Category: edublr

Day One Hundred Forty-Three

So I went from being hot mess to teaching ninja in a 24-hour span. Like, yesterday I felt like I could hardly make words come out of my mouth in a coherent order, but today I was on fire. 

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What’s hilarious is that I was mostly winging it.

Last class, my World students examined different things (a Powerpoint, a National Geographic documentary, and two readings) in order to learn how decades of destruction have impacted Afghanistan. I knew I wanted them to use that information to talk about the current war, but I didn’t decide exactly what I was going to do until about ten minutes before my first class started. 

First, I had students get in small groups to compare their findings on their assignments. Then, as a class, we discussed the living conditions in Afghanistan at the start of the US invasion, and the US efforts to improve those conditions as part of counterinsurgency. I fielded some great questions about why the results of those efforts have been so mixed. I told Laura’s story, too, as I do every year because it highlights how fragile the situation is. and by the time we finished chatting, students really understood why the country’s instability is prolonging the conflict- and how hard it is to make an unstable place stable again. 

We also discussed ways in which the situation in Afghanistan is a destabilizing force in Pakistan. I showed a quick news report about the Pakistani Taliban, and my sharp-eyed students observed a significant difference in development in the western regions where the Taliban have entrenched themselves and the eastern regions they often target. There are massive and unfortunate inequities, and when my students asked why, I told them that would be our next lesson. 

Stay tuned till after spring break, kids… 

It was a GOOD class both blocks. I’m so pleased.

And I’m pleased that my candidate visit went smoothly during Block 5! Remember I was worried no one would show up because I had to reschedule it after the snow day? Most of my APUSGOV students were able to make it, and they brought friends, so we had a full room. And they had a lot to say, so it was brilliant! One thing I love is that a sophomore who was in World last year was bitten by the political bug this year, so she joins this room full of seniors engaging in complex, political conversations with the candidates, and she gets right in the middle of them, too. It’s so cool to watch. 

Eighty minutes of Q&A later, the afternoon bell rang; they may have kept going if it hadn’t. The candidate was so complimentary of the students- as he should be, they’re amazing- and so glad he’d gotten to talk to them because they give him hope for the future. I said that’s what’s so great about seeing them every day. It’s good for the soul.

Day One Hundred Forty-Two

Student A: Why are Pope names so boring? 
Student B: They’re saint names and stuff. 
Student A: If I was Pope, I’d choose a name that stands out. Like Glamorous. Pope Glamorous I. 

I have no idea why my APUSGOV students were discussing Pope names, but that’s what I walked in on before the morning bell. It was good to have something to laugh at because otherwise I was just a hot mess this morning. 

Seriously, I don’t even know what was wrong with me, but I could not get it together. I burned my fingers, I tripped on the stairs, I put my car in reverse instead of drive when I headed to work (Luckily, I didn’t hit anything!)… And then, in APUSGOV, I just felt so scattered. My students took an FRQ quiz and I assigned a project, and it was all fine, but I couldn’t shake that feeling.

World was a lot better. I was clearer with the instructions for the Afghanistan assignments than I was yesterday; I took up less time, and fine-tuned how I explained the objectives of the work. So that’s good.

I spent my prep time doing scholarship recs because tis the season. Unfortunately, it’s not yet the season for warm weather, so it was another cold day on the track. My sprinters said they, too, were all discombobulated today- nice to know I wasn’t the only one- and blamed the weather. But we made the best of it. We always do!

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!

Snow Day

In mid-April. We are never getting summer vacation…

Day One Hundred Forty

Since I’m the Teacher of the Month right now, I get a super sweet parking spot by the front door, which cuts the time it takes to walk to my classroom in half. It’s so awesome. Today, though, some random person took my spot! There’s a pretty big sign, so it’s not like it’s unclear who the spot is for. But that was the only little snag in my day (despite it being Friday the 13th) so I can’t complain. 

That doesn’t mean the day went according to plan. Mr. L came in on rounds to observe my APUSGOV class, and ended up observing a fascinating discussion about foreign policy (specifically as it relates to Syria)… which was completely not what I was actually supposed to be teaching. I don’t even remember how we got on that topic, but you all know I won’t stop a good discussion even if it is unplanned. And it’s not like it was irrelevant!

I also got observed during World-by Mrs. M, my counterpart on one of the other ninth grade teams, this time- and later we had a good chat about what I’d done in class, and about our team dynamics. It was the start of a unit (Central and East Asia), so it was- as I jokingly say- “The Me Show.” I’ll say soooooo much less on Monday when the start digging into the modern history of Afghanistan. Today I was pre-teaching vocabulary and framing the work we’ll do next week. It went well, though. Actually, it went the best in my Block 4 class- lots of questions- which was the one that didn’t get observed, but it’s all good.

Today was the only spring day New England is getting (we’re doing winter again starting tomorrow, and in like two weeks it’ll be summer), so practice was delightful. We had a light day because we have a meet tomorrow- baton passes, starts, strides- but because it’s Friday, and Coach T and I are committed to “Fun Friday” this season, we finished with a game called dragon’s treasure, which is sort of a miniaturized version of capture the flag. It was pretty fun, and it ended with Coach T diving to tag one of his runners and eating dirt.

That’s pretty typical.

Day One Hundred Thirty-Nine

I don’t take work home if I can help it. If I can’t get everything done during my prep time, I would rather sit at my desk and do it than take it home. Once or twice a year, that means I stay super late. Usually, it happens when my prep time is taken up by meetings, or if I’ve been out. 

Today it happened because I was on a field trip. And I had track practice.

The field trip was a ton of fun; we took about forty ninth graders down to UNH and took a tour. We had a fun tour guide, and the kids in my group asked her a bunch of questions. That was great because some years they don’t ask anything. So I thought it was a good day. 

It was also a drama-free day until a girl’s nose started bleeding during the ride home. Buuut Mr. J had the first aid kit, and the bus driver had paper towels, so we dealt with it. Apparently, someone puked yesterday. I’d rather have the bloody nose.

We got back to school a few minutes before the afternoon bell, so I had just enough time to straighten up my room (for a day with a sub, it wasn’t bad) and change for practice. It’s one of the nicer days we’ve had for practice, so we were able to do some good work. I took the 4×1 teams to do baton passes because those always need practice, and all the sprinters did starting blocks and then laid down some 150m repeats.

Afterwards, I went up to my room to prep for tomorrow and do all my grading. I left around 6:45. It was still light out, so that’s all right (it’s way rougher to pull a late night during the winter). And now I’m home relaxing, so all is well!

Day One Hundred Thirty-Eight

Today was a bit wacky because it’s ninth grade college visit time; every year we take all the freshmen to visit one of three colleges: a private college, a state university, and a community college (they choose which one to visit) Half the freshmen went today, and the other half will go tomorrow.

I had APUSGOV today, so I asked not to chaperon (but I will tomorrow). We’re doing FRQ practice in preparation for the AP exam, and I really didn’t want to leave the class with a sub who couldn’t answer their questions. And I would have missed several hilarious stories about the massive Key Club conference that happened last weekend.

Some days, that class is just perfect.

During Blocks 3 and 4, I had half my team’s freshmen in the Cavern of Learning. It was kind of a study hall day; the other team teachers and I compiled list of things kids have due next week (paper revisions, math problems, novel reading, etc…) and I told them they could work on any of it. Some kids goofed off and had to be redirected, but most were grateful for the time. It’s a busy part of the year, especially for spring athletes. 

I sat and graded, for the most part, so it was a super low-key day for me. 

At practice, we shook out our sprinters’ legs with a set of 400m and 300m repeats, and a long, slow cool down afterwards. It’s still cold, but the sun was out, and everyone was in high spirits!

Day One Hundred Thirty-Seven

“We’re not talking about Hiroshima! We’re talking about track!” -one of my athletes

Let us note, I have no context for that quote. I have a team that discusses everything from ridiculous memes to building mercenary armies, so I just don’t question it. We had our first meet today- I’m just now getting home- and it was snowy (and also sunny), cold, and awesome. All of us coaches are super happy about how our athletes competed. We have a ton of rookies, so mostly today was about laying down some baselines, but a handful of veterans threw down some championship qualifying stuff already. We came away with two third place finishes overall, which is fine. It’s all about improving from here. 

While I was at the meet there was a faculty meeting, and I apparently won Teacher of the Month. I’m a bit embarrassed I wasn’t there, but Mrs. T assures me everyone knew I was coaching. 

What else? Ooh! It’s local voting day, so Mr. F and I ran out and voted during our prep time (he was coaching an away game this afternoon, too). I had a wicked headache, but it was gone by the time we got back to the school. I think it was the stress of needing to get so much done in a short amount of time. We barely made it back before the bell change!

I scrambled a bit to get stuff on my whiteboards, but it was okay. I introduced a new unit (Central/East Asia) in World with the usual pre-teach of vocabulary and some quick activities on the region’s geography and culture. My Block 4 class also had me do a karate trick because they’re especially excited about that. 

All in all, it was a good day. 

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!