Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Day in the Life?

Day three is over and I'm... alive? Relieved? Exhausted? A little of all, I guess!

Sorry I didn't blog yesterday, but I pretty much worked all evening. I figured if I got a lot accomplished, I'd be able to justify taking a break tonight. However, as it turns out, quality work only motivates me to continue being productive, which is why I was at school until 5:30 PM and still brought a small to-do list home!

I promised I'd give you more insight into my schedule at CHS. It's actually pretty decent, I think. Not really much different from a work day I'm used to, except that I don't have to travel over 1 hour to and from the school anymore! (I never realized how much the drive affected me until I realized how much I could get done in the same amount of time!)

These days I'm arriving on campus between 7:15 and 7:25. Our work day technically begins at 7:30 AM, and we've got an electronic system that we're supposed to log in and out of in order to record that we were present at school all day. When I get to school, there are a few kids there already, mostly students who are on an early bus. It doesn't take long for more and more to show up.

Breakfast is served between 7:15 and 7:40 AM. All the kids are entitled to a free breakfast from the district. The menu is different everyday and includes hot and cold options. For some kids, the only time they actually get food during the day is at school, and only because it's offered at a reduced rate.

The school day starts at 7:45 AM. This week, we've begun everyday with our Advisor (homeroom), but the normal schedule has these groups meeting Mondays only. We've been doing typical first week stuff, including making sure all kids become familiar with the school handbook. When there is no Advisor block, then we launch straight into our instructional blocks at 7:45 AM.

There are 4 instructional blocks during the day, and most teachers teach 3, plus have a planning period. Each block is 85 minutes long, except for the third block, which is 120 minutes long and includes a 30 minute lunch break that rotates throughout the block.

I teach during the first three blocks. My lunch period is 30 minutes into my third-block, so I dismiss the class down to the cafeteria for their lunch, and then meet them again 30 minutes later for the last hour of our class. When I originally found out that I would have a split block like that, I was a little unsure about how it would workout. Turns out it's not that bad -- and actually makes the time go by faster. That's fantastic, because after third block ends, I'm effectively done for the day! This week, that's been at 12:55 PM, but once we're using our normal schedule, I'll be student-free ten minutes earlier!

But the reward is short-lived... Recently the school amended the schedule and added a short, 40 minute block at the end of the day. The 5th block is a repeat of one of the other four, and is assigned to students based on their progress in the class. I have three 5th block assignments a week, one for each of my classes. It's not a time for instruction, but it is intended for students who need or could benefit from extra help in the class. Students can attend by choice, but many of them come because they have been assigned to come, and there are consequences of skipping out of a 5th block assignment. I have yet to see 5th block in action, but I've heard positives and negatives about it.

On days with 5th block, school ends at 3:00 PM. Typically I stay until 4 or 4:30, but that changes depending on how much work I have to do, and just how itchy I am to get home! It's nice to stay after -- I find I get a fair amount of work done.

The school has a few different teacher "work rooms", which are basically like smaller staffrooms. Each one has it's own photocopier and printer that your computer is connected to (yes, an actual working printer!), plus a fridge, a microwave, sink and some tables. Staff can eat in these rooms if they want to, or down in the cafeteria when their kids eat lunch, or in their classrooms... whichever they prefer. The main staffroom off the office has our mailboxes, so I'm constantly reminding myself to make sure I go and check for mail!

There a quite a few extra curricular opportunities for students to get involved in, including athletics and clubs, etc. It's nice to see that kind of variety. Still, the administration makes it clear that there are to be no kids on campus after school ends unless they have a specific reason and permission from a teacher or administrator. That means we don't get kids hanging out because it's better than being at home.

I'm sure there is a lot more I could write about if you wanted... I've covered some of the details, but if there's anything more specific that you want me to fill in... Just ask! I'm still just learning the ropes, but sometimes letting others in helps me recall all the massive information I've absorbed in the last three weeks!

Tomorrow I'm hoping to attend another football game -- this time as a spectator! I realize that I haven't said much else sports-wise besides talking about the FB games. There are also volleyball and soccer teams that are well into their seasons. I might stop in for a game here or there if it fits my schedule.

Saturday I've signed up for a staff development workshop at the community college. A couple of other teachers have recommended it, so I thought I'd give it a try. It's actually the first of three seminars spread over the next four weeks. It's a bummer that they are on a Saturday, but it beats having to prep for a sub, and I get a little participation stipend for attending!

Okay, time to go and tick a couple more items off my checklist. :o) Enjoy what's left of your work-week!

1 comment:

barefootbeach said...

this was pretty interesting to read! it's sort of similar to my school (breakfast to start the day, class starts at 7:40, just a little bit earlier then yours) but also different (i end at 2:25 and we have a staff room and printers in most classrooms, not just these staff rooms)'s interesting to hear about other schools in the country, how other states run things.

my only question is-did you teach through block scheduling before? i never knew such a thing exsisted until i got to college and a friend of mine told me that was how her high school was. then when i student taught in hs we had block scheduling and in some cases i felt it a bit of a waste...then when i got to ehn, they use block scheduling but my class is split up into two classes, so i don't teach a full, having said all that, how doy ou feel about that huge chunk of time? is it a waste? or does it give you time to get more accomplished? you may not be ablet o asnwer this for awhile, im just curious....