Wake up before the sun rises. Scramble to get ready, eat breakfast, and arrive at school on time. Five minutes of quiet review and last-minute double check of the previous day's setup. The silence of the morning is broken as students pour down the halls and into my classroom. It's another day at school.
Bell rings. Take attendance. Read announcements. Say the pledge. Pass out paperwork, answer questions. Bell rings. Hallway duty.
Five minutes straight of rapid-fire questions:
"My locker is jammed, what should I do?"
"Can I take this note to the office?"
"Can I borrow a pencil?"
"Can I fill my water bottle?"
"Can I go to the bathroom?"
"Can I take this to my coach?"
"Do you have a bandaid?"
"I was absent yesterday, did I miss anything?"
"I was absent last week, how should I catch up?"
"My Chromebook trackpad isn't working, can I go to the Media Center?"
"I won't be here next Tuesday through Thursday, do you want me to do anything?"
"Is it okay if I finished my book before I needed to?"
"Did I leave my water bottle in here?"
"Have you seen a white binder?"
"Can I leave my instrument under your counter?"
Bell rings. I take a deep breath and close my classroom door. Students take their seats and we begin our learning. I share with the class our day's focus and goal. We read, we write, we talk. We laugh and we try our best. We work in groups, we work as a class, we work independently. I answer phone calls and field emails in between instruction and student interventions. I make demonstration notebook pages for students who need more support. I redirect students to our classroom anchor charts and digital tools available in our shared Drive folder. I challenge students with extensions to maximize learning. I know what each student needs and I have pre-planned how these students' needs will be met. I walk around and around my classroom, checking in on students and supporting their work, answering questions, offering praise and constructive feedback. Before we know it, our collective thinking is interrupted by the bell, signaling the end of class and the departure of 30 students, along with the subsequent arrival of 30 different students. The bell rings, and we start again.
Repeat the above six times, for 50 minutes, with four minutes of intense, frantic questioning in between.
Why do teachers do this?
We are addicted to the process of learning. As teachers, we love to be needed, we love to plan, we love to see the student growth. We love to predict student needs and to develop tools and lessons to meet those needs. We love when the figurative lightbulb clicks on over a student's head and we can see it and bask in the light together.
We never stop planning, innovating, and trying. We love the process.
When the students leave for the day, I plan for the next day. I set up for tomorrow and before I flip the lights off in my classroom, I turn around and stand in perfect stillness for a moment. Tomorrow, the seats will again be filled with students, opportunities for learning will be presented and attempted, and growth will occur.
We start again tomorrow.