Monday, January 11, 2016

#MTBoS Blogging Challenge #1

Hello!  It's time for the Math Twitter Blogosphere Blogging Initiative!  What's this challenge all about?  It's just about gently getting you into the habit (or back into the habit) of blogging.  This week we have two options:

Option 1: We rarely take the time to stop and smell the roses. Even on the most disastrous of days, good things happen. And these good things, when you’re on the lookout for them, pop up. All. The. Time. So for one day (heck, do it for many days), keep a lookout for the small good moments during your day and blog about them. We bet that by keeping an eye out for the good, your whole day will be even better!

Option 2: A few years ago, some people in the #MTBoS wanted to share what their teaching lives were like. Partly because we all work in different schools, and so we wanted to get a glimpse of our friends-in-action. At the same time, we also wanted to battle against the idea that teaching is easy. We wanted to share what it is like to be a teacher with non-teachers! So we all blogged about a single day of teaching — from start to finish. So for the first week of the blogging initiative, we thought you blogging about a day in your lives would be a great way to start getting to know each other!

Since I've blogged about positive moments more recently than I've done a day in the life, I'm choosing option 2.  

5:30: Alarm 1 goes off.  I make friends with the snooze button a few times.
6:14: I coax myself out of bed, hastily grab an outfit from the closet, and hop in the shower.
7:15: Having finished breakfast and packed my lunch, I'm out the door.
7:16: I back out of the driveway and see a light I left on.  
7:17: I park the car, turn off the light, and head to school.
7:24: I pull into the parking lot and head into the building.
7:33: I sign in at the front office and check my mailbox.  No news is good news.
7:40: I walk down the math hall and say hello to the teachers on hall duty.  One teacher asks if I'll be able to come to her Algebra II class and I say I think I will provided I'm not pulled to test.  
7:45: I send my weekly memo via email to math teachers.
7:50: I go to the Algebra II class and assist students who are struggling with their review questions for the final exam. This teacher has students write work on the board daily.  They're allowed to take a buddy along for support/guidance if they're stuck.  Two students ask me to be their buddies, and I oblige.
8:40: I return to my office and start reviewing material for the Bridge Projects I'll be writing next month.  (In Maryland, Bridge Projects are an alternate way students can earn credit after they've failed a standardized final test in a course like Algebra I at least twice.) 
9:03: I get a call from our testing coordinator asking what I'm doing second period.  Could I please test a make up PARCC session?  I go back to looking at the Bridge Project information until it's time to test. 
9:23: I head to the media center for the make up session.  It's 11th grade English.  It takes some time to get the majority of the students there, most likely because we're also running final exams this week and our state-mandated tests (HSAs) in Government and Biology.   
9:53: I finally say, "You may begin."
10:46: All the students have finished, so I end the session.
10:52: I finish cleaning up the room and return the materials to the AP.  
10:54: I heat up my lunch, left over PF Chang's Beef with Broccoli from my dinner out with college friends on Saturday.  I will need to drink several liters of water this afternoon to combat the insane amount of sodium they include in their meals.  I basically haven't stopped drinking water since Saturday evening.  There were over 3,000mg of sodium in that meal.  Eek!
11:10: I check my personal e-mail while eating lunch and decide to start writing this blog post.  Usually, I eat with the math teachers at 12:05, but I have meetings this afternoon, so I'm eating in my office alone instead. 
11:32: I pause writing here to return to work.  I start gathering materials and thoughts for my 12:00 meeting.
11:44: I go to the office to sign out.
11:49: I'm in my car driving to the Board of Education.
12:00: I start meeting with my supervisor and the other specialist from the other high school in the district.  We discuss the meeting we're having with teachers in the afternoon, textbook adoption, benchmark testing, data analysis and more.  
1:30: Our supervisor leaves for a different meeting, so the other specialist and I continue our previous conversation and update each other on how things are going in our schools.       
3:00: We start meeting with teachers from the two high schools to discuss course sequencing, course offerings, master schedules, and sort of the overall pathway that students would take in high school.  
4:30: We end the meeting and I discuss more with one of the teachers from my school as we walk out. 
4:40: I arrive at the grocery store so I can make brownies for tomorrow's potluck at "C" lunch.  I only have two eggs left and brownies require three.  I'd better get milk too.  
4:50: I get home from the grocery store.   
4:55: I preheat the oven and notice that brownies take, in fact, just one egg so my grocery store run was pointless.  Hmm.  It must be some cakes that need 3.  
5:30: I start making dinner.
5:50: I eat dinner.   
5:55: The brownies come out of the oven to cool.  
5:59: I resume typing this summary of my day.  
6:10: I start playing with the master schedule a bit pursuant to my discussion this afternoon with teachers.  We batted around the idea of requiring freshman to enroll in Algebra I first semester if they haven't completed it in middle school but we're not sure how that will change the rest of the schedule.  
Master schedule tinkering

6:32: Schedule analysis complete.  I tried to change as little as possible.  Of the nine teachers, 4 could keep their exact schedules, three could teach the same courses but alter the number of sections of those courses, and only two would have to teach different courses.  Those two teachers would each add one new prep (but they would still have at most two preps per semester).  
6:37: I answer an e-mail from a teacher who is requesting help with a course that's coming up next semester.  
6:40: Back to tying this summary.  

I'm going to publish this now because my work day is essentially over.  I'll do the dishes, maybe throw in a load of laundry to catch up from what I didn't do over the weekend, write a thank you card to a family from youth group who brought me a Christmas present last night, and carve out some time to keep in touch with loved ones via phone.  

To all the classroom teachers out there, I'm sorry.  I still carry tremendous guilt about the fact that with my new job I've been able to carve out personal time in the evenings and not grade papers or plan lessons all the way until bedtime.  I stay busy, but it's a different kind of busy than I had for the previous seven years and I'm not quite settled into this new routine yet.  Not having Sunday evening anxiety is strange.    

Which prompt option will you choose to blog about this week?

Mathematically yours, 
Miss B 


  1. Ahhh...the Sunday evening anxiety. Hey it's Sunday evening and I watched two football games and I'm spending time with the family. This would have never happened if I was still teaching. As I have been reading other folks blog post on this same topic I keep asking myself the same question: Is it possible to be an effective teacher and not take work home? How late would teachers have to stay? How early would they need to arrive? Thoughts?

    1. I think our society is asking the wrong questions about teacher work load. We shouldn't be asking if a teacher is doing enough if he's only working 50 hours a week. A better question would be "What is an appropriate course load so that a teacher works a 40-hour week?" I expect we would see a massive improvement in education if teachers taught for 50% of the school day and planned/had PD/conducted conferences/graded/etc. for the remaining 50% of the work day. You could departmentalize the elementary grades and have common planning for those teachers who taught the same subjects and grades so one class would have a different AM and PM teacher, though I acknowledge this would be trickier than putting the practice into place in secondary schools. I used to arrive at school by 6:45 for a 7:30 start. School ended at 2:25 and I would stay until 5 on average. Evening and weekend time was in addition to this and I still felt like I wasn't getting everything done I should. That's just not an acceptable balance for anyone who wants to have a family or a personal life.