Awhile back, when “A Day in the Life” posts were all the rage in my blog feed, I’d always intended to do one. I knew that one day–when I was no longer a teacher–I would want to look back and remember what each day was like at my first teaching job.
Well, I’ve now waited long enough that I am a PREGNANT teacher, which means that my schedule has gotten a bit more boring when it comes to free time (since all of that seems to be taken up by naps or complaining about my nausea). Since, as I write this, we have not announced to the world at large that I am expecting, I had planned to do a post that was just about what a normal teaching day would look like for me. However, I figured that the lack of running, donating plasma, and cooking in my time at home would be a dead giveaway to some people of the happy news, so I just decided to wait and post the honest-to-goodness truth of how it’s been being a teacher during the first trimester of pregnancy.
A Day in the Life of a Pregnant Teacher
5:50 A.M. Alarm goes off, twenty minutes after it used to last year. I roll myself out of bed (which I have already done at least twice in the night–once to go to the bathroom, the other to go to the bathroom again and then eat something). Depending on which urge is worse when I first wake up for good, I either relieve myself or get a hard-boiled egg from the fridge.
6:00 A.M – 6:35 A.M. Good thing I’ve been doing the same makeup routine for months because my brain is still half-asleep as I get ready and all I can think is, “Every morning is the worst morning” (which is something my husband said the other morning as we woke up that was just too darn true to not keep repeating). Since I’ve showered the night before, it only takes 5-10 minutes to do something with my now-dry hair. While I have the best intentions to be finished getting ready by 6:20, I inevitably am not ready until at least 6:30, which means that my wonderful husband is forced to take on the task of packing my lunch (and usually does the job of making my breakfast too, which has been a peanut butter and jelly sandwich ever since I figured out that not only did the thought of it not make me sick, but that it actually helped to downplay my nausea as well). With Sea Bands firmly in place on my wrists and my sandwich in my hand, I head out the door.
6:35 – 7:08 A.M. I am on the road to work, a 33-minute commute in good weather. To make the time pass more enjoyably and to help me stay awake, I listen to audiobooks (right now I’m in the middle of Memoirs of a Geisha) or blast some upbeat music. Lucky for me, the route along which I drive is actually decently attractive (since it’s out in the country and over a mountain). Nearly every day, I think about how I really shouldn’t speed so much, but when you’ve got a one-lane highway and no cars in front of you, it’s hard not to push close to 70 the whole way (despite the 60-mph speed limit). Besides, the thrill of possibly being pulled over is enough to make me not think about how well (or not well) that sandwich is settling.
7:09 – 7:25 A.M. I arrive in my classroom and prepare all the last-minute things I’ve conveniently put off for right before I need them (like making copies or updating the agenda on the board). I also try and fill up my water bottle with ice cold water before the day starts since pregnancy has turned me part camel. If I have time, I also check my email to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything super urgent (or haven’t gotten any last-minute super urgent requests) and walk what seems to be a half mile down to the office to check my teacher mailbox (I am in the classroom in the farthest possible corner of the school). If I am feeling particularly sick to my stomach, I don’t make any walks, but rather heave some deep sighs and hunch down in my computer chair (after taking another bathroom break, of course).
7:26 A.M. – 8:34 A.M. Although the school day doesn’t officially start until 7:40, I have a lot of eager learners in my first class who like to come almost 15 minutes early and get started on their self-starter right away. I don’t usually mind, as this is one of the few chances all day I have to get to know the students outside of their behavior during the lesson. Sometimes though, I can feel particularly overwhelmed if I have a ton of stuff I still need to do to get ready and I have a huge line of students begging for my attention before the day’s even started. After the tardy bell rings, I am in full-on teaching mode and luckily don’t have too much focus left over for nausea and/or bladder urges.
8:38 – 9:32 A.M. Second hour. My first three full-length classes are all Language Arts, so I basically just repeat myself for three hours straight. Usually, this is one of the few times all day that I’m feeling all right because I’m close enough to my last meal that I’m not hungry, but I’m not so close to it that my stomach is freaking out. I’ve also fully woken up, so I’m not so grouchy.
9:36 – 9:44 A.M. We have 8 minutes for advisory, which is the most awkward chunk of time ever to have a group of students in your room. It’s too long of a time to have nothing planned, but it’s too short of a time to really get into anything. So I usually just try to drag out the announcements and remind them about emergency procedures in order to fill up the time.
9:48 – 10:13 A.M. The time we refer to as “WIN” (What I Need) Time. Basically, if you need to pull in a student to get extra help, they get a white ticket and they come to you during WIN time to make up work, get extra instruction/help, etc. If a student is doing just fine in your class, they get a colored ticket, which means they can go to a choice activity like basketball, electronics, or sewing. On Thursdays and Fridays, I pull in kids who need help. On Mondays and Tuesdays, I teach country swing dance as one of the choice activities. I used to love teaching dance, but trying to show the students the dance moves while feeling pregnant-sick is just not fun. Plus my heart rate rises much more quickly than it used to, so I get awkwardly winded as I’m trying to give explanations, which is kind of embarrassing. I honestly don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to effectively teach that dance class.
10:17 – 11:11 A.M. 3rd hour Language Arts class. I am convinced that this hour is cursed. In my three years of teaching, I have yet to have a high-functioning, high-performing 3rd hour. On the contrary, they are always (ALWAYS!) my lowest group, as well as my class that’s the farthest behind. I don’t know if it’s because lunch is right after or just bad luck, but I have NEVER had an easy 3rd hour. Basically, if you can imagine trying to teach algebra to a 3-year-old, you’ll get a feeling for how I feel every single day for 55 minutes.
11:11 – 11:41 A.M. Lunch. I tend to feel pretty sick every time I try to cook, so I haven’t been bringing my own lunch every day like I used to. Instead, I usually drive over to the hospital (which has excellent food at really reasonable prices), and I try to slowly get some of that down. I haven’t actually thrown up this pregnancy, but the intense nausea is nearly constant, which has totally killed my appetite. Plus, the ever-present unsettled stomach reminds me there’s always the CHANCE that I might lose my lunch, so I never enjoy mealtimes too much. Lately they’ve just felt like a whole lot of work with little reward.
11:42 – 12:37 P.M. Prep hour. Even though it happens every day, I can never get over how blissful that hour of peace and quiet is. You don’t realize how badly you crave quiet sometimes until you’re surrounded with noise, questions, and just MOVEMENT all the time. Even though I’m almost always working hard through my prep hour, I still look forward to it each day. Bless you, prep hour–you save my sanity on a daily basis.
12:41 – 1:37 P.M. My first Spanish class of the day. Overall, of the two Spanish classes I have this first session, this first class is overall a little more “with it” and gets concepts easier, but it also is the class with two of my most difficult students, so it balances out in the end. A lot of my students will tell me Spanish is their favorite class, which makes me feel good because it takes a LOT out of me. It’s funny how even though a class can be filled with mostly angels, a little devil or two can turn it into quite a nightmare (at least for the pregnant teacher with her extremely limited energy supply).
1:41 – 2:35 P.M. Last class of the day! It’s another Spanish class, and overall, this one’s quite a bit slower to catch onto concepts, which can always be a bit frustrating. I also have quite a few non-workers in the class (although luckily none of them are real behavioral problems). Basically, I’m completely wiped at this point, and it’s all I can do to not put my head on the desk and just fall asleep. It’s amazing that my sixth hour learns anything at all because my poor pregnant brain is so fatigued by the end of the day that I have a really hard time expressing myself. I’m also usually starting to get kind of hungry again at this point (since I couldn’t choke down too much at lunch), so both me AND the students are watching the clock pretty closely and waiting to be saved by the bell.
2:36 – 4:30 P.M. I wish my workday was over when the kids left, but sadly, such is not the fate of most teachers. Most days, I stay at least an hour and a half after the kids have left so that I can catch up on some grading, prepare for the next day, or take care of the endless stream of paperwork and random tasks that is constantly coming my way. I am completely exhausted and sick by this point, but if I didn’t stay after, I would fall behind, so I suck it up and make myself push through the fatigue.
4:30 – 5:05 P.M. Commute back home. This drive can either be relaxing or rip-my-hair-out frustrating depending on whether or not I get stuck behind some car or semi going 45 in the 60-mph. single-lane highway. Since I’m usually anxious to get home, the drive is more often frustrating than not. I’m convinced this daily commute has given me permanent road rage problems.
5:10 – 6:00 P.M. Figure out dinner. Food is on my mind a lot as a pregnant lady, but not for any good reasons–basically, I never want to eat but know that I have to frequently, so I’m always trying to figure out what sounds the least objectionable and what takes the least amount of work. I seriously cannot wait to have an appetite again. What will that be like?! It’s been so long since it’s been around, I feel like I might not even recognize it when it returns…
6:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M. On an ideal night, this is my total veg time. After somehow scrounging up a dinner and forcing myself to eat it, I just allow myself to completely relax and not do anything. At first, I felt pretty lazy doing this (since the housework or laundry or most of the cooking has not been done by me for months now), but my body is pretty strongly telling me at that point that it is absolutely, completely done (and that I’d better not push it anymore—or else!). Since reading has been making me feel totally sick this pregnancy (cue sad face), these veg sessions are basically just a long string of t.v. episodes we have on DVD.
8:00 P.M. Try as I might, most nights my body just doesn’t want to be up until 9:30 like it used to be, so I usually start getting ready for bed by 8 (although let’s face it—I’ve been in the loosest sweats and a t-shirt since the second I got home). Closer to the beginning of the first trimester, I was even in bed some nights as early as 6:30 or 7. Oh, the joys of first-trimester fatigue…
8:30 P.M. If all has gone well, I am in bed by this time, relieved to have been able to make it through another day. I know the first trimester sickness and fatigue won’t last forever (or at least, it’d better not!), but it seems like every night when I hit the sheets, I am truly amazed I’ve made it through another day. (I’m also amazed that I actually have to wake up and do it all over again the next day, but that’s a different story…)
So there you go—therein concludes an ultra-glamorous day in the life of a pregnant teacher.
I just know you’ve always wondered what it would be like.