A Day in the Life of a Teacher

Posted on November 14, 2012


I teach high-school aged kiddos. I really enjoy the time I get to spend with the students. Here is a day in my life. This blog seems so long. But…thank you for reading.

We didn’t have school yesterday because Veteran’s Day was Sunday. Respect and admiration for all those who serve and served, including family members (3 uncles and a cousin) and former students (well over 40) with two already signed this year to go into the Army.

I arrived at 6:45 and was greeted by the remnants of Friday afternoon. The Statistics kiddos find particular pleasure in arranging the desks so they are unusable for Monday (Tuesday in this case). Since the students have the right to be comfortable, they can arrange the furniture to their liking, and every class does so. No biggie, but it is a giant cluster of desks. 

I took the notes packet for Statistics and an essay for the Triggers to read later this week in to be copied at about 7:00. It is around ¼ mile round trip to take it there. Yaay, minor exercise!

At 7:07, Alec arrived to have a drama queen moment because I don’t have origami paper on site. I have a note to bring red and green paper for him tomorrow (I have it at home). He is less disappointed.

I tried to sweep up some of the trash on the floor. I should have bought the Dust Devil. Oh well…maybe this weekend.

I finished getting prepped for the first period of Trigonometry. They are learning identities. They’ve already seen Pythagorean and right triangle; today, they get to prove the sum and difference identities. Thanks to the generosity of @Fouss, I have an Identity Crisis. This is the first time I have taught this particular lesson, and I am not sure how it will go: Identity Crisis

We’ll see how it goes today. The first warning bell just rang. Alex is first. He’s always first. He makes me smile.

First period. Trigonometry/Precalculus. Always the roughest, as this is when I find out what NOT to do. They are really good (and very talkative, but not about math) kiddos.

At the bell, 14 of the 36 kiddos are not here yet. I wait a little while (they aren’t awake, and after a three day weekend, they need to catch up anyway), and get started about 8 minutes past the bell; by the end of the class, 4 were counted absent. A pretty typical day as far as attendance goes.

We do the proof of the cosine portion of sum and difference identity (in quadrant I only) as a class. This is the model portion of today’s floor show so they can write the sine portion of this identity on their own tomorrow.

A stray cute puppy wandered into class early because I had the door open because it was very, very hot. The heater turns on and seemingly won’t turn off until 8:30. But he was cute, he made his greetings, then wandered out to find something else to do.

The “I hate proofs!” complaint is out and very strong today. They got the “Did you ever like it when your mom said ‘because I said so!’ answer when you asked ‘Why?’”: Proofs are practice for when they have children of their own.

In the middle of class, Itzel dropped off a bucket of oatmeal for the food drive our Key Club does every year.

The room looks more “normal” now that they have gone.

After the proof, we talked about the ASVAB in January and signing up for it, as well as the “November 30 is coming with the deadline for UC (University of California) and Cal State (California State University) admissions and maybe they should get started on them and that they can email questions to me over the break if they want.

Second period. Prep. I wrote the above summary, headed back to the office to pick up the copies dropped off this morning, and finally headed back to get ready for Integrated Math.

I made an attempt to organize the piles of paper that got put into the gradebook over the weekend. At least the bag the papers came in is empty. I also took five minutes to read updates on Twitter. (I don’t go past those five, or I’d be there all day, and yes, I used a timer.) I spent some time thinking about how to reteach period 1 and use what I learned there for periods 4 and 5. (I have a plan.)

Third period: Integrated Math. They are all seniors who desperately need math units to graduate. They don’t “do” math. I use @ddmeyer’s 3 Acts, @Mathalicious, and @YummyMath exclusively. No books. I hear we are supposed to have them; I never picked them up. Ooops. (I’d like to think @fnochese would be proud.) Today’s plan: Yummy Math’s “A Losing Team in the Playoffs” to get them to (hopefully) think in terms of percentages.

Class started with panic from a few of them. They have to write a senior portfolio, and most of them do so in the computer lab. The procrastinators (it was due Friday, apparently) found out the computer lab is closed this week. Ruh-roh. Lots of begging (as if I can somehow magically open the lab) and passes to go weasel out of the due date. It is their project, they don’t graduate without it, and they’ll do what they’ve got to do.

Usually, anything sports-related gets the kiddos here rolling (there’s a lot of guys…but they’re not athletes; they are bettors). Today, they decided to talk.  They were given a sample problem and given time to finish it themselves. Mostly, I had to answer “what problem is this?”. A lot. <grr>

My RSP tutor (around 1/3 of this class is classified as Special Ed.), was not here today. Makes for a cray-cray class.

The class turned bizarre when I asked them about the Lakers’ record before they moved here. Many didn’t know that the local LA Lakers came from somewhere else. (They couldn’t understand why the list they looked at said “Minneapolis Lakers”.) If they learned anything at all today, it was a two minute lesson on Lakers history. For the record, I am not from LA and pay exactly no attention to professional sports. I LOOOVE college sports though. How did I become the expert on LA sports history? I grew up in Denver.

They finished, and they are allowed into the toy chest. Today, we have Connect 4 and lots of discussions about the marginally-legal things they did over the weekend (including walking around the construction zone of the freeway – sober and in the middle of the night – to sing Isley Brothers songs), an update on a student that moved to NYC to study theater (he’s fine, lived through Sandy, loves it there), complaining about a newly-pierced tongue (she already has a cheek-to-cheek bar, but the tongue ring bothers her…go figure), and a story about someone’s mom fighting another woman over a middle school pre-season basketball game.

Fourth period: Trigonometry/Precalculus, part II. A couple of smart cookies, but largely polite, compliant students who don’t want to think, a trio of juniors who have straight-up-said “I’m going to fail and you can’t stop me…I don’t want to be here but they made me take this” (since they need 3 years of math to graduate), and four football players with two cheerleaders.

We’ll see if the modifications make a difference.

The modifications did make a difference, but…

Eyes started glazing over. This assignment is turning into a straight up lecture so far. I hate that. They don’t really know how to do an investigation on their own and they hate proofs. I’m trying to get them to figure it out on their own, but…after a while, my frustration wins. I am unhappy with admitting that their “wait her out, she’ll tell us eventually” wins sometimes.

Once their eyes glazed over, I stopped. I took attendance (36 of 39 here today) and talked to them for a while about their weekend and plans for next week (we all have the entire week off). Many of them have said they won’t be here at the end of this week, so modifications in advance will be made so hopefully re-teaching to students who are here and have seen it before will be minimized.

In many ways it went better than the first time, but they still won’t engage, not really. I have one more shot today after lunch. Further modifications will be made.

Fifth Period. Trigonometry/Precalculus, part III. 35 out of 38 present today. This class has five or so guys who don’t want to be here and don’t need the class, but they try really hard to learn/do as little as possible but still enough so they can have some extra units. The rest of the kiddos are great and will put in something close to an honest effort.

Ooh, yeah baby. I got it this time. Not that they seemed to want to do more than copy stuff off of the board, but they understood it better. I backed the proof off to SOH-CAH-TOA Geometry (that they saw two years ago and early this semester). They had to do a lot of the investigating themselves, mostly in the form of finding the right triangles in the crazy picture. They understood where all the answers came from. Woohoo!

I did have to write one restroom pass during the middle-of-the-lecture brain reset break. Those (the breaks, not the passes) really seem to work well. One pass right after lunch? Must be a new record low.

As the entire lesson is not over, Periods 1 and 4 will get to see the stuff I learned in period 5 tomorrow.

Sixth Period. AP Statistics. Around 5 of the 19 are true AP students. The rest would do well in a non-AP statistics class, but there isn’t one. The only absent student comes rarely because she has a job that she really needs to help her family out, and she doesn’t need the class to graduate.

They have an initial assessment today: Random Variables, including Binomial Distributions and Geometric Distributions. Time to show me they understand. Today, though, I would guess they know how to visit each other. They can work together, on the assumption that they will likely learn more if they work together, even if they learn it right now. But…they prefer to visit. They can take it home and they will use the clickers for me to assess the multiple choice questions tomorrow. I would prefer to not use multiple choice of any kind, but there are multiple choice questions on the AP Exam, and I want them to be ready for those. They also get the sample free response questions (no MC! Yaay!) tomorrow.

After school.

National Honor Society service project.

The NHS kiddos chose their service project to be writing letters to active-duty soldiers. I’ve made arrangements with Bob, the man in charge of the LA USO office. The letters are due today, and they have been trickling in. I’ll get them packed up for shipment to Bob during next week’s break.

I am setting up and cleaning up for tomorrow, and hope to get some more stuff in the gradebook today before I leave, sometime around 4:00. Cleanup includes making an attempt to sweep two and a half years of dirt-encrusted cobwebs off the ramp outside my room. The wind today isn’t helping, but it does look much better.

I got to spend about two hours with my family. I got my daughter to do her homework. Ironically, she has two math teachers for parents…and her least favorite – and worst – subject is math. Her daddy cooked dinner, and it was eaten and the kitchen cleaned.

While my daughter plays with her grandmother, I will do my best to put the gradebook in order. I’ll probably be on the computer with that for around two hours, but then I get to get my little one ready for bed. I may spend another hour or two after she is asleep to finish some stuff, but sleep needs to happen at some point. I’ll keep going on it tomorrow…whatever doesn’t get done today will still be there.

Posted in: AP Statistics, School