8:00 We’ve all made it inside. The students are hanging up backpacks and putting their folders in the designated basket for me. I head over to my desk to enter morning attendance into the computer. I have a line on the floor made from colorful duct tape, which separates my desk area from the rest of the classroom. I call the designated area The Zone of Teacherness, and students know they may not touch things on my desk and shelves, or even cross the line unless they are invited to do so. They also know I am taking attendance and handling other administrative things right away, and they should go about their own business of starting the day unless they have an emergency. But, that doesn’t stop two of them from lining up and staring at me sheepishly from behind the duct tape line. I ask calmly, “Is this an emergency?” They both shake their heads no, so I wave goodbye and remind them to sit down and raise their hands if they need to tell me something. I assure them I will be with them in just a minute. This may seem harsh, but I learned the hard way that if you don’t have some sort of system like this in place, you will be bum-rushed by at least 15 children every morning who have urgent news for you. By urgent I mean they want to tell you their cat is going to the vet today, or their uncle is visiting from Minnesota, all of which are important to them and should be heard, but are not necessary for me to know right that instant.
8:10 While the students settle in and start their morning work on the board, I go through their folders to check homework and make sure there are no parent notes, permission slips, or book orders to deal with. In the meantime, I notice Braydon hacking ceaselessly into his morning work notebook. I send him to the nurse, not wanting other students (or myself) to catch the apparent plague he has brought with him. The nurse calls down to my room to ask if someone can bring his things down for him, because he has a fever of 102 and will be going home. Wonderful. Enter Clorox wipes for the first time that day in an attempt to disinfect everything Braydon’s touched in his short time in the classroom.
8:20 The remaining students and I go over the morning work and begin Reading Stations. I am proud and grinning to myself because at this point in the year, reading is a well-oiled machine. They are quietly working at their stations, for the most part, rotating to the next one with little disturbance, and I am really making progress with the group at my reading table until . . . the fire alarm goes off! My student who has autism screams and covers her ears until we are outside. We line up on the far end of the playground, and I count students. I’m one short. How could that be? I think back to attendance and everyone was here today. I count again. I’m still missing one, and feeling panicky until I finally ask the kids, “Who’s missing?” “Braydon,” one says. “He went home sick remember?”
Oh yeah. Phew.
9:15 We get settled back into the classroom after the fire drill. The distraction is a bit much for my twirler from earlier that morning who begins taking everything out of her crayon box and reorganizing it instead of doing her work. Other than her, mostly everyone goes back to work. We get through the rest of reading time successfully. I tell students to meet me at the carpet for writing, while I ask the teacher’s assistant (a classroom job for a student) to pass out whiteboards and markers for our mini lesson on adding suffixes to words. On the way to the carpet, I stop at my desk where I see a new email from a parent telling me they will be dropping off a cake for McKayla’s birthday after lunch. A whole cake, and she wants to know if I have forks and plates to serve it. Mercy. I scribble “cake” on a sticky note so I remember to stop in the break room to see if I can scrounge up some forks and plates later. I head over to the carpet to see kids with no whiteboards. “Who’s my teacher’s assistant this week? Why doesn’t anybody have whiteboards?” “It’s Braydon, he went home sick, remember?” Katie speaks up. “Oh yeah,” I remember again. “Katie can you pass them out for me then?”
10:30 It’s time for Writer’s Workshop. This truly is one of my favorite times of the day. It starts with a ten minute mini lesson on a specific skill or topic to pay attention to in their writing for the day, and then students work independently on pieces of writing while I confer individually with them. Classical music plays in the background, and it is truly peaceful until . . . Jack runs to the garbage can to vomit and just barely makes it. I am both revolted and grateful that he didn’t puke on his desk or anywhere near me, as I am a joiner. I have made it abundantly clear to my students: if they feel like they need to be sick, they do not come tell me about it or ask to go to the bathroom. I’ve drilled it into them to just go quickly to the nearest garbage can. If they come tell me, they might puke on me. I assure them I will figure it out when I see them at the trash can, and won’t need an explanation. Kids are also not great at planning ahead, so trying to rush to make it to the bathroom usually results in a pile of that sawdust stuff they sprinkle on puke in the middle of the hallway. Jack hadn’t interrupted once during the mini lesson, and stayed in his seat the entire workshop time, so I should have known something was wrong. On that appetizing note, it’s lunchtime, and time for more Clorox wipes to disinfect Jack’s desk.
*Also, A Teacher's Day Before 8:00am*
**This is an excerpt from my book (Chapter 7: Clorox Wipes, A Typical Day, And Why Teachers Need a Summer Break.) Grab your copy of Candid Classroom on Amazon for more!**