A Day In the Life

A day in the life of an Elementary Art teacher. Part 3.

     
 …because unless you’ve ever been one, you really don’t know what it’s like.

(If you missed Part 1, you can find it here. If you missed Part 2, you can find it here)

10:53am- 1st grade teacher shows up at door with 1st grade class (they’re early by 2 minutes, of course). 1st grade teacher apologizes and offers to wait (which you appreciate, but hey, they’re already here). 1st grade class drops lunch boxes off at door (they, the lucky pipsqueaks, have lunch right after wards). 1st grade teacher spends next 4 minutes explaining about behavior problems in 1st grade classroom and their new behavior plan (you politely nod throughout this all the while knowing that her plan will not work in your classroom). You lie and say, “I’ll be happy to use your strategy in my art room.” 

10:57am- 1st grade teacher is on her way. 1st grade class is settled down. Class begins. Class is interrupted by 3rd grade student (it seems 3rd grade teacher needs brown construction paper, but not that shade of brown, and not that shade of brown, but this shade. And can you cut it to be 15×19?). 3rd grade student leaves. 

11:03am- 1st grade class is settled down (again). Class begins. Quick review. Pass out supplies. Students start working. Spend next 30 minutes answering questions, wiping noses and bouncing back and forth across the classroom like a spastic art genius running on fumes.

11:35am- Clean up time. Students complain that they didn’t get enough time to work. Explain that this is because Big Brother doesn’t want us to be happy.

11:37am- 1st grade teacher enters (early). Finish cleaning up and wrapping up (all the while 1st grade teacher gives you evil eye because you are not ready when she is). Class is over. Line kids up. Receive numerous hugs and high-fives while 1st grade class heads out the door.

11:40am- Prep time. Notice 1st grade student left lunch in classroom. Trek to cafeteria to deliver lunch (where numerous eager students cheerfully greet you with hellos, hugs, smiles and waves and insist that you “come here!” For a brief moment, you feel like the well-loved and highly adored celebrity you always knew you were). Trek back to classroom. Run into Principal in hallway (at which point he will ask if you have a moment later on, can you please stop by his office). You lie, “No problem.” Continue trek back to classroom.

11:53am- Do some last minute prep work for the last two classes of the day (while eating some old Halloween candy you found in the bottom of your bag). 

11:55am- Patiently wait in the hallway for 3rd grade class to arrive (they’ll be late. They always are, but that’s okay because you’re still picking candy corn out of your teeth). 3rd grade class arrives (bouncing off the walls, fueled up on free cafeteria ice cream; a reward for some challenge the Principal sponsored. Silently curse Principal.). 3rd grade class enters classroom. 3rd grade teacher spends next 5 minutes asking if you could make a donkey puppet for their puppet show (all the while completely obliviously to the rowdy behavior occurring in the classroom. Oh, and the donkey has to be this big, And he needs to be wearing a hat. And can you make his bandanna blue and purple plaid with red accents? Oh, and we need it for tomorrow). 3rd grade teacher leaves.

12:08pm- 3rd grade class has finally settled in. Class begins. Quick review. Pass out supplies. Students start working. Students stop working to scramble to the window to watch a runaway horse chase a cop car down the road (these types of distractions happen quite frequently, much to the enjoyment of the students. One day it was the Principal being chased outside my window by a bee. Kid you not. Another day it was the Principal trying to herd a skunk off of the property… outside my window. I enjoyed that one too.).

12:20pm- Students begin working (again). Spend next 15 minutes answering questions, wiping noses and bouncing back and forth across the classroom like a spastic art genius running on fumes.

12:35pm- Clean up time. Students complain that they didn’t get enough time to work. Explain that this is what happens when people don’t lock the gate after they feed their horses.

12:40pm- Class is over. Line kids up. 3rd grade teacher is on time. 3rd grade class leaves. Wait for 2nd grade class to show up.

12:43pm- 1/2/3 Special Needs class shows up (they are pushed-in with the 2nd grade class, despite their varying skills and abilities). 1/2/3 Special Needs class quietly enters classroom. 

12:46pm- Still waiting. 2nd grade class shows up sporadically (they have recess prior to art and 2nd grade teacher sends them down as they are ready).

12:57pm- Entire 2nd grade class is settled in. Special Needs student wanders in with assistant. Special Needs student and assistant get settled in.

1:05pm- Class begins (yes, over 20 minutes late). Quick review. Pass out supplies. Students start working. Phone rings (which inevitably results in every student to cease working and listen intently). Answer phone (it’s the Principal and he wants to remind you that he asked you to stop by his office, which you have yet to do. Politely remind him that you have classes and then hang up. Silently curse Principal for being a complete moron.). Coerce students back to work. Spend next 10 minutes answering questions, wiping noses and bouncing back and forth across the classroom like a spastic art genius running on fumes. 

1:20pm- Clean up time. Students complain that they didn’t get enough time to work. Explain that this is what happens when they take their sweet-ass time coming in from recess.

1:25pm- Class is over. Line kids up. 2nd grade teacher is MIA. 1/2/3 Special Needs teacher is on time and reluctantly agrees to take 2nd grade class as well.

1:25pm- Prep time. Begin putting supplies and art work away. Remember that Principal requested to see you. Trek down to office. Run into 6th grade students (who have returned from their field trip and remind you that you said they could come in during “quiet study” time and catch-up on some back work). Explain that now is not good. Break 6th grade students’ hearts. Explain that this is what happens when a dumbass with frosted tips is hired as the Principal. Proceed on trek to office. Tell secretary why you are there. Sit down with trouble making students and wait. And wait. Approach secretary again. Secretary calls Principal. Principal explains that he can’t remember what he wanted you for and he will find you later. Grumble to secretary. Trek back to classroom. Run into 6th grade students (who are wasting time outside the bathroom ’cause they’ve got nothing better to do). Invite 6th grade students to classroom to work on back work. 

1:35pm- Continue cleaning up. Bribe 6th grade students with candy if they will wash 2nd grade classes paint brushes. 6th grade students agree. Help custodian stack chairs so he can clean classroom (which, inevitably, takes twice as long as it should because he likes to gossip. A lot. Which you pretend to care about and listen to).

1:55pm- Send 6th grade students away (they neglected to leave at the dismissal bell 5 minutes ago). Sit down for the second time of the day. Contemplate prepping for next days class. Remember the pile of mail on your desk. Decide instead to wander into the faculty lounge to see if there is any free food hanging about (yeah, it’s gross, but you haven’t eaten all day. Beggars can’t be choosers).

2:05pm- Return to classroom to find 12 unattended 3/4/5/6 grade students in classroom (crap! You must have forgotten it was the third Wednesday of the month and book club uses your room after school on those days. At least it’s not the second Tuesday of the month, because that would mean you would have 30 student council members in your room). Kick students out of your room (inform them they can only return when they have an adult with them because you don’t get paid to supervise them. Silently curse the principal because he is their adviser and you have spoken to him about this before). Decide prep for tomorrow will have to wait. Tackle pile of mail instead.

2:10pm- 3/4/5/6 grade students return with Principal (who apologizes and asks students to thank you for the use of your room. Like you have a choice in the matter). Spend next 25 minutes trying to work while Principal ineffectively runs book club (all the while messing up your already cleaned classroom and writing all over your already spotless whiteboard). Shake head in disgrace as Principal allows students to have their snack of soda and candy. 

2:45pm- Cringe as students leave for the late bus. Politely but firmly ask Principal to clean up your previously clean classroom (at which point he calls the students back into the room and has them half-assedly put your room back in order and again has them thank you for the use of your room. Silently curse Principal for being such a spineless squirt). Finally get a chance to prep classroom for tomorrow (all the while listening to the rest of the building head home for the night). 

3:00pm- Remember that you requested a sub for the day after tomorrow. Spend next hour and a half writing up plans (you do this today because you know that tomorrow afternoon you will have to prep all the supplies for the sub, making sure to label them in easy-to-follow steps that still won’t be followed. You wonder why you even bother but refuse to be that teacher that leaves a video for the sub to play for every class).

4:30pm- You finally begin the 35 minute drive home (trying really, really hard to not fall asleep, but manage to slip into some sort of oblivious daze and are genuinely surprised you actually make it home in one piece because you don’t recall the drive at all). 

5:00pm- Arrive home (where you will inevitably be told that you can’t possibly be tired because your job isn’t real work. How can it be real work when all you do is play with kids all day, only have to work 6 hour days and have vacations and summers off? Real work isn’t work that you enjoy. At this point you will question whether or not you actually do enjoy your job. You will then remember the hugs and the high-fives and the smiling faces and realize that, yes, in fact, you do. This makes the belittling of your job almost worth it.)

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