A day in the life: [list request to all!]
I find people and the way they spend their time fascinating. Now I want to hear what a day in your job looks like. All my students say they want to be doctors or lawyers, but there are so many other interesting careers out there! I'll start: a general day as a high school English teacher.
- •6:00 a.m. - get on the roadI live in Southern California, so there is always traffic, but I find that my commute is better if I leave at 6:00. I'd live closer to my school district if I could afford it, but it's full of million-dollar homes.
- •Between 6:30 & 6:45 a.m. - arrive & planWhen I get to my classroom, I drink my coffee or tea, update the class website so absent kids can keep up, enter grades from papers I finished marking the previous evening, and set out any books, tests, prompts, videos, etc. I'll need for class. I can also make emergency copies in the morning if I am not prepared, but it's usually crowded so that's a bad choice. I often have time left in the morning to lesson plan for future days.
- •8:00 a.m. - class beginsLast year I had 3 different grades to teach, but this year I only have 2, so I expect to feel much less frazzled. There will be 4 periods of 11th grade "American Literature" and 1 period of 10th grade "Honors English." I get a "break" (a.k.a. first chance to pee all day, and usually wasted on responding to e-mails—why do I get so many e-mails?!) during 3rd period 10:00 to 10:54.
- •(Sample period)Each class is 54 minutes long. I usually open with a journal question that pertains to topics we'll cover that day. It makes students write, which they all need practice on, and helps them switch from text-message-speak to formal thinking. Then I give 2 or 3 volunteers a chance to share their thoughts so the antsy extroverts can talk. Then there is some kind of reading or lesson/notes, followed by group discussion of it, ending with individual written analysis that becomes HW if unfinished.
- •12:00 - 12:40Lunch time! I switch between opening my doors for students, to eating alone, to braving my co-workers in the teacher's lounge, depending on my mood that day. As an introvert who has to muster up a lot of enthusiasm to engage students and survive public speaking, I often need the recharge of eating alone. Sorry not sorry!
- •12:50 - class begins again2 more periods! I'll have honors kids after lunch this year, which should be WAY BETTER than having seniors after lunch... those li'l turds were constantly tardy because they're allowed off-campus to get food. Sigh. Usually I love seniors but 5th period really killed me. I'm grateful for a break this year and maybe I'll be ready to teach 12th graders again next time.
- •2:45 - school's outThe final bell is great because A) I always have to pee by then and B) when I used to work in an office, my head always got foggy around 3:00 and I didn't think I could work anymore. Knowing I'm technically done by 3:00 is a burden lifted.
- •After school until 4:00-ish - meetings, gradingA perfect day means I can shove all my grading into this window. But we have so many pointless meetings that it doesn't often happen... staff meetings, department meetings, professional development meetings, club meetings (we're all expected to supervise at least one school club), and more suck up my life force. BY THE WAY, 85% of what gets accomplished could have been done over email.
- •Evening at home - more grading and planningAt least 3 evenings a week, I need to work on updating lesson plans and grading papers. This is getting better over time, as I'm entering my 5th year of teaching and have been able to re-use a lot of my materials. But it still takes a few Saturdays a month to knock out big stacks of essays... sometimes it's easier to grade consistently over a giant stack than doing just a few each night.
- •I like the routine.I like structure to my life. I like knowing exactly what will happen at what time, even though there is a ton of variation day to day in what we do in class and how the kids are feeling. (Sometimes we have to throw out the lesson and just talk about what being human means, like last year after two of our students were murdered in their home.) I love having Christmas break, spring break, and summer to have adventures and recharge. Teaching is really hard but pretty sweet.
- •Ta-daIf this pregnancy continues to go well, then I only have to make it to March and then jaunt off to the bloody/poopy/sleepless/crying heaven & hell of maternity leave. What an adventure! I'm sure having a baby will make me hate grading papers even more. But this is my passion and how I pay the bills! I get thank you notes from former students once in a while and they are more empowering than anything. :)
- •Now tell me your day!Seriously, I want to know how your general day goes. What does being a [your title] involve? If any of you have lucrative work-at-home careers I may try to steal your life, though. No pressure.