Monday, November 30, 2009

A Day in the Life of a Third Grade Teacher

2:30 am: After tossing and turning all night, thinking about my plans for the week, I finally fall asleep.

6:30am: Wake up a little late, throw on a comfy sweater and jeans, and make a cup of peppermint mocha coffee. Spend a couple of minutes doing Beth Moore's Esther study and trying to give up all my lesson plans, concerns, and decisions to the Lord.

7:25am: Arrive at school. Make a cute morning work flipchart on the Promethean board that involved a math problem about Buddy, a squirrel. The kids love it. Buddy will be making a reappearance later on in the week.

8:45am: Remind kids that they've been here for about an hour and there's NO reason why morning work shouldn't be done. Sigh.

9:00am: Start a Reader's Workshop lesson about summarizing. Honestly, it's one of my least favorite things to do, much less teach. Ick. But it's necessary. And this is a reteaching lesson, and I still feel like I'm pulling teeth to get a good response out of them. I thought I had planned an engaging lesson but I realize as only three kids are even trying that I didn't. Make a mental note to figure out a better way to teach it. Probably, it should start with me being interested in it.

9:20am: Pull a small group to work on main idea. On my teacher observation notes, I write, "This lesson BOMBED. Totally boring." Part of the lesson involved writing down important words from a paragraph. I groan when one kid misspells a word he is copying.

10am: Read Beatrice's Goat, a true story about the blessings of Heifer International. I have them write down any reactions they have comparing their own lives to the life of the Ugandan girl, Beatrice, who receives a goat that eventually pays for her to go to school. We run out of time, and I'm frustrated because I love lessons like this.

10:25am: Drop my class off at art and head upstairs to solidify plans for math. I spend about 45 minutes planning a lesson I'm really excited about, involving technology and a hands on activity. Realize after all that planning that I've planned for the wrong objective. We'll start that one in a couple of days.

11:15am: Pick up my class from Art and split them up for Spanish classes. The class lists have changed and I've forgotten to tell them until this very second. I hastily try to organize them while it seems like they're asking me a million questions. Get it figured out and head back to the classroom to figure out math.

Decide to try out a CGI math (click for info) approach, which we learned at Meredith. I write out three challenging word problems and have my students work together to figure out the answers and explain their thinking.

Write out a model of a friendly letter and decide to write it to my friend, Christie, about my Thanksgiving meal. It's so cheesy I almost think I should send it to her.

12:00pm Recess and lunch. Thankful for the chocolate basket on the secretary's desk.

1:15pm Take a deep breath and begin math. I spend the next hour walking around the classroom listening to students teaching each other concepts I haven't explicitly taught. I push them to explain their thinking when I know they've just written down an answer their friend told them. The "brightest" kids in the room are frustrated because they know the answer but can't explain it. A couple of kids keep trying to explain to me that there is no answer, it's impossible to find, but I just smile and say, "Oh really?" It's so tempting to give them a hint, but when they finally figure it out they feel so accomplished. When math time ends, one girl says to me, "I never knew math could be this fun." I could have cried, right then and there.

2:15pm. Present my friendly letter to the class as a model. Ask them to think of people they can write to. Accept all responses, even requests to write to imaginary friends and pets. "JUST WRITE" I tell them. Most of them do.

They know that I love to bake, so I give them an analogy. "If I wanted to make a pie, and just sat in my kitchen staring at the oven, would the pie ever be made? So if you need to write a letter, staring into space probably won't get you very far." I get a laugh out of some of them. One kid writes a letter to himself about his day. It works for me.

4:00pm. I'm home and start working on a beef stew for dinner. I've spent the past hour enjoying another peppermint mocha and writing. This is going to be a good week.


Christie Funderburke said...

Enjoyed your blog! And i want my letter :)

Joedy Isert said...

Thank you for including Beatrice's Goat in your lessons for your class, and for sharing with them the story of how the gift of a goat so powerfully changed a young girl's life. Please share with them, too, how powerfully her story changed the people of Heifer as well, and continues to this day as she still shares her richness and blessings with the organization. Thank you, too, for sharing that there is a world of need, and of hope and opportunity, beyond all our windows.

Angela said...

"I thought I had planned an engaging lesson but I realize as only three kids are even trying that I didn't. Make a mental note to figure out a better way to teach it. Probably, it should start with me being interested in it."

I feel the EXACT SAME WAY about teaching third grade reading. Half the time I am bored to tears, no wonder the kids are bored! Summarizing and inferencing and finding the main hard for eight-year-olds, and even harder to explain. Ugh. Thanks for sharing so I know I'm not the only one. :-)

Erin said...

Love this "day in the life." Mine would be a lot more boring. I should try it and see if I have a more interesting life than I think.

Love you...