I wrote this post on January 12, 2016 for the MTBoS 2016 Blogging Initiative but never managed to post it. If you stick around long enough to read it, you’ll understand exactly why I never got off the ground the first time. The fundraiser that was ending the week I wrote this, kicks off in the next couple weeks. I’m ready to get started but exhausted just thinking about it. Wish me luck!
So Tuesday I wrote down every single thing I did from the time I woke up until I crawled into bed. It has been a crazy week, as the fundraiser that I spearhead donations for ends tonight in a Post-Holiday event. We have been frantically calling donors, picking up donations and making baskets. It is also IEP Season (as we call it!) and both my grad classes started on Monday. So for better or for worse, here is my first contribution to the #MTBoS 2016 Blogging Initiative. Be forewarned. It is long….
5:45 – Wake up 45 minutes before my alarm, par for the course. I am already thinking about today and what I need to accomplish. Check my emails and glance through Facebook. Get up and start laundry, straighten up kitchen, empty dishwasher. Load dishwasher. Why are teenagers so averse to cleaning the dishes they create? I guess I should be happy they are at least in the sink….
6:30 – Wake my daughter Jay up. She’s a senior in high school but definitely not a morning person. Jump in the shower. Go downstairs and make pancakes. We eat them together.
7:00 – Kiss her goodbye. Go upstairs to dry my hair. Come back down and let the dog out. Complete Introduction Video for EdTech 503. (Agonizing. How can I mess this up so many times? Take 37…..) Make coffee (also known as lunch) and head out the door.
7:50 – Leave for school.
8:00 – Stop in office to write an announcement reminding students that the GSA will be meeting in my room after school. Check mailbox. Get settled at my desk, check emails, go through lessons planned for today. Head to the copier. Run back to classroom to grab paper I want to copy. Sigh. Upload assignments to Google Classroom for all classes. Touch base with my co-teachers. Work on a math assignment that is due this afternoon with a student.
8:26 – Homeroom. Pledge. Attendance.
8:35 – First period – Math A2 (second year of two year algebra course for self-contained sped students). We are reviewing factoring methods from GCF, to DOTS to grouping trinomials. Put task cards on tables for students to rotate through. Put my iPhone out so they can use it to check the QR codes for the answers. Watching their excitement when they get them right makes my day!
9:18 – Second period – Math A1 (first year of above class). We are wrapping up literal equations. About half of them are demonstrating mastery; the other half range from lost to slowly getting it. Mastery kids are working on their own to solve multi-step equations. The rest are working through easier problems with my help. Remind them their weekend assignment is due after school by 3:30.
10:01 – Third period – Math A1 (same as second period but I push in as the collaborative teacher; these students are way ahead of my self-contained class). We are working on function machines. Complete a function slider for our INB’s that I borrowed from Kathryn Freed of Restructuring Algebra. Work with an online Function Machine that my co-teacher uploaded to our Classroom. So cool!
10:45 – Planning periods back to back. Spend 4th period making follow-up phone calls for the event on Friday. Success! I was able to get several new donations. Call three parents to confirm they are coming to Thursday’s meeting to discuss IEP plans for their child. Mixed bag. One yes, one no and one no answer. I leave a message and hope for a return call. Google ideas for today’s GSA meeting. Next week is No-Name Calling Week. I find several activities on GLSEN’s website. They have also mailed me posters and stickers.
11:29 – Meet with student during her lunch period to complete the weekend assignment that is due after school today. Spend most of the next 40 minutes helping her through it. Watching her reach for her INB for help was awesome! My students are finally starting to reach for their notebooks before asking me for help. This is huge. Drink half of my lukewarm coffee.
12:13 – Sixth period – second self-contained A1 class of the day. Similar mix and setup to period two. This is a tough bunch of kids. Many are repeats from last year. One has yet to pick up a pencil and do anything this year (same for last year and same in every other class too). One’s mother died last June and he rarely comes to school any more. So many sad stories in this room. They all need so much, and there are not enough hours in the day. The state exam looms large but really, in the face of what my students deal with everyday, how relevant is this to their lives? The education system in NY is not designed to help my students. Most of them would benefit from our BOCES system but they must pass two years of Regents classes to get there. Wouldn’t it be better to teach them things that are relevant and will give them the ability to support themselves in the future? Common Core has made it even worse. Every training I have attended I ask about the level of difficulty as it relates to students with disabilities. Every single person has told me that special education was not taken into account, neither when the standards were written nor when NY wrote the modules to go with them. Every. Single. Person. And I see the effects every day.
12:57 – 7th period – Collaborative Math A2. I push into another math teacher’s A2 class. We are also working on factoring trinomials completely. This class is only working on a=1 so they are behind my self-contained class. I taught both a=1 and a>1 together by using grouping. This class has not learned grouping yet. They are using the method of finding what multiplies to c and adds or subtracts to b. I have tried this method in the past with my students and they were not able to remember what to do. The grouping appears to make more sense to them.
1:40 – Math Lab. Math teachers in my school do not have a study hall. We each have a math lab for students to go to for extra help. I have three students show up, each wanting to work on the weekend assignment that is due today. We spend the period working through problems together.
2:23 – Planning period. Finish my now cold coffee. Two more students come in to finish their weekend assignments. Send several follow-up emails to potential donors. Text with my oldest daughter Heather, who is helping gather donations. We have been communicating all day via text, as well as updating and commenting on our shared Google Sheet, adding pick-ups, crossing out people we have contacted, and highlighting important information. Being able to see and share the worksheets at the same time makes this so much more effective. Thank you Google!!
3:03 – Classes are over. Time for after school help. Three students show up to finish their assignment that is due at 3:30. Several more drop theirs on my desk without staying to go over it and fix what is wrong. Several didn’t bother to do it at all. Many of my students used to be in classes that taught them about clocks, money and calendars. NY decided that every student should be given Regents level instruction and every student is now required to sit all 5 state Regents exams. I am doing everything I can to help these students but the knowledge and ability levels are just not there. At what point will they realize the damage they are doing to these children? Why am I teaching algebra to students who in the past would have received an IEP diploma and spent their high school careers learning life skills material and working on job skills? This is so wrong.
3:30 – The school day is officially over. The Gay Straight Alliance meeting starts. Why is there only one student here? I look out the window and realize it is snowing. Hard. And my district is a walking district. Well. That explains the one student. She and I talk about the activities I had planned. We want to challenge everyone to do random acts of kindness next week and write what they did on pieces of paper. We will use
those pieces to create a chain to hang in the hall. My student is also a member of Rachel’s Challenge so agrees to speak to that club on Friday about joining us. She leaves early and I send out a Remind message about our plans. I also add them to our Classroom page.
3:50 – Grade all the weekend assignments. Enter grades in Eschool grade book. Run current grade reports, publish them to the portals and print them to hand out tomorrow. Run down the hall and grab them from the printer. Come back and highlight missing assignments and their current grades. Each student receives their report every Wednesday. Parents are required to sign it and students submit it on Thursday for a homework grade. I try to write messages on them but there is no time this week.
4:05 – Look out window at snow. Realize my scraper is in my garage. Crap. Start my car from my classroom and hope that helps. The used Civic I bought has a remote starter but I rarely remember to use it.
4:10 – Update date and lunch menu on whiteboard for tomorrow. Look out at the snow again. See my co-teacher brushing snow off my car. Talk about a random act of kindness! Thank you thank you thank you! Make mental note to say that out loud to her tomorrow.
4:20 – Head out to what is hopefully a warm car. Stop in friend’s office to check on donations. She is the one who will take what I gather and make them into pretty baskets. She is as frazzled as I am. Probably more so. She is in charge of the fund we are raising money for and is also the school social worker. She is dealing with multiple crisis situations and is starting to panic at the the idea that all this stuff must be arranged by Friday. We brainstorm some likely people that would be willing to help and start reaching out.
4:45 – Head out again. My car is no longer running but at least most of the snow has been scraped off. Very grateful to my co-teacher. Go to seven different businesses all over town to pick up donations for our event on Friday. The last pick up is at the Civic Center for our local hockey team. The office is locked and dark. I am texting my daughter who sent me here. After ten minutes of wandering and increasingly frantic texts, I finally find the correct office. The man in the office has no idea who I am or what I am talking about. This is fairly normal. More texts to Heather. He calls someone and between the four of us, we get it figured out. They donated tickets to a hockey game and 2 signed pucks. I am so humbled by the amount of support I have found in my community and people’s willingness to donate to our cause. All of the money raised is used to purchase items for students that cannot afford to purchase them on their own. So proud of my school.
6:00 – I am tutoring a student who is homebound for 2 hours each day, if he is able. He is never very happy to see me. He completes the final exam for his Careers in Health class. He wants to be done but I talk him into completing the capacity packet for Applied Math and then taking a quiz on the Algebra packet we finished last night. They don’t take long and we call it quits at 7:30.
7:40 – Stop for gas.
7:50 – Home. I realize I am starving. Thank goodness that coffee was bulletproof! Find a roasted chicken in my fridge and eat some dipped in mayo.
8:00 – Grab my laptop and curl up in my chair to check in on my grad classes. Watch some Introduction Videos and make comments on them. I meet a few other math teachers, but no other sped teachers so far. We seem to be a rare breed.
8:30 – Jay comes home from Chamber Orchestra. She ate earlier with friends so isn’t hungry. She curls up with me and we talk about the day. She shows me several things on social media that made her laugh. This is the best part of my day. I will miss these times next year when she goes off to college. I am not ready.
9:15 – Run through my spreadsheet for the fundraiser one last time. Call a couple restaurants and follow up now that the dinner rush is over. Add some more pickups to our list for tomorrow.
9:45 – Head to bed. Fall asleep reading my Kindle. I have learned to prop it on a pillow so it doesn’t hit me in the face when I fall asleep. Been there. Done that.
So there you have it. One small day out of my crazy, hectic life. It will get better after the fundraiser is over on Friday. (I keep telling myself this so maybe it will happen!) No more begging for donations, just writing thank you notes and fulfilling student and family needs and wishes. This is the best part!