A Day In The Life, Math Teacher 2012 Edition

For anyone out there — I’m fine here in New York City. I spent the hurricane  [2] at a friend’s place in the city, and we have power and all good things. When I was trying to pass the time, I decided to do one productive thing.

I would like to present to you the start of a one day blogging initiative.

We are busy. We do a lot. We are professionals. And you know what happens when we talk about what we do… most people who don’t teach just don’t get it. That’s why we go to each other for support — either in real life by unwinding over a glass of wine (or a mocktail) at a local watering hole, or by talking with each other virtually using blogs, twitter, email, or something else.

But I think that needs to change. Three years ago, my school got me a sub for a day and I shadowed a tenth grade student. I met up with her before homeroom, and I went from class to class until 3:15. I sat through various lessons (I even answered some questions in French!), I took a chemistry exam (D+, but it would have been a C if I had remembered the conversion from Celsius to Kelvin!), and I ran from room to room seeing what it was like to go from teacher to teacher with differing expectations, to see if the passing period was enough time to get from point A to point B, what a student was to do if they had no lunch period (like the student I shadowed… answer: eat yogurt and string cheese during class), etc. The real shame was that I didn’t shadow the student after school. Balancing extracurriculars and the work assigned to see what a true full day was like. The experience was golden. I got to be a student again. (Plus the student I shadowed and I got to make up a rad handshake… the shadower-shadowee handshake.)

I believe that others out there can know what it is like to be a math educator, at least for one day, from start to finish. I think we can explain to them about what we don’t and not leave the conversation saying “yeah, they don’t get it.” What are the big things we do, and more importantly, all those little things we think about and deal with? Not only am I beyond curious what a day in the life is like for all y’all, but I would like to take up the challenge of trying to get across what it’s like to be a teacher to someone who isn’t a teacher. Verbal explanations — even to my parents who are interested and care — hasn’t quite done the trick.

Thus, Tina — the author of Drawing On Math — and I have decided that we’re going to post about one of our days — from start to finish — during the week starting on November 12, 2012. Personally, I don’t know what I’m going to do. Maybe I”ll have some video, some photos, to accompany words. Maybe I’ll just write. Maybe I”ll have a timeline. Maybe it’ll be accounting of things, maybe it’ll be an accounting of thoughts. Who knows — but I am going to try to get across the big and the small of my day. [1]

Here’s the thing: we’re professionals. Let me say that again: we. are. professionals. There are many of us, which maybe makes what we do undervalued. There is this disturbing cultural war on teachers which is disheartening and just sucks to bear witness to. And there is this hidden side to teaching that everyone who has had teachers, but never been a teacher, doesn’t know about. And so I’m hoping that this might help people understand.

We’d love for you to join. Do a day in the life from any day in the week of November 12. Post about it on your blog. And maybe by the end, we’ll have a collection of some good things to share with someone who just doesn’t get it. If you write about it on twitter, use the hashtag #DITLife … Throw your blogpost link down in the comments on this post or in the comments of Tina’s post, Submit your form on this handy dandy form that Tina created, and Tina will compile them in one of her mathemes

I suspect there will be various banners for this floating about. You can take the one from the top of this post, or if you don’t like the pastel flowers, you can take this one below. Or any of the others that are oot and aboot (Tina’s are here).

And if you’re not a math educator, and want to do this, have I got two banners for you. Yup, they look almost identical. Yup, I’m lazy. Deal with it.

[1] Of course, we have to be careful to make the post about us. There are issues of kids privacy, and sensitive things we deal with, that we can’t explicitly write about. That’s probably why I haven’t done this before… because I don’t yet have a good way to get around this and still give an honest accounting of what happened. But that’s a lame excuse, and I will come up with a good way to give an honest picture of a day in the life, while still respecting my school, colleagues, and students.

[2] Want to see a vector valued function related to the hurricane? (I’m teaching about vector valued functions in multivariable calculus… so this resonated.) This is a live wind map. And here are some screenshots from around 1am last night:



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