I know you can picture it…. You’re at your desk, laptop or desktop (possibly both) within your reach. You’ve already put in a long day and you’re trying to take those few precious quiet moments to accomplish even more. As you think you’re finishing up that day’s task, you realize you missed a line, there’s a type, whatever it may be and you have to reopen that file before you shut down your computer for the day and reprint. (You wouldn’t want to distribute that product with an error – you have a critical audience who will be reading it.) As you continue to work, you take a moment, look at the clock and realize it now reads 5pm.
This sounds like any hardworking person at their job, at their desk, wrapping up their day. In reality though, this is me at my desk, 2 hours after my day has “ended.” Technically my day ended at 3:05 – 10 minutes after the bell rings to release the high schoolers. I know many think that when that bell rings, teachers then pack up their things and head home for the day as well. Wrong – well, mostly. There are a few teachers out there (we’ve all seen them) who manage to leave not long after the students do. However, what many don’t seem to realize is that for many teachers there no closing bell. There’s always the next thing to plan, that correction to make or those students who are coming in for help.
In fact, that was exactly my day today. This was one of my few days during the season that I do not have to stay after school for cheerleading practice. I plan on getting my test rewritten for tomorrow and getting ahead on writing my finals that I will be giving next week. So I have this all planned out…I have my game plan for the afternoon. I am ready to go! But, do our plans always go as we would like them to? No, of course not.
Instead, I have 2 students coming in for help on their writing. The kicker is, their assignments aren’t even for my class. Instead I am helping them rewrite cover letters, resumes and thank you letters for their Resource Management class, but that does not mean I am not going to help them. Instead, I have Songza up on my desktop behind me and example letters up on the laptop in front of me, and settle in to begin working with them on their writing. Before I know it, the clock is telling me it’s already 4pm and while we have made tremendous strides in the writing of my students, I have not yet accomplished what I originally set out to work on.
As we finish up and these two leave my classroom, I know that at this point I need to settle in, get focused (thank you Jack Johnson!) and get to work on that which I need to accomplish. Now don’t get me wrong…I said I needed to rewrite a test that I will be giving tomorrow, but what I mean is that in my years of teaching I have realized that teenagers have some sort of magnet that they are born with in their eyes. Most of the time this magnet must be on sleep mode, but as soon as a test or quiz is set in front of them it is automatically activated and you see the eyes begin to move around the room. It doesn’t matter if you have a the best or the worst student in your room…they all have this inability to look at the test directly in front of them. Instead, they are compelled to look left and right, up and down, even backwards. It is because of this weird biological mechanism that I have decided to create a second version of my already existing test.
This brings us to my ability to somehow tune out the rest of the room (mostly-I’m still counting on my friend Jack to keep me going), zero in on the screen, and get my fingers to fly across the keyboard. As I work, and take multiple trips to the copier, I notice that my classroom and the hallway seem darker than they had just a few moments ago. As I settle back into my chair I risk a glance at the cock at the bottom of the computer screen and staring back at me are some numbers that I was not expecting to see….5:00.
It is at this point I realize that while I could stay, and am completely willing to stay, to work some more…I realize that I can’t. (The thought also enters my mind that my classroom has the ability to steal time and hide it away from me.) Instead, I still need to make it to the grocery store, and not take too long there either because I know that my dog is at home probably doing some sort of potty-dance in his cage as he waits for me. Parents and Teachers should be able to recognize this dance fairly well…you know the one, the one where the kid (in my case a furry-kid) starts wiggling and crossing their legs because they have to go right then. (This would certainly be a strage but interesting sight if my Pug actually did this.)
While I did get done the most important part, I (as always) have more to do. So if any of you manage to find those minutes that apparently run away, please let me know…I could always use them. Happy Teaching everyone!