Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mom-Teacher: A Day in the Life

First, before I say anything else, I want to show you this nice little schedule I made for myself a few weeks ago and clipped inside my "home organization binder."  Isn't it lovely?

That's the kind of dream world I live in... One where I wake up at 4:30AM and go to bed at 9:30PM every night, exercise every day, have structured play time as a family, stay totally caught up on the laundry, and bring nothing home from work.  Emphasis on dream world. ;)

Sure, some days are better than others.  Some days (rarely), I follow that schedule pretty closely and feel like I could conquer Mt. Kilimanjaro; but, most days look a little more like this...

6AM - I finally get out of bed after pushing snooze repeatedly for an hour and a half.  I immediately head downstairs to make coffee, grab clothes from the dryer, and throw a lunch together. Then, it's upstairs to shower and make myself presentable for 75 teenagers. ;)

That whole process takes between 30 and 45 minutes, and I try to be out the door a little before seven (after a quick kiss goodbye to my two sleeping boys, of course).

My morning commute is only about 10 minutes, and I usually ride in silence preparing for my day, enjoying my coffee, and getting ready to turn my "game face" on when I get to school...

7:00AM - I am greeted in my classroom by a herd of students (who apparently do not realize it is only 7AM).  I have a Keurig in my room that students are allowed to use, so there are usually a few huddled around that, one or two curling their hair in the back of the room (seriously), and a handful hurrying to finish their homework before the bell.

One of the harder things about teaching is that you don't really get to "warm up" in the morning.  From the moment I get to work until the campus clears out four hours later, I am "on."  (I often equate this to being an actor in a live performance five days a week.)  Some days, like when Sam hasn't slept the night before or I'm not feeling great, this is really hard; but, other days, I am thankful for the rush of energy first thing in the morning.  It is hard to be an old fuddy-duddy when you are surrounded by cheerful (most of the time) and loud teenagers. 

7:30AM -The first bell rings, and my teaching day officially begins with the Pledge of Allegiance and a moment of silence.

We run on an A/B schedule in my county, so every other day I start with ninth graders from 7:30 - 9 and then have tenth graders from 9:30 - 11 after a little break.  On the other days, I start with AP English 11 and have "remediation" from 9:30 - 11 for any other students at the school (we are a STEM Academy/ trade school) that might need some extra help in reading/writing.

When I'm teaching, I'm pretty much moving around the whole time to make sure everyone stays awake.  My kids are really really great, so a lot of my time is spent just facilitating discussions about something we are reading/studying or overseeing group work or activities.  Of course, there are also plenty of days that I'm going through a power point and giving notes or handing out a test or timed-writing assignment too.  But, I do try to space those out so that it is never too much at once.  (I think about 20 minutes of note taking is all most of my high schoolers can stomach before they start pulling out their cell phones ever so discreetly and texting in their laps. #Imontoyou). 

Meanwhile, at home... Two days a week, Jeff takes Sam to preschool at 9AM before heading to work.  The other three days, we are lucky enough to have a sitter that comes to our house to keep him.  Miss Jennifer is basically a part of our family now, and I - honestly - don't know how we would survive without her.
Sam showing off one his art projects from school.

11AM - The last bell rings and students are dismissed on buses to head back to their base high schools.  (I have a unique situation because I teach in a specialty school that houses programs for students from all five of our county's schools.  They come to school early in the morning to fit in our programs and then head back to their home school for afternoon classes.  This means that our school is basically empty after 11:00.  I am incredibly fortunate to work in this kind-of environment; but, it doesn't mean I sit around all afternoon twiddling my thumbs.)

Pretty much how my desk looks every afternoon

On A-days, once this round of students has cleared out, I straighten my classroom (always) and grab a quick lunch before the next crew rolls in.  At 12:30, I put on a new hat and spend my afternoon doing pre-GED testing for the county until 3PM.  This mostly involves managing paperwork and keeping up with testing materials, scoring, etc. for kids that come in to test.

On B-days, after my students leave and I've finished remediation obligations etc. I have lunch and planning until 1:45.  Even though my favorite part about my job is actually interacting with teenagers, I really LOVE the planning part too!  I especially like trying to incorporate some pop culture in with some of the more "boring" elements of the English classroom like grammar or classic literature.  Whether it is tweeting as characters from The Crucible or analyzing the rhetoric of Facebook statuses, I'm one of those teachers that gets a little adrenaline rush when a unit finally comes together or I run across an awesome idea on the internet I can implement in class.  As much as I enjoy planning, I dislike grading.  BY FAR, that is the worst part about teaching (especially being an English teacher).

This packet of papers to grade goes home with me just about every single day.  I actually take it out of my school bag about once a week. ;)

3:15PM - I come home for the afternoon to relieve the sitter and start my "second job."  (On my earlier days - when I get off at 1:45, sometimes I head straight home; but, I also try to use that time to run errands, go to the gym, or meet a friend for coffee whenever possible.)

Nine times out of ten, Sam is still sleeping (he takes about a three hour afternoon nap from 1 - 4 most days).  Although this does cut in to our time together, I am grateful for the chance to unwind and get some things done at home before he wakes up.  

I change into comfy clothes almost immediately when I get home (unless it is a day where we have a play date or something scheduled for the afternoon) and then try to start a load of laundry, prep for dinner, or catch up on blog/email stuff.  If I'm being honest, many of my afternoons involve an hour or so of Pretty Little Liars on Netflix, my laptop, and a second (or third) cup of coffee.

4PM - Sam wakes up from his nap & our afternoon activities commence.  We are lucky enough to have a great crew of buddies in our neighborhood, so when the weather is nice we usually meet them at the playground behind our house or go for a walk.  On Wednesdays, we go to a music class that Sam loves (and I really enjoy getting to participate in with him since I miss a lot of those types of things when I'm at work), and occasionally we go to the gym or meet friends at the library/park/etc.  Of course, there are plenty of days that Sam sleeps late and we just play at home too.  Usually around 5:30, I let him watch a half hour (or so) of a movie, and I start getting dinner ready. 

6PM - Most nights, we eat together at our kitchen table around 6:30.  On Tuesday nights, my parents watch Sam so Jeff and I can go to Bible Study at 7:30, so dinner is usually take-out or something very simple on those nights.  In all reality, I probably cook a meal for us three nights a week.  Sometimes I feel guilty about not cooking really fancy meals every night, but it is just a battle I've decided not to choose.  I don't love cooking and I don't have tons of time for it.  If I cook three nights, we eat out two, and have leftovers/soup/cereal two, I feel OK.

Crock-pot for the win.

After dinner, we try to spend some time together as a family.  This usually involves a dance party or chasing Sam around the house in some form. ;)

8:30PM - One of us takes Sam upstairs for a bath while the other stays behind to clean up the kitchen/ pack lunches for the next day/ make coffee for the morning, etc.  On nights where we didn't cook (or we just feel lazy and leave all the dishes), we give Sam a bath and gett him ready for bed together.  He is so fun right before bed - usually wild and adorable.

Our nighttime routine isn't terribly consistent, but we try to read a couple of books together and say prayers before bed.  Lights out for Sam is usually between 9 & 9:30.  (I know that's late, but it works for us.  We've experimented with an earlier bedtime, but this helps him to sleep until 7:30 or 8AM and still take a long afternoon nap.  I realize that that nap will probably disappear soon, and we'll adjust bedtime then.)
Don't know what people did before video monitors!

10PM - Normally, once Sam is all tucked in, Jeff and I are exhausted and ready for bed too.  Occasionally we will stay up late watching something on TV, playing on our computers, or (me) grading papers, but sleep is really important to us both and we know morning will come all too soon, so 10PM bedtime is the norm.

A few final thoughts: It's funny to look at your life scheduled out like this, you know?  Most days, I feel SO busy, and then I look at it on paper and feel like maybe I'm just lazy not using my time well.  The truth is, every day is different.  That's both my favorite part and the hardest part about being a teacher AND a momma -- both require a lot of flexibility and being able to work "in the gaps."  

Also, I think it is worth mentioning, that I have pretty unusual teaching job/schedule.  For the first four years of my career, I taught in a more traditional high school with five or six classes a day.  Although I still loved that, I was - honestly - nearly a zombie by the end of the day.  When Sam was born (in 2011), I just knew I couldn't do that and still go home and be a good mom.  (Some women can and do - my mom was one of them - but I am not one of them.)  In the last three years, I have had a full time job as a school testing coordinator (regular schedule, but none of the out-of-school work that teachers have), a part-time teaching job (short schedule but just as much, or more, out-of-school work), and now this... For now, this is the perfect schedule/job for me.  I am so so thankful for it because it allows me to do what I really love in the morning without being so overtaken by lesson plans, papers to grade, etc. in the afternoons.  And, trust me,  I know how very very lucky I am to have it!

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  1. Hahahaa I love your 'dream schedule.' I can't imagine how awful getting up at 4:30 would be. HA!!!! I think your teaching job/schedule this year sounds super awesome, too. I looooved English in HS and I really loved my AP teacher...I bet you are just like her. Also-- this 'kids can use the Keurig' situation??! Do you PAY for all their coffee??! Holy cow.

  2. We all have a dream schedule, don't we? :-) Sounds like full but fun days. Balancing work, mommy, and taking care of the house is difficult for sure even before you find that "me time"!

  3. Ok I did not read this whole thing (don't be mad)--but the 7am one. WHOA. question. How do you afford all those k-cups? no. really. Do they walk the halls with coffee? Is this stuff allowed in schools now? I FEEL SO OLD.

    It also made me miss teaching just a little bit. A TINY BIT.


  4. Oh goodness, sorry for the confusion friends. I DO NOT pay for the K-Cups for my kids. They are allowed to use the machine if they bring their own coffee from home. I just provide the water. :)

    My school isn't your typical high school - it is set up more like a college campus, and it starts at 7 blasted 30 in the morning, for starters. So, yea, they can drink it in the "halls" or at their desk during class. They just know they have to clean up after themselves and pay attention in class or they lose the privilege.

  5. How much do you heart benefit makeup? Love it!
    And seriously the inventor of Keurig deserves a noble peace prize.
    I think your schedule sounds wonderfully balanced and perfect for you and your family, thanks for sharing.


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