A typical day for me as a junior high teacher in Calgary is almost indescribable.
The school day officially begins with the morning bell, when I greet my 28 Grade 9 homeroom students, whose eyes are buried in their cellphones and whose ears are plugged with ear buds connected to their iPods. I remind them to separate themselves (temporarily at least) from technology as we come together as a class with morning announcements, “O Canada” and a prayer before the bell rings and classes begin.
Once I’ve presented the lesson, students demonstrate their understanding in various formats differentiated for their learning needs. As I supervise students’ work and ensure they stay on task, I also deal with any issues that might arise. Like my colleagues, I am more than just a teacher: I am a caregiver, nurse, social worker, role model and motivator. I usually perform these various roles over the course of seven to eight 40-minute classes of between 25–35 students each. This year, however, I’m working halftime as an AISI (Alberta Initiative for School Improvement) teacher, focusing on 21st century learning, student engagement and assessment.
Lunch is a quick 30-minute break for staff who don’t have club meetings, intramurals or supervision. The students’ energy level in the afternoon is determined by what they ate at lunch, and many return with their bellies filled with junk food consumed at the nearby McDonald’s or 7-Eleven.
Once the teaching day ends, I read and reply to the e-mails that have flooded my inbox throughout the day. I finish paper work required by the school and then mark assignments and enter the marks into the D2L or Desire2Learn portal, where parents can log in from home to see how their children are progressing.
Once I wrap up for the day, I head off to one of the districtwide committees on which I volunteer. The time the meeting ends will determine how much time I’ll have at home in the evening to complete assorted tasks. For example, I am taking a professional development course (I finished my master of education last fall and I’m now taking religious education courses) and I may have marking or planning. If I’m lucky, I’ll squeeze in a quick run before I head off to bed.
Because my work week is so busy, family time occurs on the weekend, but only after marking, planning and course assignments are completed. Needless to say, my life as a junior high teacher is a never-ending vocation.
Aside from teaching at St. Helena Junior High School, in Calgary, Adriana Wild serves as Local 55’s vice-president of member engagement and is the program coordinator for the Calgary City Teachers' Convention Association.