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Day in the life of Greg
By Afsana Rahman
Published November 17, 2022
One of TYWLS’s most beloved–and mysterious–teachers is Greg Zimdahl. At TYWLS, Greg wears many hats. He’s a Peer Collaborative Teacher, a Mastery Team member, and a 7th-grade Humanities teacher.
Despite being one of the oldest members of the TYWLS community, joining 16 years ago, most of the TYWLS community doesn’t know how Greg spends his typical school day. This article goes in-depth into Greg’s typical school day schedule, providing all the information you need to become an expert on Greg!
Greg arrives at TYWLS around 7:10 am every day and spends 30 minutes before school preparing for his Humanities 7 classes along with gathering materials for any meetings that he may have throughout the day. As a member of the Mastery team, co-founder of the TYWLS teacher residency program, and Peer Collaborative Teacher, Greg engages in about 2-3 meetings throughout the school day on top of his humanities classes. Under these circumstances, Greg arrives at school fairly early to provide his best work to his students and colleagues.
First Period: Meetings & Advisories
Greg usually starts the day off with his 7th Grade advisory or a number of meetings with other TYWLS teachers. When he’s not with his Advisory, he’ll be in the staff room preparing materials for his classes or scheduling meetings with his TYWLS residents under the TYWLS residency program. In 2020, Greg and Devin co-founded the three-year TYWLS residency program to support incoming TYWLS teachers’ transition into the TYWLS community. This residency program, among many things, consists of shadowing teacher curricula, understanding the mastery-based grading system, and implementing project-based or inquiry-based learning in the classroom.
On the day I shadowed Greg, he spent his first period in the staff room engaging in two meetings: an IEP meeting and a meeting with Humanities teacher Kayla, a second-year resident of the TYWLS residency program. During his IEP meeting, he met with the guardian of a student with an IEP plan and the inclusion teacher assigned to the student to discuss whether certain adjustments to the IEP are still necessary for the student. After his IEP meeting, he met with his resident, Kayla. During the brief residency meeting, the two of them discussed Kayla’s upcoming unit project and established ways in which the mastery-based grading system can be explained to middle school students in a more efficient and kid-friendly manner. Kayla and Greg set goals for their next resident meeting involving sitting in on Greg’s final project day for his Humanities class’s current unit.
Second Period and Third Period: Humanities
During his second and third periods, Greg teaches his first Humanities 7 class of the day. Greg waited at the door to greet his students and say “good morning” as they walked in. Occasionally, he’ll engage in brief conversations with the students if he noticed any issues earlier in the week or if he wants to follow up on an unfinished conversation. After he greets his students, he instantly jumps into the lessons for the day to avoid wasting time. On November 16th, his class agenda consisted of giving students time to work on their SLCs (Student-Led Conference) preparation doc. During this time, he addressed any concerns students had with his class along with helping his students better understand the role of mastery-based learning at TYWLS. Greg made sure that every student’s SLC preparation doc was accurate, bringing his Mastery Team skills to his classroom.
After the SLC preparation doc was completed, students continued working on their Dystopian Short Story Project. Despite each student being on a different level of completion, Greg makes sure to keep up with each student’s progress throughout the project by providing the next task only after a student has completed all of their prior tasks and checked in with him.
In the process of working through the project, students were given a 4-minute brain break. Greg began providing brain breaks in his Humanities classes during the start of virtual learning. He stated that brain breaks provide students with a space to clear their minds and work on checking assignments and emails that they wouldn’t have had time to do otherwise. After the brain break, Greg provides more flexibility to the students and gives them the option of continuing to work on their Dystopian project or focusing on reading their assigned Dystopian novel to help them enhance their own.
Class typically ends with announcements on the next steps of class the following day or any noticings from class that day that he’d like to address.
Fourth Period: “Working Lunch”
Despite fourth period being his lunch, Greg rarely eats during his lunch period. Instead, he works on catching up on work for the multiple TYWLS teams he’s a part of, preparing for his next Humanities class of the day or visiting classrooms. On November 16th, Greg began his lunch period by visiting Sam and Annie’s 7th-grade science class Greg makes sure to take notes on teacher and student actions when he visits classrooms to help him implement noticings in his own classroom or address them to the Peer Collaborative Teacher Team as a whole. After his visit, he went to the conference room to prepare for his fifth/sixth period Humanities class. He reviewed the students’ assignments and kept note of where his students were in terms of progression for the Dystopian project on his student chart. This chart helps him provide support to each student individually to prepare all of his students for success.
Fifth Period and Sixth Period
Greg’s fifth/sixth period Humanities class runs very similarly to his second/third period Humanities class. He starts off by greeting his students at the door and creating conversation with some of the students. Throughout the duration of this class, he’ll address any concerns or comments that were brought up in his earlier Humanities class to avoid the same confusion.
This class is an ICT (Integrated Co-Teaching) class, consisting of students with IEPs where the student-to-teacher ratio must be less than the typical student-to-teacher ratio to give all students the support they need. As a result, Greg is typically joined by Marina and Evaluna to better support the students. On November 16th, Greg didn’t have an inclusion teacher to support him so, he made sure to check in with each student individually.
Similar to his second/third period Humanities class, this class was also given a brain break where students were given the time to check their emails or simply just take a break from schoolwork. After the brain break, students were given the option to either continue their work on their Dystopian project or focus on reading their assigned Dystopian novel to help them enhance their own. Class ended with announcements for class the following day.
Seventh period is Greg’s prep period. On November 16th, he spent this time making phone calls to parents and guardians of his students and helping a current senior on completing her college supplements. During this time, Greg may also attend meetings or prep for another meeting later in the day.
Greg’s Eighth Period is dedicated specifically to the Peer Collaborative Team. This is the time when he usually works on tasks that involve the PCT. On November 16th, Greg had an important meeting with this team where he engaged in a meeting with TYWLS administrators and other Peer Collaborative teachers to discuss updates and future steps for the team. This meeting was also used to update the administration on the TYWLS residency program to develop potential teaching practices for TYWLS teachers. The meeting may have also consisted of reading articles, learning to be stronger instructional coaches, and working on improving teaching practices as a whole.
While I shadowed one of the busiest teachers at TYWLS, I was not only intrigued by his nonstop work ethic (without lunch!) but also by his dedication to helping the TYWLS community grow and prosper. Greg is truly one of the most diligent members of the TYWLS Staff and his popularity is certainly well-deserved.
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