NOTE: Once again, Brent’s fiance, Sidney, takes over Don’t Blink for a Sunday. Enjoy today’s post where she gives us a glimpse at her profession.
I love my job. I have known since I was 5 years old that I wanted to be a teacher. There has never been another career path on my horizon. But I’d be a fool if I thought that everyone in the world viewed my job in the same light as I do. I know very well that there are two common opinions of my profession. There are some who think I am a saint, and others who would be more apt to call me a glorified baby-sitter.
In tonight’s post, I am asking all of you avid Don’t Blink readers to make the call. I’ll give you a rundown of a day in the life of Miss Mathis, and you can tell me what you think. Am I a Saint or am I a sitter?
4:30 a.m. — Wake Up Call
I get up at this time every morning. As of lately, I’ve been getting out of bed throwing on some Nike Free Runs and taking a brisk 2 mile walk around my neighborhood (even though I’m a teacher, I still have a wedding to look good for!!). After my walk, I hit the showers, wrestle my hair into an acceptable hair-do, paint my face with make-up, and don my professional attire. At this point it is pretty close to 5:45 am. I hop in my car and make the 15 minutes commute to school.
6:00 a.m. — Hit the Classroom
I’m not required to be at school until 7 a.m. but if I did this I would feel rushed and unorganized starting off the school day. So I choose to get there an hour early and take my time preparing for the kids. Most of this hour is spent checking my emails, wiping down desks, and giving my lesson plans one last thorough look. Sometimes, I may dash down to the library and make a few copies or check out a new chapter book to read aloud to the kids.
7:00 a.m. — Teacher Chit Chat
It’s at this time that my friends who also teach grade 2 (I don’t call them collegues, because they are genuinely my three best friends) have made it to school. I take a few minutes to tell them good morning, chat for a couple minutes, and then it’s right back to work.
7:05 a.m. — Breakfast Prep
I currently work in a Title 1 school. If you aren’t familiar, this means that a majority of the students at my school live at/below the poverty line. As a result, we have government funded programs to help aid students so that they can meet academic standards. One of the programs we participate in provides all children a free and nutritious breakfast, and it’s called Breakfast in the Classroom. This means that I get a laundry basket filled with individually packaged breakfasts and juice delivered to my classroom door every morning. I bring the basket in and then quickly fill out the paperwork and forms that accompany it.
7:15 a.m. — Breakfast/Morning Work/Day-to-Day Business
The bell rings at this time, and the children make their way to my classroom. I stand by my door and try my best to greet each kid. This might entail some hugs, high-fives, and handshakes. As I herd them into the room, I give the kids their breakfasts, urge them to eat quickly and quietly, and start on their morning work. While the kids eat and work, I start collecting notes from parents, transportation changes, answering questions, and occasionally I have to mop up spilled apple juice; all the while trying to mentally take attendance.
7:35 a.m. — Clean Up and Start the Day
At 7:35 a.m., my students and I watch the school’s news broadcast. We say the Pledge, observe a moment of silence, and pay close attention to special announcements. As the news commences I collect all the breakfast trash, change out the trash-bag in the trashcan, and put the breakfast trash outside my door to be collected. We review the morning work from that morning. I then give the kids a brief rundown of what we’ll be learning that day, and from here we dive right in!!
7:50 a.m. — Phonics
I teach 2nd grade. It’s a very important grade, where students are slowly transitioning from “learning to read” to “reading to learn”. I teach my kids phonics (basic letter sounds and combinations) to help them progress towards becoming successful readers. I won’t get into the educational jargon of this process but it’s mostly me modeling good reading skills and strategies based on spelling patterns and letter sounds (I know what most of you are thinking…BLAH BLAH BLAH…but trust me. It’s a necessary skill).
8:20 a.m. — Specials
My students have special area class (i.e. Art, PE, Library) every day at this time. I take them to that day’s special class. This time is the time in the day where I am kid-free for about 50 minutes. Two days of the week I have this time to use as a planning period. The other 3 days of the week I meet with my 2nd grade team of teachers and our school’s curriculum coach to discuss the matters of instruction. This is also a time in the day where I get to USE THE BATHROOM—YAY!!
9:10 a.m. — Back to Class
I pick the kiddos up from specials and we make it back to our classroom. What we learn/study during this time varies. There is a complex formula and pacing guide I use to determine the material to teach during this time, but I won’t bore you with those details. Just know that at this point in the day I am teaching 1 of 5 things: science, social studies, grammar, writing, or handwriting. For those of you who care to know, tomorrow (Monday) I will be teaching the little angels about common and proper nouns.
10 a.m. — Lunch/Recess
I know what you’re thinking…LUNCH AT 10 a.m.?!!?!? Yes. I know. It’s unbelievably early, but it’s not that bad. Some of you may be thinking that this is the time during my day where I sit and decompress and leisurely eat my meal with my friends. Wrong. Since dating Brent, I have heard of these mythical creatures called “Lunch Aides”. They don’t exist in South Carolina. I go to lunch with my students, send them through the service line, and sit with them as they eat. During this time, I will most likely open three snack packs, heat up 13 chicken nuggets in the microwave, and grant six precious souls permission to go to the bathroom. Oh, and I also take the time to pound back a SlimFast milk shake (back again to looking great for my wedding!!). At around 10:25 a.m., I get the kids to pick up their trash, dump their trays, wipe the tables, sweep the floor around their area, and line up. Then I corral the kiddos out to the playground for recess. (The mythical “Recess Aide” is also not present here in SC). For 25 minutes I supervise my students laughing, playing, running, jumping, and overall having a great time being kids. I love to watch them play. It can be quite entertaining!
11:00 a.m. — Reading, Reading, Reading
It’s 11 o’clock in my day, and I’ve already served two meals! I feel like a champion right now. I bring my kids down to the reading rug, and we have our most prized time of the day. Read Aloud. For about 15 minutes every day after recess, I take the time to read aloud from a chapter book to my babies. They love it. They live for these 15 minutes! Their only duty during this time is to sit and listen and enjoy a good book. Then we move straight into guided reading where we read a 2nd grade level text. I model the comprehension skills of good readers and as a class we dissect all different kinds of elements of a story. It’s fun stuff man!! This week we are going to put our brains to the test as we study the fable “The Lion and the Mouse”!!!
12 p.m. — Small Group
My classroom is a differentiated classroom with all different ability levels. I have some students who rank in the 99th percentile for reading skills and others who rank in the 3rd. During the small group session, I pull together about five kids at a time (all of the kids perform at the same level) and they work with me in a small group (hence the name!). All the other kids in the class are working independently. Sometimes this can be a stressful part of the day, because I’m actively trying to work with five kids at a time while still monitoring 20 others students and assuring that everyone is on task and still engaged in meaningful work. It takes lots of practice and strict rules to get the kids to cooperate during small group. But four weeks into the school year, I am proud to announce that my little nuggets have finally mastered it!
1:00 p.m. — Math
This is when I look at the clock and think…okay…we’ve almost made it guys. Don’t give up on me. We can make it! It’s a long day of learning and growing for my little 7 year olds and when I get to 1 p.m. my main goal is to keep them going and not let them get burned out. Math instruction in classrooms today is much like it was for all of us growing up. This week my kids and I are going to be diving into addition word problems and making a list of all the different strategies they can use to solve them!
2:20 p.m. — Pack Up
After Math instruction, my classroom finishes out the day by packing up. The kids will record their behavior code into their agendas and I will maniacally dart around and sign all of their agendas (I also try to write a positive comment in the agendas of at least three kids each day too). The kids collect their daily assignments, put them in their folders, shove everything in their backpacks, and line up for dismissal. I walk my children down the hallways to the bus loop and car-rider drop off. I give them hugs and kisses and tell them I love them, and wave goodbye as they head off towards home. After I’ve sent them on their way, I head back to my classroom to prep for the next day. Unless it’s a Monday…in which case I attend a staff meeting. Oh, and on Wednesdays, I contribute my services to the car-rider line. I walk the kids to their cars, help them inside, and send them off with their parents. But Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday…it’s back to the classroom for planning and prepping.
4:00 p.m. — Home again. Home again.
Sometimes it’s a little later, but most days at 4 p.m., I turn off the lamps in Room 222 and lock my door. I walk out to my car and take a moment to sit. It feels good to sit after a long day. I make my way back to my house, and upon walking in my door, I collapse on the couch. As I lay there, my mind will slowly wander back to the classroom and I’ll mentally start mapping out the next day’s activities.
So there you have it. A day in the life of Miss Mathis. Some of it, I know, seems mundane. Boring to most. But if you live it, you love it. So now the time has come. You can decide. Saint or Sitter??