First Day of School in the Life of a Teacher

This is my second #DITL post, a timeline of our most awkward day of school.

530am: Alarm clock. This is the first time I’ve ever had a good night of sleep before the first day of school. It might be a sign of age but I’m going to chalk it up to my healthier lifestyle this summer. No one I went to college with would believe that I wake up at this hour (rather than go to bed at this hour) on a daily basis.

630am: Throw the tennis ball to Chance for 20 minutes. She hasn’t been crated much this summer and she’ll be in there for a long time today. I hope she sleeps until the dog-walker comes around noon. chance

740am: Homeroom period begins. I have a 9th grade homeroom, which means they are all new to the school, but it also means that they were all here last week for orientation. I check in with a few students who had special concerns last week: one who couldn’t get his locker open, one who didn’t have an 8th period class on her schedule, one who didn’t know how to find the gym. They’re all good. Homeroom is longer than usual today so that several special announcements can be made, but teachers are not told how long it will be extended. When the bells rings at 8:09, I realize that I’ll only see my first period class for 20 minutes. Flexibility is key.

830am: My two prep periods fall back-to-back, which is nice. I have a good 90 minutes to myself and a long to-do list. Unfortunately, I’m only able to check a few items off the list at the end of prep and I’ve added several others.

1058am: I’ve taught two Geometry classes and it’s time for lunch. My classroom is empty this period. After lunch I’ll teach Precalculus and three sections of Algebra 1. It’s tempting to eat at my desk and try to work on the to-do list some more. The afternoons will be busy and this could be some good quiet time. A collegue pops his head in “going downstairs for lunch?” I decide that its important to have a little time out of the classroom each day and I head down to the lunchroom for 25 minutes. I don’t regret this.

1215pm: I talk so much on the first day of school. There is a lot to go over and the students aren’t ready to contribute too much. I try to get them talking but I find myself filling a lot of silence and working extra hard to make them comfortable. We play “Make a Million” in teams and follow it with a conversation about strategy. I got this idea from @ddmeyer on Twitter. See his tweet here. I tell the same jokes, repeat the same policies, introduce myself the same way again and again on the first day of school. In the middle of this my Fitbit vibrates on my wrist, which means I’m getting a phone call. I ignore it. Then I forget about it.

253pm: The school day is over and I head down to the main hallway to monitor the locker area and help students find their way to the buses. I actually look forward to this 10 minute hall duty. My colleagues are there too and its a nice time to quickly debrief the day or catch up on the end of a story I was hearing at lunch. When the building is empty, I slowly make my way back to the classroom and take my feet out of my shoes. Ouch. I look at my cell phone for the first time since I got up this morning. Text from Annette “[Our dog walker] set off the alarm and police were at our house. They tried to call you. No answer.”

330pm: After going through all of my afternoon emails and cleaning up the classroom, I head out to my car (shoes in hand). I stop at our vet on the way home to pick up some more dog food and meds. When I get home, Chance is bouncing around inside her crate. I exhausted and she’s ready to play. I change my clothes, put her in the car and take her to the local park.

7pm: I’ve been to the grocery store, watered the new trees, washed dishes, packed lunch for tomorrow, answered a few more emails and now I’m sitting down for dinner. I managed to make something healthy and I’m feeling like that’s a big accomplishment right now.

730pm: Annette comes in from work and we catch-up for a few minutes before I pull out the precalculus textbook and start going over my lesson for tomorrow. I’m a little nervous about teaching this class for the first time and I want to be sure I have everything just right. I also spend some time updating my class websites since I’m planning on showing students how to access and best utilize them tomorrow.

10pm: I’m just about ready for bed. One last email check. Why did I do that? Email from department head came in four minutes ago, “Please have your study island classes established by the end of the school day tomorrow”. I know that I only have one prep period tomorrow and that long list is still on my desk.

11pm: My study island classes are established. G’nite.




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2 Responses to First Day of School in the Life of a Teacher

  1. Beth Guenther says:

    I LOVE these posts! I can’t believe the dog walker set off the alarm!isnt that always the way – the calls or texts you ignore are the ones you needed to see haha.

    Are you allowed to include a link to your class website? I’d love to see it! Good luck teaching pre calc! If only you could tire chance out with some math brain teasers 😉

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Kate Robbins says:

    Beth – Our school uses a “learning management system” (LMS) called Schoology. If you don’t know it, you might know their competitors: Moodle, Blackboard, Canvas. In my opinion Schoology is best. So that’s what I’m referring to when I say “website”. It’s password protected and unique/tailored to each student. They see their classes, their assignments, their messages when they login. I can post some screenshots to give you a sense for what it looks like and how I organize mine. Stay tuned…

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