The Ending is the Beginning: A Day in the Life of a Middle School Teacher – pt. 9

What follows is an overview of my day from March 2nd, 2016. The impetus for this post came from my constant amazement at just how busy I (and every other teacher I know) appear to be pretty much all the time. I’ve decided to break it down roughly by school period. I’ve removed any and all identifying markers to specific students and/or adults without sacrificing the spirit of what transpired on March 2, 2016. See part 1 herepart 2 herepart 3 herepart 4 herepart 5 herepart 6 herepart 7 here, and part 8 here.

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If the entire day feels like holding my breath, every muscle, bone, and sinew clenched tight in a flex, 8th period is the full-body exhalation. My mind spends the majority of the day telescoped into the future. Whether it’s my next student interaction, an upcoming meeting, or the next period, I’m locked in a perpetual embrace with the future. This ends at 1:36. The bell signaling the end of 7th period triggers a Pavlovian response somewhere deep in my physiology. My shoulders relax and my movement downshifts from manic ambulation to relaxed gait.

Kids walk in with quietly and take their seats. One prefers the floor. Another likes to sit in the ‘teacher chair.’ A minor delirium permeates the atmosphere. Kids make googly eyes at each other while completing the warm-up. Everyone moves through the conflict Flash Fiction stations without issue. I stand and observe, switching my seriously gnawed-on pen back and forth between my mouth and my right ear. I’m quiet and so are they. Sometimes I tell stories to my 8th period, but today I just let them write.

By the time I get to the read aloud I can practically recite the pages from memory. Reading the same passages eight times in a row affords me the opportunity to focus on my tone and delivery. We’re at a particularly engrossing part of the story, so when the disembodied voice of an administrator crackles through the loudspeaker to give reminders about after-school activities a few of the kids leap out of their chairs to shout “Quickly! Hurry, Mr. Anderson!”

We finish the chapter just as the bell ends. Students file out of the room and immediately melt into the human pudding that is a school hallway at the end of the day. A few of last year’s students make a regular habit of popping into my room before departing for the day. Daniel is always the first to arrive. He walks straight up to me and says “I bet I can name every descendant of any mammal you know. Go ahead, name a mammal.” He then proceeds to pontificate on the evolution and demise of certain dinosaurs, pacing back and forth in front of me like a stodgy professor. He’s oblivious to me and it’s fantastic.

He’s in the middle of a brief synopsis of prehistoric fish with inverted teeth when Kendra walks in. She stares at him for a moment before interrupting with “I got tickets to see my favorite boy band! But they’re not like a traditional boy band. They’re actual songwriters with real lyrics. You see, they talk about social issues. And I like that. But their production company doesn’t treat them that well, and that’s terrible. You should watch their YouTube videos. This one video has them all wearing the same outfits. It’s like they all have to conform but then they break out of the school and it’s so inspirational.”

“Go home!” I interrupt with a smile. They smile back. They’re not offended; it’s all part of the routine. They wave and depart.

This final post in the series mirrors the final period of my day. I’m tired and struggling to hold onto details. After chronicling this day in its entirety, I’m ready to let it go. One of my favorite things about teaching is that no matter how good (or bad) a day happens to go, I get to start over again tomorrow. The day ends the way it began. I pull up the next lesson and get to work. 

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8 comments

  1. cflathers

    One of the joys of teaching, you never know what is going to happen and you get to do it all over again the next day. Love the idea of writing about an entire day. I also have a couple of students that come in every day after school. I wonder what would happen if I yelled Go Home at them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Alyssa

    Nicely done! Reading these entries has felt kind of like a trek of some sort – I’m sure it probably feels like that when the day is happening and later when you are writing about it. It’s amazing to see all the hard work and effort that it takes to not only get through the day, but to make it a day full of learning for children. Thank you for taking the time to capture this day and to share it with us!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Everything All of the Time: A Day in the Life of a Middle School Teacher – pt. 1 | Mr. Anderson Reads & Writes

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