Friday, August 28, 2009

A Day in the Life of a Teacher

It may be an exhausting life, but for some reason I love it. It must be the fantastic students I have!

5:00 AM - I am rudely jolted out of a blissful sound sleep by a remorseless clock that is still getting even for all the times I smacked it or ignored it in college. I groan, glare at the clock, and finally give in. I shower, dress, have a leisurely breakfast, read a bit of my Bible, and pray something along the lines of "Oh Lord, please don't let me get buried today. Please keep the kids behaving well and help me not to scar them for life." I spend a few minutes with Jasper, who feels that this is an inadequate return on the amount of love he gives me (I agree).

6:30 AM - I whiz through the apartment, making sure everything is packed and by the door. I double-check to make sure I have prepared some form of lunch.

6:50 AM - With a reluctant sigh, I leave the comfort of my apartment and hit the road. The only sure way not to get stuck in the nightmare-inducing DC traffic is to leave insanely early.

7:05-ish AM - I arrive at school, take everything up to my classroom, and rearrange the desks that the cleaning people have someone managed to leave in disarray. I write the date and the corny history joke of the day on my whiteboard, turn on my computer, and double-check my lesson plans.

7:30 AM - I report to the gym for my "duty." I am the official gym supervisor for all early-arriving junior high and high school students. I like to think of myself as the Commandant of Stalag 1. No one escapes from Stalag 1!

7:50 AM - The aggravatingly loud bell jars me out of the hypnotic stupor I seem to fall into from circling the gym for twenty minutes (checking for dress code violations, making sure kids stay where they're supposed to be, etc). I herd the older kids out of my "stalag" and up the stairs to their lockers. I re-enter my room, grab some homework that needs grading or a lesson plan idea that needs to be finished, and head over to the science room. My classroom, against my wishes, is now host to the first hour Bible class, which means that I get booted out of my own room during my only planning period.

8:52 AM - My planning period now complete, I go back to my classroom (I usually prefer to refer to it as my lair) and get ready to start teaching...and teaching...and teaching. For the next few hours, I teach the following:
*7th grade English
*9th grade World history
*8th grade American history

11:44 AM - I dismiss my eighth graders and head for the gym, where I sit at the teachers' table and enjoy my lunch while comparing student stories with my coworkers. When the meal is over, I supervise the students' chair stacking.

12:15 PM - I return to teaching, covering the following:
*8th grade English
*7th grade history

3:00 PM - I release the exuberant yearbook class, then sign in to my computer and start entering things on my class webpage - grades, lesson plans, announcements, attendance, discipline issues, etc. Occasionally I wander over to chat with the other English teacher about lesson and project ideas or about novels. I straighten my room, clean off my whiteboard, work on lesson plans, and assess how well my lessons for the day went.

5:00 PM - I leave the school and begin the tedious drive back home, in which I take only back roads in an effort to avoid DC rush hour traffic.

5:20 PM - I get home, take an extremely-hyper and desperate Jasper out to do his business, make dinner, scarf down dinner, and then start grading. Or making lesson plans. Or both.

8:00 PM - I finally finish work for the day. Exhausted, I play with Jasper for a few minutes, clean up the apartment, stick a record on my turntable, and enjoy part of either a film or a book. Eventually I get too sleepy to pay attention, so I take Jasper out once more and then put him to bed.

10:00 PM - If I haven't already done so, I go to bed. Within minutes of hitting the pillow, I am clutched in the warm embrace of slumber.

Few people are as underpaid and underestimated as teachers!

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"Passage—immediate passage! the blood burns in my veins! Away, O soul! hoist instantly the anchor!
Cut the hawsers—haul out—shake out every sail!
Have we not stood here like trees in the ground long enough?
Have we not grovell’d here long enough, eating and drinking like mere brutes?
Have we not darken’d and dazed ourselves with books long enough?

Sail forth! steer for the deep waters only!
Reckless, O soul, exploring, I with thee, and thou with me;
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go, And we will risk the ship, ourselves and all.

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy, but safe! Are they not all the seas of God?
O farther, farther, farther sail!"

~Walt Whitman, "Passage to India"