SOL: One hour a day challenge

Last week Tuesday, I participated in Laura Tremaine’s #onedayhh challenge where I snapped and posted a photo of my every waking hour. (Over on Instagram @brittescribe I share a reflection post about some things that stood out to me.)

Here are some things I noticed in the one second I snapped a photo vs the rest of the hour.

5:36 AM photo – shower curtain
What was not seen was…the 4:47 alarm to start breastfeeding the baby. At about 5:20, roll him back to sleep and start getting ready. Then, I took too long in the shower which led me to begin panicking about getting the boys ready on time and out the door.
What was not seen was… Elías’s sweet laughter upon my knocking on his door to wake him up at 6:00 AM, handing me his mono, and saying, “os ias, ami” (buenos días, mami).

6:07 AM photo – waffle for breakfast
What was not seen was…deciding what to eat for breakfast. It was the last two waffles. I planned to stop for coffee; should I just pick up breakfast too?
What was not seen was…packing the car, getting everyone settled in car seats.

7:00 AM photo – coffee in classroom
What was not seen was…getting out of the van, signing in, walking up to classroom, finalizing arrangements, ensuring board “stuff” is all correct.

8:21 AM photo – coffee and independent reading with my students
What was not seen was…the MESS of first period. I spent way too long the day before planning nearly every minute of the lesson, and it did not go well. Not even a little bit.

9:19 AM photo – my multicolored baskets and lament that lesson was going horribly
What was not seen was…me scrambling for a fix during both six minute passing periods. Changing my slide deck. Realizing I was rushing students to the end product when, really, the thinking and debating and discussing is what I should have let them do for more time.

10:30 AM photo – students huddled up discussing; me celebrating lesson turnaround
What was not seen was…the excellent conversations 4th period was having because I let go of what I originally thought was important.

11:40 AM photo – empty lunchbox during team meeting
What was not seen was…the decisions, the collaboration. The emails I answered during conference. The prepping. The analyzing of where my lesson had gone wrong in the morning classes. The slide deck edits to provide better instructions to prioritize and honor student conversation.

12:08 PM photo – manual hand pumping
What was not seen was…reading emails, feeling guilty about not being “productive.”

1:22 PM photo – unexpected fire drill during 6th period
What was not seen was…feeling frustrated about losing time after I’d just improved the lesson the period before.

2:36 PM photo -whiteboard full of student ideas and brainstorming
What was not seen or heard was…the spirited discussions. The brilliant ideas.

3:03 PM photo – new desk arrangement in class
What was not seen was…my restructuring of the rest of the week’s plan. Student tutorials.

4:44 PM photo – selfie on the way to pick up boys from daycare
What was not seen was…the chat with the daycare lady. Gabi’s dimpled smile upon seeing me. Elías running into my arms.

5:42 PM photo – stopping for afternoon coffee and Chick Fil A
What was not seen was…the guilt at stopping for fast food. AND coffee for a second time in one day. The bone deep exhaustion. The screaming toddler while ordering. The collective relief of Kyle getting home.

6:44 PM photo – breastfeeding infant with toddler sitting next to me
What was not seen was… Elías pretending to breastfeed his toy giraffe. Elías offering to bring me a burp rag – unprompted. Gabi’s grin when watching his brother.

7:15 PM photo – toddler’s feet on my legs, playing cars while folding laundry
What was not seen was… Elías’s “vroom, vroom, vrooom” as the car drove over my knee down to my toes. Kyle getting us all dinner.

8:52 PM photo – bedroom darkness
What was not seen was…closing the door to Elías’s bedroom, switching over laundry, loading the dishwasher.
What was not seen was…opening my laptop to prepare slide deck for the next day.
What was not seen was…Gabi letting out a cry.
What was not seen was…not returning to the laptop to work because baby could not stop crying unless his back was being rubbed.
What was not seen was…nuzzling with baby.

What was not seen was…the magic of the next day in class. I had so much anxiety about not having time to prepare better because the baby wouldn’t let me put him down, but it didn’t even matter. I flowed with the students, and we had an excellent class.

There is so much I missed in the retelling and filling in blanks of the hour. The main thing I learned from doing this challenge is how much an hour can hold. Each photo I captured was simply a moment. Like I wrote in my posted reflection, “From a chick fil a line at the top of the hour to the fiasco of getting out of the van and into the house with bags and toddler hands and a car seat to a mini tantrum about jugo instead of agua to dancing bachata while eating nuggets. One hour. So quick. So fleeting. So full.”

14 thoughts on “SOL: One hour a day challenge

  1. arjeha says:

    Love what you did here. We often look at a picture and wonder what led up to the moment that the picture was snapped. You filled that in for us. Gives so much more meaning to your snapshot. Thanks for sharing.


  2. Darin Johnston says:

    I love your picture and background back and forth. It’s always amazing what the view misses from a simple photo. I will say ” ‘reading emails, feeling guilty about not being “productive ” is one of those teacher things we need to give up. We work hard and sometimes, need to do the things we need to do without the guilt.

    Sorry, little soapbox thing. 🙂

    Anyway, thank you for sharing with us!


  3. Lainie Levin says:

    There’s so much to love about this post. Yes, we see the outside, the images, the snapshots. But there’s always something behind that. And behind that. And behind THAT. You carry so much, Britt. It really is a LOT. It comes through in the fast-food guilt, the mess of first period, the feelings of unproductivity WHILE actually literally PRODUCING your baby’s sustenance. I feel this so strongly, and I know that this pull in all the directions is particularly had when your kids are young. I’m glad that you still have the victories of 4th period, the dimpled smiles, the nuzzles to keep you going. ❤


  4. Stacey Shubitz says:

    I have swrling thoughts about this post.
    First, I totally want to try this, Britt.
    Second, I loved the behind the scenes look at your day, which sounded exhausting!
    Third, I adore this as an idea for a slice. Might I use it as a BE INSPIRED post for this year’s 15th Annual SOLSC? Please email me at stacey{at}staceyshubitz{dot}com if that’d be okay.


  5. Frank McGowan says:

    Thanks so much for a behind the scenes peak into your day. The life of a teacher is a wacky and crazy one and I love your approach to looking at it. I might give it a try as a slice to see what the day brings. Thanks for the inspiration!


  6. Radutti says:

    Ooooooh. Loved this post, especially the structure behind exploring what’s not seen. What a great way to break down your busy day. Gabi’s dimpled smile upon seeing me!


  7. Natasha says:

    I love hearing the backstory (and what happened next) of all your photos. You’ve captured the hard, beautiful, hectic-ness of life as a teacher and mother so vividly. Your writing inspires me to think about how I might tell a slice of life with fewer words–what are the most important images that will convey the meaning? You are a master at that!


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