Wednesday, 3 April 2013
A week in the life of a teacher...
I decided over February half term that I'd keep a record of my working week for a week - a few timings, details other things. Ideally, this would be seen by many non-teachers and teacher bashers across the country, but in reality about 50 people might see it.
I typed it up and with the recent news articles on reducing teaching to four hours per day and teacher workloads figured I'd share it.
This is the week beginning February 25th...
05:20 - I wake up before my alarm and spend 25 minutes reading Twitter and blogs before I get up to go about my morning routine.
06:50 - I leave the house and arrive at school at 6:59. I park up, go to the staff room to fill up my water bottle before heading up to my classroom, turning the photocopier on as I pass it before reaching my classroom.
07:09 - I start to work. As an aside, I notice that the heating isn't on and it's 3 degrees outside. At 07:27 my HOD arrives and we talk about the Year 10 exam on Thursday. This is the first bit of negativity I encounter as I'm told that 'not many of' my set will do Unit 2 at higher'. I strongly disagree, but inside my head.
07:40 - Doing some photocopying, I'm commandeered to help do other things. After 20 minutes of doing someone else's job I make my excuses and leave.
08:14 - Our trainee arrives. He's in with my form and we discuss their attitude grades. I'm not pleased with 18 of them, so show him the report I'm putting them on and he asks me to e-mail it to him for use when he gets his own form.
08:36 - I arrive at the staff meeting early. It's due to start at 08:45, but it's freezing as the heating isn't on, so I choose the seat closest to a portable heater. As I wait, I look at Year 7's test scores and think about any potential movement between sets. Not my job, but it's not being done, so I'll suggest something later. The meeting starts at 08:51 and the first mention of 'OfSTED' is at 08:56. At 09:18 I hear the first bit that is useful to me as a classroom teacher.
09:25 - The proper training day starts, 10 minutes late, and at 09:49 I am told that I am wrong by an older member of staff who clearly believes their experience suggests that they're better than me. All of the other seven tables agree with my suggestions and she still disagrees. At 09:53 there's the first bit of tension between what staff are used to and what they need to be doing currently.
11:15 - Time for a break and I receive news of a colleague leaving. Unfortunately the good staff always leave after a short time in the school - in this case, one year.
11:30 - We're meeting in departments, apparently. I'm the only one about, and I'm soon joined by two colleagues. We eventually start at 11:43. Following the meeting, we meet in the staff room at 12:30. This was supposed to be lunch time, but that's put back by 15 minutes. Unfortunately, one member of staff couldn't wait and is playing with the microwave while SMT speak. Beep, beep, beep.
13:15 - The heating's still not on. It's pretty uncomfortable, to be honest.
13:24 - I find that my plans for Year 8 this week are scuppered, so I'll have to re-plan this tonight. I head downstairs and wait outside my next meeting in year teams. We discuss important things, but this meeting's too short. We finish at the right time, though and head to our next meeting due to start at 14:00.
14:26 - Unfortunately, not everyone finished their meeting at the right time because their agenda is 'more important than anyone else's' (I assume, anyway). We start our meeting and don't get anything of real use sorted.
15:04 - Home time, but I'm getting data on my classes and updating my tracking. At 16:22 I stop to leave and go tutoring. I arrive home at 18:20 and get a quick bite to eat - sausage bolognaise (Mmmmmmm!).
18:40 - I head to my study and start working on things for Tuesday and this week. We have a whole school self evaluation, so I feel the need to explain what we're doing in great detail.
20:23 - Finished for the night.
05:30 - I wake up to my alarm, spend 20 minutes on Twitter and blogs and go about my morning routine.
06:43 - I leave the house and park up at 06:52. I head to the staff room and then on to breakfast club. On long days at school I like to treat myself to a bacon sandwich.
07:06 - The first pupil arrives at school, 1 hour and 32 minutes before school officially starts. More importantly, my sandwich arrives at 07:16 and I go on to my classroom and get some work done - mostly printing lesson plans for today's observations, stapling bits of paper together and collating my resources for today.
08:33 - I see pupils for the first time after half term and make a mental note that all are incredibly polite.
08:40 - Registration starts and 21 of the 28 kids in my form are in. By 08:44 6 more have arrived and one of the girls tells me that her friend is 'sick' and shows me how vomiting works with her hands. I question why she thought I didn't know what vomiting was. 3 of the kids need to buy equipment for the day ahead. At 08:42 I am interrupted by a year 10 student asking for help with a past paper she'd taken home over half term. I quickly point her in the right direction and ask her to do it at break and bring me it to mark.
09:00 - Pupils are on their way with their new attitude reports. Some of them are still well above average for the school and year group, but I'm aiming for improvement in all areas, not just 'I'm better than average, so that's OK'.
Between 9:06 and 09:52 I do some more planning. Unfortunately, this is brought to a stop by an inability to print. ICT specialist school, don'tcha know!
09:50 - I read an e-mail asking me to share my IEPs with my LSAs. I would, but I haven't been given them, so I can't.
10:00 - My first teaching period of the new half term with year 8 and we're doing reflection. 3 pupils buy equipment (how they got through period 1, I don't know...) and by 10:20 I've sent a girl out for refusing to wash her drawings off her hands. I give her the option of going to wash it off or being removed and she chooses the latter. When I finally get the kids working 5 more buy equipment.
10:52 - I finish up and prepare for my plenary. Instruction of 'fold your work and glue it into your book' is apparently heard as 'put your things away, put your coats on and stand up talking to one another'. I reiterate what I said and add a further instruction of silence. I'm still waiting at 10:59 and the kids are all out by 11:02. The majority of my year 8s don't want to do ANYTHING in lesson, and apparently this is my fault. I beg to differ.
11:02 - I have a break duty but 4 pupils that I don't teach are at my door asking for help with some revision for their mock exam on Thursday. I help and it's 11:11 by the time I get away. At 11:17 I see one of my year 10 pupils who hasn't handed in any homework as revision for his proper exam on Thursday. He's confident, but I'm not and we have a chat about that.
11:20 - Year 9 lesson starts and I rush upstairs. We're recapping transformations before moving on in Thursday's lesson. At 11:23 some pupils arrive late... In set 1. This is a regular occurrence, might I add. At 11:26 I'm interrupted by a pupil from another room asking to buy equipment.
12:13 - I've enjoyed this lesson. Some are out as they're rehearsing for this evening's school performance, so I'll have to make sure they're OK on Thursday. We finish up by looking at maths in the news - the asteroid that had a 'near-miss', 'skimming' the Earth. I compare this to taking a penalty on the football pitch and skimming the post, as long as it's within 90 miles and tell them about the round of golf I had in half term where I 'skimmed' a perfect game as every shot was within 9 miles of the hole. We have a laugh and they leave.
12:20 - Year 7 lesson begins and we're looking at some methods for long multiplication. 8 pupils haven't arrived by 12:26 as they've not been let out on time by their teacher.
12:38 - By this time I've already stopped what we're doing twice to deal with disruptive children and a third time follows quickly.
12:42 - A pupil buys a pen and another buys a ruler from me. Bear in mind this is period 4 on the first day back after half term!
12:44 - 3 boys are continuing to be disruptive and prevent progress of the lesson. None of them are the pupil who it usually is, who is working perfectly, loving his new method for long multiplication.
12:50 - Year 7 go for lunch and are due back at 13:30. They arrive back at 13:24 and we continue with long multiplication. At 14:00 we're finished and they go on their way. It takes until 14:04 for the last of them to leave the corridor, though, and their next lesson has already started.
14:15 - I answer the phone in the staff room. It's a member of staff asking for a senior member of staff to remove a child for them. I say I'll do it and set off. On my way I run into the headteacher and we exchange pleasantries. I ask how the observations are going and he asks where I'm going. It appears he's also going to remove the pupil, so I let him do so.
15:00 - School finishes and year 11 revision begins. They have an exam in 8 days, so I expect a lot. 17 arrive with large amounts of time between them. We're down from 34 the week before half-term.
16:10 - Revision has been done with for 10 minutes, but they're still hanging about. A year 10 boy arrives at the door with a past paper and we work through a question on finding the mean from a frequency table.
16:18 - I eventually sit down to get some more work done and do so until 17:13. At this point three of us go to the chip shop to get some food.
18:20 - I come across three pupils early for the performance of Grease and have a chat about their upcoming exam and a bit of football. I head backstage where I'll stay for three hours looking after the kids in the performance and get some more work done in anticipation of tomorrow's observations since I wasn't observed today.
21:15 - I arrive home, wash up and go straight to bed. Another long day awaits tomorrow.
05:30 - I wake to my alarm and peruse Twitter and the blogs, and I get out of bed at 05:40. I remember that I woke at 04:00 after a dream about an observation lesson going terribly wrong.
06:50 - I leave for work and arrive at 06:59. I've brought some dinner along today so I don't have to buy anything and go to put it in the fridge. There's not much space, so I root about for things. I find a packet of melon slices a month out of date next to a bottle of milk that's been there for the same amount of time. I throw those out and find another bottle at the back with a date of October 22nd on it and wonder about how this happens. I head to breakfast club for my bacon sandwich and end up in maths at 07:27 - collating my observation things for the coming day.
08:40 - My form arrive and hand me their reports from the day before. Some are good and highlight areas for improvement. Others lie and tell themselves that they're perfect. All are in today, which is par for the course, as we regularly win the attendance prize of a box of chocolates.
09:10 - Year 10 arrive from assembly and I give them their papers back that were handed to me at the revision day in half-term. Some have full marks and express my pride. Others have fewer and I stress that they can use a calculator and should to stop losing silly marks.
09:30 - The headteacher arrives to observe my lesson. We're doing a past paper under timed conditions of one minute per mark. I give them 4 minutes to finish the page and they're done inside two. We write 2:00 in our list to highlight how much time they'll have left over in their exam tomorrow. We're currently up to 12:20 saved and we're just past half-way. He leaves at 09:50 with a smile and a wave.
10:40 - The year 10 class have had a double lesson this morning as preparation for tomorrow's exam, but by this time they're restless and off-task. At 10:55 we pack up to leave and I give them advice for tomorrow's exam (eat breakfast, eat lunch, have a bottle of water, come and see me from 7am if you need some last minute help...). Two boys are wrestling each other, so I deal with this and send them on their way.
11:00 - Break time. I speak to a few kids about their exam the following day and ask how they are.
11:20 - Year 8 and today we're doing rotation. 4 kids come in and ask to buy equipment - in period 3. By the time we're ready work at 11:40 I have kids asking to help out with handing things out - more than I need. Any excuse to avoid doing the work, right!? Today's lesson is an improvement on yesterday's and the girl I removed yesterday has worked incredibly well. They leave at 12:20 with the instruction 'out and left' and they go right, I follow them down the corridor and see every other child not following our one way system. I shout and send the kids back the right way before heading downstairs to teach Year 7.
12:20 - I have 7 kids pulled out for 'extra maths', so I have them in a computer room. Unfortunately, in a few instances the internet doesn't work so we can't access MyMaths.co.uk. Eventually, we get on and I have a nice lesson helping kids with sequences.
14:00 - I let year 7 leave and head back to teach Year 11 in my normal room. We're doing some algebra-based problem solving stuff and one girl tells me that she 'doesn't get algebra' after studying the same things in year 9, 10 and 11. It may come as no surprise that her class work is minimal and her homework is non-existant. Still, she's adamant that she wants a grade C come June and she'll get it!
15:00 - It's home time for year 11 and revision time for year 10. I have 16 kids, including one year 11 who asked to stay back, and they're working very well. They're confident of tomorrow's exam and I'm very proud of them. On Wednesday we hold our departmental detention for removals - not one child out of 12 turns up and this is to be passed on now.
16:00 - The kids leave and I see who's still in the department. There are kids working well past 16:30 in preparation for both mock and public exams the following day. After a bit of chat, I start working again at 16:30 for an hour before getting my food from the fridge and sharing with a colleague.
18:20 - I head back stage to help out with Grease again and a phone has gone missing. It later turns up in the girl's friend's bag, who wasn't here when it went missing... Throughout the evening there's a lot of drama with kids threatening each other over the phone and over accusations and kids crying because they're getting at each other. I keep myself sane by speaking to some year 10 girls who are dancing in the production and help them to do a bit of revision for tomorrow's exams.
21:00 - Time to go home, arriving at 21:30 after giving a few lifts. Wash up, and straight to bed for another long day tomorrow.
05:30 - My alarm goes off and I get up at 05:45 after the morning routine of Twitter and blogs. I go about my morning things and leave at 06:40.
06:50 - I park up and head to get my bacon sandwich, have a chat about Grease and prepare myself for my feedback meeting.
07:15 - I have a meeting about feedback from my lesson. I'm told it was a "good" lesson under the OfSTED framework and we have a chat about the class. Unfortunately, I leave the meeting feeling a little more negative than I went in as I was told to do more about the pupils who hand no homework in beyond the 'letting parents know' and speaking to them about it. I'm unsure where it ends and I get into a bit of a shame spiral about the provision I offer my students.
07:55 - Working in my classroom and pupils arrive for some last minute revision. I go through some things with them and we discuss how they should be feeling about their exam given past papers and the brief chat we just had. They go away feeling positive about their exam.
08:30 - I head to the staffroom via picking up a paper register and have a chat with a HOD about how he is. Not great, given everything we're being told to do and we have a chat about how ridiculous some things are.
08:40 - Assembly day. You'd think that sitting in alphabetical order (given that they formed a line in that order anyway!) is the most difficult task known to man.
09:00 - Year 7 lesson begins and one form arrives at 08:59. By 09:04 they're sat in their new seating plan and by 09:06 two pupils have bought a pen. We're working on long division and the pupil from Tuesday's lesson loves this too - so much that he's shouting his answers to me and the other kids are getting frustrated at him.
09:20 - A pupil arrives late and stands outside my room. I go out to see him and he's rooting through his bag to find his pencil. I tell him to hurry up and come in. Time passes and he's still not come in. By this time the kids are being a bit mean about him, but it is a bit weird that he's still outside my classroom.
10:00 - Year 7 leave and I go to the head of year office. He signed in at 09:00 and didn't come in to first lesson, but stood outside it. You can't write this stuff, I swear...
11:00 - It's duty time again, but 4 pupils are here to ask for help revising for this afternoon's exams. I arrive at my duty at 11:13 after asking another member of staff to work with them for me.
11:20 - It's time for 9 set 1 again... YES! Unfortunately, two kids 'can't afford' to buy a pen, even though they have a SuperDry jacket and a brand new Blackberry. Weird, that. They loan equipment from classmates and we get on with enlargement by negative, fractional scale factors and they do it incredibly well.
12:20 - Year 10 lesson, and I've booked a computer room for last minute revision on MyMaths.co.uk prior to their exam. Unfortunately, when we arrive, a HOY has her class sitting at computers. I ask if she's supposed to be in here and she says yes... I point out that I have booked the computer room, but this is no help. I take them back up and we lose 10-minutes out of our 30-minute lesson. In the classroom, I advise the kids to make a start on something (anything!) whilst I find some sort of revision in my resources.
12:50 - Pupils go for early lunch, except for two who stay with their packed lunch to do more revision. The idea was that they could do some on MyMaths, but that was scuppered. I again tell kids to get something to eat prior to their exam and speak to pupils in the hall about some exam technique.
13:20 - Pupils from other classes come to ask me to borrow equipment. After a negative response, I am called 'tight' for expecting pupils to have equipment. After all, if I don't lend it to my own pupils, why would I lend it to someone else's!
13:25 - A year 11 pupil arrives to mentor her year 8 buddy. She doesn't arrive so we have a chat about life, expectations, friendship, university and more. She leaves at 13:57 as other year 11 pupils arrive for their lesson with another teacher. Their teacher doesn't arrive for a while so I wait around and help a few kids with some exam questions. I stay in the whole lesson as their teacher is in and out and they keep asking me questions - I'm happy to, but could use the planning time.
14:40 - One of the girls, a notoriously 'bad' girl, asks me to get her a pupil mentor. I said it wasn't appropriate for me to ask them to do more, but I'm looking at stretching my Year 9s and ask her to come in to my lesson tomorrow to appeal for help.
15:00 - The kids leave and I head to an ICT room run my after school club. I see some pupils who tell me that their Unit 1 exam was 'the easiest exam they've ever sat' and we fist bump. The ICT room is full of kids of all years doing maths work and asking me for help, and it's a rewarding experience.
16:10 - Pupils are still leaving after Maths Computer Club and I tell them how proud I am of them for staying behind to do extra work.
16:15 - I run into a HOD on the stairs and we have a chat about observations. I tell him my feedback and we compare the classes we were observed with - the same kids, it seems. We discuss how they rarely have a go at starters and he tells me that they told him that he, myself and one other teacher were the only ones named as 'always doing a starter' and that they're 'not used to it'. I continue upstairs and chat to a fellow maths teacher about this and other things before moving on to my room and heading down to Grease.
17:00 - I chat to another teacher about feedback and we share gossip. Another member of staff offers to get me a sandwich from Subway, and I thank her immensely.
17:30 - I start work again back stage whilst chatting to kids about their exams they've just sat and asking them to find my sandwich for me, as it's not arrived yet. It won't do for another hour, but I explain that I'm putting together a task force to find my sandwich and the first person to bring it to me becomes my favourite pupil. It becomes a bit of a joke and pupils can be heard shouting 'Donde esta el sandwicho?' and 'Ou est le sandwich?!'. It arrives and I explain my three rules of food - 'No meaty, no eaty', 'If a rabbit would eat it, I probably shouldn't' and 'There's always room for ice cream, because it melts around the food' and a couple of year 9 boys adopt them for themselves. It's the last day of the show and there's a much better atmosphere around tonight. The show starts and kids are in and out and everything merges into one. By the time you know, it's gone 21:00 and I should really be at home. The HOD for drama does speeches and the departing cast members cry after their presentations of flowers and a commemorate picture frame - one interrupts his speech with a card and a bottle of wine for him. It's a lovely gesture and the reason I'm so happy to stay and help out.
21:40 - I get home and go straight to bed. My voice is going and I have a five-period day tomorrow.
05:30 - I wake up and I'm out by 05:50. I'm leaving at 06:49 and arrive at 06:58, considering how consistent my journey times have been this week. I head straight upstairs to work. I print some work out for a colleague and take it to her office. At this point I complain about my ICT room yesterday and about a pupil being put on report and not being told the reason - prior to two exams - leaving her in a state of confusion.
08:30 - Two kids are in form and at 08:40 I have 16 after taking a register. 28 have arrived by 08:43, but I'm still annoyed and express this to them. We talk about their reports and one pupil complains that 'they're the best in the year group already, so why do we need to be on it?' and I explain that we shouldn't judge ourselves against the rest of the school but to strive for the best that we can achieve.
09:00 - Year 10 are in an ICT room this morning. Thankfully, we get into this one, and they work at their own pace on MyMaths.co.uk. After all, they've just had an exam and have worked so hard over the last 4 weeks. I go around and of the 16 kids in (some are out for mock exams) 15 suggest that they expect to be close to full marks and one suggests that they might just have beaten half... I sit with her for longer and explain that this isn't the end of the world and that I'll do whatever I can to ensure that she gets a C by the end of year 10, since I'm concerned that she won't be in next year.
10:00 - Year 11 are revising from Maths GYMs and the lesson is rather positive. One pupils stays behind at break to do some extra and says he'll be here at lunch as well.
11:00 - I work with that pupil for an extra 15 minutes before I have to head downstairs to teach year 7. After all, I have a room change, so I have to collect the kids (as they won't have been told, unfortunately...) and take them to the other room.
11:20 - I arrive downstairs to find two of the pupils being rude and verbally abusive to my LSA, so I ask her to request a senior removal from the office. In the meantime, I take the kids to our moved room. I follow them up the stairs to find them coming back at me, saying there's an exam in the room. I realise that, once again, people have done what they want and moved something without informing people. I lose 15 minutes of my lesson due to this and settling the pupils down after their mini tour of the school. We do factors of 2-digit numbers and they're OK at it as long as there are 6 factors or fewer - any more and they start thinking it's too hard.
12:20 - Year 8 are in an ICT room. By 12:30, most of them are here, but many are still dragging their feet. They log on and about 15 minutes I hear a rather loud slap - one of the kids are cracked another around the back of the head. He gives no explanation and shows no remorse so the class falls silent whilst I shout at him. Half way through one of the pupils starts playing music, so I tell them all to log off and be outside my classroom very quickly in absolute silence.
12:55 - They are sat in silence and understand by frustrations. I tell them that people in their position achieve Es and Fs at GCSE and explain that this is because they behave in the same way that they do throughout and learn very little. I ask them their targets and one replies with their school target, so I probe '...but, what do you want?' 'Level 5'. The rest agree, bar 2 who want a 6.2, one of whom is our 'slapper'. I suggest that they improve their attitude and that Tuesday is their best lesson ever because it's revision for their unit test on Wednesday (which they already knew about...). They understand at the moment, but come Tuesday they'll be the same as they always are and will struggle to master basic mathematical concepts.
13:20 - Lunch time, and the pupil who said he would be here isn't. I'll have to chase him up on Monday.
14:00 - Year 9 are in again and we're doing similar figures. They're good at it and at 14:45 the year 11 pupil arrives to ask for help from them. 12 offer their breaks and lunch times to work with her and we introduce each one of them. She asks me to decide for her and I tell her I'll let her know on Tuesday. We finish up our lesson and one girl comes to and says that she really wants to do it because when she was being bullied on the bus the year 11 girl stuck up for her and she wants to repay her. My heart melts a little...
15:00 - Home time and the kids go... I usually have kids in, but none today and I'm surprised by this. I see some colleagues and chat about their feedback and we all ask the question 'What more can we do...?' and 'What do they actually want from us? Blood... Because I can't give any more than I do already'.
15:30 - I get ready to go home and on my way downstairs drop into reprographics to ask about a deadline on a piece for the school newsletter. It's passed, but if I get it done he'll get it in as he's saved me a space. On my way out our trainee teacher grabs my attention and we talk about the pupil in my form who asked why they have to be on report. She is being very disruptive in maths and being rude and disruptive to get attention - I suggest that she's kept behind after school on Monday and leave him to sort this before finally seeing my girlfriend for longer than 10 minutes since Sunday night.