I love being a teacher. It’s a calling more than a job. I like the people I’m working with. I adore my students. I don’t mean for this post to come off as a rant, but it might read that way in some spots. This is an outline of my normal day everyday. This is important because this schedule is having an significant impact on my bodybuilding program. Training and food prep have had to change because of this schedule.
Our school has six class periods every day. Most of us teach five periods, with one period free to plan, grade, have meetings, whatever needs to be done. Out of those five periods I teach, only two are the same lesson, so I need four different lessons ready for each day. (Most teachers in my building only need two lessons ready each day.) Because I’m new, I’m not able to work efficiently yet. I’ve never taught these classes, so there are no previous lessons to use – everything is made from scratch.
Here is a rough sketch of what my day looks like on days there aren’t staff meetings…
3 am First alarm goes off
3:15 am Second alarm goes off and I get up. Get dressed, feed the dogs, pack my lunch, grab a pre-workout snack (usually sweet potatoes), grab some coffee
3:35 am Leave for gym
3:45 am Start warm up and lift (yeah, new gym is very close to home)
5:15 am Lift and cool down finished, hit the showers and get ready for work
5:45 am Arrive at work
5:45 – 7:15am Prepare for 1st, 3rd, and 4th periods. This usually includes fighting with copy machines, finding someone to open the locked door where they keep the paper for the copy machines, stapling, hole punching, eating a little breakfast while moving
7:20-8:30am Greet kids and teach the first class. Teaching = never sitting. Always moving. All of my classes need a lot of proximity management to stay on task. I think that is age-appropriate. They are 13 years old. Can’t expect much frontal cortex activity at that age. (Without cardio, my daily steps have increased by about 5000. I haven’t even been riding my bike for a few weeks. It’s too dark and takes too much time I don’t have.)
8:35-9:25am 2nd period is my planning period where I prepare for 5th period and 6th periods, if we aren’t having a meeting. Try to plan ahead for tomorrow’s classes, too, if I have time. It seems like there is plenty of time, but the school doesn’t run efficiently so simple things take more time. For example, many teachers don’t have printers in their rooms. Things have to be sent to a network printer in the teachers’ workroom in the library. I am lucky – my classroom is actually pretty close to the library. So to print a piece of paper, I send it over the network, walk down to the workroom, pick up the paper off the printer, and then head back to my classroom. The entire trip from my desk to the printer and back to my desk is about 150 steps, through a total of six doors, two of which I need to unlock. It’s nuts! So inefficient! They will look the other way if I bring in my own printer, but they won’t pay for the ink. So goes the life of a teacher. The more degrees and experience I have – well, that means nothing.
9:30-11:30am Teach = walking
11:30am-12:00pm Lunch, which is usually spent doing more lesson planning if I didn’t finish getting ready for the last two classes of the day. I spend a lot of time trying to create activities while working around limitations. Like how I have a class set of small white boards, but the school won’t provide dry erase markers. Makes that useless to me until I buy my own. Ugh.
12:00-2:00pm Teach = MORE walking
2:00-2:15pm Hall duty
2:15-3:00pm Read email, clean up, gather up grading, and head home. If there is a parent conference, departure is delayed. I’m pretty slow moving by this point in the day.
3:15-6:00pm Grade papers, eat (a lot), watch Netflix to quiet down the brain. I don’t eat much at work because I don’t haul a lot in. I don’t haul a lot in because I’m not allowed to have a refrigerator in my room. There is one in the building I can use, but t’s in the break room on the opposite side of the school. I’ve seen it once before school started. Never have time to go down there.
6:00-7:00pm Try to relax and visit with hubby, but I’ve also got to prep food for the next day. Oh yeah – that includes making coffee. I have to bring a thermos of coffee each day. I was given permission to have a small microwave in my room. Didn’t ask for the coffee maker. I just heat a cup at a time.
7:00 pm Begin bedtime routine…maybe. It’s really hard for me to unwind and get sleepy this early. The amount of sleep I’m getting every day isn’t consistent. Varies between 4 to 6 hours. Sometimes less, sometimes more. Yes – I said less. There have been a couple of 3-hour ‘naps’. I know this isn’t good, but it happens. I don’t let it happen for two nights in a row, though. This is temporary, too. I should be through the worst of this “new school” trauma by mid-October. <fingers crossed>
Some might consider postponing competition under these circumstances, but I won’t. This is just my job. My training and personal goals will help me survive it. Over time, I’ll find ways to be efficient with my time as I learn how to exist in this new place. I’ve been at this a long time. The expectations teachers have of themselves and each other is that people will work as many hours as it takes to get the job done. Administrators aren’t allowed to express it because of our contracts, but they have the same expectation. And that’s how most teachers and administrators do the job. I don’t have that expectation anymore because after almost killing myself to meet it, I finally realized this truth: THE JOB IS NEVER DONE. It doesn’t matter how “caught up” you are, there is always more to do. Being unhealthy, burning out, or dying sooner than you should won’t make you a better teacher. Those I’ve worked with personally know I’m not exaggerating. We’ve lost too many.
Setting boundaries is crucial. I’m making sure I take one day off from the teaching gig a week. A girl has to do laundry, food prep, and workout, right? Once every few weeks, I get my nails done. Maybe even get my hairs colored. (It’s a salon day today and both will happen!) I gave up the massages, and I’m starting to think they need to come back. I’m putting in about 60-70 hours a week with the teaching gig – which is what I used to do when I was unhealthy. But again – it’s temporary. I’m allowing myself to work extra hours right now because I’m new. If, at the end of this year, I determine that I cannot do the job more efficiently next year, I’ll get it fixed.
I’ve had to lower my expectations of myself during this crazy time. I never did get a syllabus made and sent home. I’m not giving up on it, might do it for second quarter, but probably won’t until second semester. And that’s OK. I’m learning everyday about how I want to do middle school. There are some things about being a high school teacher I’m changing, but some things I’m not.
“No, you may not borrow a pencil. I don’t do that.”
Pretty harsh for a 13 year old, but they will adapt. Life is hard. There are expectations. You need to bring your own pencil.