Teaching Reality

When people ask me what I teach my standard reply is, “Idiots, mostly”, because I feel the real answer would overwhelm non-teachers.  My job is actually broken up into at least two parts: teacher and program coordinator.  I spend half my day teaching World Geography to freshman students and the other half coordinating a ‘school within a school’ of which the freshmen are a part.  All totaled I am responsible for tracking the progress and ensuring the success of approximately 300 students.  I teach the students in the program I run as freshmen then monitor their progress as they go through high school.

Along the way I arrange career days for the sophomores; field trips for each class freshman through senior; help schedule job shadowing for the juniors; assist the juniors in developing research papers that will metamorphose into senior projects; guide the seniors through their project completion and associated cumulative portfolio; host and run the presentations of the seniors projects.  Simultaneously I am lesson planning for my freshmen, grading papers and portfolios for every grade level, and dealing with the logistics of all the items listed above plus one I did not mention; fundraising.  From the time school starts every day to the time it ends I am rarely not doing something directly or indirectly related to helping my students.

I did some rough calculations a few weeks ago when I was helping juniors pick research paper topics.  They were coming up with topics that I said wouldn’t work, or had been banned and they were getting a little frustrated that I was crushing their dreams.  So I decided to point out that I’ve seen roughly 800 projects over the last 13 or so years, so I know what works and what doesn’t.  Idiots.

I’m providing this overview of my job to add context to the story of my week last week; it was a little wild, but is not atypical for me nor is it too far off from that of a full time teacher, as opposed to myself that teaches and coordinates a program.  Two more details: my contract hours are from 7:50 a.m. to 3:20 p.m. and I have  a second job as a junior college adjunct instructor teaching one class a semester one night a week for three hours. Oh, and I have a about a 45 minute one way commute between my house and my high school job; the junior college job is in the town I live in. Last week was a perfect storm of all that I do slamming together.

Monday: Parent conferences

*Conferences begin at noon end at 7:00 with an hour for dinner.

*Teachers were required to be there 11:45 to 7:30.

*I was visited by 70 parents.


*7:00 a.m. class for juniors preparing for research paper.

8:00 – 11:10 taught 3 periods of freshman World Geography.  It should be noted that between the end of the 7:00 a.m. class and the beginning of first period I had several juniors lingering with questions and three seniors that came in with problems related to their projects which are due this week.

11:10 – 11:45 lunch.

11:45 – 12:15ish grading and lesson planning in my classroom.

12:15 – 3:20 This is my ‘academy’ time which I spend in the Academies Office.  During this time I am doing any number of things including but not limited to: planning field trips: organizing fundraisers: planning senior projects: presentations and portfolio’s: meeting with students regarding whatever they need; making copies; delivering things to students; responding to emails and phone calls.  On this particular day I stayed a little later b/c I had to make copies that I was unable to get to during the regular time and I spent a little while chatting with a colleague.  Left at 4:30.

5:10 ish got back to my hometown around had little time to cook so grabbed a burrito at my favorite Taqueria, went home and ate.

5:40 left for job #2 taught 6:30 – 9:30,

9:50 arrived home.

Wednesday same as Tuesday minus job #2. Much of the academy time was spent finalizing a fundraiser that was to happen on Friday.  Also spent more time than usual helping seniors with projects.

Thursday same as Wednesday. A senior ran into the office b/c he couldn’t log on to his teachers computer to do his senior project since his teacher wasn’t in class.  We had to literally run across campus so I could unlock the computer.

Friday same as Thursday minus frantic senior with the locked computer…wait, maybe he was Friday too…and the addition of a fundraiser.

4:00 p.m. begin setting up for fundraiser, which is delivering meals prepaid for by generous community members.  Usually this goes quite well, but there were many things that went quite wrong and several patrons left not feeling happy that they had been generous.  In the moment the things that went wrong were a nightmare; now they are grounds for laughing and re-tooling for next year.

7:00 p.m. clean up fundraiser.

7:30 p.m. head home.  Have to take ‘scenic route’ through two different towns on the way back due to an accident on the freeway.

8:45 p.m. arrive home after picking up some tacos, sans salsa because the taqueria was out of the good stuff.

So, that was my week.  Definitely one for the books.  Since I survived it, though in nearly drove me crazy, I decided to relax and head to the Treasure Island Flea on Saturday; love that place, it’s a great place to see some wonderful flea market fare as well as some very creative people and their work.  Perfect way to forget the week.

Giant lady






Part of the concourse







Toolbox Robot

























Beautiful fog rolling in.







Horrid cat.









Teardrop competition









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