Day in the Life

It’s a typical Tuesday, and I do typical things.

  • 8:10 AM: Time to check the inbox.  I need to: schedule an observation for a fifth grader’s hearing specialist, request Ja’Neesha’s paperwork from the school district down the road, organize GATE testing for three 3rd grade classrooms, and decide whether I’ll take ANOTHER flipping student teacher.  There are also many things I should make many other people do, but it’s more work to ask nicely than I’m up for right now.
  • 8:20 AM: Receive text from Finn’s mom.  Grandma can babysit the sick little brother, so we’re on for Finn’s IEP.  Which, per tradition, will begin with Finn delivering his own report, outlining his thoughts on the year’s success and challenges.  This formal meeting setting provides excellent training for a boy who intends, when he grows up, to own and administer a lucrative cattle company.
  • 8:25 AM: Refer parent to local store for possible purchase of chewable jewelry.  Parent responds by opening designer wallet and taking out craploads of money.  I am a poorly paid Chewable Jewelry Mule.
  • 8:27 AM: Get 2nd grader off the bus to proactively focus re: Good Choices for upcoming events.
  • 8:30 AM: Discuss occupational therapy report and whether an addendum IEP is necessary with kindergarten parent, while simultaneously giving directions to paraprofessional who will be working exclusively with 1st and 2nd graders today.
  • 9:00 AM: Model Behavioral Intervention for new paraprofessional who will be supporting Ja’Neesha.  Essentially: “Watch.  She’s gonna hit me.  I’m gonna ignore it. Then, she’ll try to bite me.  I’ll move my arm away.  Eventually, she’ll do something right.  AND WE THROW A FUCKING PARTY.”  Any questions?  Good.
  • 9:20 AM: Listen to complaints about 2nd grader.
  • 9:50 AM: Pull 2nd grader out of class to admonish re: Bad  Choices.
  • 10:25 Take ten-minute time sample data regarding 4th grade recess, while simultaneously attempting to have diplomatic, open-hearted discussion with adult who sees one of the largest and most important parts of her job as actually not at all part of her job.
  • 10:45 Spend 10 minutes in kindergarten, as per IEP of child who usually doesn’t really qualify for any kind of service.  See, usually, he’s excellent.  But sometimes, he attacks people.  Lots of people.  All at once.  And repeatedly.  But not really very often.  So we better keep an eye on him.  Ten minutes.  Twice a day.
  • 11:00 AM: 2nd grade reading comprehension group, but no, not with THAT 2nd grader.  With the other one.  Sorry, two.  With the other two.
  • 11:20 AM: Transition reading comprehension kids back to class, briefly whispering in ear of third second grader to proactively focus re: Good Choices for upcoming events.
  • 11:55 AM: Listen to complaints about 2nd grader.
  • 12:05 AM: Hold 2nd grader in from lunch recess to admonish re: Bad Choices.
  • 12:30 PM: 4th Grade Lunch Group!
  • 12:50 PM: Finn enters my office, trailed by his mother.  There’s a creamy white stain on his shirt.  Teacher Beth: “My friend, is that vomit?”   Finn: “I’m concerned that this will delay the IEP timeline”.  Mom: “I’ll go get his backpack.”  And this is part one of the annual meeting: we sign for attendance, we’ll do part two next week.  Pleased that the handwritten date now matches the typed one, Finn allows Mom to bring him back home.
  • 1:20 PM: Toilet time.  Ja’Neesha, thwarted by full-physical prompting (“Five seconds after you say it, her body needs to do it–we wait the five seconds to let her move on her own if she wants to”) from her initial dream of staying at recess FOREVER, loudly and incoherently lectures the toilet paper dispenser as I check to see if we can get away with leaving her in that Pull-Up.  Ja’Neesha is essentially potty trained, but she loses bladder control when she gets upset.  I told the family the day before she started: “I can’t guarantee that we won’t piss her off at some point.  Might as well have that extra layer just in case.”
  • 1:30 PM: Teaching Topic: No, You Do Not Put Your Hand Down the Toilet
  • 1:50  PM: Teaching Topic: Addition and Subtraction With Unlike Denominators
  • 2:10 PM: Ten minutes in kindergarten.  Because…well, you know.
  • 2:20 Teaching Topic: The Day After Monday is Tuesday, Not “I Don’t Know”
  • 2:30 PM: Realize that the slingshot on my desk was really sorta supposed to be given to the principal a couple weeks ago.
  • 2:40 Teaching Topic: The Foods and Traditions of Native California.  (Sub topic: When filling out the study guide from the social studies textbook, you may not simply make stuff up.  Because no, it’s not true that the Ohlone people ate that.)
  • 2:55 PM: Oh crap, school’s over in five minutes and that kid needs a behavior note I didn’t write in her communication notebook the bus is here–did he use the bathroom yet?–which classroom should I be standing in at the end of the day to create the illusion that I’ve been there all along?  Ugh regrouping–Juan Carlos needs regrouping  I guess we’ll do regrouping tomorrow Wait when’s the IEP and the paperwork’s due WHEN now?
  • 2:59 PM: Wait at bus zone with 2nd grader, conversing about both Good and Bad Choices.
  • 3:07 PM: Oops, did the fifth grader take her hearing aids out?
  • 3:10 PM: Apologize profusely to occupational therapist, who could possibly have been notified about cancelled IEP before she traveled halfway across town to attend it.
  • 3:20 PM–5:30 PM: Round Two with the inbox features Science Camp and middle school.  With a chaser of online IEP paperwork, for three annual reviews in progress–one half-done but abandoned cuz the parents couldn’t sit that long, one cruelly curtailed by Finn’s stomach flu, and the other which was due last month but may need to happen next month instead.

That evening, as I unwind with a large cup of frozen yogurt, a friend and I are talking about our respective days.

“You know…when people ask you what you do for a living, you should just tell them, ‘Professional Whack-a-Mole.’ “

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