So, here goes . . .
I really like my morning routine at home. I’m somewhat spoiled by my husband. He has this fabulous espresso machine and makes mochas for us every morning. A little taste of heaven never hurt anyone. On Tuesday and Thursday, I go to the gym. I do Crossfit with a group of positive, encouraging people. I love the strength training that Crossfit provides. It really builds my confidence as an athlete and as an individual.
I like to be at work between 7:00 and 7:15. Class starts at 8:05. I love the quiet time in the morning writing the schedule on the board, visualizing my day, and organizing my work station. I also find that this is the best time to talk to the secretaries and principal. The office is generally empty and we’re not being pulled this way and that by students.
Before the morning bell rings, I’m usually out in the hall-way or by my door greeting students. I’ll compliment a new haircut, welcome a student that may have been absent, or ask about an extracurricular activity. I’m a hugger. I get lots of hugs on the way inside. My sixth graders may be the oldest on campus, but they still want and need the affection.
Once we’re inside, our school ASB president and vice-president (both from my class) lead the flag salute and school pledge on the intercom. I love hearing their voices and see the respect our class has for our country and school. Oh, I’m the ASB advisor as well. Boy, do they keep me on my toes! And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
After I take attendance, we go outside for PE. We have a PE rotation with eight classes. (I’ll be writing a blog about it soon.) Anyway, my group does Crossfit Kids. We do the same warm-up I do at the gym and will often modify WODs that I’ve done. The really special part of our morning PE is that we live near the Navy base where the Blue Angels train. On many mornings, the jets will fly right over us. More than a couple of times, we’ll stop and wave. I tell the students that they’re flying over to say hi to us. PE is a great way to start our day!
Breakfast comes next. Our district has a grant for Breakfast in the Classroom. All students are offered a free breakfast. At first I wasn’t sure if I would like it, but now I love it. Breakfast routines are student led. So they serve breakfast, do breakfast count, and clean up on their own. During the 15 minutes of breakfast, students eat, read, and fill in their planner. While students are having breakfast, I check my work email, do any management paperwork with students (permission slips, fundraising money, etc.), and maybe sneak in a quick look at Twitter.
By 9:00, we start math. As a student, I only knew how to solve algorithms. I knew nothing about computational understanding. As an educator, it’s my goal for my students to understand the reasoning behind their math. I was trained in Cognitively Guided Instruction when I taught first grade . . . many years ago. The strategies and mindset followed me to sixth grade. It’s really about explaining your thinking and being able to solve in multiple ways, much like the Common Core and Mathematical Practices. At the end of this year, I’ll be finishing up a math cohort. I’ve learned so much from my colleagues. We especially like our lesson study cycles. Here’s a blog post I wrote on PRIME, our math cohort.
Recess is from 10:00 to 10:15. We have a rotating schedule where teachers are on duty. There are four stations where we may be assigned. My favorite spot is the basketball court. I love cheering the students on. Sometimes I’ll even shoot the ball. I actually have a pretty good outside shot. The tough part of recess duty is that I don’t get to go to the bathroom. TMI, I know. But the struggle is real. :(
Our language arts block comes next. My favorite day is Monday when we do Station Rotation. I run a blended learning classroom. I love planning the stations and the students love participating in them. We always have a close reading on Monday that launches us into our week. The rest of the week we’ll have a hyperdoc, Text Dependent Questions, and a writing prompt inspired by the article. I’m somewhat of a Google nerd. O’kay . . . I love Google Apps for Education!!! My mind compartmentalizes, so the structures built into Google really work for me. Once you know the functions of one application, they transfer over to the others. Here’s another blog post on my favorite classroom strategies. Station Rotation and hyperdocs are included.
Lunch is from 12:00 - 12:45. I always walk my class through the lunch line. It’s another opportunity for me to talk to them more casually and it helps deter any misbehaviors that may come up. I eat cafeteria lunches Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. In my 24 years of teaching, I’ve always eaten cafeteria food. I’ve tried packing my lunch, doing food prep, and really giving it my all to bring food from home, but it never lasts. My husband does great! He’ll take left-overs from dinner and he’s even packed lunches for me. I just can’t do it. On Thursday, my mom picks me up for lunch and we go to Junior’s Cafe up the street. Think “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives”. Ooooh, the comfort food! Junior, the owner, chooses my lunch for me. I’ve been going there once a week for about ten years and I’ve never placed an order. I’m not sure how it started, but it’s our routine. If another server is working my table, they order for me as well. (They call me Sunshine.)
On Friday, my class and I have Lunch Bunch. This started twenty years ago when I taught first grade. The concept behind lunch bunch is that if a student reaches their reading goal for the week, they have lunch in the classroom with their peers. The class is generally full of students eating, laughing, singing, and gaming. The special part for me is that my husband brings me lunch. We sit at an out of the way table and have our lunch date. Literally 20 years of Lunch Bunch dates with my husband. Did I mention that I might be a tad bit spoiled?
After lunch we have another reading session for about 15 minutes. If students are really engrossed in their books, they’ll often ask to extend the time. As a teacher, I absolutely love watching students that are engrossed in a book. (This reminds me of my Twitter friend, Teresa. She loves reading!) While students are reading, I’ll check my work email again and conference with students that I may need to talk to individually. Sometimes I’ll go over scores, have a quick discussion with my ASB kids, or browse through Google Classroom to check student’s work progress.
By about 1:00, we’re ready for social studies and science. I read Launch by John Spencer and AJ Juliani last summer and have really gotten into the design process. We’ve done several design challenges this year. The inspiration I’ve gotten from Twitter has really changed my mindset when it comes to science. Instead of step-by-step experiments, I’ve turned to creative and collaborative problem solving. We’re currently doing a Shark Tank project. It’s encompassing all curriculum areas. (Blog post to come.) I was a history minor in college. But I have to say, I’m not loving my lessons in sixth grade. I’m not sure why I’m not passionate about them. When I taught fifth grade, I loved teaching the Civil War and Westward Expansion. My family and I even took a trip to Gettysburg to see the battlefields. Ancient Civilizations are interesting, and I have created some really good hyperdocs to supplement the curriculum and we’ve done some work on Google maps, but I’m not in love with the content. Definitely an area of growth for me.
The last part of our day is Sixth Grade Switch or Phi Kappa Phi. For part of the year, we have a switch that provides intervention and enrichment. I really like the time because the sixth grade team has an opportunity to preteach, reteach, and provide enrichment based on student needs in math and language arts. My class is a GATE class, but I generally like doing the math intervention. The students in intervention are usually the quieter students in class that tend to be more observers during whole class lessons. In our small group intervention, they have an opportunity to talk, participate, and share their thinking without feeling judged. Through talking to the students, they share that they don’t feel confident in front of the whole class. My personal goal as a teacher is to create “confident and independent learners”. This small group time really helps.
Right about this time, spring, my class as I get going on Phi Kappa Phi. It’s an honors program where students are immersed in an over-arching theme. This year’s theme is “conflict”. (I’ll be writing a post on our experience at the end of the year.) Most of my students are third year PKP scholars. I love watching them research, discuss, write, create, and present. Their confidence is off the charts by the end of the year. Even my quieter students blossom as they master their self-selected topics. I’ve taught GATE off and on for about 15 years. I’ve been certified three times. There’s always more to learn. My GATE students keep me on my toes. Again . . . I’d have it no other way.
Well, it looks like my day is almost over. Students are dismissed at 2:30. I walk them to the front of the class for good-bys. Again, I have the opportunity to chat, do a quick one-on-one, and of course . . . more hugs. When I go back to the classroom, I spend about 15 to 20 minutes cleaning up, organizing desks (It’s an obsession), and packing up to leave. I generally bring my laptop home to comment on student’s work in Google Classroom. I pick my son up from school on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On Tuesdays, I stay late to meet with my partner, my math group, or my hyperdoc group. Did I mention that I love hyperdocs? I gave a workshop and now a small group of us meet to work on hyperdocs together. On Thursday, we have our staff meetings. Our school has a really positive spirit to it. There’s a great deal of respect for each other and everyone pulls their weight in one way or another. I truly feel honored and blessed to work with my colleagues at Sunflower School.
I do almost all of my lesson planning and grading on Saturday morning. I've never been able to do paper work at school. I've always been eager to get home to my family after school. Because of that, I developed a routine early in my career where I would focus on my students during school hours, my children and husband at night, and leave Saturday morning for lesson planning and grading.
I really did intend for this to be a “quick” snapshot of my day. Apparently, I got a little long winded. As I was writing, I started laughing at how many times I used the word “love”. I really do love my job and my students. A day in the life of this educator, is filled with love. I hope yours is too.
I'd love to hear about your day! Tag me in your blog.