A Day In The Life: Nora Gutekanst, Great Oaks Legacy Downtown Middle School Tutor

gutekanstblog6:00 am: I hear my roommate’s alarm going off and I start to wake up. I decide I can afford a few more minutes before I actually have to wake up, so I set my alarm to 6:20 and go back to sleep for a couple more precious minutes.

6:20 am: Now it is time to actually get out of bed! I walk to the kitchen and make coffee. I will not survive the day without a cup of black coffee in my system! While the coffee is brewing, I pack a lunch and grab some snacks to bring to school.

6:30 am: When the coffee is ready, I bring the coffee back to my room to drink while I get dressed and ready for the day.

7:15 am: Once I am ready, I make sure I have my lunch, my computer, my water bottle, and all my tutorial materials for the day packed in my backpack and ready to go. When I have everything packed, I walk the two blocks across the street to school.

7:20 am: I am in the school building. I say a quick good morning to the other tutors and staff I see as I walk to the third floor where there is space to prep for the day.

7:25 am: Since I am lucky enough to not have an arrival duty, I use this time before first period to prep and plan for the day ahead. I pick up tutorial packets from the back table where the TA’s leave them out usually the night before. Then I sit at one of the tables towards the back where it is quieter and get organized for the day or prep any packets that I have not prepared yet.

8:12 am: I am on my way to first period, which is 6th grade ELA tutorial. I have two 6th grade boys that I work with for both ELA and Math.

9:12 am: 6th grade ELA tutorial is over. As a transition leader, I have to take some of the students to their next class. I call them into line and lead them silently outside into the hallway to join the rest of their homeroom class as they wait to enter their next class.

9:15 am: I have arrived at my next tutorial, 8th Grade ELA. My group meets on the 3rd floor. As a Timekeeper for my tutorial room, I have to call the Do Now for the first 5 minutes of the period and the Exit Ticket for the last 5 minutes. These times are designated in every period for students to do work silently and independently. I tutor two girls and one boy who I really enjoy working with as they prepare for high school next year!

10:12 am: I have called the end of the period and the 8th graders are being transitioned to their next class. This is the start of my free period.

10:20 am: My secondary role is an Assistant to the Director. My main job in this role is to assist in the planning of the curriculum for the Character Education and Leadership Class that every student at the school participates in. This year the students are learning the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens. On Monday mornings, the first three periods of the day are dedicated to this class and I am there to help set up, distribute materials, and work with students on the lesson. During this free period on Tuesdays, I sometimes meet with our Dean, Mr. O, to discuss how the last class went and to brainstorm and prepare lessons for the upcoming weeks. We also discuss the plan for Friday’s Advisory Class, which takes place during homeroom and is when students receive their grades, including their Character Grade for the week. I have to plan a draft of the lesson plan for the upcoming Monday and the lesson plan for Friday’s Advisory Class.

11:12 am: This is the start of the last ELA Tutorial for the day. I work with three 7th Grade girls who are special education students and take a replacement ELA class separate from their peers. For some weeks, I help the special education teacher, Ms. Pichardo, with the planning of the lessons that we do in this tutorial.

12:12 pm: Lunchtime! This is when 7th and 8th grade have their lunch block, and is also the time I can take a few minutes to relax, eat and chat with some co workers. I try to bring my lunch to school since there is not much time to eat out and I cannot afford to do that too often.

12:47 pm: Lunch is over and as a transition leader, I walk up the stairs to the 5th floor where the Big Hall is located. This is where 7th graders eat lunch. I wait for Mr. Podhurst, our school director, to call silence in the room. He then will call location of each tutorial group so the transition leaders can take their students down to 7th Grade Math tutorial. I wait for my team, Team Great Oaks to be called.

12:50 pm: Students have settled into their tutorial groups. Since I tutor special education students, I do not have to tutor during this period. Instead, my students will be in a replacement math class at this time.

1:00 pm: I use this period as a chance to prep and plan tutorial packets or to work on planning lessons for the Character Education and Leadership Class.

1:47 pm: I pick up the 6th grade students from their previous class and bring them to my 6th grade tutorial location in Rm. 409.

1:50 pm: 6th Grade Math tutorial begins. My 6th graders favorite subject is math so I try to make the lesson fun and challenging for them.

2:50 pm: This is the last period of the day, finally! It is 8th Grade Math tutorial. I make sure all students in my tutorial location are seated and I call the time for the Do Now so that tutorial may begin.

3:47 pm: Tutorial and school are over. Transition leaders take the 8th graders back to their homeroom so they can pack up and head home. I am organize my Exit Tickets and other packets from the day and ensure I have my materials for tomorrow.

4:00 pm: Some of my students may come down to the 3rd floor after dismissal to work on homework with me. I usually convince a couple of my students who are struggling to get their homework done alone at home to stay after school with me. If it is a Tuesday or a Thursday, an after school homework help program called Power Up will start at this time.  Certain students who are in this program will spend an hour with a tutor working on homework.

5:00 pm: Most of the students who stayed after with me are packing up their work and heading home. At this time I may call some parents to check in with them about their child’s behavior, homework completion, or current grades.

5:30-6:00 pm: Ideally, this is the time I will be leaving the school to head home for the day!

6:30-7:30 pm: If I am not feeling too tired from the long day, I will take an hour to go to the gym in my apartment building. I am training to run a half marathon this spring, so I try to go at least a couple times a week. It feels nice to take this time to de-stress!

7:30- 8:00 pm: I am usually STARVING at this point and ready for dinner! I will make something quick to eat. I am not much of a cook…so dinners are usually pretty low key for me! Sometimes I may run to get Chipotle nearby or grab dinner with friends instead of making something in my apartment.

8:00-10:30 pm: This is down time I will use to catch up on planning lessons for Character Education and Leadership class or prepping tutorial lesson plans. Some nights I may choose to relax and watch Netflix or read to take a break from schoolwork.

10:30 pm: By this point in the evening, I am exhausted. It is time for bed. I usually fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.


Nora Gutekanst attended Fordham University where she double majored in International Political Economy and Middle East Studies. She hopes to obtain a Master’s in International Education. Following this year, she plans on continuing to work in a school setting or working at an international or education focused non-profit.


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