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A Day in the Life of a Teacher Do you want to become a teacher but aren’t sure which career is perfect for you? Let TheApple help? Real teachers have outlined their day minute by minute so you can figure out what teaching is really like. • A Day in the Life of a Multimedia Teacher• A Day in the Life of a School Psychologist• A Day in the Life of a Special Education Teacher• A Day in the Life of a Third Grade Teacher• A Day in the Life of an English Teacher• A Day in the Life of a Music Teacher• A Day in the Life of a Computer Teacher A Day in the Life of a Multimedia Teacher I teach college prep, advanced, and certification computer multimedia courses to 9th through 12th grade students in a 1:1 computer classroom. Every day is different when teaching high school. There are so many activities, meetings, and events going on before, during, and after school that it is impossible to keep up with all of it. Here is my schedule for a typical Monday. 7:00 a.m. Arrive at school. I like to schedule at least a half an hour before school to prepare for the day. Early on I would spend this time reviewing lesson plans, writing outlines on the whiteboard, and making sure that all of my lecture notes were in order. These days I use this time to check email, chat with my neighbor teachers, and relax. 7:30 a.m. First period begins. My first three periods are the same Multimedia CP course. Unfortunately, my first presentation of the day’s materials is rarely my best. Not that I am careless, but that it usually takes me an hour to warm up, and, if something is going to go wrong with my demonstrations, it goes wrong during first period. 8:34 a.m. Second period begins By second period the caffeine is in full effect and I’m rock in’ and roll in’. I generally reserve Mondays for introducing new material, so by second period I’ve already worked out the kinks and my presentation is more polished and refined. The students are more awake and responsive as well. 9:29 a.m. Break I like to eat some trail mix about this time. 9:42 a.m. Third period begins By third period I’m interacting more with the students. Even when I have to spend the day presenting new material, I give the students significant amounts of time (5 to 10 minute intervals) to ingest and digest. Later on in the week I will devote nearly whole periods to independent work time, but not early on in the year. 10:46 a.m. Fourth period beings This is my Advanced Multimedia class of mostly juniors and seniors. The kids work in two “production companies” to produce a 10 minute “Friday Show” leapfrogging every other week. These students are self-directed. The fact that their work gets shown publically at school and to the world on the web is great motivation to keep them on task. 11:43 a.m. Lunch begins Monday is the leadership meeting for the Christian Club that I co-advise. This is a wonderful time of renewal for me as I both get to leave my classroom, and I get to hear a message on leadership from one of our local youth pastors. 12:31 p.m. Fifth period begins Back to Multimedia CP. Early in the school year I do more demonstration while the students follow along to reinforce the building of computer and art skills. Later in the year the classes are divided into small groups who work together to create their video projects. I have developed a very accurate grading method for group work that rewards hard working students without penalizing them for working with those students who are less motivated. 1:35 p.m. Sixth period begins I’m going to be honest here; a sixth period class is a sixth period class regardless of subject, location, age group, or teacher: they are tough to teach. I’m exhausted, the kids just want to go home, and after having taught the same thing for four periods, I’m not as dynamic. 2:45 p.m. Seventh period begins After another 15 minute rest the certification course begins. This class is comprised of 23 students who are focused on learning how to use an industry standard video editing application. In June those who are ready and willing will take a certification exam. This is the first year I am teaching this course so I am learning right along with the students. We only meet formally on Mondays until 4:15. The rest of the week the students work independently on their assignments. 4:30 p.m. Leave to go home. Some may think that elective teachers work less hard or fewer hours then core teachers. It’s true to a point; I don’t spend hours every weekend grading essays. But elective teachers often work six-period days (or seven like this year) because we are lone riders at our work sites and the demand for our courses is often high. I actually really enjoy my schedule and even though Mondays are challenging, knowing that the students I teach are learning and growing because of my efforts makes the time I invest worthwhile. A Day in the Life of a School Psychologist I arrive at my middle school campus today at 8:00am, armed with coffee, water bottle, and lunch bag, bag of testing materials, my laptop, and a bag of toys. I greet the secretary in Spanish (she’s my own private language tutor) and grab a bunch of little notes out of my mailbox marked, “Dr. Bell, School Psychologist.” As I re-shuffled the weight of my zillion bags o’ stuff, a group of middle school girls came in the office. They were so cute and middleschooly awkward and I smile and greet them. They give me the “I’m too cool to say hi to adults half-smile and squinty eye” and as I walk away, I overhear them: Girl 1: Who was that?Girl 2: Dr. Bell. Girl 1: What does she do?Girl 2: I don’t know exactly. All I know is that she LOVES kids. That is the best job description ever. That is what I do. That is why I carry a zillion bags to 3 different schools every week. I am a school psychologist. Here is my day. 8:00am: Aforementioned shuffling of bags and lesson in middle school conceptualization of what I do. 8:05am: Accosted in hallway by vice principal. We walk and talk as I head to my little office in the back of the auditorium. It’s a State-of-the-Union address, middle-school style. Franklin needs a check in because he got into a fight. D’Andre is doing better in class. Cherie’s teacher wants to check in about reading difficulties. A teacher is out today. Karen’s mom wants me to call her about grief counseling. Special education meeting this afternoon for Kevin. Got it. 8:10am: Throw everything in office and read through mailbox notes. More of the same: “Do you have any strategies for anger management for Michael?” “Can you check in with Erin? She seems sad.” “Dr. So-and-So called and wants to talk with you about whether you think T.J. has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.” “Is D’Andre doing his behavior chart?” “Padres Unidos meeting tonight at 6. Can you come?” 8:15am: Deep breath. Organize and prioritize! Review new items and existing list of students I had planned on testing and seeing for counseling today. Testing must be done today. I have to figure out why three of my students are failing. Learning disability? Emotional problem? Behavioral problem? Poor instruction? Bad attendance? Doesn’t understand English? Low ability? Peer difficulties? Do they need special education to be successful or can they make it in the general class with help? I am a detective gathering clues every day. 8:20am: Call parents back. Leave messages. 8:30am: Coffee now in bloodstream. Ready to go. Deliver “Talent Group” passes to 6th grade girls for counseling group that will occur after lunch. Squeals ensue. As I leave classroom, another girl yells, “I’m talented too! Take me!!!” 8:35am: Back to office to regroup. Set up testing materials: one IQ test, drawing paper, stopwatch, pencils, sundry other tests of how kids learn best (listening? looking? doing?) and behavior rating scales for teachers, parents, and student. 8:40am: Enter classroom to get Devin to “work with me for a while.” Kid bounds out of chair and then asks, “Wait, am I in trouble?” Assured he is not, just that his mom wanted me to test him to see how he learns best and what we can do to make school easier and more fun for him. He takes the bait. 9:00am: Give tests of problem solving with visual aids, language-based reasoning tasks, memory tests, and drawing tests. Student is very compliant and seems to enjoy testing, once he is assured it was not for a grade, but to see how he solves new problems on his own. At end of testing, student reports that testing “wasn’t so bad.” Agree to meet again next week to finish up. 10:30am: First counseling kid of the day. He’s a 7th grade boy who just got in a fight. Head hung low, he joins me in my office. He lights up when he sees the game of Uno. We play what may be our 100th game of Uno this year. After we finish, he sheepishly looks up at me and admits, “Dr. Bell. I was bad yesterday.” We talk. 11:30am: Next counseling kid. She’s an 8th grade girl having family problems. He sister is in a gang, and she is afraid for her. We draw together. She is chatty and open. This is my second year with her. After we play what may be our 400th game of Mancala, she earnestly asks, “Did you have to go to college to do this job? Because it seems like playing Mancala isn’t that hard.” I privately reflect on how yes, I did go to college and grad school, and yes, I do get paid to play around on the job. 12:30pm: Call from other school I work at, located down the street. Student with major truancy issues is there today! Given I have been trying to test Caroline to see what is causing her to hate school so much, I tell the principal I’ll be right there. Grab my lunch bag for a meal on the go. Pop head into office and exclaim, “Tengo que irme a…my other school!” As I fly down the hall, secretary yells, “My other school is ‘mi otra escuela!” Yes, that’s right. Dang it. I knew that one. 12:32pm: Finished with lunch and get in car. Yeah, that’s right; I shoved a sandwich in my face in two minutes. Over the years, I’ve learned how to multitask. I’ve even managed to break up a faux knife fight while eating in the teacher’s lounge. 12:35pm: Arrive at high school. Observe Caroline socializing happily with boyfriend. The bell rings, and she makes her way to class. I intercept her. She agrees to come with me in lieu of chemistry class. Not a tough sell on that one. 1:15pm: Caroline reveals that she skips school because she feels dumb and “doesn’t ever get it.” She came today because she missed her friends. She agrees to continue testing to see why school is so hard. She becomes curious and engaged in my tests. I wish I could stay and test her all day. But my Girls Talent Group is starting in 15 minutes. I cross my fingers and hope she comes back tomorrow. 1:30pm: Back to middle school. Girls are eagerly waiting by the door. Today, we have to decide who we will invite to the end of the year talent show. Fight ensues over whether or not to invite Alejandra, who is friends with one girl, and enemies with the other. One hour of tears, yelling, more tears, storming out, storming back in, and talking yield to agreements and hugs all around. For now. 2:28pm: Back to my office. Jose is at my door, waiting for his 2:30 counseling. He wants to play basketball today. I glance down at my high heel shoes and think of that Easy Spirit commercial in which a group of women’s high heels are so comfy that they can play basketball in them. These are not those type of shoes, because those shoes are ugly and I would never buy them. We compromise and talk as we do free shots together. He talks about being bullied and his fear that his dad will be deported. 3:30pm: Score Devin and Caroline’s testing. Devin is above average in all areas. Caroline’s profile looks like she may have a Reading Disability. Further testing is needed to see why Devin is failing despite having the ability, and at what grade level Caroline is reading so we can target interventions. 3:45pm: Review my report I wrote on my testing last week for Kevin for meeting in 15 minutes. Kevin is a bright 6th grade student who is not completing any work in English, and has an A in Math. He is a sweet boy who sometimes shuts down and sulks when given a writing assignment. 4:00pm: Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting for Kevin starts. Teachers, mom, principal, me, and Kevin are attending. We go over Kevin’s strengths. I present how Kevin learns best and what is getting in the way of his learning. His mom and teacher ask questions about how to help him. I make sure Kevin understands how he learns best and why school is hard for him. He has a visual-motor processing problem. I explain that he is like an awesome, super-fast processing computer, only his printer is a little slower than other kids. He smiles. I can tell he gets it. 4:45pm: Go back to office and grab my one million bags and pack up. I walk by the hip-hop dance club doing their thing and I see my shyest student dancing her heart out. I walk by the school garden, and see two of the talent group girls chatting and laughing. I smile to myself. Then, I see two of my boys I see for counseling fighting in the hall and saying unspeakable things about each other’s mamas. I drop my bags and decide to stay a bit longer. Why? Because like the girls said this morning, I love kids. A Day in the Life of a Special Education Teacher Special education teachers have the opportunity to work with students who are unique and extrodinary. A Day in the Life as a Special Education Teacher: Kindergarten-2nd grade, self-contained classroom for children with behavioral needs (8:1:1). 7:30 Enter school, unlock my classroom, revise the day’s lessons according to what was accomplished the day before, prepare materials for the day, write morning message on the board and morning work problems 8:00 Go to the office/mailbox, try to catch the principal if there were issues/concerns that need to be addressed, take calls from parents if needed, swing by the copy room to make copies or pick up pre-ordered copies, collaborate with OT or Speech teacher if needed, and continue prepping for the day. 8:30 Teacher assistant arrives in the classroom; collaborate with her (or him) about the day’s lessons and goals. The teacher assistant has a morning routine consisting of resetting the visual schedule (picture cards for each student and their activities for the day on a large pocket chart), assignment cards (reading, writing, math, science, and social studies each child will remove and put in a “Done Can” throughout the day as accomplished), and visual behavior management chart (Smiles). 8:45 Student Aides (1:1 Aides) arrive in the classroom, get briefed about the day’s activities, discuss concerns, and prepare for the day. 8:50 Teacher assistant and student aides retrieve the classroom’s students from their buses. Some children enter school during general dismissal in the front of the school, other students, on a specific bus, have to wait until all other busses have been unloaded and are released to the teacher assistant, and other students are dropped off at the back of the school. 8:55 I remain in the classroom, greeting each student at the door with a warm “Good morning”. The students begin their morning routine of putting their belongings in their cubbies, taking out their homework and teacher/parent journal placing them on a designated desk, use the bathroom, wash their hands, and sit at their assigned seat to eat breakfast. 9:00 I take attendance using Infinite Campus (computer program), read through the teacher/parent journals (reply if needed), quickly look over homework and file for later, and join the students (still eating breakfast), teacher assistant, and student aides at the t-shaped arrangement of assigned seats. We all read Marva Collin’s “Affirming Pledge to Self” (every morning) and students think about a goal to set for themselves for the day (usually about appropriate behaviors they are having trouble with). I write down each student’s goal on the top of a new sheet of paper with the behavior management template that will go in the student’s teacher/parent binder at the end of the day. 9:10 School announcements begin including the Pledge of Allegiance. 9:15 From the job chart students are directed to clean-up breakfast, take items to the office or other teacher, everyone washes their hands, and gathers for morning meeting on the carpet. 9:25 Morning meeting begins. I pick a student to be calendar helper (usually in rotation). The calendar helper picks the next number (date) and attaches it to the calendar, also places the days of the week in the boxes labeled “today is”, “yesterday was”, and tomorrow will be” with a magnet. The other students are using dry erase markers and a template that outline the same activity the calendar helper is doing. Some other students maybe using dry erase markers for tracing their names, the date, and day of the week on pieces of laminated sentence strips (modification). When everyone is done, we all go over the date, days of the week, months of the year, seasons, dress the bear according to today’s weather, chart the weather (bar graph), add another penny to the bank (convert pennies to nickels, nickels to dimes, etc. if needed), add another link to the chain in a pattern chosen for the month (AB, AABB, ABBA, etc.), count on the counting chart by ones, twos, fives, and tens. 9:45 Morning message. The message contains mistakes in capitalization, punctuation, and spelling. I read the message as it should be. The student take turns correcting the mistakes by coming up to the chalkboard. To end Morning meeting we read Chicken Soup with Rice (repeated reading). I individually ask each student what comes next (according to their visual schedule) and students are directed to put their morning meeting card in the done can, get a sticker from the container (usually corresponds with time of year) and sit at their seat. 10:00 Some student may have counseling, OT, Speech, Art, Music, Library, Gym that their aide or teacher assistant takes them to. The rest participate in a reading lesson. When students have completed the reading lesson they are asked what comes next, and asked to put their reading card in the done can, get a sticker from the container, and get ready for their next activity. 10:30/45 Again some students may have somewhere else to be, the rest participate in a writing lesson and follow the same closure procedure mentioned above. At this time if all of the students completed all of the morning assignments (all morning cards are in the done can) the students have free time in which they could use the computer, play a board game, read a book, puzzles, painting and coloring, etc.. 11:20 Clean-up, wash hands, and prepare for lunch. 11:30 Walk students to lunch. Some students have to stop at the nurse’s office for medication. Once all of the students are together in the lunchroom, the student aides would stay with students for lunch while the teacher assistant and I would take lunch. I ate lunch (zone bar and water) in my classroom to decompress from the morning. If a student broke a rule on the behavior management chart (be safe with hands, feet, and mouth; be safe with things in the room; do your best; walk in the hallways properly; bring in your homework) I would write the incident on the daily mini behavior chart that accumulates in the teacher/parent journal. The behavior chart uses smiles (happy, ok, sad, and an X). 12:10 Pick up students from lunch, student aides take their lunch, and students prepare for recess. Every student brushes their teeth. A student would be sent to the office to gather a walkie-talkie and a key for the recess door. If students did not complete their work from the morning due to behavior, I would stay in with the student to help complete his/her assignment and then, we would join the others outside for recess. I would use a time elapse clock to show the student how much time was left in recess to motivate them to complete their assignment. I always help the student and never expect them to do it on their own. 12:40 Students return from recess, a student brings back the walkie-talkie and key to the office, and prepare for afternoon activities (revisit the visual schedule and expectations for the afternoon) 12:50 Silent Reading (pick book from classroom library, one from home, or bookcase of books that I have picked). I have a student pick a book for me to silently read (modeling). With the help of an adult the students record the book title and author on their paper bookshelf. 1:00 Some students may have other places to be, the rest participate in a science or social studies lesson. Same closure procedure as in morning lessons (card in one can). 1:45 Wash hands and prepare for Snack 2:00 Some students may have other places to be, the rest participate in a math lesson and end with closure procedure. 2:50 Free time for those who have finished their work 3:00 End of the day Routine. Students gather their belongings from their cubbies and meet on the carpet like during morning meeting. Attention is on the large, visual behavior management chart where each student’s name has a column of smiles in the row of each rule of the classroom (be safe with hands, feet, and mouth; be safe with things in the room; do your best; walk in the hallways properly; bring in your homework). During the day when a rule is broken the smiley is immediately changed from happy to ok, ok to sad, or sad to an X. At the end of the day, the students copy what smiles they have for each rule on the mini-behavior chart sheet that goes in the teacher/parent binder. Additionally, next to the smiley I have already recorded the event as it has taken place and caused the smiles to change. Together we all talk about whom reached their goal for the day which they made and I recorded during breakfast. Stickers or smiles are put next to the goal on the paper if accomplished. The students are call teammates and they often refer to each other as such, by saying “Good job, teammate!” The students look at the big chart and everyone in the room, including the adults, vote for the “Catch of the Day”. I write the name and date of the student on a di-cut seasonal figure and the student helps me staple it on our bulletin board outside the classroom. Each student is counseled by me, and the teacher parent binder is put in their book bag. Finally, when they show me that they are ready (sitting quietly with their hands folded in front), students who did not get an X on their behavior chart are chosen to pick a prize out of the prize box and sit at their desk. Once all of the students are at their desks, they are called one at a time to put up their chair and line up at the door (where I am standing). Review how to walk in the hallway, “if you ready to walk in the hall way touch your nose with your right pointer finger…etc...” We always “kiss our brains” (kiss your hand and place it on your forehead) and blow a kiss to the catch of the day. There are times throughout the day when a student explodes with aggressive behavior that requires physical restraint and the use of the padded timeout room located in the classroom. During those times, the other students are taken by the teacher’s assistant to the cafeteria across the hall to continue instruction or to the library during non-instruction times. 3:20 Kindergarten classes are announced to proceed to the front of the school. We all leave the classroom. Student aides bring the students that ride on a regular bus to the front of the school. I take the rest of the students to the back door where their bus is waiting for them. 3:30 I check my mailbox in the office, return to the classroom, pick-up classroom, decompress, make phone calls, breath, fill out assessments as per a student’s doctor’s request, cry, correct work, record grades, work on IEP progress notes, collaborate/vent with other service providers, and other normal teacher paperwork. 4:00/15 Leave school usually with odd and ends to take care of at home. Get ready to do it all over again tomorrow! A Day in the Life of a Third Grade Teacher "
Writing is a difficult subject to teach, and requires patience and persistence. With a topic of high interest and understanding, and months of practice, my third graders wrote unbelievable stories."
Every year in late January or early February one of my favorite milestones in the academic calendar occurs – the day when you realize that your instruction has finally taken effect. At this point in the year It is suddenly apparent that the hard work of the past five months has paid off and the pieces have fallen into place. This milestone just passed for my third grade students, and here’s what happened on that day. 7:50 a.m. The day started as it usually does: the students entered the room with a slight buzz, checked the board for directions, and moved about the room completing their usual morning responsibilities. The morning routine has been in place all year, and the students had become increasingly independent. However, this morning I noticed how all the students, even the ones who had trouble hanging up their book bag the first few weeks of school, could get through the routine without needing me. 8:15 a.m. Our first subject was Reading. We just finished reading Stone Fox, which is a perfect vehicle for analyzing characters. Stone Fox, the stoic Native American, says only six words in the story, but his character is fully developed through descriptions and actions. My students’ comprehension of inferences and implicit details really started to blossom, and they loved every minute of our study. Because the novel ends abruptly, our culminating project was to write another chapter to the book. After preparatory discussions and careful planning with graphic organizers, the students finished their rough drafts on this February morning. As I read each of them, I was almost in tears. The student with horrible spelling and punctuation had actually reread her work and made corrections using the dictionary and applied the rules we learned in class. The student who I had pushed to develop her ideas further had written four full pages with beautiful word choice and clear events. Most impressively, a quiet student whose writing was usually a bit immature had produced a story where each scene was slowly developed with descriptions that sounded like a budding author. Writing is a difficult subject to teach, and requires patience and persistence. With a topic of high interest and understanding, and months of practice, my third graders wrote unbelievable stories. I am aglow just thinking of it. 10:00 a.m. We have just started having class meetings and our guidance counselor is wonderful enough to come in each week and lead these for us. This morning we were focusing on how to communicate our feelings – something that is difficult for adults, but almost impossible for third graders. The guidance counselor provided some examples of “I statements” and then asked the students to try it. We went around the circle and I was amazed to hear some of my students share their true feelings. It was an enlightening moment for me to see how empowered the students felt from using their words, and how powerful the statements were because they started with “I”. Of course, I had heard this strategy for conflict resolution many times, but its true effectiveness became evident. When it was my turn, I shared, “I feel disrespected when you play with materials instead of looking at me when I am teaching.” I felt liberated. This meeting helped me see how to better communicate with my students and help them communicate with each other. I felt I had just arisen from the couch of a long therapy session! 11:00 a.m. After a long morning, we headed out to recess. The football game on the playground had become a problem over the past few weeks. Several athletic and competitive boys were controlling the teams, only passing to certain kids and hassling those who didn’t make a good play. I prefer to let the children solve their own problems on the playground, but we had reached the point where the teachers needed to get involved. A wise colleague had told a few boys to walk away from the game if they got frustrated. And today, they did just that. What was most surprising was that others followed, including one of the “leaders”. The boys spent the rest of recess happily building forts and digging in mud just as nine-year-old children should. 12:30 p.m. In math we were studying fractions. Fortunately, my school uses a program that frequently uses manipulative in a way that lets the children’s understanding of concepts develop. The shortcuts to solving problems are introduced after the concept is understood. Today, we were working with parts of a group so the counters came out. I had joked with the students that the jingle of these counters was haunting me in my sleep because they couldn’t seem to avoid messing with them throughout the lesson. Today, after the counters were out and on the desk, the noise ceased. I said nothing, but smiled on the inside. After many examples, the students seem to understand how to find the fraction of a group, and were actually able to transfer this to written problems. When a math lesson with manipulative works in this way, I know that I have taught a concept the way it should be taught to young, exploring children. 3:15 p.m. The rest of the day went on with no other major epiphanies, but no disappointments either. At 3:15, as I said “good-bye”, I knew I wasn’t watching the same group of kids that I met in August walk out the door. My group had turned a corner, and I know the rest of the year will be spent moving swiftly beyond the point we reached this day. A Day in the Life of a High School English Teacher I currently teach the ninth grade English component of a world studies course in the humanities department of a very large suburban high school near Washington D.C. I have a teaching partner who teaches the world history component of the course. I am extremely fortunate in that my teaching partner is not just knowledgeable about her subject matter, but she is also a very good teacher. Tuesdays tend to be pretty interesting days. Here is what a typical one for me looks like. 5:45 am Traffic. I am out the door and on my way. I leave this early because traffic even at this hour can be fierce. I arrive at school at about 6:15am Even at this really, really early hour, there are always a few other teachers around (with big cups of coffee). We usually run into each other at the copier. 6:15-7:20am The early morning race. Even though I make a point of leaving the room as tidy as I can at the end of the day, somehow I always sprint around the school as fast as I can just trying to get everything done before students show up. If I need to clean the board, I hit that first and then wipe down the desks with disinfectant. We have had serious flu lately and I don’t want any more of my students to be sick. I connect the laptop, check email, and scribble everything that the kids need to know on the board. Then I check in with my teaching partner. We spend a few minutes working together. When our students study a particular culture or civilization in world history class, they then read the literature of that civilization with me. This requires a pretty tight collaboration with my teaching partner. I am thankful every day that we make a good team. We not only plan together, but also we collaborate on the best ways to work with our students. Kids start coming by to hand in late work, make up assignments, or just hang out with friends. It tends to be crowded and noisy even this early. 7:20-9:00 am The first block. We have an alternating block schedule, so I meet each class every other day for the entire year. You can tell from the time frames that our classes tend to be long ones. I like the length because students can start and finish assignments in one sitting, but it is a challenge to keep every student engaged all period long. My first class today is mixture of sleepyheads and hyperkids. I work hard to figure out ways to appeal to everyone’s learning style, but it is not always easy. Because this is such a long period and because ninth graders can get restless within two nano seconds, I try to break up assignments and alternate types of activities. These students tend to be well behaved so we have lots of activities where they can work together and have fun. 9:00-9:15 am The whole school takes a break. The room is filled with kids eating snacks. It’s fun to hang out and hear them talk about something besides the lesson. 9:15-10:55 am The second block. The second block is the same as first with a few tweaks here and there to meet the needs of a different set of students. Ninth graders are so funny—they want to be grown, but they are still little kids sometimes. I enjoy teaching them-the constant giddiness and perpetual pencil tapping included. 11:02-11:28 am Lunch. Our school is so large that we have several lunch periods. Sometimes I have lunch duty, but it is not unpleasant—just noisy. 11:33-1:13 am Planning period for me. I have about a zillion papers to grade. The upside of teaching is getting to hang out with teenagers and the downside is definitely grading endless stacks of papers. I daydream about smart scanners that can grade student essays with just a flick of the wrist or hiring an assistant just to grade essays or…well, you get the picture. We English teachers spend LOTS of time grading essays. 1:20-2:10 am Last class of the day. This class meets daily and is much shorter than the others. The kids can be tired so it is challenging to keep them upbeat and focused. I am lucky to have a really cooperative group at the end of the day. They are nice to each other and helpful to me, thank goodness. 2:10-3:45 am It’s not over yet. I stay after school four days a week to help students make up work, get extra help on writing assignments, or just work on problems they are having with the material. Most of the teachers at my school stay after to offer extra help. It’s not really a formal arrangement, but it seems to work. Right before I leave, I make sure the room is clean and my desk clear. Even though I am tired, it will be worth it in the morning if the room is clean and I am organized. A Day in the Life of an Elementary School Music Teacher Music teachers usually start as musicians before they start teacher training. One Day in February 6:30 Wake-up and sneak out of the bedroom without waking my husband. Put on the clothes set out the night before. Pour some coffee and grab a drinkable yogurt from the fridge. 6:54 Get in the car and jam to some morning radio to wake-up and get energized for the day. 7:11 Arrive at school and sign in at the front desk. 7:15 Arrive in classroom and drop off bag. Report to morning duty, closed-circuit morning show. Prepare student scripts for the day. Fire up television and microphones for testing. Scan through work email. Say hello to other teachers in hallway. 7:30 Four students arrive to practice for morning show. Student crew runs through Pledge of Allegiance, patriotic song, lunch menu, student birthdays for the day, and technical aspects of show. Drink breakfast. 8:00-8:05 Morning show airs school wide. When completed, students return to homeroom classes. 8:05-8:25 Tune all classroom guitars for guitar classes. Post today’s objectives and class procedures on the board for the first three classes. Get guitar songs and books ready on music stands. 8:25-9:05 Fifth grade students arrive. Survey seating chart quickly for absences and reassign students new partners where applicable. Students get their guitars, music stands, and music and return to their seats. Guitars have been labeled as famous guitarists, so students always know “who” their playing. As all students get situated, I get students quiet quickly by holding up “1” finger. Students know this is position 1 and relax in their seats with guitars in rest position. I go over expectations for the day and assign songs for students to practice on their own for the next 15 minutes. We pinpoint the musical elements in each song that require practice. During this time, I walk around the room and give students individual attention. When the 15 minutes is up, we play the practiced songs as a class, in groups or as solos. With less than 20 minutes of class remaining, we move to the carpeted space in the music room and away from our chairs. The fifth grade teacher team has been working on a global unit, and this class is focusing on Japan. As a part of their final grade project, each class is presenting information and a song to the other fifth grade classes. We practice our Japanese pronunciation, rhythm and melody, then put it all together. As class time draws to a close, we review what we’ve done for the day and I give an extension assignment for class practice of the Japanese song. I let the line leader for the class borrow a practice CD of the song to take back to class. 9:05-9:10 Class lines up at the door to be picked up by fifth grade teacher, who is running late. Next fourth grade class arrives early and their teacher runs to a meeting. I’m now with two classes in the hall and eager to set-up my next class. Music teachers need patience and flexibility! 9:14 Fifth grade teacher finally shows up after I page the office to find her. She comes apologizing and I hurriedly usher in my fourth grade class to get started. 9:15-9:50 Fourth grade guitar class begins and continues very similarly to fifth grade. However, this fourth grade class is very energetic and needs to get moving. For the last 10 minutes of class, we practice our choreography and singing for the upcoming spring musical. One boy can’t seem to stop being the class clown during our dancing, and I worry that he’ll injure another student with his erratic movements. We exchange a glance and I point to the edge of the room. He knows this means he’s out for the time being. Only a minute later, he wants back in the action, so he I give him another chance to return to the group. He behaves and is proud that he’s part of the group again. The fourth grade teacher arrives early to pick up her students so she can watch their progress on the musical. The students beam to see that their teacher came to watch what they’re doing outside their homeroom class. 9:50-10:15 Planning…well, not really It’s seems like it’s just enough time for a quick regroup, a.k.a. bathroom/email break. I quickly check my email to see if anything has come from the school office that day. I see several emails from student’s parents about after-school musical rehearsal that I reply to. With just a few minutes left, I write the objectives on the board for my last three classes and make sure the manipulatives I’m using in class are set up on the counter. 10:15-10:50 Third grade class arrives and sits around the edge of a large carpet in the music room. We continue to practice reading space and line notes on the staff. The class sorts themselves into groups of four. On the large staff board, I notate a succession of notes. Each group has to figure out by reading the notes on the staff what word is spelled. This is a great way to get students excited about reading notes. We do about five of these, and then each group comes up with their own word to “stump” the class. This class has really gotten this concept well except one student who does not speak English as her first language. I sit next to her while each group takes a turn instructing and help her. Once this review is done, each student gets a music book and we sing several songs, naming notes on the staff along the way. One of the songs lends itself to Orff instruments, so after deciding what notes on the staff accompany the song, I write a rhythm on the board. Each group takes turns playing the rhythm on the Orff instruments as the other groups sing along. We line up about one minute early, and I use the time for a quick staff game. Going down the line in order, students say their lines and spaces staff names using the rhyme (Every good boy deserves fudge or F-A-C-E). Students that don’t remember the next letter have to go to the end of the line. 10:50-11:30 Lunch…eventually. The music classroom is the farthest away from the school office, but it’s the only time of day that I have can go check my physical mailbox in the office for messages. It takes about 10 minutes round trip. I walk through the lunch room and see the kindergarten and first grade students at tables eating. I feel like a celebrity as they all wave to get my attention. I am slowed down by all of the extra hugs, but it’s totally worth it to see their cute little faces. Once I get to the office, I run into our principal, who asks how the school music rehearsals are coming. I give a good report and say “hello” to our administrative staff- three of the sweetest ladies ever. The assistant principal requests that I go into her office and sign my evaluation she just completed. It was a good one – yeah! By the time I return to my room, I’ve got about 15 left to eat lunch, which I do with a dear friend and colleague. Chatting with the art teacher is one of my favorite times of the day since it’s the most “adult” conversation I get all day. The nights of the school musical, the art teacher hosts a student school-wide art show before the musical begins. We go over a few details and everything seems to be progressing fine. We define a few points that each of us need to review with the PTA and then we get ready for our next class. 11:30-12:10 My kindergarten class is playing quiet mouse as they wait in the hall. The class comes in and sits on the carpet and I immediately grab my guitar and start singing our warm-up songs. We go straight into several dancing songs and then review our basic rhythms. Then we review songs and movements for our upcoming parent program. We talk about performance etiquette and they couldn’t be more excited to perform for their parents. Forty minutes is a long time for this age, so the last five minutes of class, I read a big story book of “I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed…” and they sing along. I grab my guitar and sing a song (Willoby Walloby) calling each of their names to line up. This is one of their favorite parts of music class as everyone sings their name to line up. I have to admit- I love it, too! 12:10-12:15 First grade set-up. Orff instruments need to be brought back out. 12:15-12:55 First grade class arrives. They’ve been working on an animal unit in class, so I agreed to help the teachers by teaching them songs about animals for an upcoming first-grade presentation. One song has a dance, one is just singing, and one has Orff accompaniment. We practice all three and review what parts need more work, then try again. 12:55-1:35 My second grade class arrives and with it my grade cycle of classes for the day is complete. We’ve been studying Beethoven, and to complete our unit have been watching “Beethoven Lives Upstairs.” After the movie is complete, I reveal the set of questions I’ve written on the board about the movie. We discuss Beethoven as a person living in a different time and how amazing he is as a musician. They can’t get over how silly the wig he wore was, and this always makes me giggle. We sing a silly song from “Beethoven’s Wig” and it’s time for their class to end for the day. 1:40-2:30 4th/5th grade choir students start arriving in the music room. They grab their music folders and find their assigned seats. They visit while everyone arrives. Once I feel that most of them have arrived, I start to play the piano and the students know that this is an indication to stand and sing warm-ups. Grandparents Day is in a few weeks, so we focus on practicing the two songs we’ll be singing for that program. 2:30 School day ends. Toward the end of the choir class, the school intercom becomes busy, as all dismissal is done over the intercom. As students are called by mode of transportation, my class gets smaller for a moment. 2:30-4:30 An influx of students are coming and going in the music room. I have musical rehearsal after school with about 100 students. The musical for the year is “Aladdin.” For the next two hours, we work on lines, singing and choreography as a whole or in small groups. While I work with some students, others know that they are required to do homework or read. I’m the only teacher supervising, so I have to keep three eyes open to make sure all of my students are behaving. One month till show time! 4:30 Walk students to the front of school for carpool home from musical practice. Pack students in their cars, talk to parents, and “hang” out with students while we wait for them to get picked up. 5:00 Last student gets picked up. I walk back to my room and gather my things and check my email one more time. 5-7pm Though my normal school day has ended, I took an extra job teaching music lessons several hours after school. It’s a great way to earn some extra money and fun one-on-one instruction. 7:00 Head home A Day in the Life of an Elementary Computer Teacher/ Technology Integration Specialist I am a computer teacher at a large private school. I teach 545 students every week in kindergarten through fifth grade. During my off hours, I am a technology integration specialist, helping teachers utilize technology to increase student learning. A Typical School Day: 7:00 Leave the house, I am SO lucky to live minutes away from the school, on nice days I walk. 7:15 Arrive at school; check my mailbox in the teachers’ lounge. I usually run into other staff members who convince me to make a trip down to Wild Blue (we have a Starbucks coffee shop in our school). Walk 1/2 a mile from one end of our building to the other to get a Carmel chai tea to start the morning and catch up with colleagues. 7:35 Plug in laptop and start answering emails, even though I checked it at 10:30pm the night before, I have at least 115 every morning (give or take a few). I Twitter as I go about my day (http://twitter.com/ktenkely). ; Emails range from list serve that I subscribe to, to questions from parents about Internet Safety, to requests for use of one of our mobile labs, to questions about how one of our programs works. 8:00 The bell rings and students filter through my room with good morning hugs. I get a daily visit from a second grader who updates me on what new shortcuts he has learned at his one on one Apple training from the night before. 8:10 The second bell rings announcing the start of school. Announcements come on over our intercom and I jot down notes for the day on a piece of paper to refer to at the end of the day during carpool for announcements about after school activities. Our principal reads our virtue of the week and I write it down on my whiteboard for students to refer to. Students pray over the intercom and as a school we say the pledge of allegiance. 8:15 Turn on 30 iMacs in my lab and write directions for my students on the whiteboard. Disinfect my keyboards and mice with a UV sanitizing wand (have to kill all those germs!). 8:25 Put out name tags for my first class. 8:30 Write a blog post on http://ilearntechnology.com, approve comments, delete spam. As I write, I much on a Kashi bar for breakfast. 9:00 Meet with the other specialists to discuss what we are working on with students (we try to provide cross curricular learning as much as possible). 9:20 My first class filters in and sits in my “silent zone” at the front of the classroom. I give instructions for the day. Today students are uploading commercials that they created for http://freerice.com to a video sharing site http://fliggo.com. Students will then embed their video into a website they have been creating throughout the year. I answer questions and demonstrate the process using my Mimio interactive whiteboard. 9:30 Students go to their computers, login and get to work. I walk around to answer questions and look at student websites. My classroom is set up with computers on two walls of the room with a strip of computers down the center. I walk around my ‘track’ about 150 times a day. 9:55 Class is over, as students are leaving I collect name tags and put out the next set of class name tags. A teacher stops in to ask a question about a problem she is having with email. I show her how to fix the problem as my next class filters in. 10:00 The second class filters in and sits in the silent zone. They too are uploading commercials they have made to a video sharing site and embedding into their website. These are commercials that they have created to advertise about their website. 10:35 Class is over. Once again I pick up name tags and put out a new set. I check emails, I usually have about 30 new since I have checked last. I go through as many as I can before my next class comes in. 10:45 Class number 3 comes in. These students are a week behind the other classes and are creating background music for their commercial using Garageband. They will be creating a song, exporting to iTunes, and recording their slide show with the new music. I give directions and they go to their computers to start working. 11:20 Students leave. I collect name tags and put out the next set. I finish responding to emails and set up tabs on Firefox for my next class. I go through my RSS feed using Google Reader to catch up on the latest gadgets, websites, and education related blogs. 11:40 Go to the staff lounge for lunch. I am a creature of habit, my favorite lunch is peanut butter spread on whole wheat saltines, whatever fruit is in season (I am known for my red fingers during pomegranate season), and a candy bar of some sort. Teachers swap stories from the morning. 12:10 Students are waiting lined up at my doorway. They sit in the silent zone and receive instruction for the day. These kids are creating a slide show of math facts with pictures. I show them how to login to clipart.com and how to search for pictures. Students go to work at their computers as I make laps around the track to help out. 12:50 Students leave, I pick up name tags and put the new set out. I check emails again and respond to as many as I can. This is my first bathroom break of the day. 1:05 Second grade students come in. They have written an autobiography poem in Pages and are now turning it into a slide show. I give directions from where we left off the previous week. Again I make laps around the track to help students and sit with them as they show me their work. 1:40 Students leave. I pick up name tags and pick up left over headphones and flash drives. I return the forgotten items to the correct classrooms. 1:50 I open up our grade book program and start entering the days grades from a notebook that I keep notes in throughout the day. 2:20 I log onto http://think.com, my students use think.com to blog, collaborate, and communicate. I approve new pictures that have been uploaded and look through the days activity on the site. I jot down a note to remind me to speak to a student about our rule not to share a phone number online. 2:40 I visit our class Fliggo site to check on the status of our video uploads for the day. I start grading videos with a rubric. 3:10 I create a quick screencast tutorial for teachers about a new web resource that I found that relates to a lesson they are teaching this month. I send the screencast in an email. 3:15 I get an email back about a teacher who is interested in using the new web resource with their class and book a time where I can show her more in-depth how it would be used. We also set up a time for her class to use one of the computer labs. 3:20 The bell rings signaling the end of the school day. I collect a walkie talkie, bull horn and a few sheets of stickers and head to carpool. I get 200 students in my carpool sitting and quiet. I choose the two quietest students to be my carpool king and queen for the day. They hand out stickers to other students who are sitting quietly. Numbers are called over the walkie talkie and I repeat them over the bull horn. Parents filter in and out of the room with purple slips to pick up students directly from the room. 3:40 Carpool is over. I bring the remaining students who didn’t get picked up to the front desk where they can call a parent. I drop off the purple slips I collected and head to the lounge to check for mail. 3:50 I collect notes I have been making about Interactive whiteboards and rush to a demo. 4:00 I hand out rubrics to other staff members who are attending the demonstration. We watch the demo, ask questions, and fill out the rubrics. I collect the rubrics and go over them later at home. I write up a summary to send to the other committee members. 5:30 I check emails and RSS feed again. I check out 4 new websites that could be beneficial in the classroom. 6:00 I read The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman while I cook dinner.