Blog by Jenna Hagengruber, Teacher at Sandia Highschool
Choosing to be and Educator
Being a teacher wasn’t necessarily a part of the original plan. I grew up in a family of educators and it was made clear to me early on that a teacher’s role in the classroom and with the children is one that is much more difficult than revered.
This past year was actually my first full year as a teacher. I began my experience abroad, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in 2016-2017. I continued my education journey as a student teacher at Atrisco Heritage Academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico during the 2017-2018 year. Now, as a full blown “I-get-paid-once-every-2-weeks” type of educator, the job seemed to intensify as I realized just how much weight the job would carry in regards to the impact I felt like I needed to make in my students’ lives.
Viante recently asked me to take over their social media to help give the community an idea of what a “Day in the Life” of a teacher looked like. I was grateful for the opportunity to share how much goes into teaching. I’m going to walk you through one of my days – including the frustrations and anxieties, while also highlighting the normalcies of the job in addition to touching on the positive impacts I feel on a day-to-day basis.
Starting the Day
5:45am – Depending on the day, I tend to wake up between 5:45am and 6:00am. During this time, I make lunch, do my hair and makeup, make my bed, make coffee (obviously). Most importantly, I make sure that all my grading is back in my bag and I have all my lessons ready and prepared for the day.
6:55am – I leave my house between 6:45am and 7:00am (on the days I am running really late…) with the goal of trying to be at school around 6:55am. I live about 9 minutes away from Sandia High School, where I teach. On a good day, when I catch all the timed lights, I can actually make it in 8 minutes! (Impressive, I know.) If I do arrive at 6:55am, I have time to set up my promethean board and change the date on the white board for the students. However, if I don’t leave my house until 7:00am, I usually only get there about 5 minutes before my students arrive. This leaves me trying to prepare a classroom while 14 and 15-year-old students are trying to chat with me. It’s difficult to say the least.
First Class of the Day
7:15am –My classroom is almost full classroom by this time (and the bell hasn’t even rung yet!). During this time, I get the attendance website set up, get the students’ papers ready to pass back, and make sure that I have all my materials ready for the day. I teach all Freshmen, which means most of my kids are dropped off by their parents earlier. This can be a double-edged sword. I love that they are on time and for the first couple months of teaching, I really enjoyed having them there early because it gave me a chance to get to know them. On the other hand, it’s really difficult to get everything set up in a classroom where there’s a bunch of chatty teenagers who are trying to tell me stories about their lives. It’s juggling at its finest.
7:25am – The day officially begins! Students can be a little cranky…they have to be ready to think and work this early in the morning.
Some Much-Needed Prep Time
8:18am – After first period ends, I get to prep, go to English teacher meetings, and grade! I have two periods off at this point, because 2nd period is the English teacher collaboration period. The English teachers get together and discuss how classes are going, what we’re teaching, and work on professional development.
Every teacher has a prep period, which varies from teacher to teacher. Mine happens to fall during third period, which is nice because it’s still early in the morning and my mind is focused and ready to work. At this point, I have a little time to lesson plan, grade, get ready for the upcoming class period, make sure that all my copies have been made, and get my classroom ready to go. In theory, this sounds like a solid plan, but with 5 classes, 130 students, and having to grade and prep for all of those kids, it becomes a job too great for a single prep period. This is why many teachers end up taking home so much grading and lesson planning home every day! It can be too much to get done in the day.
10:17am – Fourth and fifth periods are now starting! Many teachers have their students continually engaged with the lessons, and to do this, we must be fully engrossed in them. I rarely sit down and only spend 10-20 minutes of my daily class time lecturing or giving instructions. Much of my time is spent having my students work together, have discussions, and collaborate. Walking around allows me to make sure that they fully understand the lesson. It is a fully immersive experience for myself and my students, and often takes a lot of energy.
Lunch Time! (Well, Kind Of)
12:00pm – Lunch…yay! While teachers get a 30-minute lunch, most of us aren’t able to fully enjoy this time period. Depending on the day of the week, I may have lunch meetings with my students for the Freshman Senate (a club I sponsor) or lunch meetings with the Sandia High School Dance Marathon club. I also try to grade during lunch, but I have to close my door if I want to get anything done because students come in to eat! Lunch can be a wonderful time period, but often times it’s not much of a “break” between the meetings and the work teachers try to squeeze in.
On to the Afternoon (and Lunch Slump)
12:42pm – On to sixth and seventh period, which are similar in work to fourth and fifth. The main difference, of course, is that these classes are post-lunch. The students tend to be cranky and have a hard time focusing and getting work done. Getting students to work after lunch can be really demanding.
School is Out!
2:25pm – School is out, woo-hoo! Many teachers, including myself, stay for at least an hour after school. Like I said, having 130 plus students can be challenging. Between making sure all of my classes are ready to go, getting my classroom cleaned and set for the following day, and that I’m all caught up on my grading and lesson planning, I usually don’t leave until 4:00pm or 4:30pm. Although it’s the end of the day, I enjoy this time period (even though we aren’t paid for this time!). The unusual peace and quiet in the classroom can be quite enjoyable. I turn up my music on my promethean board quite loudly and jam out while I tie all the loose ends together for the day. Many teachers do this and when you walk down the hallway, you might here 5 or 6 different types of music blaring!
Finally Done for the Day
4:30pm – I finally leave, and go to the gym to get a quick workout in. I try to go to the gym right after school, before going home. If I go home first, there’s a good chance I won’t leave my house again. I might stay at the gym for an hour or hour and a half!
6:30pm – When I finally get home, I’m able to work on grad school or other activities that I do, like grade and lesson planning. I usually try to go to bed by 9pm, so all of these things (plus showering) must occur in this time period! Overall, it’s a packed, but wonderfully challenging occupation – I’m grateful to be able to teach children in our community.
Thank you to all those who took the time to read about a day in the life of a teacher!!