A day in the life of a candle

Ever wondered what a typical teacher day is like? 

7:30 Dragging your laptop bag, lunch box, handbag and tote of newly-purchased Science supplies for today’s experiment, you arrive at school for your meeting in the staff room. Everyone talks around the topic for fifty minutes because we can see all sides of the argument and no-one wants to be confrontational except for the two usual suspects who always have an opinion but never seem to agree.

8:20 The meeting blue hat makes note of the action to create actions for the proposal at our next meeting.

8:25 The teacher librarian grabs you on the way out to ask you to ask little Sally where her overdue library book is and why the school copy of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets that she returned is stained on the corners.

8:30 You head to the classroom and see that the cleaners haven’t put on the air conditioners again and run around switching them on so the area will cool down before 30 steaming bodies arrive.

8:35 You manage to get half of the air cons on before a parent arrives and wants to ask you if you could explain the homework task to little Johnny today. “Just keep him in at lunch” they say. (Sure, because it’s not like I don’t already have ten things on my to-do list while I should be eating and racing to the toilet!)

8:40 The teacher on before-school duty brings your new student (moved into your class half-way through the term because of the chaos he’s been creating in his original placement) up to the classroom and informs you that he kicked another boy in the private parts, and could you please ask him and any witnesses to write reflections, and then put it on Oneschool. Preferably before the principal calls his Mum at 10 o’clock to inform her of the incident. Oh, and can you hide this bag of snakes that he was eating for his breakfast? He can have them back at the end of the day.

8:50 The bell rings and the class dances into the classroom, chatting excitedly about the excursion coming up and, upon checking the daily schedule (which hasn’t been updated since yesterday because of your morning) squealing “yay! Swimming again!” You hurriedly rush over to rub off the schedule before they get their hopes up. Checking the sign in sheet, you notice that four students who are on the carpet have not signed in their box; reminding them to do so takes longer than the time it is supposed to save you while not doing a traditional “good morning Julia, good morning Campbell” roll call.

9:00 You co-construct the day’s schedule, listing the subjects and learning intentions to get through each session, feeling exhausted just thinking about it.

9:10 You hand out the payment receipts, bank books and letters that were in your pigeon hole yesterday and begin the morning lessons. You have two important goals to accomplish in the morning session: do the Science electrical circuit challenge and create advertising posters for National day against bullying to be put up around the school before first break. You tell the class you’ll make groups, and have them choose which they would prefer to do.

9:15 You move little Stephen to Science because it’s obvious that he’s getting nothing done on advertising.

9:20 The phone rings- could little Betty please go to the office, she needs to take her medication that her parents forgot to give her before school.

9:30 The ESL teacher wants to know if she could please take little Stan for his group lesson on past tense?

9:40 Six of the student iPads are not connecting to the network for the students to do their research on electrical circuits so you race around to change the time and date settings that somehow got wiped when the new server was installed last week.

9:50 You hear a raucous coming from around the corner and see that the three boys which you usually separate into three team desks spaced evenly apart around the area are looking over the shoulder of your new boy who is playing a motorbike racing game on his borrowed Ipad. You take it off him for “inappropriate use” and make a mental note of another website you’ll need to block, steering the three boys back to their research in preparation for the experiment.

9:55 Students start complaining about the heat and you remember to turn the other half of the air cons on.

10:00 An announcement comes over the intercom but you’re too far away to hear it, so you race to the phone to call the office. You have to check because last time you missed it, it was important.

10:10 It’s time for the Science group to start their circuit experiment so you hand out the materials and explain the challenge. The advertising groups come back from hanging up their displays and ask to join in, just as the last mini lightbulb (that you finally found at Bunnings after an hour searching in three different stores last night) is handed out. Add advertising group students to Science groups.

10:15 Rearrange Science groups again because little Britney and little Sasha can’t look at each other without arguing.

10:20 Dash to your desk in the adjacent office because little Molly can’t find the extra packet of al foil that is right in front of her eyes.

10:30 “Our battery must be dead, that’s not fair!”, “She won’t let me have a go!”, “I dropped the light bulb, can I have another one?” (From my endless supply, at nearly $5 each)

10:40 Two groups got the experiment to work and they’re walking around skiting to anyone who will listen. In the process, they smash their experiment against a chair and have to start again.

10:50 You’ve allowed extra time for the groups who hadn’t finished to feel the success of their bulbs lighting up but now it’s a mad panic to pack up for first break.

11:00 Everyone in the two senior classes is sitting and eating their lunch- which you supervise. They’re five minutes late which will mean five less minutes to do the tasks on your to-list when they go out to play. “No sharing food, boys!” “Stacey, eat your sandwich before your chips!” “Hats off while you eat!” “Frank, bring the ball to me”

11:10 You send them out to play. Little Kirsty has spilt her sultanas all over the floor so you tell her to clean it up, and the peer mediators need a new sign-on sheet before they do their duty so you spend precious minutes looking for a piece of paper that hasn’t already been earmarked for another purpose (certificates, feedback conference notes, think boards, documentation…..)

11:20 Great! You have twenty minutes to eat, go to the toilet, and complete the jobs on your to-do list. This includes some photocopying for the afternoon session that you had planned to get done before school.

11:30 You’re still waiting in the line at the photocopier and your stomach is rumbling. You check your emails on your phone and see that admin have announced that in order to save costs, paper towels and toilet paper will now be kept in a locked cupboard in the office.

11:35 There’s a paper jam in the photocopier and the office admin staff remind you that you forgot to hand in your absence book this morning. You grab the nearest child and ask them to get it from your classroom and bring it to the office.

11:40 They return with a book that is nothing like what you described and the music is now playing for the Middle session to begin. You abandon the dream of photocopying and return to class.

11:50 The piano teacher arrives and would like to take little Matthew for his lesson, despite you being halfway through the only feedback conference you’ve had with him this week about his reading goal because he’s either been away or doing the online phonics program that must be done every day for an hour “no matter what!”

12:10 You feel re-energised after 4 conferences in a row with NO INTERRUPTIONS, when the phone rings again because a parent called the office wondering what leadership position their child has earned, too impatient to wait for the ceremony on Monday morning when everything will be announced.

12:15 Stamina writing time begins and, after battling work-avoidance tactics “can I lie down?”, “I don’t have a pencil” and “I don’t know what to write”, everyone is at their desk, busily writing away.

12:20 Little David’s Dad arrives to take him home early so they can go camping for the weekend.

12:30 Kids are finally settled back into writing, when 4 grade 3 students arrive. Their class is swimming and they forgot their togs so they came to buddy class to do some work. You set them up at a space in the reading corner because, eventhough it’s hard to do handwriting on the floor, all the desks are full.

12:40 The students are now publishing their writing and are emailing their work to you because the tech lady hasn’t yet been able to set up a drop-box where we can share files, and less than half the class have USBs eventhough they were on the book list. You make a mental note to buy some more when you’re next at Officeworks.

12:45 Little Ryan asks if he can listen to music “no” and little Jack is spending more time inserting pictures and changing the font of the title than he is publishing his writing “how is that helping you to achieve your writing goal!?”

12:50 It’s Maths time and the class are finishing their Maths contracts that they saved into a Maths folder from their email inbox. Two students have lost their contracts so you open your laptop to resend them (good thing you know their email addresses off by heart, and have a list of which differentiated Maths group they’re in, because they’ve forgotten) and three students have opened more than two copies of their contracts and then wonder why the hyperlinks don’t work.

1:00 Little Johnny mentions ” Miss, I thought you were going to help me with my homework today?” (Shite! There goes your dream of eating during second break.)

1:10 Little Taylor tells you that he has finished his Maths contract. You ask if he has emailed you a screenshot of the game and he replies “what game?” You send him off to re-read his contract and when he sees that there are tasks for every day of the week and he has only done one, he slumps his head on the desk and moans “This is too hard! It’s impossible!”

1:15 Two girls ask if they can go to the toilet. When asked why they didn’t go during break, they say “but we didn’t need to go then!” “Are you busting?” “Yes!” You split them up and send them off with different partners because you know that if they go together, they will start gossiping about some rumour or other which you’ll receive parent emails about while you eat your dinner tonight.

1:20 Two boys decide they need to go to the toilet too. When the answer is no, they try “then can we go and get a drink?” (Laughter)

1:30 Little Franny is in tears because she typed up her whole persuasive text and accidentally closed it before saving it. Her friend offers to help her retype it but she’s inconsolable.

1:35 Two prep students walk in and would like to ask the class if they have seen a shoe that one of them lost at the sandpit. Reports vary from seeing one just like that on the oval to suggesting that they dig a hole in the middle of the pit because “that’s where it’s likely to have been buried.”

1:40 It’s supervised eating time again and little Natasha has no food and she’s staaarrrrvvvvving. You give her a rice cracker from your stash and suddenly five more students are famished too. You make a mental note to buy more rice crackers from Woolworths tonight.

1:50 You send the classes out to play and sit down with Little Johnny to find out what the problem is with the homework. It turns out he didn’t realise that he had to type “the whole thing” in the address bar when searching for the Geography immigration website. He thought he could stop at http://www.theimmigra   because that’s all that was on the top line of the task.

1:55 You send Johnny out to play and rejoice at the idea of getting to eat something but the phone rings and Ms R in grade 1 needs your help to set up her Smartboard. Pretty please could you come straight away?

2:05 You’re back at your desk after unplugging the Smartboard and plugging it back in again, and having 8 previous students give you hugs as you walk through the playground. You open your lunch box and crack open your can of coke zero. Ah, that sound! You bring it to your lips, and greedily gulp down three large mouthfuls. You close your eyes and… in walks Mr K, your teaching partner; “you’ll never believe the morning I’ve had! What a shocker!”

2:10 The music plays for the afternoon session and there is an atmosphere of tension as the boy’s return from their oval soccer game. There was a huge incident but no-one had thought to report it to the teacher on duty. You know you need to get them to write down what happened but they’re late for their leadership ceremony practice and you need to take the grade fives to the art room.

2:20 The grade fives are painting on Perspex so they can create coloured prints on paper. You lean over to confiscate some paint from Little Ryan who is using way too much, and you get paint all over your nice white top. You don’t have time to wipe it off because Little Sonia has decided to put paint all over her hands and is now threatening to wipe them all over the other students.

2:30  The teacher next door comes and asks the grade fives to “quieten down” because they’re videoing a speech in their room. You walk around  to ssshhhhh everyone while they’re painting.

2:40 The kids are running out of places to lay their art work to dry, so you wheel over a table from the classroom next door. Little Olivia proceeds to run into it straight away, sending the wet artwork toppling to the floor and spreading paint everywhere.

2:50 You and a couple of dedicated helpers have finished cleaning the spill and you realise you haven’t given the class time to plug in their iPads for the weekend. “Time to pack up everyone!”

2:51 Time to pack up, everyone!”

2:52 Time to pack up, everyone!”

2:53 Time to pack up, everyone!”

2:54 “It’s nearly home time, we need to pack up and plug in our iPads!”

2:59 “Ok, quick, go plug in your iPads! Good afternoon, have a good weekend, don’t forget your homework is due on Monday and to wear full school uniform and to bring a plate and….”

3:00 The bell rings and everyone dashes back to the classroom to take their things home for the weekend.

3:02 Parent A arrives and wants to know why student B keeps bullying their darling child who has never done anything wrong in their life? 

3:08 Parent B arrives and asks why student A has not been punished for bullying their child relentlessly with absolutely no provocation?

3:15 You race to the staff meeting and on the way there remember a job you were supposed to have done since last week’s meeting. Aargh! Now you’ll look incompetent in front of everyone.

4:15 The glare from the pavement as you walk back to your classroom is blinding to your already-watery-from-tired eyes and the can of coke zero seems like an oasis in the desert of chores still on your to-do list for the afternoon. Thinking about liquids, you remember that you need to pee and make a beeline for the bathroom. 

4:25 After chatting to three other teachers in the queue at the toilets, you feel refreshed and get your second wind to plan next week’s lessons.

4:30 Back at your desk, despite the caffeine hit, the long week has taken it’s toll and you negotiate with yourself in your head as to what needs to be done right now and what can be done at home over the weekend. You vow to be out the door by 5 o’clock tonight instead of staying til almost 6 like most other afternoons this week.

4:45 The certificates for Monday’s ceremony are printed, signed and laminated. You’re proud of how productive you can be when there aren’t 30 kids to manage. You’re ecstatic when you remember to mark your electronic roll and enter behaviour data on Oneschool. 

4:50 You check your email and respond to the requests for logins and passwords, date reminders, car rego details for admin records, queries about assignments from your peers in the Masters course that you’re studying, suggestions for websites to check out, lists of actions from the HOC, and reminders to plan the lesson which will be observed early next week.

5:00 You notice that the pile of books to be marked is now getting ridiculous but that wine and chocolate waiting for you at home won’t consume itself. 

5:05 As you’re driving home, you’re trying to recall all of the mental notes you set for yourself during the day, rescheduling all of the tasks that didn’t get done, daydreaming about your next holiday plans and congratulating yourself for surviving another week. 

And praying for Summer.

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