September 14, 2008


Teaching requires a tremendous amount of energy. You are always on. You must be completely in the moment every minute of every day, except for the one hour break you get for prep time. You're constantly multi-tasking. These were all of the things going through my head during just the first couple minutes of my Investments class today:

  • Greet students as they come into the classroom

  • Decide whether or not to give students hallway passes (these were requested by 2 students at the top of the hour, and I quickly decided not to because of the imminent lockdown drill. Of course, I couldn't tell the students my reason for denying the pass to them).

  • Get the lesson plans out from my briefcase. Also get out the test, which I wrote and ordered copies of the day before, and yesterday's assignment, which I graded earlier in the day.

  • The bell rings. I'm still waiting for the computer to boot and organizing my papers. Welcome students to class, tell them the plan for the day (sans lockdown drill), and tell them to quietly spend five minutes studying for the test, please.

  • Computer boots. Bring up my class website that I'll need later in the period, which I already prepared.

  • Dan asks what he missed when he was gone yesterday. Politely tell him that I will prepare the materials and give them to him later in the hour.

  • Lockdown alarm sounds. Lock the doors, cover the windows, inform students of the procedure, turn on the closed circuit TV to await further instructions (everything up to this point has occurred within the first three minutes of class).

  • Take attendance. Log on to my email system and email the office which students are absent from my class, as per the lockdown procedures.

  • Lockdown drill ends. Unlock the doors and uncover the windows. Inform students that we will be beginning the quiz.

  • Announce that students who needed passes earlier may come to my desk so I can sign them out.

  • Hand out the tests to students. As I do this, make sure that notes are put away and computer monitors are off.

  • Ask one student to remove his hat. Wearing headgear is against school policy.

  • One the quizzes are out, look up the schedule of a student from my last class, who still has one of my keys for the school store. Call that teacher. Teacher does not answer the phone. Call the main office to track the student down.

  • Get the missing assignments ready for Dan and hand them to him after he completes his test.

  • The two students with hallway passes take longer than normal to return. Judgment call: should I ask them about this? They volunteer that the closest bathroom was still locked from the drill. They return to their seats.

  • What are we doing after the test again? Oh yeah. We'll be reading an online article and answering some discussion questions, which I already prepared.

  • Mentally prepare for the pre-reading mini-lecture I'll use to introduce the article to the class.

  • Hand back the graded assignments from yesterday.

  • The student with the missing key walks in and I eventually get the key.

  • Walk up and down the classroom to monitor students as they take the test. A few students are taking a long time. Make a judgment call: give them a cutoff time of two more minutes.

  • Introduce the reading assignment to the class, using proper questioning techniques to ensure students stay engaged.

  • After the introduction, stop by Dan's desk and tell them he can work on his makeup assignments instead of reading today's article.

And this was just the first third of the class. Multiply this by seven hours of student contact time per day, and you can see how the job takes energy. Admittedly, the lockdown drill was unusual, but teachers face all kinds of unexpected things throughout the day, all of which must be handled gracefully. A cool head is definitely a requirement for this job.


Raenette said...

I know... I had that kind of day yesterday, and then we had a production (concert) in the evening. Rushed home after school for a quick meal and change of clothes, rushed back to school for evening. And we're doing it again tonight! Maybe I should become a hairdresser!

Anonymous said...

It's the same no matter what grade you teach....Most people have no idea.