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A Two Hat Day in My Life …

5:30 a.m. — the alarm rang. I whacked it. It was too dark outside to be time to get up.

5:40 a.m. — I gave in to the the cat’s harassment and got up. Showered, brushed, combed, deodorized, dressed, etc.

5:55 a.m. — stumbled across the living room. I’d left an empty shoe box on the coffee table. A furry beastie moved it into my path on the floor — the lid, too, just a few feet away, for a double play.

6:00 a.m. — checked email — note from OC.

6:05 a.m. — placed phone call to OC.

6:23 a.m. — hung up phone, read and commented on “morning” blogs.

6:50 a.m. — left home for work

7:00 a.m. — walked into Mr. K’s classroom at work and reviewed the daily agenda.

7:15 a.m. — went to my classroom and prepared for my sub.

7:35 a.m. — went to the teacher’s lounge to make photocopies for inservice. Three of five machines were working, and in use. I waited. Pretending patience. Finally, my turn, but only 10 minutes remained before the bell. No time to make all the copies (different standards for each grade level), only time to make the Kindergarten handouts.

8:00 a.m. — joined the entire school body on the playground for the flag salute and morning announcements.

8:05 — in classroom with students, made grade level daily announcements, reminded the students this is my, “Two Hat” day, and gave them a morning warm up lesson.

8:35 a.m. — called the office in search of my sub, who was already 5 minutes late. The office manager was out sick and nobody knew who was supposed to be where. They sent the Assistant Principal to teach my class. By the time he arrived my reading students were busy working and I was ten minutes late for my meeting. The AP came in nervous. He isn’t well versed in teaching our reading program. He whispered to me, “What do I have to do?” I said, “It’s testing day. Sit down, be quiet and watch them.” He said, “Oh, thank you! I can do that!”

8:40 a.m. — as I was leaving the room, having called Kinder and explained I’d be late, one of my students, Rose, came from her reading class. She was crying. Rose doesn’t speak English and she didn’t understand why her reading teacher wouldn’t let her in the classroom. Fourth grade is taking the big nasty standardized test this week, and non 4th grade students who usually go to 4th grade reading were to attend alternate classes. Rosa didn’t understand her new directions. I helped her find where she should be.

8:55 a.m. — 15 minutes late — I show up for the kinder meeting. I love the kinder meetings. They have their program down pat and never need my assistance. I passed out the hand-out listing all the skills their students should have mastered by the end of the year. They were thrilled to learn they’re ahead of the curve. Then we just chatted about their students’ writing (pictures with a descriptive word or two) and shared a couple of lesson ideas. Then we caught up on each other’s lives.

9:20 a.m. — I left the kinder meeting and headed for the teacher’s lounge to finish making copies. I saw two firemen and the janitor walking down the hall. They stepped into Ms. P.’s room and said, “There’s a fire in your waste basket.” Ms. P. snapped, “Line up!” to her students and pulled the fire alarm. I walked right past the teacher’s lounge and any hope of getting my photcopies made. As the AP and my students exited my classroom, I took over so Mr. AP could go be the AP. My students and I marched to the baseball field and waited for the all clear.

9:40 a.m. — back in the classroom. The kids resumed testing. I sat down to fill out reading progress reports. I hoped the sub would come early so I could get my copies made for my 2nd grade inservice.

10:10 a.m. — I dismissed my reading class and went to the phone to call the office. My sub was late, again. They assured me that Ms. Starla, our permanent sub on staff, was on her way. I asked for a volunteer from the second grade staff to make my photocopies for me. Ms. T. — wonderful Ms. T. (a regular reader of this blog!) — volunteered. I owe her a major favor.

10:15 a.m. — Ms. Starla arrived and wanted to know why I needed a sub. I reminded her that it was my regular inservice day, and we’d be taking turns teaching my class as usual. She acted like this was a new concept, rather then like we’d done it approximately every ten school days all year.

10:18 a.m. — I ran for the bathroom, having last visited it at 7:00 a.m., which was two cups of coffee earlier. Then I joined Ms. T. making copies. She let me take the copies that she’d finished and go start my meeting — late.

10:22 a.m. — Second grade meeting started. We passed out and discussed the handouts. I especially like working with 2nd grade because they are serious about teaching their kids to write. They ask good questions and request resources which will help them do their jobs well.

10:35 a.m. — I returned to my class and finished teaching the math lesson Ms. Starla started. Ms. Starla left.

11:20 a.m. — the World Language teacher came in to take over my class. I finished preparing my reading progress reports.

Noon –officially lunch time — I went to the teacher’s lounge and finished making my photocopies for my final inservice.

12:20 p.m. — I returned to my classroom and munched a small green pepper stuffed with tuna salad. I popped some gum in my mouth so I’d have peppermint fish breath.

12:35 p.m. — I went to the 1st grade inservice, hoping Ms. Starla would show up at 12:45 to pick my students up after lunch. The first grade teachers filtered in slowly, talking the whole while. Conducting their inservice is a struggle because there are always two or three people talking and not bothering to listen, then later they complain, “Nobody told me.” Pft. Today they were interested in what I had to offer, so were relatively well-behaved. Still, their inservice took longer then all the others because I had to wait for them to listen — and repeat myself when they didn’t.

1:10 p.m. — I went to the bathroom, then returned to my class. The kids were sitting at their desks with blank papers in front of them. Ms. Starla was yelling at them. “The lesson plan says this is review! You do know how to do it! Somebody come up and do the first problem on the board.” I realized by the tense silence in the room that nobody remembered how to do the problems, review or not. Ms. Stella announced that the students were being obstinate. I realized that she had no idea how to find common denominators, either. I told her I was back and she was free to go. She grabbed her stuff and ran. As she bolted out the door, the AP walked in. He was carrying his clipboard and stayed to review my teaching as I presented the lesson. He also stayed and helped a slower group complete the assignment, while I walked around from table to table answering questions from the other kids.

1:35 p.m. — the AP left the room. I taught another lesson on finding common factors and prime factorization. It is all review. We did the problems in small groups and on the board.

2:00 p.m. — teacher oral read — I opened the novel, Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen and started to read chapter 14. Every kid in the class is into this book. They were quiet, straining to hear what was going to happen next. I stopped periodically and asked comprehension questions or prediction questions. After one such pause, Izzy turned to Jasmine and started talking about some camping trip the scene reminded him of. Jasmine turned her back on him. Izzy didn’t get the hint. He talked louder. I stopped reading and stared at him. The rest of the class stared, too, except Jasmine, who looked at me. Izzy kept talking. I reached for my bookmark. Half the class moaned aloud. Joe stood and hissed across the room, “Izzy, shut up!” Izzy looked startled. He turned to me, saw the bookmark in my hand and said, “Oh!” Followed by, “Uh-oh,” as he glanced at his angry classmates. I raised my eyebrows at him. He clamped his mouth shut and folded his hands. I finished reading chapter 14 and part of 15, then we stopped to discuss what we’d heard, and what might happen next.  Oh!  And share Izzy’s story, now that it was the appropriate time.

2:40 p.m. — the student’s prepared the room to go home (stack chairs, pick up garbage, clean white board, put supplies away). Then we had a bathroom break and they went to music. I went to my last meeting of the day — 5th grade’s test prep meeting for the big ugly test we take next week.

3:25 p.m. — I picked my students up from music and took them back to the classroom, where they picked up their backpacks. We all walked to the school gate together. The bell rang and I waved good-bye and good riddance. I also told them — like I do every day, “Don’t come back!” They always do.

3:35 p.m. — I headed for the gym. Time to get some exercise.

Quilly is the pseudonym of Charlene L. Amsden, who lives on The Big Island in Hawaii. When she is not hanging out with Amoeba, she is likely teaching or sewing. Or she could be cooking, taking photographs, or even writing. But if she's not doing any of that, she's probably on Facebook or tinkering with her blog.


  1. I can’t believe they make you teach and run inservice meetings on the same day. You should have had the whole day off to do your inservice biz, or at least have all the meetings in one half of the day so you didn’t have to keep swapping hats. It did my head in, just reading about it!

  2. Wow what an amazingly busy day. I can’t get over the time that you, and the students start school. We (the teachers) need to be in our rooms at 8.45am and the students start at 9am…the students go home at 3.15pm and we are able to leave at 3.45pm (but we barely get out of the school grounds before 5pm with the amount of meetings we attend!).

    Did I read right that you are in charge (heading) all the grade areas? 😮 . WOW! We nominate one teacher from each area to be the leader of that area, but then we do have ‘out of the classroom’ co-ordinators that oversee all of us.

    You sure have earnt your money today 😀

  3. I would like your two-hat day! Actually… I do best when I wear 2 or 3 … even 4 hats in a day! I’ve always been like that. I get bored very quickly! Can you say ADHD??? I’m sure if they had HAD that diagnosis waaaaaay back when, I would have gotten it! But imagine this…. I survived all those years — UNmedicated! LOL!

    We have a teacher at (no longer) my school who, on Friday’s, always tells her students… “have a great weekend… don’t get arrested!” ROFL! Actually… it’s good advice!

  4. Several comments- So Ms. P didn’t know there was a fire in her own wastebasket? Is it not in her room? I feel like I’m missing something there.

    Peppermint fish- Yummmmm.

    What is it with 1st grade teachers? My husband had a neglectful one, I had a mean one, my son has a dissmissive one, and you’ve got talkative ones… Tell ’em to pipe down! 😀

    Love your parting shot for the day!

    Finally, I was going to beg you to come work in my son’s school and bribe you with free rent. But the free rent comes because we’re moving, so this whole selfish plan to get good teachers here isn’t as selfish as I’d hoped. HeeHee! Still, if you ever have a great desire to move to the vast cornfields of the midwest, lemme know.

  5. Mumma — the meetings are set duering each grade level’s prep time. The teachers aren’t released from their room by subs. They come when their kids are at art, music, P.E. or World Language. (See my comment to Jen.)

    Jen — school is in session from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30. That is an hour longer then a normal student day. At my school the kids have two specials daily. Every day every child gets a language enrichment class. They also go to either art, music or P.E. Every day I get a 40 minute prep period. Everyday I also have an extra prep, which takes the form of an inservice class lead by one of my peers. My two hat day is unusual since I only facilitate writing for grades K-1 & 2. Most of the Curriculum Coordinators are responsible for every grade level and have to inservice all of them on the same day.

    Doug — pft — my evening was boring. I had Sesame Ginger Turkey breast for dinner, and wrote that humongous post. Then I went to bed.

    Melli — get a job at an Edison School. They give you so much to do your head will spin from it all.

    Brig — it was a fire drill. A fireman will walk into a classroom, tell them where the fire is, and watch to see how the teacher responds. They have walked into my room twice in the past ten years. The appropriate response is immediate student saftey, followed by alerting the school — which Ms. P. did perfectly.

    As for coming to the great cornfields to teach — my specialty is 5th grade. Your son would have to wait awhile before he needs me anyway — at which point you might be trying to lure me away from a certain gentleman and a Pacific island. I have doubts you’ll succeed.

  6. Quilly, I say this all the time, but especially when I spend a day at my children’s schools – hats off (both of them) to you teachers. It is not easy – especially for the good ones. To have one who really cares is the greatest treasure a parent could hope for.

  7. Ah! I couldn’t figure out how she was so absorbed in her lesson that she missed a fire. I can be a bit thick at times. 🙂

    My son’s a real sweetie pie!! Aw, who am I kidding? I fold. 😀 They grow cute kids everywhere, but certain gentlemen are exceedingly rare, as are Pacif… no, wait. They are growing more of those. LOL!

  8. G — I love my job, but there are days I’d gladly toss both hats. Luckily, June, July & August usually cure that urge. I start to get bored.

    Brig — I waited a long time to find someone with the qualities that certain gentlemen possesses. And I forgot earlier to respond to your, “What’s wrong with 1st grade teachers”, comment. They spend a lot of time hanging out with 6 year olds. It’s only natural that they would start acting like them. I am glad I teach 5th grade. I am sooo much more mature!

  9. Silver — it’s called commitment — as in, I should be comitted. I am going to the gym tonight, too, despite taching from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (I have 8 kids for afterschool tutoring).

  10. Quilly Sister, just my personal preference – but I’d choose ‘green pepper and tuna’ over ‘peppermint fish breath’! lol

  11. Jackie — there’s no accounting for some people’s taste.

    Dr. John — for wearing the second hat, I get an extra $1000.00 per year. Spread that out over 24 paychecks and . . . . now I’m depressed. Thanks.

  12. Like I’ve said before, I’m astounded that teachers continue to work for what they’re paid, and that their union permits it. Have I told you lately that you’re special? No, I don’t mean “special class”. You can’t take my seat. 🙂

  13. Nessa — sorry, keep your hats. Or send them to Melli. She’d probably take them.

    OC — I am actually quite lazy compared to some of my coworkers. I don’t know how they do it.

    Hmmm — here in Vegas we have two special classes. One is called Special Ed. One is called enrichment. Enrichment is for this kids way ahead of everybody else. The class is also sometimes called, Gifted and Talented Ed. Considering which of those two classes you’d be in, I believe you just insulted me.


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