Monday, September 7, 2015

{best} Case of the Mondays: Ensley Gilchrist

We all know Mondays suck. 
Each week, I will feature a Monday in the life of someone who can provide some comfort/humor/ inspiration to the start of your week. 

This week, Meet Ensley Gilchrist!

Position | Company: I am Lower Elementary Teacher at Chantilly Montessori. 

Alarm goes off. Heeeeey Monday!

Put in contacts, change into workout clothes, down a glass of lemon water. #boom

Barre Fusion at Carolina Barre and Core. As hard as it is to get up in the predawn hours, I would MUCH rather workout at 5:30am than 5:30pm. I feel more alert and energized after my workout than I would if I slept that extra hour anyway. #trust.
Home for the world's fastest shower/coffee/bagel/smoothie. Because I can't function without caffeine and/or massive amounts of food, I have this time down to a science. No one needs a hangry teacher. I set things out and plan the night before so that this part of my morning is quick and efficient. I have my coffeemaker programmed so that it's ready as soon as I get home, and I toss half a bagel in the toaster before I hop in the shower. I even mix up the dry ingredients of my smoothie in my Magic Bullet and store it in the fridge overnight so that all I have to do is add water and go. I've laid out and ironed all of my outfits Sunday night so I step right out of the shower and get dressed. As I sip my coffee I check my work email since I don't like that eating into my morning prep time. ​
Arrive at work. I live less than a mile from the school I teach at, which is amazing. I can walk, bike, or drive. Mondays I drive because, well...Monday. I'm also lucky enough to get to bring my dog Brody to work as our "class pet", so he's along for the ride. 
The only sweet, blissful hour I'll have to myself for the rest of the day. Since I currently don't have a teaching assistant (thanks NC legislature!) there's twice the work for me to do. I review my lessons for the day and make sure I have all of the materials I need, make copies, replenish supplies, and work on any ongoing projects. I may also have a meeting with a parent or specialist for a struggling student. 
One of my favorite parts of the day: student arrival. (Yes, you read that right!) As a Montessori school, we focus heavily on creating a peaceful environment for ourselves and the children. As students trickle in for this thirty minutes, the lights are off, soft music is playing and everyone is expected to be silent. Seriously. If a child talks they have to put their backpack on and walk all the way back down the hallway and start again. As they come in, we mouth "Good morning" to each other and then everyone reads, writes, or draws at circle. I want to set a good example for my kiddos, so I'm also at circle working silently at this time. I have an awesome teacher planner and generally use this time to plan lessons ahead of time or review a big lesson I have that morning. I never would have believed a class of first, second, and third graders could pull this off, but I think it speaks to how much our souls need quiet time each day. I love looking up from what I'm doing and seeing twenty-three little heads buried in books or creating stories. This time really resets me and gets me excited for a day of teaching!

Morning Circle. If I have an announcement or lesson for the whole group I share it here. I also allow the kids time to make their own announcements (i.e. I'm leaving early to go to the dentist, I'm going to the beach this weekend, I barfed last night) so that they get it off their chests and aren't telling me these things

Work Cycle. A Montessori classroom looks much different than a traditional one, but basically I'm giving lessons to small groups of children while the other students work independently on math, language, name it. Since I don't have an assistant I do have to occasionally stop and prevent kids from dealing Skittles in the bathroom and/or covering their entire face in Scotch tape (true stories).​
Kids are at lunch in the cafeteria and I have a few short moment to myself. My work BFF Kendra is in the classroom next to mine and we generally try to steal a few minutes outside to talk about grown up things. 
Writer's Workshop. My passions are reading and writing, so this is another favorite time for me. I give a short (>10 minute) lesson modeling a writing strategy, then send the kids off to work independently. As they work, I bop around from student to student to conference with them. I love seeing what their little genius minds create!

Planning. I have forty-five minutes to myself as the kids go to art, music, etc. I generally use this time to read the writing they just completed, provide feedback for them on sticky notes, and make notes for tomorrow's writing lesson. That alone takes the entire planning time and then I'm feverishly putting their journals back in place and running to pick them up on time. 

Recess. Another brain break for me, since I tell kids they aren't allowed to talk to me unless it's an emergency. #notsorry. I stand in the shade and enjoy a few blissful minutes outdoors, interrupted only when children try to play "light sabers" with sticks or get stuck on the monkey bars. 
Read aloud and independent reading. I have a book picked out in advance and a certain reading strategy that I model, then send them off to practice in their own books. I think it's important to model that I'm a reader as well, so many times I'll sit and read while they do. As they become able to read for thirty-plus minutes independently, I'll start moving around the room and conferencing with students. 
Pack up. Another teacher comes and picks up the car riders from my room, leaving me with less than ten students who ride the bus.

 Bus riders are expected to be reading silently until their bus is called. The last student generally leaves my classroom at 4:15 on the dot.

Another day done! I do small things to prep for tomorrow, make copies, and straighten up. I can't handle anything too mentally taxing at this point since I've been "on" for the past eight hours.
Come home, change into workout clothes, and take the dog for a walk. This time is like a palette cleanser for me between work and home. I listen to podcasts, appreciate being outside, and use this time to completely decompress from the day. 

"Me" time. I live with my boyfriend and he generally gets home around seven, leaving me with an hour or so of quiet time. Usually I'm in charge of cooking dinner since I'm home first, but on Mondays we eat out (treat yo' self) so I use this time to catch up on Bravo shows, read, or call a girlfriend. 

Patrick gets home. Usually he picks up Moe's on Mondays ($6 burritos what whaaaat) but today we're being social and meeting two other couples at a Mexican restaurant (Ruru's!) with $5 margs. 
Get home, change into PJs, and right into bed. I'm super strict with myself about getting into bed at 9 on weekdays, since I'm generally up at 5 and my day requires so much energy. I read until I fall asleep, which isn't very long at all. Back at it tomorrow!

Want more {best} Case of the Mondays Series? Meet EvaKimCourtneyElizabeth Anne. And Emily. And Me

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