I’m enjoying a quiet weekend. There is much work to be done, but, as usual here lately, I am content to do just enough to get by. I hope my energy and motivation returns again one day. Until then, I will do what I feel able to do.
Maybe it’s because I am such a go-getter at work that I have nothing left when I get home. My job is very demanding and the hours are usually long. The funny thing is, I have no problems keeping up with the demands I have at work. I have decided to share what I do. For years, I was a teacher. Then last year I took on a new role in the education system. let me explain what I do at work.
I work in an elementary school. I oversee and support 26 teachers. My job is hard to explain because I do so many things. I train teachers in any and all new teaching concepts. I oversee a huge testing program and make sure it is completed on time and correctly. I often test the students myself. When the county or state decides to drop by for a site visit,I must walk with them through each class and listen as they point out all that is right or (more often) wrong. The principal and I must answer for anything that is not done correctly in the classrooms. I am the “go-to” person for any and all needed materials used for teaching. I am also the “go-to” when teachers need to vent or have difficulty of some sort. I run after school tutoring for selected students. I go into classrooms and teach demo-lessons or co-teach lessons with the classroom teacher. I evaluate teachers and give them feedback on how to improve. I also provide support by assisting with students who have discipline problems.
I work in a school that has major discipline problems. We have some kids in the upper grades in gangs. Lower grades often deal with students who throw chairs, scream, kick, and swear at the top of their lungs. The hell these kids live in would produce nightmares in you for years.
Here is a typical day for me:
7:00 I arrive at school, click on my laptop, and quickly gather needed books for 1st grade. I clip on my walkie-talkie and deliver the books.
7:10 Time to report for morning duty: meet and greet. It is important to greet students when they enter: for some, it is the first “nice” they hear in the mornings.
7:30 Go to my office and check email and text messages. This is how teachers let me know if they need supplies or help. While there, 3 different teachers stop by. One needs supplies. The other two need my advice.
7:40 Deliver needed materials to 4th grade. Stop in to see Bob, one of several students with which I seem to have a special bond. He is doing fine, so I move on. I check on Delia next, a first grader who is often thrown out of class for being disruptive. She is screaming and hitting the assistant, who is trying to remove her from the room. I squat beside Delia and talk in a soft but firm voice. She has to get quiet to hear me. Delia knows I will not put my hands on her; I repeatedly ask her to calm down, take my hand and go to my office with me. She puts on a show for another minute before she takes my hand and walks with me. We sit in my office and discuss whatever set her off, and how she needs to make better choices. Delia has anger issues; but so would I if my dad had been shot and killed 4 months ago and I was taken from my mom because she was too coked out to care for me. I walk Delia back to class just as I get called to a 3rd grade class.
8:45 Go to the 3rd grade class. We have a long-term sub in this room because the teacher resigned at Christmas. When I arrive, she is in tears and yelling at the kids because they will not follow directions. I spend much time in this class because of the sub, and because these kids need me. I take over teaching and get the students back on track. The assistant comes in to help me and we get the kids rolling again. The kids in this room love me because I give them structure, I listen to them, and I don’t abandon them. They feel abandoned by the teacher who quit. Many have been abandoned by their own parents, so it is a big issue for them. I make sure to spend time with them daily.
10:30 The 3rd grade goes to art, so I go back to my office. I have two students I need to test; one in kindergarten and the other in second grade. I test each of them. While testing, Michael stops by to see me. He is a first grader who saw his dad stick his sister’s legs in boiling water because he was angry with her. Michael stops to see me 4-5 times a day, every day. I hug him and he is on his way back to class. Then Brandon is brought to me. Brandon is in kindergarten and has thrown a chair at his teacher. He sits with me to cool down. We talk. The teacher has called mom, and she says she is on the way. She never comes. I send Brandon back to class after he calms down and apologizes for his behavior.
11:30 I meet with the principal. She is someone I truly respect and admire. She has her hands full at this school, so we often meet as a team to see what needs to be done to accomplish needed goals. We discuss problem areas and possible solutions. She has several items for me to take care of, so off I go. I see Angel, a girl who was suspended for swinging at her teacher, sitting in the office. Her parent sent her to school anyway because she had to go to work. As I am leaving, I get two text messages. One is from my daughter, J, letting me know she is having a good day. (Sigh of relief). The other is from a 5th grade teacher who needs to see me after school. I reply okay.
12:30 I stop in and co-teach a 4th grade math lesson. We have a first year teacher in this room who needs much support. The kids are often off task, so I give them plenty of chances to talk and move during the lesson on comparing fractions. Bob is in this room, so I make sure he is engaged. I have given him a small piece of putty to hold in his pocket. He has trouble focusing and needs to “fidget”, so playing with this in his pocket helps to keep him out of trouble. It seems to be working today.
1:30 As I leave that class, another 4th grade teacher stops me. They team is having trouble and need to meet with me after school. I make arrangements. Then my walkie-talkie calls my name. It is the office, letting me know a delivery of supplies is in. I tell them to send it to my office and I will deal with it later. I don’t even know what it is. Back in my office, I grab my lunch and eat while checking email. I have 10 emails, 5 of which require a response from me. I take care of these while eating.
1:40 Rashad comes in for a quick hug. He is in 1st grade and has much trouble with behavior. He informs me that he has been good today. We have an arrangement that he gets a treat if he can be good all day. I tell him to keep it up.
1:45 I have stacks of books and supplies that need to be organized, so I take time to work on that. While working, 5 staff members come by for various reasons.I talk and continue organizing.
2:15 Time for afternoon dismissal. Rashad earned his treat, so he stops by. Afterwards, I help load children into the appropriate bus or car, and chaos becomes quiet.
2:20 Time for the staff meeting. The principal opens the meeting. When she completes her part, I step in. My teachers are having trouble teaching math, so I show them some ways to do it correctly. Most are grateful for my advice. Some seem beaten down and unresponsive. We are still working on staff moral.
3:30 The meeting is over, but I am still talking with a core group of teachers who have questions and need more time with me.
3:50 I meet with the 5th grade teachers. They are having trouble with a lesson in reading. so I discuss it with them and we find a solution.
4:45 I walk back to my office. Many teachers are gone, but some are still in the building. A 4th grade teacher is waiting for me. She is upset with her team and needs my advice. Just as we are finishing up, a 3rd grade teacher comes by needing my help. Soon after, a 1st grade teacher comes in. Before long, my office is filled and we just have a much-needed gab session to relieve the tensions of the day. Sometimes we cry, but more often we laugh.
5:30 I pack my laptop and needed papers. I am usually worn out by this time.
So, you see, I often don’t have much left to give when I get home. So if I choose to let a few things go right now, I’m alright with that. There’s always tomorrow.