Meeting of the Minds

Now that Valerie and Monica both teach on the sixth-grade team, they're swapping ideas and technology resources. Finding ways to deepen their collaboration and include other team members are next steps for these two dedicated teachers.

On the way to work, Valerie reflects on her job and looks forward to catching up with Monica after the long weekend.

Valerie’s math class presents her with challenges and opportunities.

Sixth grade wasn’t my first choice. To tell the truth, neither was teaching. But, after ending my career in banking, I started volunteering in schools, and I got hooked on the kids. Next thing I knew, I got my ed degree and got busy. Now, I stay busy. Too busy—according to my friends, anyway. I try not to let it get to me, to feel overwhelmed. This work is important, and—let’s face it—this school has some serious hurdles to jump. But I gotta keep an even keel.

Mostly, I try to count my blessings. That’s how I stay calm when I’m antsy, like when I’m stuck in traffic like this. I make a list in my head of the things I’m thankful for. You know, like my health, my family, clean water, shelter, a good laugh. It’s pretty much the same list each time, but it still relaxes me and helps me stay focused. Lately, I’ve added my new teammate, Monica, to my list. I don’t know how I got through the school day before she came along.

Valerie sprints through her morning to beat the bell.

Ten minutes until show time. That’s how I think of it—of teaching—I mean. I unlock the classroom door with a click, hit the lights, dump my purse and briefcase at the desk, plug in the computer cart, and flip the power cord switch so it glows red. I open my lesson plans from my desktop, find my PowerPoint and leave it ready and waiting on the first slide. I hang the problem of the day and motivation charts on the blackboard and step back, looking. Slide one chart over to the right a bit, and grab my mug, heading next door to hit Monica’s coffee pot, share a quick laugh, ask about Dwayne—who’s missed a lot of school lately. Return to class. Greet students. Get ‘em settled, and get started.

Review Valerie’s order of operations PowerPoint.

After I wrap up the lesson and dismiss the students, I take a look at my calendar and remember my team meeting at nine. Revising my PowerPoint will have to wait until tonight. I head to Monica’s for a refill, and away we go.