A Day in the Life: Music Teacher at KIPP Raíces Academy

A Day in the Life: Music Teacher at KIPP Raíces Academy

What a year we’ve all had — full of change, flexibility, growth, and teamwork. In an instant, the pandemic forced schools to go virtual, instructional practices shifted, and our teachers adapted creatively with their new classroom environments all at the same time. As a team, we strengthened our resilience and overcame so much. Team members remained optimistic and collaborative with the focus of keeping our KIPPsters and communities at the center of our work. 

Get a behind-the-scenes look at how one of our remarkable music teachers connected, collaborated, and kept educating and inspiring during distance learning this past academic year. Check out a “Day in the Life” of Emily Barclay, music teacher and grade-level chair at KIPP Raíces Academy (KRA), TK-4, tuition-free, college-preparatory charter public elementary school in East Los Angeles.


I head to the park on Monday and Wednesday mornings for yoga class — I’m lucky that a local studio is finding a way to make it work, even in abnormal circumstances. It’s nice to start the day with some easy stretching and fresh air — and, I wouldn't be able to go to this class if we were in person, on campus for school! (A silver lining to teaching from home.) 

7:45 - 8:00AM — THE COFFEE HOUSE

My husband is also teaching from home, so we hustle to get the coffee made before our first classes. We love making a good cup at home, and alternate between pour over and French press (Hubs also uses my KRA mugs most days — we both love it!)


As a music teacher, my lessons are pre-recorded each week. But, I am lucky to support a first grade classroom every day during their live lessons — it’s so much fun to “see” and interact with the kids. Because I teach Raíces Achievers across all grade levels, I also love popping in to Morning Meetings with different classes to have a chance to greet all of my students. 


I love to cook, and it’s crazy to think I haven’t had to meal prep or pack lunch since mid-March of 2020. Sometimes a quick salad is on the menu or soup. I usually have my laptop close at hand, so I can check emails while I cook, or play music, a podcast, or a quick show (The Office makes for the best background noise, in my opinion).

1:00 - 2:00PM — OFFICE HOUR

Depending on the day of the week, I may have a team meeting early in the afternoon or a meeting with my manager. I head back to my workspace, which is our spare room turned office/workout space — we were lucky to have an extra chair and a desk on hand, and I use an old mirror as my whiteboard. 


Afternoons are spent doing a number of things — I check students work in Google Classroom and provide feedback on assignments, plan for and record next week’s music lessons, participate in home visits, provide student support in intervention small groups, hold one-on-one check-ins, and attend meetings and trainings as needed. Luckily, I have my whiteboard mirror calendar to help me keep track of everything!


Family walks have become one of my favorite parts of quarantine — we think our dog, Rigby, has gotten more walks in the past couple of months than he has in the last 7 years of his life! We use the time to explore our neighborhood, talk about the news of the day, and recap our teaching adventures. I leave my phone at home while we walk, and it always feels great to disconnect.

Other times, I’ll have Zoom meetings for my volunteer roles or quick conference calls with college women I mentor. Dinners at home have been an enjoyable way to experiment with our cooking — we’ve had a lot of fun practicing homemade pizza and pasta. After dinner, we spend a bit more time planning for the days ahead and grading, then wind down with a TV show or some YouTube videos about pizza, baking, and/or cooking. 

FUN FACT: I love to travel and have visited 42 countries in the past 6 years!

"I love that our KRA choir and annual musical have provided opportunities for all students to express themselves, and feel camaraderie as a group," said Barclay.

The work of our teachers, even through a global pandemic, continues to create a great, warm, and supportive environment for our KIPPsters. Moreover, we have spent the past several months reflecting on our past academic year, getting our campuses ready, refining our health and safety operating procedures, and working through our new learning protocols to bring together our families and teachers in person this fall.

At KIPP SoCal, you can find a diverse team of dynamic, collaborative and dedicated teachers with great intention to prepare each student ​​with the skills and confidence to pursue the paths they choose. 

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