It is not always easy explaining to my friends, colleagues, and even family what exactly my hybrid role looks like. I usually say that I teach in the mornings and do “policy-related work” in the afternoons. I currently teach three different classes, one of which meets after school and during study hall periods. My afternoons are often filled with off-campus meetings, writing emails (and blog posts), reviewing research, and making phone calls. I typically stay at school at least two full days each week, working in the library in the afternoons before I either teach or attend meetings after school. I try to leave campus at least two afternoons a week so that I can fully focus on the second half of my job. Below is what a typical Monday looks like.
6:00 Alarm goes off - I go right to the snooze button.
6:15 I roll out of bed. Usually, I’ll check email for any important messages from time zones to the east.
7:15 I leave my house with my 3-year old daughter and drop her off at preschool.
7:55 I arrive to school. I have about 20 minutes to get materials ready for my classes.
8:25 1st period: I teach U.S. History to 11th graders.
9:25 2nd period: I teach a class called Global Leadership.
10:20 I meet with my “Green Team” group to make sure student monitors are ready to keep our school composting system running for the week.
10:40 If I’m lucky, I have about an hour to get my classes ready for the next day. I write lesson plans, make copies, and run other errands around the school.
11:30 Lunch: I try to make it to the staff lounge, but often I am stuck at my desk catching up on emails. Lunch is also the best time for me to meet with students.
12:00 I leave school and head to a nearby coffee shop or a downtown office for meetings. I have met recently with school board members, directors of non-profits, and union and district staff. Sometimes we discuss the policy brief that our Washington NMI group released. Other times I am planning for projects, such as the Seattle Public Schools Teacher Advisory Council that just convened for the first time last week.
2:30 I head over to another school to meet with a teacher who is interested in learning about our NMI group.
4:30 I arrive home to my basement office and log on to a webinar.
6:00 I go upstairs to have dinner with my wife and daughter.
8:00 With my daughter in bed, it’s time for more grading, planning, and emailing. I also document my meetings from earlier in the day and do homework for an online class that I am taking.
11:00 Bedtime (I’m working on making this earlier).
This was an oversimplified look at my day. I didn’t include other committees and projects that I work on at my school. I left out evening events at my school and in the community. Every day is different. But you get the picture.
I am extraordinarily lucky to have built-in time for engaging in leadership work around policy. And unlike many of the organizations that propose ideas to reform schools, my work is always grounded in the realities of day-to-day teaching and learning. I hope that in the near future, more teachers will have opportunities like mine. Together, as we elevate our voices, we can have some real influence on policy and push those in charge to make decisions that are in the best interests of our students.
Noah Zeichner is a teacherpreneur, dividing his time evenly between teaching social studies at Chief Sealth International High School in Seattle and supporting CTQ’s New Millennium Initiative.
The opinions expressed in Teaching Ahead: A Roundtable are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.