Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Two Days In The Life of a High School Teacher or Never a Dull Moment

It's Wednesday, so it hasn't even been a whole week and in many ways it's been a very average week.

Monday I broke up a girl fight in my classroom during passing period. Fights are fairly rare at my school and I haven't had one in my room for over two years. This altercation began in the hallway and then escalated. I yelled at them to stop, kept other students back and then eventually found the wits to have a student call for security. In the aftermath their were clumps of hair on the floor and a pearl earing that I took down to the office and returned to to one of the combatants.

That afternoon I spent over an hour calculating and submitting students' grades for the six week progress report, and then creating a lesson for Tuesday, before rushing to pick up my own children. Late that evening I finalized a book order for the English department that we needed to put together quickly before the budget gets frozen.

On Tuesday I had to tell two seniors that they did not pass the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) and that they would not get to walk in our school's graduation ceremony. I also got to congratulate five others who passed on their last chance and will get to walk with their class.

Later I held the beautiful one month old baby of one of my former students. The student is in the marines now and he is training in North Carolina before being deployed to Afghanistan. His girlfriend, the baby's mother, is a senior still and she came to visit campus before she returns to classes in two weeks. She knew I would want to meet her daughter. The baby closely resembles her father. His picture, in full marine dress uniform, is on my bulletin board from the day he came to tell my class about his experience in boot camp. He got to see her for a day before he left California.

In the same day I had a lunch meeting with my student teacher and her university supervisor about her excellent progress this semester. And in the afternoon on my prep period I was able to see the second half of a presentation by a comic book artist who was showing students the very sophisticated computer tools he uses to create amazing artwork.

Along the way I taught lessons, took attendance, wrote passes, counseled students about their options, reviewed student work, fixed computers, wrote e-mails, called parents, and received a really nice thank you note.

Forty eight hours is not enough to absorb the heartbreak, violence, hope, inspiration, congratulation, ordinary, and extraordinary that makes up a typical week in a high school.