Category: CBE

Day Eighteen

I did not like it when my alarm went off this morning, but at least I got to go to work in my gym clothes because it was Freshman Field Day. I had morning PLC and APUSGOV first, though. In PLC we had a chat about CBE and rubrics, and in APUSGOV I explained the evolution of the federal government’s power. 

This is a kickass lesson, and I love teaching it. I broke students into groups, and had each group look up one of these things, get the facts, and figure out if it expanded or limited federal power:

  • 10th Amendment
  • McCulloch v. Maryland
  • Gibbons v. Ogden
  • 14th Amendment
  • Heart of Atlanta Motel v. US
  • US v. Lopez
  • Obergefell v. Hodges

They put their findings on the board in that order so the chronology was clear, and then I talked my way through it, elaborating on what they’d written as needed. It’s like fitting a puzzle together, and I could see it on their faces when it all clicked.

Freshman Field Day was supposed to start as soon as that block ended, but we had a slight rain delay. Once we were sure the rain had passed, we brought the whole ninth grade out to the fields for some community-building fun. See, my school is a big, regional school that takes incoming ninth graders from five schools (three public, two charter) across eight towns. We do field day to encourage them to mingle and build up unity.

This year we had yard games, capture the flag, softball, kickball, trail walks, crafting, and a high ropes course (yes, my school has one on property… get on our level). I played a wicked fun game of kickball. I can’t boot the ball like some of the kids can, but threw a boy out as he ran for home, which totally upped my reputation amongst the freshman boys. The fact that I have the aim and the willingness to hit someone with a ball always surprises them (because I’m *gasp* a girl!) It’s hilarious.

After kickball, I took a group of kids on a trail walk. Mr. T came with us because he really hasn’t seen the grounds yet. We came back just in time for lunch, which the cafeteria provided for the kids and us teachers. After lunch was the traditional tug-o-war tournament, and then we all went back inside for last block. 

My fellow team teachers and I made ourselves presentable for a team meeting with a parent, which went really well. These meetings and last night’s Open House have really impressed parents, according to Mrs. F; I guess there’s been lots of positive feedback to the school counseling office and The Principal. Yay us! 

Day One Hundred Eighty-Five

Teacher workshop day two was a day full of meetings: a meeting about new grading protocols, a meeting about CBE, a meeting about how adding flex time next year will work, a PLC meeting… Thankfully, there were breaks in between each one. 

The flex time meeting was the rowdiest. The faculty I work with has no chill, so new initiatives are always met with a barrage of questions. New initiatives that expose gaps in technological savvy are even more fun. But I think there’s a lot of excitement to try this out. I certainly think it’s got potential. 

Stay tuned, I guess.

Afterwards, I grabbed lunch with Mr. F, Mr. W, and- when she got out of her additional meetings (because she’s a department head)- Mrs. T. Then I had to head own to Mrs. Z’s room for a department meeting because she’s filling in for Mr. B temporarily (It’s weird, but I’m still very okay with it not being me).

I didn’t have anything to do after that because it was time for wrapping up grades and verifying them, and- BOOM!- I’m a wizard, so my grades were done last Friday. My room’s also in order, so I gave myself the job of helping Mr. F organize his nasty, cluttered book shelves. I’m halfway done, so I’ll finish tomorrow!

Day One Hundred Forty-Nine

Here’s a thing: I am an auditory learner in a world dominated by visual learners. I’m fully capable of adjusting my teaching practices to meet the needs of multiple types of learners, but I have yet to be able to adjust my own learning style. Sooo this morning, when those of us who took the PD course on CBE met to discuss next steps, and the two teachers leading the meeting showed us an organizational chart, I just did not get it. It was neat, and color-coded, and awesome, and useless to me. 

And I get snippy when I don’t understand things- especially if there’s something I’m responsible for doing- which is part of the reason why I’m not good at meetings. 

Sigh. 

I worked through it, though. And, hopefully, no one got too annoyed with me in the process. And we had baked goods for breakfast, so yay. 

I had a pretty chill day after that because my students were working on posters. My Block 3 class is devouring this project, and I love it. I’m a little worried about my Block 4 class because there are a bunch of students behind schedule, and two who had to start over because they didn’t follow the instructions (thank goodness I checked notes), but they do tend to pull things off at the last minute. We shall see…

I made sure to get my work done early during Block 5, so I could go help the other track coaches set up the infamous obstacle course. It’s a yearly tradition, and it’s so fun. Good for morale, you know?

And we managed to do it before the rain came!

May the Fourth be with you!

Day One Hundred Forty-One

Today there was a letter in the local paper accusing all teachers and students of leading a violent communist insurrection, which… cmon. I’m not that ambitious before my morning coffee. 

Anyways…

The snow day left me- and most other people- a bit discombobulated. I spent most of my Block 1 prep time rewriting lesson plans, bugging Mrs. T with questions, and apologetically asking congressional candidates who were scheduled to visit APUSGOV to reschedule (the downside of A/B Block). They were all very nice, but I had one candidate scheduled for Thursday, so it’s too late to change the date. They did change times to Block 5 when a lot of my seniors have study hall, but I’m still low-key freaking out that no one will attend. 

I had my World lesson all set and ready to go, so I didn’t have to prep a ton for that. It’s an “at your own pace” lesson on modern history in Afghanistan. Students had to examine a Powerpoint full of images from 1960-2001, a National Geographic documentary on the civil war and rise of the Taliban (which they watched on laptops with headphones), and two readings on the US war. Students could work alone or with others, and anything they didn’t finish in class is homework to finish. The goal is understanding the impact of decades of war on Afghan culture, which is what we’ll discuss next class. 

I was supposed to have a track meet this afternoon, but it’s still icy and rainy, so that got canceled. That meant I could run our team meeting Block 5. It was quick: reminders to finish grades (quarter three is over!!!), submit PD hours, etc… That was it. Afterwards, Mr. L and I finished the final paper we had to do for our CBE course. We finished right at the bell, and we feel accomplished. Woohoo!

Day One Hundred Thirty-Six

Today was long. 

I don’t feel like I did a ton of teaching, though. My APUSGOV students did current events presentations, and my World students wrote quarter reflections. I basically just supervised. Some days are like that. 

I spent my prep time grading all that stuff, and doing battle with the photocopier. Then, instead of going to practice, I had to go to PD class. We had presentations due today. 

Mr. L and I crushed ours. 

I ran into The Tennis Coach at the grocery store afterwards, and he assured me it was a good day to miss a practice because it was freezing outside. 

Bonus Day

Mrs. T and I spent the day at ECET2NH/VT over in Hanover. It’s an awesome, empowering, and free!!! conference led by some phenomenal teachers. We were definitely both glad we went.

I think the most helpful session we went to was about transitioning to CBE- we got lots of good resources- but the whole day was helpful. There was a “political panel” that included educators, admins, students, and people in politics. One of them was NH’s commissioner of education, a man about whom I have Definite Opinions (caps intentional). Today he surprised me a few times, though. 

Mrs. T made a few new friends, too, over the course of the day, and I demonstrated my utter inability to sit in a room full of people without at least trying to make them laugh. I mean, I say ridiculous things on the regular, so giving me an audience just makes it worse. 

… Or is it better? 

We also got to tell stories about teaching moments, and that’s a great thing to get to do. We all have so many!

Day One Hundred Thirty-One

Some days, I am 100% on top of all my non-instructional duties. Today was not one of those days. I took attendance for all of my classes at, like, 2:00; I never checked my mailbox; I did the homework for the PD class I’m in five minutes before class started… 

Oof.

I was late to class, too, because one of my sprinters came to talk to me about an injury he picked up playing basketball, and then another came to ask me about relay drills… Mrs. T just laughed and said she’d save me a seat. She’s used to seeing me surrounded by a flock of tall, tough boys and ponytailed girls- and knows I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I was sad to miss practice, but class was good. There was a discussion about being teacher-leaders, and I admitted something I seldom do: I’m not always comfortable being leader. I know that I take on leadership roles: I’m a team leader, I was a mentor teacher last year, etc… But, at the same time, I’m a massive goofball, I’m awful in meetings, I routinely get mistaken for being 6-10 years younger than I am, people still call me “kid…” Most of them don’t think of me as an authority on anything but my content, and I’m all right with that. Administrators consistently critique me for being too all right with that.

So I’m in this class to challenge myself- to learn how to lead as my school transitions to CBE- and it is hard. I have ideas for my own classes, but that doesn’t require me to convince anyone else, you know?

Anyways, speaking of my own classes, they were fine. Mrs. T and I were just helping kids wrap up their debate prep. I watched one group rehearse because they asked me to, and it was awesome too see just how much thought they’d put into their work- and how well they came together as a group! Beyond the complexity of the that’s one of the big challenges of this project.

I also got to step out and do instructional rounds, which was neat because I got to see one of my World counterparts teaching debates in her class for the first time. She structured it all very differently than I do, and we had a good conversation afterwards about our thought processes, our intent… I enjoyed that a lot.

So I didn’t take my attendance- or do anything but teach- in a timely manner today, and I will have to do better tomorrow, but I did get a lot out of today. 

Day One Hundred Twenty-Six

You all know that my APUSGOV class has eaten cake every time the government has shut down or passed a CR. Today, in response to the budget passing, they ate carrot cake. I’ll let you figure out the logic. It’s fun.

We also had a guest speaker today. One of our substitute teachers was a freedom rider, so the kids asked if he would come tell his story. That was extremely cool. And we had a few minutes afterwards to chat about the AP exam. I got a request for more FRQ practice, so I spent all my prep time planning for that. I’ll make it happen. 

I spent World, admittedly, thinking about those APUSGOV plans. Luckily, Mrs. T was running the lesson- explaining how to construct debate pieces- so my distraction didn’t really show. I supervised the room while she worked with particular groups, and I fielded various content-related questions as needed. 

After school, I had a couple students come in to ask me about course selection for next year, so I was late to my PD class. The professor was, thankfully, understanding. Three hours of school leadership, CBE, and a challenge to quote Aristotle in my next assignment (CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!!!) later, I headed home. 

Best thing? It was still light outside!

Day One Hundred Twenty-Five

Disruptions to the routine tend to make freshmen squirrely, which isn’t an insult; they make me squirrely, too. As this week was full of them, today was like this:

Suuuuuch a Friday.

Mrs. T and I managed to hang onto control in our Cavern of Learning, but only just. There was so much energy, so many random outbursts of laughter, and debate prep petered out about fifteen minutes before it should have. But there was enough learning happening that we’re satisfied. I mean, they’re looking at the same things congresspeople, senators, diplomats, generals, and so on have to look at. It’s all HARD. 

But if they don’t start trying while they’re squirrels, they’ll never learn how to be statesmen, so I’m proud of their efforts.

I spent Block 5 doing my own learning with a few of my colleagues. The consultant who did the teacher workshop yesterday was available for small group sessions today, so we signed up for one. It clarified a lot for me. It made my head hurt, too, but it was good. 

And then I went to track practice. We’re five days in, so I’m really starting to make sprinters out of our rookies. And I realized today that I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve watched so many kids sprint that I can tell a lot about their athletic history from it.  Like, I looked at one boy and said, “You’re a soccer player,” which surprised him enough. Then I said, “You’re a defensive mid,” and he looked at me like I was a wizard. 

Which I am. 

I was also trained by a German ex-footballer (my college track coach), which helps.

After the workout, Coach T and I took everyone trekking into the hills behind our track to go sledding. We divided the kids into two teams, and gave each a sled. One kid would run up the hill, sled down, pass the sled to the next kid in line (or just crash into them… that happened a lot). The lead kept changing hands, so everyone was cheering and hollering. Gotta love a week that ends in high spirits.