Category: coaching

Day One Hundred Seventy-Five

Today was long, but it was a good day. 

The merry band of activists that meets in my classroom made cake and started designing a website to spread their message. So that’s awesome. One of the kids’ moms does site design for a living, so she came in to help, except I totally forgot no one can log onto our wifi networks without our tech folks okaying it. D’oh. But they managed to get some work done anyhow.

Then, in World/English, Mrs. T and I conducted more multi-genre project writing conferences- another nine each- and we’re really feeling good about our students’ work. I think everything I read was quality work; even if pieces needed to be improved, it wasn’t hard to explain to students how to go about it. And I did read two projects that were just straight-up AWESOME. One was about mass shootings and the other was about mental illness, and both packed in some powerful writing.

It’s all very serious, and so was what I did with my prep time. Tom White was back in Mr. I’s Genocide Studies class, so I went down to see him lecture. Those of you following along will remember that he was one of my high school teachers, so it’s always amazing to be his student again- even as an interloper!

We had to say a quick goodbye because I had a faculty meeting. That was, well, a faculty meeting in June. There were cookies, though, so that’s something.

Afterwards, I had about an hour to go home and chill before going back to the school for Spring Sports Awards. And that was amazing, as it always is. It’s  recognizing a season of tremendous work, goodbyes and hugs from the seniors, flowers and other coaches’ gifts… We had five amazing captains this year, but one of them stood out because this sport changed him SO MUCH for the better. And I got to tell him how proud I was of him. 

That’s what it’s all about.

Bonus Day

Today we took a dozen athletes to the Meet of Champions. 

This meet is fun because my middle and high school coaches are always there, and it’s good to catch up with them. My middle school coach always shakes his head about the fact that I’m not twelve anymore, but then he asks after my team and wishes us luck.

It was a bit hot for a track meet, but that didn’t stop our boys relays from PRing in the 4×800 and 4×400, or our long jumper from making New Englands (and sprinting a decent 200m, too). Our girls didn’t do quite as well, but one of the seniors on the 4×800 ran a monster PR, and our sophomore vaulter made a mark, so that’s good.

Coaches aren’t allowed infield at big meets like this, so Coach T and I, who usually run all over the place, spent much of our time jumping up and down in the bleachers and grabbing each other by the arms while our athletes competed. 

We’re kind of ridiculous.

But we should be, right? Getting athletes this far is exciting. 

We celebrated after the meet with pizza before the long ride home. And that’s it. The Head Coach will take the long jumper down to UNH for New Englands, but for everyone else- including me- the season is over.

Day One Hundred Sixty-Seven

Today started with PLC. Both of my World counterparts were absent, so I spent the time wrapping up the project I started yesterday (planning for an incoming student with unique needs). Mrs. T is going to look over my work and add some English-y things, and then w should be all set. It’s important to us to work quickly; it reassures this student’s family that we’re on top of things, it helps us get organized and prepared, and it’s good for our professional reputations. We’re given these kinds of challenges because our administrators know we can handle them, and that’s a compliment to us.

We had a great day with our combined World/English classes. Students are drafting pieces, and they’re doing it with so little help from us. Fly free, little birds!

I wandered the room, answering questions and doing quick writing conferences by request. Meantime, Mrs. T took up a stationary position where she could check in finished drafts and monitor the 4-6 students in one corner who can be loud and unruly (but not malicious- they just need a close eye on them). It was good teamwork!

Unrelated note: I had a gift certificate to the restaurant our culinary program runs, so I went down to grab a salad for lunch. Instead I got a steak bomb, and it was amazing. 

I have guest speakers coming to APUSGOV tomorrow, so I shut the wall in the Cavern of Learning and spent Block 5 rearranging my classroom. I had a few minutes to spare, so I was able to change into running clothes and get out to practice a bit earlier than usual. It was a quick day: 4×4 hand-offs and a 3x150m workout. MOCs, here we come!

Day One Hundred Sixty-Six

If you tell me about a thing that needs doing, even if it isn’t urgent, there’s a good chance I’ll sit down and do it as soon as possible so it isn’t stuck in my head. Yesterday I learned that one of the incoming ninth graders will need significant modifications to first semester work for World/English, so I started writing them today. 

I had extra time because it’s senior skip day and my APUSGOV students all skipped. I think it was a good way to use it. I did more during my prep block, too.

And, in between, there was multi-genre madness! So many cool projects are in the works. And we know it’s going well when, even this late in the year (and on a hot day), no one tries to pack up early for lunch or for the end of the block. Mrs. T and I are calling that a win.

What we’re not calling a win: the number of students who didn’t turn in an Afghanistan Novel Project, which was due to Mrs. T last week. Steps will be taken to address that…

Practice was short and sweet today- my job in it was just to fine tune sprinters’ block form- so I got home about two hours ago. Aaaand got back to work on the stuff I was doing for next year.

Day One Hundred Sixty-Five

It was back to school after the long weekend, into the home stretch, etc, etc…

Mrs. T and I opened the wall between our classrooms to begin multi-genre drafting. We like to team teach this part because it gives our students a solid 160 minutes to work (yes, there are breaks, including lunch), and one of us can supervise the whole Cavern of Learning while the other works one-on-one with particular students. Both of us walk around with clipboards, too, so we can do on-the-fly editing. 

The first thing we have them draft is the works consulted page. Once they do that, they can start an expressive piece: narrative, poetry, personal letter, etc… One of the students whose project is about school shootings asked if she could write in text messages- as if texting from an active shooter situation- and I okayed it. I thought she’d just type it out like a script, but she actually took her script and got her friends to text her the different lines while her phone was on screen record. She played it back for Mrs. T and I, and we both almost cried. It’s such a powerful piece of work. 

I hope she shows it to everyone. 

I hate how much school shootings are on my students’ minds these days, but they are and we can’t ignore them. So I want my students to express whatever they’re thinking. Their voices should be heard.

I find myself speaking more candidly, too, when asked about what I think. I have a few colleagues who are ready to leave teaching, who have recurring shooting nightmares. And, no matter how rare school shootings are- and they are rare, even now- I know my family can’t help worrying about me. Even the local priest worries about me.

I wish they wouldn’t, but that isn’t really up to me.

Anyways. 

Class went well, and so did our team meeting afterwards. We spoke to two sets of parents- one incoming, one outgoing- about some challenging stuff, but it was positive and productive. It ran long, so I was a bit late to practice, but it was all right. Only a few athletes qualified for MOCs, and The Head Coach had procedural stuff to go over with them, so I didn’t miss any of the actual workout. And, after, I stuck around to help the middle school coach, Coach B, with her sprinters. They’ll be mine in the future, so it’s good to build some connections.

Bonus Day

My team competed at the division championship today. 

One of the other teams lost one of their coaches to cancer two days ago, but I didn’t know that till this morning. It threw me a little when I learned it was a coach at the school where I’d done my student-teaching; I can remember teaching his son. There was a little tribute at the start of the meet, which was nice, and his team all wore armbands to honor him. 

So, there was sadness, but there was also joy. 

I got to see so many of my former athletes, home from college or on a day off from work, helping out as volunteers. They’re happy, and successful, and a bunch of them are still racing, which is just awesome. 

It started raining just as field events kicked off, and everyone was worried about lightning, but I told my athletes not to think about it. Instead, I said they should hold onto the fact that they’re competing in a championship, and that’s a privilege, and they earned it. I told them go out and rock no matter what.

And they did!

We weren’t in title contention, but we had so many PRs- and one school record- so we were thrilled. The best thing for me was watching my 4×1 girls PR by over a second and get a top ten finish. It was what we spent all season working towards, and even when it was rough- early on in the season when they got DQ after DQ- they didn’t lose faith in themselves. I’m so proud of them.

One of our jumpers won long jump, so he’s automatically qualified for the Meet of Champions, and the 4×4 boys might get in, too, so we’ve got another week! 

Day One Hundred Sixty-Four

Today was hot. I had a fan on in my classroom, but it only helped so much. I’m going to blame the heat for the fact that I annoyed the AD basically any time I opened my mouth today- in school, at practice, after practice. He does not appreciate my sense of humor, and I know that. But, apparently, on a hot day I decide he needs to hear it anyway… 

I’m just gonna stay out of his way during States tomorrow. 

Anyways.

Block 1 was all right, temperature-wise. My APUSGOV class had a really cool video chat with a congressional candidate who couldn’t come up in person. She’s a scientist, so we invited the AP Bio class to join us, and I thought it was a valuable learning experience for everyone. A lot of the discussion focused on environmental policy and public health policy, which, admittedly, I know less about than other areas. Two of my students also threw awesome campaign finance reform questions out there, which was great.

By Block 4, it was really warm, and half my class ended up sitting on the floor in the hallway because it was cooler. Whatever helps them get their research done, I guess. If you’re curious what they’re researching, this is the entire Multigenre Project topic list:

All that just from asking ninth graders what they think is important right now.

Day One Hundred Sixty-Three

You know how I talked about emotional whiplash on Monday? Today there was SO MUCH.  

Morning PLC was hilarious. I spent a chunk of it revising my APUSGOV syllabus for the course audit, but also joking with the rest of my department. We’ve been roasting each other for the better part of a decade, but it’s all in good fun.

The lockdown alarm was tripped accidentally during the bell change before Block 3. I’m angry at the seconds it took me to react, grab my keys, lock the doors, and direct my students to get down against the bookshelf (that’s our spot). I’m more angry about how frightened they looked until the principal came on the PA and said it was a false alarm. 

I had to go on and teach after that, which… Ugh. I mean, I did it, but still. It took about half the block to shake that off. And, y’know, I was calling kids over to my desk to ask what they’d chosen to research for multi-genre, and I must’ve had at least a dozen choose school shootings.

Oof.

Research did go exceedingly well today, so I’m happy about that. And I’m happy about how my 4×1 girls passed at practice today. Tomorrow we’re having a pizza party because there’s nothing more to do. Everyone is so ready, and it’s awesome.

Also awesome: the way my community came together for a fundraiser for Mr. B’s family at one of the local restaurants tonight. The restaurant donated a chunk of the proceeds from all of its orders, and there were raffles, and there was a huge auction. It seemed like the whole town was there, too. Like, the event started at 5:30, and I parked in overflow parking at 5:25. This is one of the reasons this community is my home, though: there’s so much compassion here. People show up for each other.

At one point, Mr. B’s wife came to thank me. Now, I don’t think I’ve done all that much, and I am an awkward panda, so I was like, “… why?” D’oh. But she was gracious. I think M. B was pretty overwhelmed; he’s a super quiet, unassuming kind of guy. I doubt that he knew, before all this, just how much this community loves him and his family. 

Day One Hundred Sixty-Two

My APUSGOV class hasn’t eaten cake since the government passed a budget, but we have eaten waffles! Today was “Waffle Wednesday” because, well, we felt like eating waffles. And, yes, they were totally Mickey waffles.

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I did actually teach, too, I swear. I’ve been teaching about state and local government since the exam; that’s why my last two guests were state legislators. I also had students read the NH Constitution, and today I did a lecture-discussion on the basics of our state government. I gave a vocab quiz, as well. 

In World, I introduced the multi-genre project for the second day. My Block 3 class was immediately fired up about it. My Block 4 class was… not. At least, they weren’t initially. They looked at sample projects from past years and said it looked like too much work, and they didn’t wanna, etc, etc… But I explained how much choice they have, and had them look at the daily calendar that breaks down all the work, and then they got excited. They actually brainstormed my biggest list of topics. 

Oh, but I did give out my first detention in ages today because a kid cut class. That was annoying. 

Practice was quick but awesome. I worked with the girls 4×1 team (boys missed qualifying by one spot… like .3 of a second). We checked their marks, then did an “all around,” which is when each sprinter does a full 100m, but accelerates into the hand-off as opposed to sprinting the whole way. It was flawless, and I had a feeling it would be. These four girls work so well together; it’s three seniors and one freshman, which can be a tough dynamic, but not in this case. They did a cheer before the all around, and congratulated each other after they finished, and I just loved it.

We finished practice with couple hollow sprints, ate cupcakes one of our captains brought for her birthday, and went home. I’d say it was a good day.

Day One Hundred Sixty-One

Today I introduced the final project of the year for World/English (the multi-genre project) by having students brainstorm topics. This project can be about anything they think is currently important to the global community, so it’s wide open and awesome. I’ll post the full topics list here when I have it. 

It’s a ton of fun to do the intro, but I struggled with my Block 3 class. I had a headache that was super distracting (if anyone is wondering why I didn’t take anything for it: painkiller allergy). Plus, we had an assembly (school-wide: on mental health) partway through the block, so it was choppy, and I felt rushed. But it got done.

Block 4 was awesome. The students got into the idea of this project immediately, and had so many topic ideas (and twice insisted on coming up with more just because they figured they could). They dug into the research, and I had some cool conversations about the links between different topics (like…gender, race, poverty, global warming), a goofy chat about pandas being better than otters (from two boys researching vulnerable and endangered animals), and a very serious discussion of school violence. 

One of my girls found that chart that shows deaths in US school shootings and deaths in the military this year, and started showing it to the kids sitting around her, which generated quite a stir. When I was asked to weigh in, I said this was something my family found tough to take. My dad is retired army; my brother is active duty. He went to war… And now they all worry about me. 

A lot of people do. 

That’s something I’m still sorting out my thoughts on…

Anyways. It was a good class.

Coach T and I ran practice today because The Head Coach was at the seeding meeting (say that five times fast) for States. Afterwards, I made myself presentable for academic awards. Mr. B and I always give out the ones for social studies. I get nervous, but I like recognizing outstanding students, so I deal. After presenting, I got a sudden allergy attack, so I spent most of my time to sneeze in the background during the other award presentations. So awkward!