A Day in the Life of a Bush Alaska Teacher

Have you ever wondered what an average day is like for a teacher in rural Alaska? That was my biggest question before moving to The Bush. For those of you who are curious, this post serves to document an average day in my life here in Newhalen. I chronicled my day from morning until night on Friday, October 11, 2013. If you’re considering moving to rural Alaska to teach, please remember that every native village is different and every Bush teacher has a very unique experience. Keeping that in mind, read this photo-heavy post and enjoy!
6:30am – I wake up and stumble into the kitchen for some breakfast. This morning, it was hard-boiled eggs.
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7:00am – I brush my teeth, then groom and primp.
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7:45am – Ta-da! I’m ready for the day.
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8:00am – I walk over to my school. This is the back entrance. It looks dark now, but it’ll be a walk in pitch black come wintertime!
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8:05am – First thing’s first: coffee.
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8:45am – After some morning prep, I walk into the gym. All students and staff gather round for morning announcements, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the Alaska Flag Salute.
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8:50am – My kindergarteners sit at the table and complete their morning work.
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9:05am – All students gather at the carpet and we say our good mornings. One student is missing in the photo below, but yes… I have a teeny-tiny class. I’m in heaven!
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9:10am – We go through our morning routine of checking “Whole Body Listening,” reciting the class rules, and saying Our Class Promise. After this, we go directly into our reading block.
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10:30am – After reading and recess, students come back inside and eat snack. Yet another volunteer prepared a delicious snack for the students today!
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10:45am – After snack, we dive into math. This week, we’ve been studying “more,” “fewer,” and “the same.”
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11:45am – On Fridays, we head to the gym (which also serves as our cafeteria) fifteen minutes early to hear Bucket Fillers read aloud. Bucket Fillers are teacher and student written encouragement notes. Students also receive Star of the Week Certificates during this time. Everyone loves receiving a little recognition and appreciation! After this, we eat lunch for a half hour.
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12:45pm – After lunch and a story, students go to the gym for P.E. This afternoon, a second grader below spotted me trying to sneak a picture and ran up to give me a hug!
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1:15pm – On Fridays, we do an art project in class. Today’s art project was Halloween-themed. We made scary spiders!
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1:45pm – Students have Reading Buddies on Fridays. Older students read stories to younger students.
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2:15pm – On Fridays, we wrap up our days early and end at 2:15. Our class always has an afternoon meeting with calendar time before we go home.
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2:30pm – After students are all dismissed on Fridays, teachers meet in the conference room at 2:30 for professional development. I love this aspect of the┬áLake and Peninsula School District. It gives teachers the chance to collaborate and share ideas and strategies.
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5:00pm – After school today, Tyler and I decided to go on a little Honda ride. Below is a picture of me posing oh-so-attractively on our (still unnamed!) Honda.
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5:05pm – Before we rode too far, we stopped at Kate and Bill’s new place. Bill needed some help staking out the plot for their steam bath. Steams are very, very popular in many native villages.
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5:10pm – While the boys worked, I played with Remington.
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5:30pm – After we helped Bill, we rode into Iliamna.
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5:45pm – We stopped at the Iliamna Trading Post for a bag of groceries and a pumpkin spice latte. Yes, we have a little coffee stand at our general store and it is amazing.
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6:15pm – When we got home, I made dinner. Tonight, it was gluten-free vegetarian pasta with a fresh salad.
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9:00pm – We ended our evening by playing our favorite game: Scrabble. Another beautiful day draws to a close!
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“Only that day dawns to which we are awake.”
-Henry David Thoreau, Walden

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