On a Day of a Teacher

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I stopped at the grocery store on the way home where the clerk said to me that I looked tired and must have had a tough day. After I smiled and affirmed her observations, she encouraged me to relax this evening. While nodding, I said to myself, “Who is she kidding?”

The 6:30 AM-to- PM part of the day at the high school was interesting.

  • I arrive at 6:30 AM for the final preparations of the day.
  • 7:25 AM – Homeroom starts and it’s too short to do scheduling justice.
  • Three classes (85 minutes each) had lab activities, which had various issues.
  • The fourth class had a Performance Objective Assessment (POA), a required district assessment.
  • During my conference period I had a parent conference on the phone, then went to the Special Ed. room to work with students.
  • After the last class, I knew 16 students would be retaking a different POA, but little did I know there was still more to come.

It’s 2:30 PM.

  • Most students arrived for the retakes – so getting them started is the priority.
  • Another student wanted to discuss grades. She saw the time wasn’t right and was willing to talk some other time – I was thankful.
  • A second student graciously waited as we had to shift from one make-up item to another, and then I finally started 20 minutes of tutoring.

It’s 3:00 PM. As the tutored student left, a Special Ed student entered to retake a POA. I decided to test him orally; and I determined he was deficient. Learning is very difficult for him and I would like to continue oral evaluations with him. I tried remediation and found some helpful websites for him to do in the classroom for about fifteen minutes while I continued multi-tasking.

It’s 3:15 PM. Another struggling student appears – the one who appeared earlier then left. She was very patient with the hectic after-school period. I’m sure school isn’t easy for her, but her academic laziness compounds the problem.

It’s 3:25 PM. A parent appears at the door for a surprise meeting. I excused myself from the student to meet with the parent. I addressed her questions, and she kept it short because she saw I was working with a student.

It’s 4:30 PM. The tutoring session is over; and I think it went well. I’m alone in the room, so I prepare to finish a few tasks before leaving for home.

It’s 4:35 PM. A student who made-up a POA earlier (and the son of the walk-up parent) wanted to go over the POA to see how he did. Good news – he did well. He’s been improving yet doesn’t yet “show” the grades to please his parents. We talked as I tried to give him some insight in school success.

It’s 4:45 PM. Has the last student finally gone? I think so … but it’s time to check the phone messages to see who called. I imagine some parents because it is “Interim Reports Day.” Yep … two parents. I returned the first message as it seemed to be more pressing. Fortunately, it was a positive conversation.

It’s 4:55 PM – Time to check my email. Yikes! – an unpleasant note from Special Ed. Good timing! … and to think that working with them and their students has been a source of personal pride on all counts. I’ve even received commendations for that work.

It’s 5:00 PM. I’m tired … time to go home – but I have to stop at the grocery store for a few items. I recorded the after-school events.

It’s almost 8:00 PM (but I’m home). I had dinner and did the dishes. I haven’t read the paper nor watch the news. Fortunately through dinner, I did get a chance to talk to my wife.

I still have those 16 papers to grade so those student can get their updates tomorrow in order to cushion the mid-term report damage. Who knows how many other papers are overdue. Plus, I wonder what I will be doing in class tomorrow – and classroom readiness is another personal pride. I don’t feel ready … all along I keep thinking about the Kroger clerk’s suggestion.

This account was a real day – maybe not a typical day – but very real – actually a modified account of a reflection that I wrote (and kept) as one of the assignments required by our building administration.

Teacher is a difficult but rewarding career. It’s the joys of movies as October Sky and Mr. Holland’s Opus. It’s the wide-range of emotions from Dead Poets Society and Stand & Deliver. Teaching is also similar to a Rocky movie of being resilient from being a punching bag and getting knocked day.

Yes – this was 18 years ago – and to think the pressure on teachers today is much greater than then. I wonder – How many teachers today will reach full retirement?

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