Category: day one hundred ten

Day One Hundred Ten

This morning I saw one of my former students decked out in Marine dress blues. He was waiting in the main office to see The Principal when I went down to my mailbox. My immediate reaction was, “DUDE, LOOK AT YOU!” because he’d undergone such a huge and awesome transformation since graduation. It was really cool to catch up with him for a few minutes.

That started the day off on a positive note. 

And my first class was awesome. We got into a big discussion about the impact of warfare on young people after reading about Syrian teenagers trying to get an education during and after ISIS’ occupation of Raqqa. That was one of the news stories I pulled up to show students what’s currently happening in the region, and it really hooked them. I felt like it was a really meaningful class.

They had about twenty minutes to do their homework, too, so most were able to get it all done. Three of the boys decided that, while they were working, they should eat Jello cups with their fingers. 

I offered them spoons, which was apparently an affront because they reacted with (fake) outrage. Like, how dare I imply that they couldn’t manage to eat Jello without the aid of utensils?

I’ve embraced the fact that ninth grade boys are not meant to be fully understood.

Flex time was good because a bunch of students came in to make up work, retake quizzes, have me edit papers, and so on- and, yay, for wanting to improve! Also, one student came in solely so that he could show me a video message from Senator Cory Booker to me, thanking me for teaching about current events and politics. The senator did a campaign stop while I was over during February break, and this student went with his dad, and went right up to the senator and asked him to give me a shout out. How cool is it that one of my students did that for me?

My Block 4 class was… not awful, but it was frustrating after everything else had gone so well. There’s a group of students I just haven’t been able to reach. They come in unprepared, disrupt class, try to use their phones when they shouldn’t, that kind of thing… I thought I’d gotten one student out of that group- he was opting to associate with other students, focus on his work, engage in class, etc…- but today he was back in it. I addressed all the problem behaviors and got on with the lesson; it just didn’t have the same impact it had earlier in the day.

I’m going to keep working to make that class better, though.

We had a team meeting during Block 5, which was interrupted by The Vice Principal. She had some things to share with us about the Very Bad Thing I alluded to yesterday. It’s really hurting a lot of our students- and a lot of adults, too- and I don’t know how long the recovery is going to be, but it’s definitely going to be a while…

Day One Hundred Ten

Soooo I decided to rewrite all my upcoming lessons on the Middle East at about 2:00 this afternoon (school day ends at 2:20).

I had to rewrite some of them because the geopolitical situation is so fluid, and then I decided I wanted to deliver the information in a different way than I had in the past, so I ended up rewriting everything. I created some new activities, found some new video clips and articles to use, and just kept going until it was nearly 5:00. 

I think it’s going to be good, though. 

But let me go back to the school day because it was awesome. It started out in a very serious way: with a faculty meeting about school safety. We reviewed our lockdown procedures, our SRO spoke about the training the local PD does, the admins all talked about what we can do to promote the best school environment we can. And- this was gratifying- The Principal gave very clear support to student protests. 

So we heard all that, then went to do work. 

I went up to my APUSGOV class to start Court Madness. I blurred out my students’ names to let you get a load of these brackets (the goal is to argue which case is most significant):

We got through four of the opening round debates today. My students judged each debate they didn’t argue, and Mr. F and Mr. W came in to be guest judges because they knew it would be awesome (and it totally was). Brown v. Board of Education, Obergefell v. Hodges, Citizens United v. FEC, and Schenck v. United States all advanced to the next round.

The debate between NYT company v. United States and Citizens United v. FEC was FASCINATING. Both students did a heck of a job, and that’s just such a cool match-up (drawn randomly out of a hat). Really, they were all great debates, but everyone agreed afterwards that was the best one. 

And there were funny moments, too. The student who had to argue Regents of the University of California v. Bakke over Brown v. Board of Education knew she had a seriously uphill battle, so she baked brownies to bribe the judges. And the debate between Obergefell v. Hodges and Gideon v. Wainwright involved two students brandishing pocket constitutions at each other. 

They were still making dramatic gestures with their pocket constitutions, notes, and whatever else- and yelling about soup, which… I got nothing- as my World students came in. I’d say they were a mix of amused, bewildered, and slightly scared. 

We wrapped our study of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict the same way students did yesterday: on the subject of generational power. And then this unit’s Culture Projects were due- I don’t think I put this in yesterday’s entry- so we were treated to presentations on Middle Eastern sports, tourist destinations, fashion, and food. Students get so excited when their peers actually make food for their projects. I was informed I was the best teacher ever, even though I didn’t really do much.

We had some time after presentations, so we played vocab hangman (point for getting the word, point for defining it). It was uproariously fun. They get so competitive about it!

During my prep time I was mostly on the phone with a campaign staffer, scheduling his candidate as an APUSGOV guest. We’ve talked many times, and I just realized today I’ve been mispronouncing his name (I hear m and n, and b, d, and v poorly). I apologized, but ugh. So awkward.

These campaign staffers are going to get the hot mess version of me a lot.

As long as their candidates keep coming to class…