Melanie Dorrian is a Year 3 teacher at decile 6 Koromatua School just outside Hamilton. She is among 50,000 teachers expected to walk out on strike next week in protest of their pay and conditions. A particular issue is the increasing work-load teachers have to juggle on top of their lessons. Here, Melanie reveals a typical day at school.
TUESDAY MAY 15, 2019:
Before school: This is my time to talk to the students and catch up with colleagues. I've finally trained the children to open the blinds, but they automatically take the chairs down now and put up the date on the wall. There's a few last minute jobs to be ready for the day and today I am grateful that parents have made all their contacts for the day via Seesaw and email.
8:55am The bell goes off and it is time to do the roll. This is followed by the karakia, the date and we check out the weather forecast for the day and record the current temperature as part of our long term data collection for statistics. We also compare the difference to the temperature at 9:00am on Monday – we are learning to add and subtract to one decimal place. I also give out the points for being on time to school and the early morning jobs on Class Dojo.
9:05am Newsbook – this is where we check out the latest news and current events. It's also sneaky reading. We read five days of news and today's news is about the mega-strike planned by secondary teachers and primary teachers and principals. We also take another look at the statistics of the Chiefs v Sharks match.
9:20am Fitness with Room 6, the new entrant class. There is a run around the field and then we come back into Room 7 to dance to some GoNoodle songs. This is reinforcing the tuakana-teina philosophy of our school.
9:40am Poem of the Week – this week we are reading a poem about a Granny coming to stay as we have Grandparents Day in Week Four. We learn about words ending in -ly and plurals after reading the poem together.
9:55am Writing time – my students are asked to review their writing about autumn leaves from Week Two. Three students are popped onto the three desktop computers to type up their stories, while I work with another student on my laptop to publish her story.
10:30am Morning Tea time – students eat inside and I supervise. I pop on a classic Kiwi song as we count down Nature's Best 100 Songs. Today its is Tim Finn's A Fraction Too Much Friction. Music appreciation is important.
10:40am The students go out to play. This is not my duty day, but I quickly check emails from colleagues and also my text messages from the outside world as I can't really do that during class time. Then I head to the staff room.
11:00am Quickly sort out stuff with the students about play time. Check the weather and temperature again. Then the students get a mini-whiteboard each and a whiteboard marker for our Maths Talk.
11:10am The students have two worksheets about 2D shapes to finish off.
11:50am I ask the students to pack up. We switch to Literacy. I give out a handwriting sheet about the letters n and m and another worksheet about final consonants in words. I demonstrate and explain how to complete the worksheets before taking a reading group to read about eco-systems.
12:30pm Lunch time – the children eat at their desks and each teacher supervises their own class.
12:45pm I get to go to the staff room to eat my lunch. The staff are a friendly bunch and this gives us the opportunity to workshop any issues we are having with students who we need support with.
1:30pm Back to class for the roll again and another check in on the temperature and current weather conditions. There are some issues from lunch to sort out again. Then the students gather their book bags and we go off to the library. Unfortunately, some of the behaviour is not respectful to our library environment, so I have to send two children for some time out in another class. Most children have returned their books and chosen new books for the coming week.
2:20pm We are in the classroom again, and we get out our Topic Books. Some children are still finishing their eco-systems title, some are completing a comprehension task from our reading about eco-systems, some are colouring a picture explaining eco-systems, and I have another reading group reading with me about eco-systems.
2:45pm Pack up, put up chairs, tidy the floor, pack bags and put them outside to go home.
2:50pm On the mat doing some singing to end the day and tidying up any lose ends plus giving out a few notices to go home.
3:00pm The bell goes off and I walk the students down to the bus/pick up area at the front of the school. I shake hands with each child as they go and attempt to give them a positive about their day as they leave.
3:05pm A quick supportive debrief with a colleague before I grab a glass of water (I am so thirsty!) and head back to my classroom to sort out my mess I made that day and get myself ready for Wednesday. I write up the Newsbook for the next day (about the moa footprints in Otago) and curate the picture to go with it. I print out the stories that have been published that day. I find the maths assessment I want to use the next day and head off to the photocopier to copy those and get the printing I have already sent.
3:45pm On the way I discover the house next to the school is on fire and the Fire Service is doing a stellar job, but the house is completely destroyed. Aue.
4:05pm Have I got everything sorted?
4:10pm This is nearly two hours earlier than I ordinarily leave school, but I've committed myself to attend a community event held by a local MP. It's a good opportunity to learn about what is happening in the wider Waikato and to lobby an MP about the #ItsTimeNZEI campaign for our PTCA negotiations.
6:30pm This is about the time I get home on a good day…. I am toast!