Mountains & Teaching

“You’re off to great places.

Today is your day.

Your mountain is waiting.

So get on your way!” – Dr. Seuss

 

A day in the life of a mountain girl teaching 5th grade, begins with a cup of coffee. Well, really it begins with hitting the “snooze” button about 7 times before realizing that you literally have to wake up. You are the teacher. There is never a day that I can wake up at 6:00 am and say, “You know what? I am not going into work today.” I can’t even wake up on a Friday and tell myself that I’ll just go in late today. Nope. I am the teacher. A day off means a week-long of planning for a substitute teacher and making a plan if you don’t get a sub. To all my friends and family who do not teach this may come as a shock to you. Sometimes we do not get a substitute teacher. I know right?! Why wouldn’t a person want to come sub a 5th grade class for a day? We were always so nice to our subs as kids…NOT! Even I joined in with the other kids when they messed with subs. And I wasn’t even a “bad kid”. So, when my alarm goes off and 6:30 am is nearing. I have to get up. I have a responsibility to 24 lives and my coworkers to get my mountain girl butt to school by 7:00 am. Unlike some people, I like to get to work an hour early. 🙂 I like to all this hour the “calm before the storm”. I use this time to make copies (AKA “Darth Vadar”), plan for the day, clean my classroom (I’m a neat freak when it comes to my classroom. When it comes to my bedroom, not so much), grade papers, check emails, change the classroom jobs, organize worksheets, change the date on the whiteboard, talk to my coworkers (more like complain), and whatever other small thing I can accomplish before 7:55 am. Between 7:55 and 8:00 am, I like to call this “The Walk”. This 5 minutes is when I gather my troops (AKA my coworkers) and we march together down the stairs and outside into brisk mountain air. I no longer live in Texas or Oklahoma where the coldest it could be at 8:00 am is maybe 40-50 degrees. However, in the mountains, it is usually 20 degrees (for now!) in the morning. I am usually dressed in my nicest, most comfortable jeans with one of my many “Portofino” shirts from Express. I love rocking my tall, brown boots with my ruffled boot socks. I like to call this my “Dallas meets Colorado” style. Though I love vests with plaid flannel shirts and jeans, I love rocking my “Portofino” shirts. A more professional look for a teacher. My last school was 100% business attire. I “rocked” my “Portofino” shirts with slacks and flats… You try to wear that annoying business outfit for 8 hours while working with a bunch of 7 year olds and you tell me if that sounds like a great idea for teachers. Not! With my new mountain school, they allow us to be pretty casual. In my opinion, as long as teachers brush their hair and teeth, we are good to go for our day. We work with kids! We are constantly on our feet. We never sit down! We give high fives, fist bumps, side hugs, and pats on the back all day long to some nasty, dirty kids who still have to be reminded to WASH THEIR HANDS! When I taught 1st and 2nd grade, I swear I would come home and shower every day because I had markers all over my hands and just felt sticky… Kids are gross. 5th grade isn’t as bad. They aren’t touchy-feely. The most contact they give me is at the end of the day when my boys want to give me a high-five and right before they smack my hand as hard as they can they tell me, “Okay, so this is going to hurt!” Kids are weird. Notice I said, “my boys”. To teachers, our students are “our kids”. Especially for those like me, who do not have kids of her own yet. I have 24 kids this year. 12 boys. 12 girls. And I gotta say, I am exhausted! It’s only October 23rd and I could literally lay in my bed for a week straight if the universe would let me.

Here is what my day consists of:

7:00 am – Arrive at school and walk upstairs to your classroom.

7:05 am – Say “Good Morning” to the other early bird teachers and get in your complaints of how early it is and how tired you are real fast.

7:10 am – Put you monogrammed tote bag on your messy desk and decide your first task.

7:12 am – You decide to change the date on the whiteboard because that’s an easy, achievable first task.

7:15 am – Look at those lesson plans you typed out all weekend because that’s just how we do!

7:25 am – Feel happy that you feel mentally prepared to teach symbolism in today’s chapter reading and somewhat ready to teach dividing decimals in math.

7:30 am – Write down today’s “learning targets” so that when the Principal comes in they can tell you, “I love that you wrote down your learning objectives and they are visible to the kids.” Brownie points for me!

7:45 am – Realize you have about 10 minutes left. Panic because you realized you took almost 30 minutes writing the date and learning targets on your whiteboard.

7:50 am – Race to the copier (AKA Darth Vadar) to pick up for 50 copies of the 2 worksheets you printed off. You like to be extra prepared. Plus you found some really cute worksheets on “Teachers Pay Teachers” that you just had to print off.

7:55 am – Finish your only bathroom break you will have until noon.

8:00 am – Gather the troops and make “The Walk” for your remaining 24 soldiers.

8:02 am – You realize you are walking towards 24 rowdy, weird 5th graders who are already yelling, “MRS. MOORE! MRS. MOORE!!” and there’s no turning back.

8:10 am – Make it back to your classroom with a line of 24 soldiers behind you jumping around, kicking a ball, and yelling at you “I FORGOT MY HOMEWORK!” ….Thanks but I already would’ve guessed Jimmy (there’s no Jimmy in my class, but I have many Jimmy’s).

8:15 am – “When I call your name say ‘Here!’ and raise your hand”

8:17 am – Watch our daily announcements and say the pledge – because U.S.A. BABY!

8:20 am – Begin our day with what’s called CREW, which is also called “Morning Meeting”. It’s basically a time where we sit in a circle as a class to say “Good Morning” and do some sort of share and a game. On Monday’s we typically do a share time called “Apples and Onions” (cute right?) I pick a few students to share an “apple” (something good) or an “onion” (something bad) from their weekend.

8:25 am – Play a quick game of our classroom favorite, Touch Blue. I kid you not guys…this is what the game is. My class of 10 and 11 year olds will walk in a circle around the room until I say, “Touch Blue!” or “Touch Orange” and they literally have to find something in the room that is that color and…you guessed it…touch it! OOOHHH! Insane right? I literally found this game on Pinterest and tried it one day, and now my class of 5th graders actually request it! I even challenge them and say 2 colors! “Touch Red-Blue!” or I will actually say the colors in Spanish, “Negro! Verde! Rojo!” For any teachers out there, try this silly game. For some reason, my kids love it.

8:30 am – This is an hour our school likes to call “Osprey Block”. Let me explain. Our school mascot is the Osprey (a type of bird). Our leaders (bosses) have decided to split up 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades by their reading levels from some test we gave them and put them into different classrooms with other kids who read at their level. Cool right? It is supposed to be an hour where we help kids with reading and writing skills they need. Unfortunately, our leaders (bosses) started this block at the school without any plan. I now have 1 class of 4th and 5th graders for 30 minutes and then another class of all 3rd graders for the last 30 minutes. My objective is to do a “reading extension” for on-grade level and advanced kids. If you are already confused, believe me… I am too! For all my teacher friends, I basically do centers and reader’s theater during this time! 🙂 Ha ha!

9:31 am – My 24 children are back in my classroom as I yell, “SILENT READ!” until all of them are back and in their seats. Silent Read – students sit at their desks with a book and read without talking.

9:40 am – After you’ve given the “go ahead” to 6 of your students that they can use the bathroom real fast, you begin teaching Literacy. 

9:42 am – Point to your learning targets (that you took 10 minutes writing on the whiteboard this morning) and remind your children what they will be learning today.

9:45 am – 1 of your misfit children, whom you love so dearly, lets you know that he needs to use the bathroom right at the beginning of your lesson (AKA speech). You than kindly remind Jimmy of the rules and that one of them is that we do not leave to use the restroom while the teacher is teaching. Sorry Jimmy! Gotta hold it!

9:55 am – After you’ve reviewed what last night’s chapter was in our story, ask your students to raise their hands if they found any symbolism in the story. When the class looks at you like you just asked them to find X in a long equation, you use you teacher voice to say, “Does anyone remember what symbolism means? We talked about it last week?”

9:56 am – Your “over-participator” but classroom discussion-saver raises her proud hand and tells the class the exact definition of symbolism.

9:57 am – Light bulbs begin sparking and a few more hands are raised to tell you the answer to your original question. 3 of your kids give you some fine examples of symbolism of what the “potato” actually meant in the book.

10:00 am – Give students their assignment for the next 15-20 minutes that they will completely independently while you walk around managing bathroom breaks, students that just sit and do nothing, and your “early finishers”.

10:01 am – Turn on that relaxing “Autumn Acoustic” playlist you found on Spotify while kids are working. Music tends to keep them focused.

10:25 am – Give your class a 30 second countdown to turn in their assignment and be back in their desks for the next activity!

10:30 am – Students are in their “reading groups” talking about the book Holes. 

10:45 am – Your students favorite morning activity, snack time! 

10:55 am – Say the phrase that you typically have to say 2-3 times a day, “Line-up in number order!” where the students basically line up in alphabetical order because it makes kids get in line faster than just telling them to “Line-up!” 

11:00 am – Successfully drop your kids off at P.E. and realize you don’t have to see them for another hour and 45 minutes. 5th grade gets to do Specials right before Lunch/Recess. Giving you an awesome long break.

11:05 am – Bathroom!!!!!!

11:10 am – Grab your lunch, laptop, and teaching books so you can eat and plan!

11:30 am – Discuss new ideas for adjusting Math with your team. Realize you haven’t divided decimals in a million years and that you didn’t even really understand it then so how am I supposed to teach this sh*t!

12:00 pm – Continue typing lesson plans, making copies, and grading papers.

12:40 pm – Realize your break is almost over and shed a tear.

12:45 pm – Line up your troops after recess and corral them back into the school and upstairs to the classroom.

12:46 pm – “SILENT READ!”

1:00 pm – Use one of your teacher “Attention Getters” to get your kids’ attention. “Ready to Rock!?” and your kids say, “Ready to Roll!!!!” 

1:05 pm – You begin your one-woman-show where you teach your kids different math strategies that you were not taught yourself, but not you wish you had. We were taught to memorize, memorize, memorize! How come I didn’t learn dividing decimals that way that I am teaching these kids? It actually makes sense now!

1:25 pm – As you complete your incredible, one-woman-show portraying a teacher who is a genius at dividing decimals, you tell the class to get into their math groups. We give cute color names for these groups instead of calling them High, Medium, Low, and Looowwwww. Instead their groups are called the “Purple Group” or “Orange Group”.

1:35 pm – Realize your kids are not that focused on math and seemed to have forgotten just how spectacular your one-woman-show really was! You’re saying things like, “Show your work!”, “How did you find that answer?”, “Do you remember how I showed you?”, or “What do you think you do next to solve this?” 

1:40 pm – After going through your teacher-emotional-roller coaster where you wonder why you teach, why some of your kids don’t seem to get it, and have your few sighs of relief for the kids that actually do get it, you tell the class to put away their math things and get ready for snack.

1:45 pm – Snack time! Again! I didn’t even have 1 snack time growing up and these kids get 2! I’m just such a nice teacher. Now, time for something actually enjoy – read aloud the book Wonder. 

2:00 pm – Make your kids clean crumbs off their desks, faces, and the floor and get them ready for 20 minutes of Team-Building! This school is so cool. They actually want us to plan 20 minutes each day for our class to basically go outside, play games together and call it Team-Building. 

2:02 pm – Line your kids up in number order because THIS IS HOW WE DO! 

2:05 pm – Make it to the outdoors after corralling a herd of 24 sheep down a flight of stairs and attempting to keep them quiet. Who am I kidding? My kids don’t even whisper! They know I’ll turn my line around and give them NO OUTDOORS! I ain’t afraid SON! (I don’t know where this voice is coming from. One of the side effects to a long day of teaching.

2:06 pm – We’re playing Red Light, Green Light because this game teaches you to listen and work together and a bunch of other skills that I’m making up right now because I really just want to tire your asses out by making you run! 😀

2:25 pm – Gather your relentless, panting sheep up and bring them back inside. Bummer!

2:30 pm – 5th grade switches for Science and Social Studies for 40 minutes! Now I get a mixture of my kids and my co-teacher’s kids. Yippee!

2:32 pm – After using one of your oh-so-amazing Attention Getters, you tell the class we are using the Scientific Method to do an experiment involving a water bottle, baking soda, vinegar, and a balloon!

2:33 pm – Silent praise to yourself that you actually had time to come up with this awesome experiment that will totally keep these kids’ attention for the next 35 minutes.

2:35 pm – Pass out supplies; give direction; give task; repeat directions; repeat task; repeat directions; repeat task; DO YOU HAVE IT NOW?; Okay then, DO THE EXPERIMENT THAT I WAS NICE ENOUGH TO PLAN BECAUSE I LIKE SCIENCE TOO! 😀

2:40 pm – Hear “Oohs” and “Aahs” and get 5 kids yelling at you to come look at their balloon blowing up on their water bottle.

2:42 pm – Self-give yourself for being just such a fun, science teacher today.

2:55 pm – Remind students to finish up their experiment and Scientific Method worksheet. Give them 5 minute warning.

3:00 pm – 5 minutes up! Clean up your work space and turn in your worksheet! 

3:05 pm – Discuss how cool this experiment was! Spend the last 5 minutes of class where kids are telling you that they want to now blow up Mentos and Coke. You give them the “teacher maybe” which means, if I feel like doing this with “all my spare time”.

3:10 pm – Kick your science kids out and get your own kids back for MY favorite part of the day: clean-up!!!

3:11 pm – Tell your class to pick up 10 pieces of trash from the floor. I run a tight ship. 🙂

3:15 pm – Fill out today’s Agenda with what Homework you have tonight *groans* and then stack your chairs!!

3:25 pm – Time to line your sheep up one last time and make sure all 24 of your kids have their belongings, know where they are going, and are alive (most important part!) 😀

3:30 pm – High five your 24 kids out the door where the same 3 boys love to smack your hand as hard as you can and you have to pretend like it didn’t hurt like a b**ch!

3:45 pm – Realize you made it another day with your 24 kids. Everyone made it out alive. No one was hurt. You’re 90% sure they learned at least 1 things today and about 50% sure they will ALL complete their homework.

Now, I could go into even further detail about 3:45-5:00 pm but it basically consists of making lesson plans for Literacy, Math, and Science for the very next day and potentially the rest of the week. A majority of my job is behind-the-scenes. I write lesson plans, I look up fun activities and games to make learning for fun, I research how to use technology effectively with 5th graders, and I make copies. Lots of copies. Teaching is not a glamorous job. I don’t do it for the glamour or recognition. I definitely don’t do it for the money. I do it because I feel called to do this. I know I could probably have studied and worked harder growing up and done something bigger with my life. I know I have the potential to work in other fields like engineering, business, and maybe even being the CEO of my own company. But I didn’t feel called to do that. I’m not saying that if I dropped teaching tomorrow and got a job in engineering that I would succeed, but I could have. Teaching is my passion. I know these past 2 years have been hard on me and I have doubted my purpose many times. But moving to the mountains and getting this awesome job has shown me that this is it. Teaching is for me. I’m good at it. I don’t mean to “toot my own horn”, but I’m a pretty awesome teacher. My kids tend to love me. I make learning fun. I’m a little weird and crazy, which keeps my class entertained during the day. I have candy! I even bought some plastic vampire fangs that the kids love! 🙂 I am mentally preparing for Halloween next week. The kids will be in costume and I have to plan a Halloween Party! Shoot! I have to get on that. Stay tuned for my blog next week, I will post about Halloween as a teacher. Get ready for my costume too!! I do it for the kids!

Lastly, the best part of my new job is that on my way home I get to jam to Taylor Swift while driving through the mountains. It’s beautiful here! I get to come home to my cute, little mountain puppy and unwind with a glass of wine.

*Fun Fact: I rode bikes with Dakota yesterday. If you read one of my first blogs, I typed about how I don’t ride bikes. It’s just always been a little fear of mine since I was little. I know how to ride a bike, but I just don’t like it. Well, I learned it helps to ride a bike in the mountains. When it’s this gorgeous, riding bikes is pretty fun. Dakota is so sweet. He let me take it easy and was perfectly happy with our slow pace. He told me how well I was doing and reminded me not to panic. 🙂 Love you babe!

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, bicycle and outdoor  Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, beard and outdoor

“Even the smallest of things can make the biggest difference” 

 

XOXO –

Tori ❤

One thought on “Mountains & Teaching

  1. Barbara Groff says:

    Awesome read. As a former teacher, I can tell you are a fantastic teacher & roll model to your kids! Your passion is a blessing. So happy for you, and for those lucky students!

    Liked by 1 person

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