August 27, 2010

A Day in the Life of an Itinerant Teacher (at Least for Me)

4:55 a.m. - Alarm went off. I cursed at it, turned it off, and rolled back under the covers in bed.

5:02 - Second alarm went off. I looked at it and turned it off.

5:10 - I was still in bed staring at the ceiling, trying to talk my sleepy self into moving.

5:12 - I jumped out and proceeded to the kitchen to make strong coffee.

6:15 - After eating breakfast, watching the news on T.V., looking over my schedule for the day, and getting dressed, I finally leave the apartment.

6:18 - I come back to the apartment. I forgot my GPS.

6:32 - I was on the freeway on my way to my first school. It is about 50 minutes away. I listened to my favorite morning talk radio. During the show, I didn't hear what was said and wondered why the DJs were laughing while the caller cried hysterically on the phone.

7:21 - I arrived at the school. I got my paperwork and drank some more coffee.

8:05 - I scolded my pre-k student for purposely not paying attention to me and his interpreter. He refused to look at me. I gave up and I pretended to sob hysterically. My student looked up at me smiling and then quickly looked back down giggling. I wanted to hug him.

8:15 - A teacher told me her concerns about a parent. I agreed with her, nodding my head, asking her questions. Then she started talking about things that were not relevant. I looked at the clock and started to back away slowly, putting my hand on the doorknob to indicate that I needed to go. It didn't work. She kept talking. I had to cut her short and say that I needed to go to my next school. She apologized and continued to talk. I turned and made a quick get away saying to her behind me, "So sorry! I have to go! We'll continue this discussion tomorrow!" 

8:16 - An interpreter from another classroom at the same school, stopped me in the hallway. He wanted to talk about our student. I stopped and told him I am all ears (even though I was in a big hurry). It could be very important. It turned out to be no big deal and I was able to tell him what to do to solve the problem.

8:28 - I practically ran out of the school to my car. I had an IEP meeting in thirty minutes!

8:46 - I made it to the school and ran down the hallway to the classroom where the meeting was supposed to be held at 9:00. No one was there. 

9:05 - The mother showed up. I greeted her warmly and spoke to her in broken Spanish. There were a lot of awkward silences, as I tried to remember other phrases in Spanish. All I could think of were curse words and children songs in Spanish. Where is the translator?

9:08 - The teacher, school lead, and an administrator showed up. The translator still hadn't shown. No one was really talking. It was weird. I tried to look busy looking at my paperwork pretending to write down important notes.

9:20 - Hallelujah! The translator finally showed up. She gave us no explanations to why she was late.

9:45 - Everyone agreed to the proposals. We made the necessary changes on the draft and I got all of the signatures I needed.

10 seconds later - Everyone, but the mother, took off.

10:02 - I walked with the mother to her car. With my broken Spanish and her broken English, I was able to learn more about her. I found out that she works 3 p.m. to 4 a.m. in a factory far from her home.

10:10 - After signing out, I left for my next student at another school.

11:05 - I heated up leftovers in a microwave in the teachers lounge. I sat down and looked over my schedule. Other teachers came in. I talked with them about unimportant things-the weather, shopping, Lindsey Lohan, how to make chili, and stuff. It was nice to not think about or talk about work momentarily.

11:20 - I left for another school, back to the school I went to this morning for the meeting.

12:25 - I waited for my student in her empty classroom. She was in music class.

12:28 - She and the rest of her class came spilling in the classroom. She smiled and got her pencil, paper, and books as I waited for her by the door. Her interpreter came up to me with some suggestions and things she noticed about this student. We talked about her social skills and how she interacts with new people, particularly new teachers or adults.

12:32 - My student and I worked on writing and following step by step instructions. We talked about how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. We worked on building her vocabulary. There are many gaps in her language. She learned the words 'spread', 'butter knife', 'jar', and 'slice'. We talked about the many different flavors of jelly there are. She told me her favorite was strawberry. We talked about making a book together. It will be an instructional book about how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. We'll use photos of the steps and her making the sandwich. She seemed excited about it. Good. :)

1:28 - I left for another school, a high school.

2:10 - I finally arrived at the school. I was stuck behind a really slow truck on the way.

2:15 - I quickly checked my emails. I got an email from this school's lead asking to see me after 3:30. I got another email saying that my meeting with a teacher at 4:00 has been canceled. Sweet.

2:30 - I arrive at my student's MO/MI classroom. She was sitting with her friends playing a memory card game. She was having fun. She did not greet me or acknowledge that I was there, even though she saw me. I told her that it is always nice to say "Hello" or "Good afternoon" to your teachers, especially if you haven't seen them in a week. She rolled her eyes at me and grunted. I kept my stern 'teacher' look and asked her what was wrong. She talked about how she wanted to play the game with her friends and how she was tired. I told her that we can play this fun game, as long as she does her work and cooperates with me. Then I asked her, "Where's your smile?" She reluctantly smiled at this. We played the game and worked on how to interact and greet other people appropriately, using sign language (hello, how are you, what is your name, nice to meet you, etc.). We practiced this through role playing, over and over and over again.

3:34 - I got caught in the "traffic" of high school students in the hallways, leaving to go home. Some kids made out in front of me, groping each other. Eew. 

3:37 - I am in the office with the school's lead. She told me that one of my students was refusing certain services (small group testing, math support classes). Good for him! He has been doing extremely well in math that he no longer requires these services. He is becoming independent; making his own decisions. I talked with the lead about calling mom to discuss taking these services off the IEP. 

4:10 - I left the school walking towards my car.

4:36 - I arrived at my office and dropped off some equipment I picked up from one of the schools.

4:48 - I left to go home.

6:07 - I am finally home, after the long commute and some traffic in the city. I sat for a minute, exhausted.

10:30 - I set my alarm and went to bed ready for sleep. I wondered what tomorrow will bring me.


  1. Very interesting, thanks for this post! What a busy day. :)

  2. A lot of driving! A lot of variety and it looks like you almost don't always know what to expect from one day to another.

  3. That was very interesting, you sound like you take such a genuine interest in each of your students and their situations. At what point do you put on your hearing aid? ;)

  4. A busy day, indeed! You just brought back many memories of when I was teaching Special Education ~


Keep it civil.