6:00AM – My alarm rings. Well actually it rings about 4 times before that, but I normally don’t get out of bed until 6. I usually head straight into the bathroom to begin my morning routine. After showering and getting dressed while listening to music, I eat breakfast and prepare my lunch, which is either leftovers from dinner or a cold-cut sandwich.
6:55 AM – I head out. I work at the Downtown Middle School, so my apartment is right around the corner.
7:00 AM – I like to be at work early. On Monday, Thursdays, and Wednesdays, I use this time to get Dean of Students (DOS) work done since that is my secondary role (Administrative Assistant to the Dean of Students). Some of my task include running the character grades and selecting a quote of the day. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I have meetings for Character Education planning and DOS Support, respectively. I am learning about the planning for the Character Education class from my amazing coach Ms. Gutekanst and the Dean of Students, Mr. O.
I also use this time to quickly grab the student tutorial work packets that I need for the day, so I don’t have to return to the tutor work room.
7:35AM – The tutors gather for our morning meeting. Our Corp manager gives us any updates and makes announcements for the day.
7:45AM – The excitement begins. At this time I normally head down to the 1st floor for my arrival duty. I help maintain the line as students wait to shake Mr. Podhurst’s (Director of Downtown Middle School) or Mr. O’s hand. Sometimes I support the Assistant Dean, Mr. Cuffee, with making sure students are in appropriate uniform. I love the morning because it’s a good time to check in with the students, see how their evenings were and hopefully help them start the day off on the right foot.
8:00AM – I head upstairs and get my table set up for tutorial. I try to get there first so that my students know to come sit and get started before they get the chance to wander around.
8:15AM – Tutorial begins. 8th grade ELA (English/Language Arts) is the first tutorial of the day. My 8th graders like to try to find ways to get out of doing tutorial packets. They try everything from engaging me in random conversation to making all sorts of deals. They’ve been here longer than I have, so they think they have the upper hand. In order to get them to focus, I offer incentives. For example, for every section they complete in a packet, I allow them to speak about other subjects for perhaps 5 minutes. Often we race or play jeopardy using the packet for a prize (snacks, etc.). At the end of every tutorial, I am impressed. Often times the student that struggled the most will perform extremely well on the Exit Ticket.
9:15AM – Second period is my “free” period. I dedicate this period to my secondary role. This is my DOS office hour. I love being in the DOS office. I get the chance to meet and interact with students for various reasons. I have and continue to learn a lot about students and about the disciplinary process at DMS. I also use this time to sort and enter late bin homework on Dean’s List, a website where teachers/tutors have access to student profiles (grades, behavior, homework, etc.). I have come to realize that I know more student’s first and last names than I do faces.
10:15AM – 7th grade ELA tutorial begins. My 7th graders are… exciting. They definitely wake me up and keep me on my toes. I have four 7th graders, two very energetic boys full of personality and two sassy girls. I am excited to work with them because their potential for growth is so high. I look forward to seeing them accomplish the goals that they continue to set for themselves on a day to day basis.
11:15AM – Lunch time! On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the other Administrative Assistant to the DOS and I set up the school store. This is always fun because the students have to use their positive points earned (behavior points for exemplifying respect, integrity, self-discipline and/or excellence) for in order to “purchase” items from the school store. They try to bargain and we have the chance to teach them about saving for the bigger prizes and working to earn more positives. The rest of the week I use lunch time to get some planning in… and oh yea… eat.
11:48AM- And so begins what I like to the call “the 3 hour tutorial marathon”. 6th grade Math is first. My 6th graders are competitive. Two boys and two girls. Once we get through the Do Now, these four often grasp the material well enough to compete. I normally have them race, sometimes against me, to see who can complete a set of problems the quickest. This group has also taught me how to be the most effective with differentiation of learning styles. I often have students work together or check each other’s work when they finish a set while I work with a student that is struggling.
12:48PM – 7th grade math. My 7th graders return with more energy than they had in the morning. We normally review the Do Now (section of review), then we take a two minute break to get water and let out some energy by talking about the day or doing some stretches in the hallway. Normally once we get seated students are focused and we get to work on the packet. They have given be feedback – that tutorial isn’t exactly always exciting- so I am working on making things more exciting. THey have to put more effort into tutorial in exchange. Heym I think it’s a pretty fair deal.
1:48PM – And so return my 8th graders for math tutorial. They are even less excited about math than they were ELA. My biggest challenge is motivating them. I am working on ways to get them a little more enthusiastic about math, so I try to have them teach me how to do problems or have them race against one another for a prize (i.e. positives).
Recently, I have found that they like games and something to look forward to during tutorials. We have turned the tutorial packet into Jeopardy! for positives or for snacks. I also find that if I tell them we will review something they are struggling with in class, they are more willing to focus and get through the tutorial packet, which contains basic skills that they need for class material.
2:48PM – Free period. A gift after the marathon. This is my time to hide in the tutor workroom and get some packet planning done and check in with other members of my Tutor Corps. They keep me going!
3:45PM – Dismissal duty begins. I support on the 4th floor by ensuring students are transitioning to their homerooms silently before leaving for the day. Around 3:55PM I help transition students who require Study Hall to a classroom where they have to complete any homework they did not do the night before.
4:00PM – Tuesdays and Thursdays we have Power-Up. This is an after school homework help program for students. I have different students for Power-Up than I do for my normal tutorial which is great because I have the opportunity to connect with other students. It’s great to see students so determined to get their work done before they head home.
On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I am normally free to go at 4:20PM once dismissal is complete. I normally stay until 5:30-6PM to work on parent phone calls, DOS duties, or packet planning. I plan to begin using this time to offer students that would like to stay after for additional homework help.
6:30PM – Home at last. My first order of business is dinner. I try to cook as often as possible, but that depends on my energy and what food I have in the fridge.
7:30PM – If I can keep myself away from my bed to avoid taking a nap, I begin packet planning or working on any other responsibilities (emails, graduate applications). If I do nap, I normally wake up after an hour and do these things.
9:30PM – It’s time to wind down. I get ready for bed and begin watching Netflix or the Food Network. I call my parents/siblings and friends from outside of Great Oaks.
11:00PM – It’s bedtime, otherwise getting up tomorrow is going to be a struggle.
On weekends, I often find myself in Manhattan. I am from NYC, so I love going back to meet up with family and friends. If I am not in the city, I am in my apartment in Teacher’s Village relaxing and working on graduate applications. My group of friends and I have ventured out of Newark a lot because a couple from them are from Jersey. I do plan on finding more to do in Newark.
This blog post describes my Monday- Thursday routines. Friday is different as students meet by grade for Leadership and Community Meeting. I am only required to sit-in on one class to serve as an advisor to a group of 7th grade students. The rest of the day is spent planning packets and doing DOS support. Students dismiss at 2:00PM on Fridays, so there is no tutorial, but there is Professional Development from 2:00PM-4:00PM.
Joanna DeJesus is from New York. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Applied Linguistics: TESOL from the Macaulay Honors College at CUNY Queens College, where she also minored in Sociology and Honors in Social Sciences. She is keeping her options open for the future, but hopes to continue pursuing a career in Education.