My alarm goes off at 5:30 am--one of those soft alarms with the sounds of birds singing, to start the day off as relaxed as possible. My morning coffee made in a French press--the absolute best way to make coffee--is one of my favorite parts of my day. I get dressed quickly in whatever outfit I laid out the night before so that I have plenty of time to enjoy my coffee and watch the news before I leave my West Philly apartment at 6:20. After 7 am, the El train is packed, so I like to leave nice and early to beat the public transit traffic. I get to school around 6:45 am. Students won’t arrive until 8, but I have a lot to prepare for the day ahead. I have to make sure I have worksheets printed and that my Smartboard is up and running. I go over my lesson as I organize my handouts, and I do some grading if I have time. I eat my breakfast, touch up my makeup, and turn on my mini speaker that plays music as the kids come in.

            My student teaching situation is a little different than most--my mentor teacher went on maternity leave the first week of November, so right now, I’m on my own. It’s hard work, but I’m not worried. I learned a lot from my mentor teacher in the first two months of school, and I taught this same class--in the same classroom, even--last year on an emergency certification. So I feel prepared to fly solo for the next couple of months. I teach two or three 90-minute block periods, depending on the day. Thankfully, I only need one set of lesson plans for all my classes, though each class is drastically different, and their responses to lessons vary a lot. Therefore, I need to be prepared for everything. Teaching is challenging, and I don’t always feel like I did my very best when I leave school, but my students bring me so much joy--they make the challenge feel easy.

            My latest period ends at 1:30 (I have last period prep), so depending on the day of the week, I can either go home early, or I come down to Penn GSE for class. Seeing other Masters students in my cohort after school is great because we get to share stories from the day and give each other feedback on problems we’re having in our classroom. It’s so important to have other teachers in your life. We will never be able to come up with all the solutions we need on our own, and often, the thing we really need the most is someone else’s perspective. All of us in the UTAP cohort are going through the same things, so the support we give each other is crucial to our success this year and in our future careers.

            By the time I get home in the evening, I’m so ready to change into pajamas and watch Netflix. Giving yourself that time at the end of the day to relax is really important too. I might take 20 minutes or so to finish up some grading or homework as well, but downtime throughout the week is necessary to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed. I’m usually in bed by 8:30 or 9 pm. I know I have to be up early in the morning, so I need plenty of rest. Tomorrow will be another day filled with unexpected dilemmas as well as unexpected moments of magic.