Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Day in the Life: 11.14.12

6:30  Phone alarm goes off and cats know it's time for breakfast.  Text hubby Good Morning and that I can't wait for him to get back from a business trip tonight.

6:31  By now cats are furious.  Feed them.  Shower.  Wake up.  Dry hair.  Get ready for the day.  Check ingredients for a cake I know I need to bake later.

7:40  Drive to school.

7:48  Arrive at school and wonder why the faculty lot is full already (7:50 is our official start time, but still...). Oh, yeah, Faculty Meeting today.  That's why I opt for the afternoon meeting.  Walk up to the third floor with one of the science teachers.  I love my floor of all math and science teachers.  I arrive at my door, and a student is waiting for me, ready to ask questions about a Pre-Calc quiz.  I tell him we're going to take one more day to review.  I start arranging my desks in five groups.  Recruit aforementioned student to help.  Turn  on SMARTBoard, TV, and computer.  Check emails.  Log onto school attendance/grading system.  Quickly enter the 100 or so scores from yesterday's Algebra II test that I graded util 10:30 last night.  Co-worker comes in and greets me with Starbucks.  This is going to be a good day.

8:15  First bell rings.  Students enter, surprised by the arrangement of desks.  "Are we not having a quiz today?  Is it going to be a group quiz?!"  I give them instructions to take a seat anywhere for now but not unpack.

8:20  Second bell rings.  I explain that we're taking one more day to review the material on the upcoming quiz, and why what we're studying now is valuable and I want them to know it well.  I also explain that the students will lead the review today.  I rearrange them a bit, making sure there's at least one math superstar in each of the five groups.  I assign each group a team leader (the superstar).  Each group has a problem on every desk (Group 1 has a different problem from Group 2, etc).  I explain how today's review will go:  each group will work on the exercise on their desks.  If they have any questions, they can ask their team leader.  After seven minutes, the team leader will choose a new leader.  That leader will stay behind to explain the problem to the next group. Every one else rotates on to the next set of desks.  We'll repeat this five more times.  Because this is a small class (24 students) everyone will get a chance to lead at least once.

8:40  The students have rotated a couple times now and have mastered the format of the review.  I learned this technique from a colleague and make a mental note to thank her.  I hear great discussions going on.  Students teaching students!  A teacher's dream.  It's unnatural for me to just stand by my desk and not help, but, today, they really don't need me.

9:10  We finish the last round and I ask the students to rearrange my desks to their normal positions.  I ask for feedback on the review.  Students say it was very helpful and that they're much more optimistic about the quiz now.  We'll see how it goes tomorrow.  I remind students to check the homework folder for any graded homework they need to pick up.

9:15  Bell rings and I wish my students a wonderful morning.  I open my Notebook slides for today's Algebra II lesson.  As students walk in, I hand back tests, congratulating most of them, as this class did much better on this assessment than on the last one (both were on quadratics).

9:20  Bell rings again and I welcome the students.  There were instructions on the board to grab a worksheet on the way in.  Most have done so.  I let them know that if they are not happy with their test grade, they are required to come see me three times before Thanksgiving (with their test on them), and then I will give them access to a make-up version of the test.  The intercom announces the voice of a principal, asking teachers to turn their televisions to Channel 78 for today's school news.  My TV is already on this channel, so I just turn up the volume.  As students watch, I take attendance.

9:25  Today's lesson is a bit of review material that I want to make sure the kids are solid on before we enter the next chapter on polynomial functions.  I start with the extra credit writing assignment I gave them on yesterday's test.  The assignment was to explain what the calculator is graphing when you type in y=x^2+7x+10 and to give at least one point they knew was on the graph for certain and to explain their logic.  No one gave a good answer to this.  No, not one of out my eight dozen Algebra II students.  So, we'll try again today.  I ask someone--anyone!--to give me a point s/he KNOWS is on this graph, without looking at the calculator. *Cue crickets chirping*  Eventually we get to (0,10).  I ask for another point.  Then another.  Could we do another?  On the back of the worksheet, I ask them to find three more points they know will be on this graph.  We talk some more.  Then I ask them to answer the original question again.  What does the graph of y=x^2+7x+10 mean??  I call on some students to read their answers.  I hear good phrases like "infinitely many ordered pairs" and I'm satiated for the time being.  But we are not done with this story.

9:40  Have students turn to the front of the worksheet again.  Explain the reasoning for today's lesson (review so we get to the really good stuff).  My go-to strategy with Algebra II is to do a problem with them and then have them try some on their own while I walk around taking questions.  I'm not a homework-giver in Algebra II (though I am in Pre-Calc), so it's important that they get the practice time they need in class.  We work on adding and subtracting polynomials.

9:55  Switch to multiplying monomials with like bases.  Ask students to turn to the back and summarize their findings in complete sentence(s).  Call on students to share their answers.  Explain how "adding the exponents together" doesn't qualify as a complete sentence.

10:00  Try some slightly more difficult exercises to practice the shortcut they remembered/discovered.

10:10  Give students a couple review problems on graphing linear inequalities.  (Yeah, it's random, but I'm a firm believer in review.)

10:15  Bell rings.  Tell students where to turn in worksheets, remind them about the opportunity to take a make-up test, and wish them a great morning.  Next class (Algebra II) starts to enter.  I hand their tests back as well.

10:20  Bell rings again.  I welcome the class back.  This hour goes very similar to the one before.

11:12  Dismiss students who are enrolled in a tech course off campus and need to catch the bus.

11:15  Recruit the students who are finished with the worksheet to rearrange my room for next hour's Pre-Calc class.

11:20  Bell rings.  Wish students a good day.

11:25  Bell rings again.  This class runs similar to my first hour.  Students are thrilled they have one more day to study.  I explain how the review will go and they have at it.  I intentionally gave the hardest problem to the group closest to my desk, so I could help those groups throughout the hour if need be.  But, they don't need me (hoorah!).

12:18  I ask for formula sheets back as well as feedback.  This class liked the review as well.

12:20  Bell rings.  No time for students to rearrange my 36 desks, so I'll have to do that after remediation time.  A few students stay to ask questions.  This is their lunchtime, but it's my time to remediate any students that need it (I assign those who have D's and F's).  One student also comes from 2nd hour Algebra II to gain access to that make-up test.

12:50  I dismiss students who are there for remediation (I assigned 4 Algebra II students, but most were gone today).  They go eat lunch.  One stays behind to tell me the reason she's been missing so much class is because she's 9 weeks pregnant.  I try to focus on the joy (a new human being!) and not the hardship I know she'll have to endure for the next several years.

12:52  I start to rearrange the desks.  Turns out it's a lot easier to mess them up than get them back together.  Another student from my 2nd hour class comes in.  He says he wants to talk about the back part of the test...but doesn't have the test with him.  I bring out another copy and we discuss how to use the discriminant to determine the number and types of solutions a quadratic equation will have.

1:05  I wonder if I have enough time to grab lunch today.  Most days I just wait until my plan (2:30), but I think I can grab something to eat today.  I head to the math lounge to heat up my lunch.

1:10 Take my lunch to my colleague's room across the hall from my room.  This is my first interaction with an adult all day.

1:23  Head back to my room.  Thirteen full minutes for lunch--that's actually a good day.  Once I get to my door, students are waiting for me.

1:25  First bell rings.  I check to see if there are any emails I need to respond to asap.  I try to stay on top of emails as they come in throughout the day.  Sometimes that's easier said than done.

1:30  Second bell rings.  I welcome students while I continue to pass back their tests.  Class runs pretty similar to my last Algebra II classes, with the exception that this class wants to see one of the test problems worked.  It seems like they're just buying time, so I work the problem somewhat quickly and move on to the lesson.

2:25  Bell rings and I wish students a wonderful day.

2:27  Collapse in my chair.  Have I sat down at all today?  Have I gone to the restroom yet?  I should do that.

2:28  Use the restroom.  This is my planning period, but I oftentimes have one or two students in my classroom during this time for one reason or the other.  Today, a student from 5th hour is staying to gain access to the make-up test.  I ask her to correct her first test on a clean sheet of paper, showing all work.  When she finishes, we talk about her mistakes.  I feel confident enough to give her a make-up tomorrow.  While she works, I work, too, planning for Friday's Pre-Calculus lesson (Law of Sines) and tomorrow's Algebra II lesson (multiplying polynomials).  We're going to try lattice multiplication tomorrow and see how it goes.

3:25  Bell rings.  School's out, but I feel nowhere close to being ready to leave work.  I put my planning aside for a few minutes, meet another math teacher in her room, and we get ready to attend the afternoon faculty meeting (whoever thought of offering two meetings on the same day was a GENIUS).

3:30  Faculty meeting.

4:10  I head back to my room.  A student I don't recognize meets me at the door.  "Are you the math Mrs. Peterson?!"  "I am!"  "I need help in Pre-Calc!  Can you tutor me?"  I make a quick judgment call.  She's not my student, but I'm not going to refuse helping her.  I tell her she's welcome to come to my remediation sessions anytime.

4:12  Back to planning.

4:30  A friend calls and asks if I want to have dinner with her (she knows my husband won't be home til late).  I say sushi sounds amazing.  I have to stay a bit longer, but I promise to give her a call when I get ready to leave.

4:32  More planning.

5:30  I make all the copies I need for tomorrow's Pre-Calc quiz.

5:32  I turn off my TV and computer and lock up for the day.  I'm quite impressed with my early departure time, especially with the faculty meeting.

5:45  Arrive at friend's house.  We decide to pick up Target sushi because I have to bake some cakes (and hence pick up some supplies) for an International Dinner my husband's work is hosting tomorrow.  I decide on Philadelphia Rolls.  Yum.

6:00  Check out at Target and drive to my apartment.

6:10  Arrive at my apartment.  The cats want more food.  I feed them before I change out of work clothes.

6:15  My friend and I scroll through Netflix, deciding on a movie to watch.  We settle with First Wives Club.

6:18  Movie and sushi.  If hubby has to be away, this is the way to spend it.

7:40  Movie finishes and I take my friend back to her house.

8:00  Back to my place.  I need to start those cakes for tomorrow.  I decide I'll bake the cakes tonight and finish the glaze tomorrow before we leave.  The cake I'm baking is called Silvia Torta, named after the queen of Sweden.  I want to bake three of them, so I triple the recipe, converting from metric to English as I go along (good thing I'm decent at math).

8:30  Realize this is not going to be enough batter for three cakes.  I pour the batter into two pans.

8:35  Start another batch for the third pan (1.5 times the recipe, I remind myself).

8:50  Finish the third batch.  Pour.  Put all three pans in the oven.  Set timer for 10 minutes.

8:52  Check personal email.

9:00  Timer goes off for cakes.  I rotate them and set the time for another 10 minutes.

9:02  Math Twitterblogosphere time!  I check Twitter and read some of my favorite math blogs.

9:10  Timer goes off again.  Cakes are almost done I rotate them once more and set the timer for a final 5 minutes before going back to the internet.

9:15  Cakes are done.  Apartment smells tasty.  Glad my husband will come home to this smell tonight, because it's not often I have food made any more.

9:30  Start to write my Day in the Life post.  It's getting too long.  Oh well.

9:47  Get a text from husband that he just landed in Tulsa.  Yes!

10:05  He enters the apartment with a "Hi, Love!  You've been baking?"  My heart is happy to hear his voice again.  We talk and catch each other up on the day before heading to bed.

10:30  Ablutions.

10:37  Sleep.


  1. Thanks so much for participating! It's always tough when 'extra' students want help, of course we want to teach all of them, but during what time?

    Would you mind filling in this form so it's easier for me to share?

    1. Submitted! Thanks for reminding me...I totally forgot. :/

      I know--I feel like I don't have sufficient time to serve my own students, let alone others. Honestly, my main concern was keeping the peace between her teacher and myself (she's the third student from the same Pre-Calc class who has asked for extra help). I think as long as the students aren't trying to pin one teacher against another, I'm fine with offering help. I think. ;)


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