A Day in the Life of a Middle School Teacher

I have seen the “day in the life” posts circulating for a while now, and I thought it would be interesting to do one of my own!  If you’ve ever wondered about the (not-so) glamorous life of a middle school teacher, this is a pretty good representation of my typical day-to-day.

:: Wednesday, November 19, 2014 ::

IMG_3787My alarm goes off at 4:45 a.m.  I am tired and lay in bed for five minutes willing myself to get up.  No matter how many years I wake up at this ungodly hour, it really never gets any easier.  And I am a morning person!

After I shower and get ready, I head to the kitchen for breakfast.  Part of the reason I get up so early is to enjoy coffee and breakfast with Ian before the rush of the day.  We’re both actually home to eat together right now, so I relish the time together.

IMG_3786 IMG_3789My coffee cup says, “Life is Good” on one side, and “Do what you like, Like what you do” on the other.  It’s so true!  I really do what I like, and like what I do, even thought it means early mornings and long days. 🙂

I try to leave by 6:15 every morning – I’m always out of the house by 6:25 – because I have a 30 minute commute to school.  I don’t mind my drive.  It’s scenic and gives me a chance to wake up (hello dance party on the way to work every.single.day!).  One of the perks of driving to work so early in the morning is enjoying the beautiful Colorado sunrises, that and very little traffic.  This particular morning didn’t disappoint.

IMG_3793 IMG_3796 IMG_3798I’m at school between 6:45-7:00.  I spend the morning setting up my room, writing the plan of action for the day on the board, answering emails that came after 8:00 p.m. the night before, grading if I have a chance, and getting ready for the day.

IMG_3800At school, I live my life by the bells.  I’ve included times for each class period – each are roughly 48 minutes.  I teach four classes of Language Arts (Literature and Composition), one class of the Advanced Language Arts, and a study hall.  We get a person plan and a team plan every day (my school is on a teaming system – so I work on a team with a Math, Science, Social Studies, and Language Arts.  All 140 of our students have the four of us every day all year long).

Period 1: 7:40-8:33

We have a new student – well, a returning student who left early last quarter, so it’s like she’s new – so I have to figure out how to catch her up on what she’s missed the past month and figure out how to integrate her mid-quarter. Another student gets a bloody nose in the middle of our short constructed response (basically a writing quiz).  I am so glad I was a lifeguard in high school!

Period 2: 8:36-9:26

While reviewing the plan for the day, I run into my co-teacher/learning specialist’s coffee and spill it on her laptop (gah!), on the floor, and down the back of my pants.  I have to continue teaching while the two of us attempt to clean her computer.  Thankfully, her laptop was closed, so no damage was done.

My students are participating in the Young Writer’s Program for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).  They each set individual word count goals, which they try to reach by midnight on November 30th.  We write for 15 minutes everyday with a plan to revise and edit in December before they send off their novels for publication.  I’m participating with them, as I have in the past.  My word count goal is 30,000!  I’m currently at 20,689.  We’re writing maniacs!

IMG_3801 IMG_3802Period 3: 9:29-10:19

My PLAN!  I finally have a chance to pee.  Today, I met with an 8th grade Language Arts teacher to discuss how she teaches writing, grammar, and other lesson planning ideas.  I love learning from my colleagues and am excited to implement some of her ideas next semester.  For the last 10 minutes of my personal plan, I helped the Social Studies teacher on my team add a link to a Google Doc on her teacher website, and then create a “how to” document so she remembers how to add the link (at her request).

Lovely selfie in the faculty bathroom during 3rd period.

IMG_3804 IMG_3803 IMG_3805

 Period 4: Advanced Language Arts: 10:22-11:17

My advanced students struggled with the short constructed response, so we spend the beginning of class breaking down the prompt so they can write a response.  I struggle with writing prompts that are not too challenging, but appropriate for the middle school age and development level.  It’s a work in progress.

ELT/KT: 11:20-11:47

ELT = Extra Learning Time / KT = Knight Time.  Today we have ELT, which is a study hall where students may work on homework or get extra help from a teacher.  I met with each student to review overall in-progress grades.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we have KT, where we teach brief lessons on a variety of topics such as bullying, suicide, college and career prep, kindness, etc.

Lunch: 11:50-12:15

25 minutes to fill my water bottle, pee, inhale lunch, and have adult conversation with my team.  My lunch today is tuna and pita chips with a handful of blueberries.  I don’t eat big lunches because, frankly, I don’t have time.  (*The little note on the left lists music videos one of my students suggested I watch.  The artists are Slipknot and Avenge Sevenfold.  I try to find a way to connect with all my students, so I watch the videos even though they may not be my style).

IMG_3806Period 6: 12:18-1:08

TEAM PLAN!  We have a common plan time to collaborate, review lesson plans, and discuss students.  Today our plan time is spent in an RtI (Response to Intervention) meeting to discuss interventions for students who are struggling.

IMG_3807Period 7: 1:11-2:01

Students this period have many questions about the prompt for the SCR (short constructed response). I spend the class period racing around to answer questions and check in with students who look like they are struggling.  Afternoon core classes are especially tough for the adolescent brain.  It’s a challenge to keep my last two periods focused and on track with the rest of my students.

Period 8: 2:04-2:55

This period tries my patience every day!  The last period of the day is always a challenge.  This group in particular has some very big personalities and I struggle daily to keep everyone on task.  Today, as students are talking and I try to get them to quiet down, one student even says, “Poor Mrs. Darnell.” *sigh*

This week I have bus duty right after school (at least it’s warmer this week!).  I think I might pee my pants at this point, but I know I can use the restroom in about 10 minutes, so I just pace.

IMG_3808After school we have a WAC (Wednesday Afternoon Club).  The Social Committee (which I’m a part of) planned a fun little after school “event” for the staff to relax and snack on chips, salsa, queso, and “drinks” (lemonade).  We’ve found that more people come to the WAC at school than an FAC at a bar, so this is the preferred social event.  I stay to clean up with my friend Jen.

After the WAC, Jen and I chat for a bit about struggles, frustrations, insights, and professional pathways, then I prepared for a meeting Jen and I are hosting tonight. I make copies, set up computers for parents to sign in and update contact information, double check attendee lists, and get the team area ready for parents.  Everyone else is gone for the day…(but I do have a nice view from my classroom!).

IMG_3810 End-of-the-day selfie.  I’m tired, but I have to keep my energy up for the meeting!  I don’t go home before the meeting because it’s silly to drive an hour, so I just stay and work.

IMG_3814From 6-7 p.m., Jen and I hold an information meeting for parents and students interested in our 8th grade spring break trip to Washington D.C., and New York City.  We have a small turn out, and I’m worried about our numbers for the trip.  Hopefully we can get more students interested by the end of the week!

IMG_38157:25 p.m. – Jen and I leave together.  We are the last two cars in the parking lot.  I’m excited to get home and relax.

IMG_3816I get home at 8:00 p.m., reheat a pasta dinner that Ian graciously made, and eat on the couch with him while watching Modern Family.  Tonight is the first night in weeks that I watch TV, but I need my mind to calm down and my food to digest before I will be able to sleep.

At 9:45 p.m. I crawl into bed, but my mind is still to busy to sleep, so I read a chapter or two of The Paris Wife.  I’m asleep before Ian comes to bed.  I must be ready to do it all over again tomorrow.  Good night!



2 thoughts on “A Day in the Life of a Middle School Teacher

  1. I don’t think most people appreciate how hard teachers work! And you are an exemplary teacher! All ypur hard work is appreciated – I am proud of you!
    Beautiful CO sunrises – I miss that!

  2. Oh my good grief, I’m exhausted just reading this! You truly are an amazing teacher and a wonderful person. I wish we could have taught together…then I might have survived.

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