A Day in the Life of a Teacher

Allyssa Gauer, Columnist

Attending school is the perfect way to give both children and adults a better perspective of each others’ lives. Of course, teachers and students are required to have different goals and are restricted to certain circumstances based on who they are and their roles in the education environment, so it is completely understandable that their schedules and day in general are unique. For example, teachers must plan their next lesson and grade assignments, while students are expected to finish their homework on time. However, I began to wonder how different or similar a teacher’s day at Horizon Honors was like, so I asked a series of questions relating to their classes and courses and compared the answers to my own.

The Horizon Sun: How do you prepare to start the day?

David Vitagliano: Usually I think about it at home before I even come in,  and I basically have a plan for each week. I know what I’m doing like a week ahead of time, [so] every day when I come in, I get ready for those particular things that I need for any given day. I spend, like, half an hour [to] 45 min in the beginning of the day doing that, and at the end of the day, I also use that time period to plan for the next day; making sure I have all the materials I need, the lesson outlines of what I’m going to do, anything like that.

Lisa Di Chiara: I come in at 7:00 AM.  How I prepare depends on what the day entails.  I usually start by checking my email.  I will set my computer up with what I need for the day.  We usually have handouts, so I will count them out for each class, to have them ready to put out on the supply table at the start of each block.  I will update the information on the whiteboard.   If we are doing a lab activity that day, I will prep the supply buckets with the needed materials or double check them if I was able to prep the day before.  Then, I make sure the supply table and the room are organized for the activity.  If we are doing a lecture, then I open the PowerPoint and review it before school starts.  If there are any supporting materials that I will need during the lecture, I will get those together and put them on the supply table or the counter behind my desk.  If we have a test or quiz, I put the privacy folders on the tables.  If we are using computers, I get the cart and print the signet sheets.  Basically, I prepare for my day by organizing, organizing, and then organizing some more.  

Kara Cochrane:   I like to be at my desk by 7:30 in the morning. That gives me enough time (I do not like to rush), to put the objectives on the board, pull up the warmups, get out any needed supplies, and read/respond to any overnight emails.

The Sun: What is the most challenging part of teaching/being a student?

DV: To me, the most challenging part of teaching is being able to reach every student, and I know from years of teaching that that’s not always realistic, you know you’re not gonna reach every single one, but it’s what I strive for. [Especially in] American History; that is a core class. They have to be there, so I always tell them at the beginning of the year, “I love history, and I know I can’t make you love it as much as I love it, but I’m gonna try,” so those kids who don’t love it, I have to spend some extra time thinking about them and thinking about how am I going to get them to have some buy in on this so they can experience it. And so sometimes I do spend more time thinking about them and how I can reach them.

LDC: The most challenging part of teaching is trying to meet the individual needs of almost 150 seventh grade science students, when I only see them 80 minutes, every other day, in groups of 20-30.   

KC: The most challenging part of teaching is reaching and connecting with all students. I want them all to be successful, and most every student tries their best at all times, but it is a challenge when I have students who are not putting forth their best effort.

The Sun: What is the most valuable thing you have learned?

DV: Wow, I could write a book on that, but I really think it’s summed up by this poem that I love: “I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. That it is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher I possess tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations it is my response that dictates whether a crisis will escalate or deescalate, and that a child is humanized or dehumanized.” I found this on another teacher filing cabinet, and I looked at that and said “that is truth.”

LDC: Everything that you learn as a teacher is valuable.  I don’t know that you can necessarily say one thing is more valuable that another, because everything that you learn helps to shape you as a teacher.              

KC: Teaching takes patience and perseverance. And before I entered teaching, I had no idea how emotionally invested I would be in the success and well-being of my students.

Although I may not have a poem to speak for me, skills like determination, teamwork, and perseverance are all valuable things I have learned throughout my education.

The Sun: How do you organize your events or lessons during and after school?

DV: A lot of teachers write down an entire plan, [and] I actually do have them all written down in a book, but I hardly ever look at that book, because I’ve been teaching 25 years so I know, usually, what I’m going to do for every unit, and because of I’m been teaching so long, I already have all the study guides and things like that already created so I don’t have to create those in advance. But I do try to improve stuff every year. And especially for my teaching, I spend a lot of time thinking about that.

KC:  I am a very organized person. (Just look at my desk….I am not one of those teachers buried by stacks of papers.) I use Google Calendar to help keep me organized with school, clubs, and my family obligations. And I organize all papers, lessons, and resources for each of my math units.

LDC: I have a curriculum plan for the quarter, that let’s me know what I need to prepare for each day. I have a calendar to keep track of meetings and due dates. I make to-do lists. I use lots of sticky notes for reminders.    

There are similarities between the students receiving the education and the educators, but mostly differences, including the organization and preparation of all the things to do. But whether your a teacher or a student, you are still expected to put forth your best effort into your role.