Monday, 11 January 2016

Busy Not Teaching Day

January is the worst month. No question. It’s three weeks until exams, everyone has forgotten everything, and you have ZERO turnaround time to prepare for Semester Two, let alone generate report cards. Yet it’s also the start of the MTBoS “Blogging Initiative”... maybe that will make it better.

The Week 1 blogging challenge is “One Good Thing” OR “Day in The Life”. If you know me, you KNOW which one we’re going for. The question is how will I subvert it? In 2012 I blogged every day for a week. In 2013 I had Weierstrass talk, but you couldn’t differentiate her at any point. This time? Monday Jan 11th? You get a quiz!

The background info: I did NO teaching today - it was all evaluations of some sort. I tend to forget to eat and drink. So far in January I’ve managed at least 7,000 steps per day. I’ve been posting personified math at least once per week for over 5 months. I WILL lose my mind at one point here, which I like to think isn’t is a typical thing.


If you know me, or know teaching, let’s see how you do here:
1. My first drink (of water) today was: (a) At lunch; (b) After school; (c) After 6pm.
2. My loss of mental control occurred: (a) morning class; (b) afternoon class; (c) after school.
3. My step count was: (a) Under 7,000; (b) Average (7000-8000); (c) Above 8,000
4. Views for today's math webcomic: (a) Under 50; (b) Average (50-70); (c) Above 70
5. My meeting 1.5 hrs after school: (a) Arrived early; (b) On time; (c) Arrived late

Answers follow:

6:30am: Woke up for no reason. Weird dream. Sort of back to sleep.
Expona talks to Sine
7:00: Alarm goes off. To the computer to tweet out my new math comic, post it to Facebook, and update the index links.
7:10: Breakfast (cereal), catching up on social media, prepare for day.
7:45: Left house. Cop cars all around; apparently the city’s first murder of the year took place two blocks from my house. Okay then.
8:15: Arrive at school, a bit later than expected, terrible icy road conditions.
8:16: Answer questions from 3 students. (There's always more questions on evaluation days.)
8:29: Get to math office.
8:30: “O Canada”, and announcements start. I keep an eye out in the hall.

8:30-9:45 PERIOD 1 (PREP PERIOD)

I really hate starting the day with prep. It means I wasn’t so productive on the weekend, in anticipation. It means I have little chance to react to email or things once the day does start. I’m much more likely to be exhausted at the end, as you'll see.

I check email; I answered students at 11pm the prior night, not much new. Need to download a new agenda for my math committee meeting at 4:15pm. I double-check solutions for the Finance Task I’m giving today, then go to copy it. Check office mailbox. Photocopier runs out of paper; the fairies didn’t pay a visit over the weekend. I refill all trays.

It’s 9:10am. There’s a funny 4min video about 'how to powerpoint' that I want to show my afternoon class, put it on my jump drive, realize I need to photocopy something else. Now need to wait for photocopier. Run into a former VP in the hall. It’s 9:30am. Now I can get to finalizing my exams, which I need to have finished before end of day tomorrow. Obviously not enough time now.

9:50-11:05 PERIOD 2 (GR 11 3M #1)

Finance Task all period. One person out with a concussion, another is AWOL, so 20 students. Since I wasn’t here first period, I didn’t get to set the date, so it’s (2x+1, x=5) which is cool. Finance means they can use their devices for the TVM Solver, as long as it’s airplane mode, or the TI calculators. Also, open notes.

I get some remarks about the task names I used (Stu Dent and Penny Savour). I’d wanted to take time this period to verify some trig questions for tomorrow and write the derivation of the Cosine Law on the board - latter didn’t happen, spent the majority of this time running around and answering students. One calculator ran out of battery power, grabbed the spares from my desk, put the dead ones in my pocket. (Also, TI calcs refuse to treat a negative and a subtraction as the same. Because they’re annoying.)
My classroom setup. It was a process I blogged about.

End of period, I give them 5-10 minutes to finish up, stapling up the ones done. It being lunch, a student from my afternoon class comes with questions. He’s missing a handout. I go to print it, and I have the chance to grab my lunch (macaroni and turkey), then start eating it while answering questions.

Lunch is 11:05-11:55. The first 20 minutes was getting all my tasks in, the rest was helping students. I didn’t finish eating, I forgot to drink anything.

12:00-1:15 PERIOD 3 (GR 11 3M #2)

Task Repeat. One student AWOL, so 19 students. Still didn’t get the cosine law on the board, because when I went to enter my attendance, I saw I had an email about the student from the morning. Answering it could make my life easier in terms of phone calls, so I try to respond between answering questions in class. With five minutes left in class, I started to lose my mind.

1:11pm: Student with an IEP for extra time can’t stay after school, wants to continue writing in our school’s “blue room”. This is okay, but unanticipated (I try to build the time in).
1:12: More questions about task.
1:13: Question about if I have a stapler. Yes, somewhere, next?
1:14: Question about marks. Go away. (I didn’t say that.)
1:15: Bell goes. I tell students, hand in, tell me if they’re coming for 15 minutes at end of day, or if they can’t, I’ll give a note to be a bit late next period.
1:16: Collecting tasks while phoning blue room, they can accommodate the guy.
1:17: Stapler is found by student, sign on door is directing my next class to computer lab.
1:18: Phoning blue room back because guy needs to use his phone in airplane mode, right.
1:19: Two other students heard call, also have IEPs, want blue room. I’m writing notes for a couple other students here.
1:19:30: Paper cut.
1:20: Five students here, I have to dash to unlock lab for Per4 and dash back.
1:20:40: Blue room is full now, fine, other IEP students can write here, others give me tasks now or come back at end of day!
1:20:50: Student comments that I seem stressed. *YUP!*
1:22: Office calls my classroom asking a question about earlier attendance.
1:30: I have all students’ tasks and notes for lateness are written. One IEP student left, plus blue room upstairs. Run back to lab to actually start my class, already in progress.

1:20-2:35 PERIOD 4 (GR 12 STATS)

1:31pm: Chance to finish Summative Report (due today) and start on Summative Presentation (due next week), I give handout on the latter, answer a couple questions on the former.
1:40: Back to class for last IEP student.
1:42: Back to lab. Call blue room to confirm other student finished.

Breathe? Breathe. Okay. This class is 12 students, down from 23 to start in September (long story). At 2pm I show the little video about 'how to ppt', which I’d intended to show at the start. No other questions. Make the mistake of checking my email. No info on earlier student, need to deal with some Cappies information. One student needs to leave at 2:15. Another student finds a good website for making graphs:

2:25: No questions! Nothing for me to do! I’d check Twitter, since I didn’t get to at lunch, but I think that would be frowned upon. Wait, question. And there’s no markers for the whiteboard in the lab to sketch something. I hate whiteboards. What’s wrong with chalkboards? Or slates? You can at least draw with your finger in the dust on those.

2:35pm: Period done, back to class for P3 students who need 10-15 more minutes. Also a chance to finish my lunch. Also a chance to write Cosine Law on board. And to finish stapling, and double-check counts to ensure I have all tasks. Except stapler runs out of staples. And I have dead batteries in my pocket, why do I have dead... OH, right.


By 3pm, students are all gone, I have found staples, prepared things for tomorrow (will be singing the Sine Law Song!), put away dead batteries, and printed a report I’ll need for my meeting at 4:15pm. There’s some discussion in the prep room, including about a student with a concussion who will need breaks/extra time for the board wide summative and how does that work given the regulations in place?

I need to log back in to check my email before phoning parents about the AWOL students today. Then I phone, in both cases I end up talking to the students themselves, so followup call to work in order. Then need to drop back by office to get the task from the blue room student.

Able to leave at 3:45pm, need to get from Orleans to Downtown Ottawa in half an hour. A reminder that I did NO TEACHING today, yet I’m tired. My step count is 5282, which is higher than average for a school day. Of note, CBC Radio is talking about the local company that makes pants for dogs. Because of the meme this year, they have reached the equivalent of over 3 years of orders in 11 days. Did you know I parodied that meme in my webcomic?
Post with mouse rollover here... this post is liable to do better.

The traffic is in my favour, I make it to my math committee meeting on time. There are snacks. No water yet today. I do secretary stuff for over an hour. We’re done about 5:45pm. For the first time since 7:30am, I check Twitter. My comic has had one RT, I’m at 24 views. Sad. Fire off another tweet, also end up responding to another student related email, and chatting about the Data Course with someone else on committee.

6:05pm: Everyone’s leaving/left. I’m thirsty. I search for a water fountain - find one! First drink of the day!

At this point, I’m meeting some friends at 7:30pm, there’s no point going home. I hang around the meeting room, returning to finalizing exams, like I was doing back at 9:30am. Except listening to Chvrches.

Realize at 6:30 that my step count isn’t going anywhere this way, so start walking in circles as I solve and adjust questions. Yes, this is a thing I do. I get to a point where I should be able to finish before leaving work on Tuesday.

At 7pm, another quick check of Twitter. Discover there is now an MTBoS bot, and Kari has a piano version of “Being Watson”. Even if you're not a Sherlock fan, do yourself a favour and check out Kari's song here, it's one of my favourites. (“I got it wrong, of course. I always do. I’m not sure why I even try. I’m not stupid, but I’m not you.”)

I head out at 7:15pm, step count 7652. Arrive at pub a bit early, pace for a bit to get more steps. Dinner with friends from 7:30-9pm; get to use the washroom for the first time since 7am. Then drive home, put out recycling and take my tie off. My step count is 8654. I have 35 views on my webcomic. I'll need to catch up on "Supergirl".

This is from RDA last week.
And it’s 9:30pm, so I type this whole thing up while listening to “Radio Dead Air” (RDA) with Nash Bozzard. (Who has to do legal homework to run his show, because apparently now small time music streamers are charged as if they’re Pandora. Why??) Lots of David Bowie played, natch. And if I wasn't typing this up, I wouldn't be marking, I'd probably be drawing for my serial, so no time lost. Marking tomorrow.

And now it’s midnight, and I'm done but need to find images for this post. So how did you do on the quiz? How well do you know me? I’m all about the writing. Feel free to come back for another MTBoS challenge next week, find me on Twitter @mathtans, and check out some of my other posts:
-There Are No Dumb Questions: Text Me Never (on textbooks)
-A recap of the OAME Ignite Sessions 2015


  1. I must not know you very well! LOL I only got the step count correct. However, I do totally agree with you about how crazy the TI calculator can be about the whole negative sign/subtraction sign thing! I enjoyed your creative post. Your math comics seem interesting so you have a new Twitter follower! Have a great day! #MTBoS

    1. That's understandable! Glad you have faith in my steps, and even more pleased that you found my math comics interesting. As to TI, it's crazy how ingrained they've become in schools - wonder what it'll look like in another 10 years. Hope you enjoyed your day too! (Aside - I don't think your post was too detailed, you see I have a tendency to go on and on and on. ;) )

  2. I got the step count and when you got tired right. There's no way I could last until 6 without water though. Consider getting a waterbottle. It helps a lot.

    1. Well done! As to water, I do have a mug at my desk in the prep room, but I was barely there on Monday. Today I remembered to have a drink at lunch. Sometimes I wonder if I'm part camel. Thanks for the suggestion!