of the classroom.
11:48AM Lunch!  Enjoy some time talking to adults.  But not much time, because I only get 25 minutes for lunch which includes dropping off the students, using the bathroom, checking my blood sugar and taking my insulin, eating, brushing my teeth, putting my elastics back in and picking up the kids again.  Learn to shovel food in your mouth and talk with your mouth full.  Manners, eh?
12:13PM Pick up the kids and by golly don't be 30 seconds late.  Walk back to the classroom with them.
12:18PM Review the answer to the problem of the day.  Reward students who get the problem correct with a Mio drink.  Today's is Blueberry Lemonade.  Twelve out of eighteen students get the problem correct.  Feel proud that they are learning!
12:30PM Teach math in small group with five to six students at a time.
1:00PM Teach math whole group.
1:30PM Go with the students to the computer lab for their math computer practice time.
1:50PM Take students back to the classroom and teach science.
2:30PM Have the student helper collect and plug in iPads.  Students pack up and walk to their dismissal point on the other side of the school.
2:42PM Parent pick up duty.  Keep 40 kids calm and quiet as they wait for their name to be called to go to their parent's car outside.
3:05PM In-service in the library.  Teachers read a ten page article on best teaching practices, which is taking a lot of effort out of people who have already worked more than eight hours that day.  Then we discuss what stood out to us in the article.
4:00PM In-service ends.  I go back to my classroom and write the objectives on the board for the next day, and finally check the 14 emails I've gotten just since noon.  Respond to the necessary ones.  File graded papers that need to go home the next day.  Clean up the classroom and prepare some things to work on in the morning.
4:40PM Finally walk out to my car and head home.  Listen to NPR on the way home again because I'm a nerd like that.

5:10PM Get home.  Unpack and rinse out lunch tupperware.  Make more coffee for tomorrow.  Eat dinner and catch up with hubby and discuss how our days went.  Do the dishes.  Pay some bills.  Brush my teeth and reinsert elastics.
6:00PM Sit down on the couch.  Publish a pre-written blog post.  Start writing a post about a day in the life of a teacher.  Run out of "free time" and save the post to finish tomorrow.
6:30PM Use my laptop to work on an assignment for the online ESOL class that I am required to take in order to keep my teaching certificate.  Grow irritated as I realize I already learned all this in college.  Answer the slightly slower stream of emails that continue to roll in.
7:00PM Shut down my laptop and head upstairs.  Shower, floss, do my moisturizing routine.  Blow dry my hair.
8:00PM Get into bed with my iPad.  Read ten online pages on special education law for the online ESE class that I am required to take in order to keep my teaching certificate.  Realize that just like with the other class, I learned all of this in college.  Just skim the last few pages.  Take the reading quiz, barely reading the questions and get a 90% on it.
8:45PM Quickly check a few of my favorite blogs.
9:00PM Turn off the lights and go to sleep, knowing that five AM will come far too quickly.

There you have it!  Nothing more exciting than being a work-a-holic!


  1. I love that you included saying goodbye to each of your cats <3

    1. Haha, must say goodbye to my babies! <3 them and I won't leave until I know they are all safe and happy.

  2. Oh my goodness you are early in your classroom. None of my buildings (I substitute but have done leave replacement) open before 7:30am (for the 8am schools) 8am (for the 8:20-8:30 schools) even for staff! 25 minutes for lunch! Yikes!!! Well thank you for the post though, I just goes to show how on the run teachers truly are. My best wishes for your class!

    1. Emily, the office at my school doesn't open until about 7:30 or 8 but if I don't want to work every day until 7PM, I have to get there early. The nice thing about being so early is no one else is there so I get a LOT done in the wee hours! :)

  3. Oh my goodness, I can't believe you wake up so early! I don't know how teachers who are parents manage to have time and energy for their children after work.

    1. Zara, As a person who does not have children, I've always wondered that too! But most of the teachers I work with don't get there as early as I do or stay as late. I'm one of the few crazy people.