You have to get to school early to finish grading the formative quizzes so that you can group kids properly for the next lesson. As you walk down the hall you see three kids waiting at your door, they didn’t understand yesterday’s lesson and need some tutoring, ‘ok’ you think, ‘we’ll go over the work as a warm up and then group.’ After the mental rescheduling you welcome your tutees into class and see how you can help. They need all of your time (even though you needed to write a test for Friday this morning also, but kids come first) up until the first bell and as you walk them out of your room you see the kid you threatened you last week coming down the hallway, you grit your teeth and try to find a way to give him a fresh start in class, maybe you even say a little prayer (silently of course, because separation of church and state) that you can find grace for him because you know he’s really just angry because his father’s in jail and his mom sleeps all day and he has to try to care for his little brother and sister. He doesn’t make eye contact as he walks past into the classroom even though you give him the brightest ‘Good Morning! I’m glad you’re back’ that you have. Was that grunt a hello? Maybe? As you greet the rest of first period you plan out writing your test for your conference period, you were gonna use that time to grade essays but maybe during lunch for that….
Groans and whispered comments of ‘we have to have our stuff on time’ greet your disclosure that they’ll have to grade their own quizzes, ‘oh wait, check your own quizzes because trade and grade is against Firpa.’
You get through class and as you start writing your test you get an email ping, your absent minded administrator is e-telling you that you have a 504 meeting for Jimmy right now and his mom is mad because he has zeros and he’s supposed to get extra time… ‘ok, I’ll write the test while I eat lunch and then grade essays for a while after school.’ You make it through the meeting and convince Jimmy’s mom that the zero is so that she can see that he has something missing and of course he’ll get full credit for it. Another class down now and you get your lunch ready as you see a young lady hovering outside your door, her hair is different, combed in front of her face. You go outside to ask if she needs something and you see tears welling in her eyes. ‘Come in, what’s wrong!?!?’ When she gets inside the room she asks if a teacher would have to report if a girl’s boyfriend was hitting her, then you notice that the eye behind her combed down hair has a dark circle underneath. You choke back tears and rage and you try to convince her to talk to her counselor. No, she only trusts you. You talk to her for a while and convince her to go see the counselor with just enough time for you to email the counselor after trying to call to let her know what’s going on with the kiddo, before the bell for the next class rings…
You can eat your sandwich in the hall during the passing period, but wait, your teacher ears hear they the rumble of the hallway noise is different…
Sure enough you look across the hall and two kids are bowing up to each other you get there just in time to break up shoving, the only real damage was a crushed sandwich that you had to drop to break up the potential fight. You only have a few seconds of relief before more internal rescheduling, ‘Whew, ok I guess I’ll grade essays after school and then write the test tonight after I get my kids to bed.’ Another email ping and your absent minded admin needs a report on what you’ve done to reteach and retest the kids who failed last six weeks because they had 12% attendance and how you’re going to get them to pass standardized tests, and he’d like the plan emailed to him by tomorrow because he forgot to ask for it last week….
Elbows on desk, hands on forehead turned to claws gripping your hair you realize you’ll only be getting three hours of sleep again tonight unless you plop the kids in front of Netflix while you grade, write, and plan… you’re jarred out of your daze by the piercing cry of the fire drill alarm…. kids shuffle out of your room, not realizing that you have a home to go to and hours of work to do before they shuffle back tomorrow…..
Unless you’ve experienced a day like this, don’t say teachers are overpaid, don’t say you understand public education and don’t try to take money away from it.
After all, I have taught you well. Do not abandon my teachings.