Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Day in the Life: Dulce Edition



The alarm goes off at six but I’ve already been up for an hour, lying in bed, composing an email I probably won’t send. Sometimes I have to get things out of my head, but it wouldn’t help anybody to actually send the email.

I have also already blown my nose approximately fifteen times. It also feels like there's an invisible toothpick jammed up each nostril and poking me in the back of the nose. I’ve had a cold for six weeks. Also springtime allergies. Also it turned into a sinus infection. It took a week of mucking around in the Argentine medical system, but I finally got some antibiotics yesterday. I am hopeful for some relief, finally.

Get up. Turn on coffee maker. Shower. Eat two hard boiled eggs and an avocado and a tomato. I don’t really eat meals. I eat ingredients. Also, some days I only eat round foods.

By the time I am ready at 7:15, it’s time to go. I walk 25 minutes to school. I could ride my bike or take a taxi, but I prefer to walk. There are jacarandas and blooming jasmine and ambush-watchdogs (behind gates) on the way that can only be appreciated at a walking pace.

Once the crossing guards are in sight, I take off my headphones and put my game face on. I smile and say “buen dia” to all the guards. The one at the gate takes my ID card and scans me in. Once in the high school, I check my mailbox (empty) and walk up to the fifth floor, hola’ing kids along the way. They are half asleep and I startle them. Unlock classroom. It’s stuffy. Open windows. Turn on computer. Grab water bottle to fill up at the fountain.

Stop in colleague’s classroom to report the mean and median score of the Geometry unit test I finished marking last night (80 and 80.) His were a bit lower, so we agree to meet at C block to compare how we marked the proofs.

Check email. Realize that there are about six I need to respond to, that I didn’t get a chance to yesterday. Feel bad about it but don’t have time now.

Set out compasses and rulers for A block, project homework answers. They walk in with their various gaits. There are twelve of them, all elbows and messy hairdos. They take out their notebooks and their massive pencil cases. (What is it with pencil cases at this school? The most epic pencil cases.) They compare their homework to what’s on the board while I roll around on a chair and answer questions.

The bell rings at 8 to kick off A block. Today they are continuing to practice basic constructions, and then solving some problems using them. For example, practice constructing perpendiculars and bisecting segments. Now construct a square whose perimeter is the length of this given segment.

Two of the students were gone last week at a soccer tournament in Quito, so I sit with them and work through the minimum to get them caught up to the class.

I tell L that he needs to get to work, or I’m going to mess up his hair. We all find this hilarious.

I demonstrate an angle bisector construction, and they complete that part. Practice a few times, then figure out how to construct an angle that’s exactly 30 degrees, and exactly 45 degrees. S is the first to figure out how to make the 30, and can’t be dissuaded from blurting out the solution. He pronounces it “tree-angle.”

8:45 We move down three floors to a computer lab, to do the Geogebra parts of this lesson. The kids login, open the file, and get to work. I ask C to please login to the projected computer, because she needs a little extra accountability when she’s on the computer. When anyone needs something demonstrated, she gets to drive. They are able to work at their own pace, following instructions on a handout, learning the tools on Geogebra that are the equivalent of the constructions they just practiced upstairs.

9:30 The bell rings to end A block, I remind the kids that the assignment can be found on Day 2 of their unit calendar. They all say goodbye and wish me a nice day. Kids are very polite here.

Fifteen minute break. (Terrible) coffee. Answer two emails. Edit the lesson for B block (since I did it yesterday with G block, and it needed some improving) and print out copies. Drop off a test with the resource teacher for a kid to finish later in her class.

9:45 B block starts. The IB book we are using for Precalc has the answers in the back, so the kids already know what they had trouble with from their assignment. They discuss with each other and ask me a few things about interpreting box plots.

They get to work following calculator instructions on the printed handout. They are using real data from four years of Lincoln graduates (GPA’s and SAT scores), sequences, and the cumulative sum function, to make cumulative frequency tables and cumulative histograms. I roll around and help them with their calculators. I mostly sit with the two kids who have Nspires and show them how to do the equivalent things, since I only made TI-84 instructions. One girl has a Casio, and I don’t even. Once everyone has completed up to certain checkpoints, we stop and I pseudo-randomly select kids to share their answers.

10:40 Realize I never sent the attendance from A block. Check email and realize the secretary has already asked for it twice. Damn. It’s been a while since I did that. Send it.

11:00 We are done with the lesson but there are 20 minutes left. Some of them choose to start their homework and some of them choose to talk off-topic.

11:20 Bell rings to end B block. English teacher friend S sends me a gchat that just says “EEAAAARLY LUUUUUNCH” (meaning to eat now during C block, which we both have free, and not wait until the high school lunch time after C block) but I have to go talk to the other Geometry teacher about those tests first. Luckily the discussion is brief.

11:30 Walk down four floors (this is a very vertical campus) out the building, to the building with the cafeteria. The school feeds us lunch for free every day. (They have to, by Argentine law.) I make selections by pointing, while a member of the food service staff screams at me. I choose a portion of casserole made out of chicken that I recognize from yesterday, (POLLITO?! QUE MAS?!) a scoop of steamed zucchini and eggplant, (VERDURAS?! QUE MAS?!) and a piece of spinach quiche, (ESPINACA?! QUE MAS?!) nada mas.

I sit with S and three other (all male) high school teachers for a very academic and higher-order thinking type discussion. They all happen to be Canadian, so conversation is punctuated with “Ohhh yaaaa”s and “soh-rry”s. I mention the impending resolution of my sinus infection, but T thought I said “size reduction,” which R interpreted as breast reduction surgery, so I was treated to R’s theories on what types of plastic surgery are and are not acceptable (hint: breast reduction is not.) I let him go on without correcting the misunderstanding. Then we invented a theoretical dessert made of a pot cupcake, a vodka-soaked gummy bear, sprinkled with crack cocaine.

There is no water at the table, just empty pitchers. The school is efforting to do away with disposable plastic, and in the transition from toss-away bottles of water to the pitchers, they are still working out the kinks.

S and I leave right after we are done eating, so we have 40 minutes to walk to Starbucks and back (You always have to ask for the cup sleeve thingie. The word is “mangita” or if you forget, “cosa”+gesture.) The walk is uneventful. Construction workers yell things at us. The weather is very, very nice.

I find the other Geometry teacher and show him how I do the triangle centers unit, and give him all the documents for it.

1:00 Start of high school lunch. Enter the Geometry test scores in my excel spreadsheet gradebook. Write two quizzes for later this week. Intend to answer emails. Make the mistake of opening twitter. A student comes to make up a quiz. Next thing I know, the bell is ringing to end lunch.

2:00 The bell rings to start D block. At 18 students, this isn’t my biggest class, but it’s the most rambunctious. And full of Brazilians, so I REALLY don’t know WHAT they are saying. But they are teaching me one new Portuguese word a day. Today is “obrigada” which means “thank you” though I’m certain I botched the spelling.

Approximately half the class is seated, the other half is standing around in clumps, having animated chats, testing to see how long I will let that go on. I project the homework answers and the agenda and start walking around with my gradebook checking homework. At which time, it takes the rest of them approximately ten seconds to get ready for class. They have basically the same lesson as A block.

2:45 We head down to the computer lab. But before we leave, I demo where to find the tools they will need. Because of that, they will have a much cleaner Geogebra experience than A block did. On the way down, I let the office know that the class is moving.

One nice computer lab thing I started doing this year: put in checkpoints that I am supposed to initial. But the super speedy workers who get there first, I deputize them to help kids lagging behind, and they are allowed to initial the checkpoints for me.

3:20 Mid-term progress reports are delivered. In envelopes, that the students are supposed to take home. Once I start passing them out, the last few minutes of class are a lost cause. One student thanks me for the nice comment I wrote him.

3:30 Bell rings. End of classes.

3:40 IB teachers’ meeting. I count precisely zero agenda items that pertain to me. Soooo glad I came. Soooo relevant to my life. But our IB coordinator runs a tight meeting. We are out of there in 15.

4:00 Finally get to those emails.

4:30 Make a list of what I have to accomplish first thing tomorrow: update Edmodo, fill out the textbook order for next year for my classes, go sign some documents in the mansion (the equivalent of our district office.) I don't teach the first two blocks tomorrow, and if I don't make this list I will waste the first many minutes of the day in my undercaffeinated stupor.

4:35 Head off campus! No school-related activities planned tonight.

Bonus for hard core f(t) fans: this is what I looked like today. This is right inside the front gate.