8:30am Enter the school building and faithfully move my dot to the "in" column
8:35am Open my computer and check email, enter grades, etc.
8:55am 8th grade boy enters my room, reads yesterday's assignments from the board, and cries, "Oh!" As he returns to the hallway, I hear him ask another 8th grader, "Did you finish English?"
8:57am I wave to the boys who are peering through the windows of the door behind me, trying to scope out what I'm doing online. They laugh their faces off and disappear.
9:10am 1st period. The yearbook kids gather around the computer, playing with photos in InDesign. My head graphics man can't understand why I won't agree to let him fill the yearbook with half-and-half photos: half a student's face, half Barack Obama's face. The same student is also uncertain if he'll be able to live together with another boy when the dorm parents come...because that boy doesn't believe in Santa Claus.
"Do you believe in Santa Claus?" Caitlin asked him today. He insisted that Santa is real and lives in Russia. We're not sure if he's joking.
10:05am 2nd period. The 7th graders review for a test by transforming their literature stories into comic strips. "You can do this by yourself or with a partner or a small group," I tell them. One boy's hand shoots up instantly. "By myself! Those boys talk too much!" Indeed, they do. They spend most of the class discussing how to draw rats with beady eyes.
Also during this class, one of the boys asks, "Did you know that TV used to be in black-and-white? It was a long time ago; I think it was the 80s." And then I look down to make sure that my ancient arms haven't gotten wrinkled and gray or crumbled apart like the relics they are.
11:05am The 8th graders are begging for more reading time. We do the same comic strip project, and the boys discover a bottle of glue in the box of markers. One of them begins to glue his hands together. I commandeer the glue for awhile, but eventually, I throw it back in the box. "Okay, guys, please just don't glue any more flesh or body organs, okay?"
One grins. "She didn't say hair!"
11:58am The 9th graders are, likewise, reviewing. I have just received my 17th student in that class, making it my largest and most crowded. The other day, I told them that I really liked them, and they cooed "Awwww!" in unison. A particular posse of girls likes to "Awwww!" many things I say, so I don't know that they always feel affirmed so much as they like to make noise--but on that particular occasion, one looked up at me and asked, "Really?" New goal for 9th grade: help them believe it.
12:51pm The two 6th graders come in: one boy, one girl. Since it's the period before lunch, the boy likes to remind me that he's starving. Famished, actually. (That's one of our weekly vocabulary words.) He is famished and he thinks I should bring chocolate for the class. I tell him that chocolate is a great idea and that perhaps he should bring it. He tells me that the science teacher has a drawer full of chocolate. I say that sounds brilliant. His eyes light up, and I continue, "So when you're talking about being famished and making me feel hungry, I can go to my chocolate drawer and munch away."
I think he's a little disappointed that I keep twisting his scheme, but apparently he doesn't mind too much, since he asked me today if I was going to be his class sponsor. "That'd be awesome," I told him, "except that middle school doesn't have sponsors."
"Well, you should do it anyway. Are you coming to the breakfast tomorrow?"
The middle school prayer breakfast. He tells me they're serving chocolate and churros, and his mom's in charge, so it's okay that I'll be there. "So are you going to come?"
"Okay, I'll be there."
1:41pm Lunch in the third-floor kitchen. By Thursday, some of us are looking a little bedraggled. Mostly those of us on the third floor, where the stuffy afternoon air sits still while the wasps buzz around our windows. I eat tuna straight from the can, as it's been awhile since I've been grocery shopping. If ever a man should find himself attracted to any particular quality of mine, I think it will be my prowess with a can opener.
2:15pm The study hall kids ask for passes to here and there. I write three different literature tests, feeling my cerebellum peel away from the rest of my brain as I do.
3:05pm Last hour. Prep period. I print my tests and wonder what on earth I'm going to do with myself if I leave the school building before 9:00. Oh, I know! I will attempt to make origami with the paper I inherited in my big file drawer.
3:25pm I am just as bad at origami now as I was in second grade. I abandon the procrastination break. Maybe I will try again tomorrow.
4:00pm The bell rings! School is over. At least until 4:20, when I will go downstairs for a meeting, the first time I've descended the staircase all day. I walk all the way to the first floor and think, "Wow. There are so many people in this building. We have elementary students? What happens on these other floors all day long?!"
4:30pm Meeting. I listen carefully while sketching pictures of Russian babushkas.
5:45pm Meeting ends. My tired brain is simultaneously full and empty. I try one more round with the origami. No luck.
6:45pm I have no idea what I've been doing for the past hour other than coercing the printer to spit out my literature tests, but I'm still at school. Caitlin and I are lounging in the first grade room with Sarah and Juliana, discussing Sylvia Plath, and I am a little bit glad that an offhand discussion in my freshman English class has burgeoned into a continuing conversation amongst a fraction of the staff. It's very likely that the things my kids remember most from class will be the life stories of the very sad, depressed authors I introduced them to at the very beginning of the year, the ones who met tragic ends early in life.
Every day, my 6th grade boy asks if any other class is reading Edgar Allan Poe yet, and I tell him, no, not yet. And he smiles and asks if we're going to have homework today, and I tell him that we'll see. And I go home exhausted and sweaty and with only half of my mind still intact, and I collapse in bed and laugh about Russian Santa Clauses, but somehow I manage to scrape myself out of my sheets in the morning and smile because I can't wait to go try it all again.