Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Frosty the Snowman (Day 76)

This post is being submitted to Tina Cardone's "Day in the Life" project. It fulfills the requirement for the special day "Before Christmas break."

First of all, readers may be wondering how today, December 14th -- with eleven days to go until Christmas -- can already be the last day before winter break. Actually, the years in which Christmas falls on a Sunday, such as this year, are often awkward. Some districts actually have school all the way up to Friday, December 23rd and then take two weeks off. Other districts take these upcoming two weeks off and then return on Tuesday, January 3rd. In either case, school is held within two days of the major holiday.

The LAUSD has come up with a calendar that avoids this problem -- in this district, winter break is fully three weeks long. My charter school, which shares a campus with an LAUSD school, follows the district winter break. But just as with Thanksgiving break, additional days are taken off for professional development. So today is the last day before winter break, and the students return on Tuesday, January 10th.

Now that I've explained the calendar, let me get to my "Day in the Life" post for today. Keep in mind that December and January are the months for "Disillusionment" among first-year teachers like me:

7:45 -- I arrive at my school.

8:00 -- I report to the playground, where many students are beginning to arrive. The students are told to gather in a circle for the flag salute.

8:25 -- My first class, a sixth grade class, begins. Now just as I did before Thanksgiving break, I come up with another graphing activity, this time of Frosty the Snowman. I believe I found this worksheet in another classroom last year, rather than the Internet. So I'll just link to the source of this worksheet right here on this blog:

9:20 -- Wednesdays are always a scheduling adventure at our school. First of all, Wednesdays are always shortened Common Planning days, so the schedule should be similar to the shortened day I wrote about in my Thanksgiving "Day in the Life" post. In other words, there ought to be three "periods" before nutrition.

The problem is that Wednesdays are also our day for the music teacher to arrive, and that changes things considerably. On the original schedule printed at the start of the year, I have sixth graders first period and eighth graders seventh period, but now eighth graders stay in the history classroom to take music second period. So now the sixth graders stay through second period.

Interestingly enough, a new music schedule has been printed, to be implemented in January. I have no idea what effect this will have on our Wednesday scheduling adventure moving forward.

10:15 -- The sixth graders finally leave and my eighth graders arrive. Just like the sixth graders, this class works on the snowman graphing activity. During this time, I hand out four Tootsie roll pops to the students who earned the top grade on yesterday's quiz.

10:20 -- The Warm-Up consists of the students writing down the single word "Frosty," because I want them to have as much time for graphing the snowman. I hand out more Tootsie roll pops to the students who are working the most diligently on the graph.

11:05 -- My eighth graders leave for nutrition.

11:30 -- On the last Wednesday of each school month, we have an Aspiration Assembly where two students in each grade earn a special award. The assembly takes place outside on the benches, because the district school whose campus we share is having a Christmas music program today.

The theme for this month's assembly is Creativity. Because my "homeroom" is considered to be sixth grade, I nominate two sixth graders for the certificate. There is also a special raffle for those who have earned at least 15 "Scholar Dollars." (I explained "Scholar Dollars" in my early September posts on my blog, but not yet in any "Day in the Life" posts.) The winner turns out to be a seventh grade girl, and her prize is a $50 Best Buy gift card.

11:45 -- Now here's where that Wednesday scheduling confusion comes in. Ordinarily, right after nutrition is music for seventh graders, and the lessons take place in my classroom. But today we had the Aspiration Assembly. We try telling the music teacher that we have the assembly today, so the seventh graders can have its music lesson afterward. Anyway, the seventh graders go up to my room so that they can wait for the music teacher -- but he never shows up, probably completely confused by the whole schedule.

I could pass out the snowman graph, but I don't because I'm expecting the music teacher to arrive at any minute. While the class is waiting, a terrible incident occurs.

I see what appears to be one seventh grade girl using a cell phone. When I call her out on it, she pulls the common trick of taking out the case and making it appear that she was playing with the case, not the phone. But then several other students begin to complain that the girl was taking photos or videos of them on the phone.

While this was going on, two students are playing with a broken broomstick. I ask them to surrender the stick, but instead they decided to run around the classroom because they are entertained by my chasing them. According to the student sitting next to the girl, this is what she is trying to record on the phone. Yes, at this point I'm definitely feeling the Disillusionment of being a first-year teacher.

12:00 -- By this point it becomes obvious that the music teacher isn't coming. I speak to the English teacher through our common door, who in turn asks the history teacher what to do. We mutually decide to have our Wednesday "Advisory" time when the students can be in any of our three rooms. The other teachers come in to my room to make the announcement. The English teacher sees the girl playing with the phone, and so she tells her to go to the office.

I allow the students remaining in my class to play games on the laptops during Advisory.

12:45 -- My students go out to lunch. As it turns out, on shortened days such as today, the middle school students go home right after lunch.

2:00 -- The reason for the shortened day is a Common Planning meeting. This week's meeting is at our sister charter campus a few miles away. But the topic of the meeting is the English curriculum -- and at our K-8 school, every teacher teaches English except for just two of us, namely the middle school history teacher and myself.

The history teacher tells me that the two of us are supposed to have a special meeting with the director (principal) of our school. Until she arrives, we decide to clean up our rooms. A few students in the after school programs volunteer to help us clean them.

3:00 -- The director phones us to inform us that the two of us don't have an actual meeting today. She asks me to e-mail her a detailed report of the seventh grade cell phone incident.

4:00 -- I go home for the day and head for my computer to type up this blog entry.

On Sunday, I'll submit my monthly "Day in the Life" post, since my date is the 18th. I'll save all of Cardone's special reflection questions for Sunday's post. Meanwhile, my next special post for "Day in the Life" will be for "After Christmas break," which will be Tuesday, January 10th.

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