Category: holla at the career tech department

Day One Hundred Seventy-Five

Today was the last day of senior classes, so the culinary class threw a celebratory cookout at lunch, which was DELICIOUS. I had awesome pulled pork, pasta salad, hotdogs, etc… And all day long there were seniors popping by to say goodbye and thank you, which was adorable, even when I was mid-teach.

I did writing conferences for nearly all of Block 2, but during Block 4 there weren’t a lot of students ready to conference, so I just walked around and helped out as needed, and tried to keep everyone on task. I may have promised to freestyle rap in exchange for two students finishing the pieces they were working on.

Also, this conversation happened:

Student A: I have a golf tournament this weekend.
Student B: Gotta go all Tiger Woods, man.
Student C: Tiger is so good. Like, I bet he’s so good at everything, not just golf.
Me: I mean, he was pretty bad at marriage…
*chorus of “Ohhhh!”*
Student C: Drag him, Miss M! Just for that, I’m going to write another paragraph.

Whatever it takes, right?

And during flex block, I met with all my incoming APUSGOV students, went over course information with them, and assigned the summer work. I know about 2/3 of the students already, and am excited to get to know the rest. It’s going to be fun.

During Block 5 there was a house meeting, which was fine, initially. Then one of my coworkers said something pretty cutting. I’ve written before that there’s one who just doesn’t like me, and I stopped trying to change her opinion a long time ago, but her comment today still stung a little. So I was more than happy to leave when a student came to see me. He’s behind on his Multi-Genre Project, so he came to get some help, and ended up almost back on track by 3:30. I think he’ll get there by the end of next class, which is awesome.

As he was leaving, he thanked me and smiled. I don’t think I’d seen this kid genuinely smile before, and that erased how I was feeling coming out of my meeting. Let folks say or think whatever they want about me, you know?

I know who I am, and what I can do. 

Day One Hundred Thirty-Two

Readers of this blog and/or my Twitter feed have probably noticed that this is a truly ridiculous year that my school district is enduring. Today made it even more ridiculous.

It started out all right. I was relieved to find my classroom in good shape when I arrived, and to see that most of my students had worked diligently on their assignments in my absence. I took a few minutes to get my life in order, then went to meet with my department and look at job applications (because Mr. T is leaving, which is a huge bummer). Here’s the thing about my department, though: we’re all young, clever, and unbelievably salty. Any time we’re all in one room, it’s hilarious. Any time we’re all in one room attempting to do something serious, it’s even more hilarious. But we will get it done because that’s the other thing about us: we pride ourselves on having our act together. 

I went from that meeting right to APUSGOV, so I went from having fun to doing some serious teaching (but also having fun because I love that class). Today’s lesson was all about the Mississippi Summer Project, the passage of the Civil Rights Act, and the passage of the Voting Rights Act. I showed an excerpt from PBS’ Freedom Summer, which really got my students talking because none of them had learned about that part of history before. None of them knew about the murders, or any of the other crimes that rocked the country that summer, so they had lots of questions and comments. We talked for a while, and I closed class by reading Langston Hughes’ Kids Who Die. My students don’t have nearly enough poetry in their lives, and I thought that particular poem was fitting for the lesson. 

One of my students stayed after the bell to give me a pennant from the college she’s going to attend (I hang my seniors’ college pennants in my classroom, which is a custom I stole from Tom White), which was so cool.. She also gave me a really sweet thank you card and a gift certificate to my favorite coffee shop because I’d written her a recommendation. I wasn’t expecting it, and it totally made my day. 

World was also awesome because my A day classes have developed incredible class cultures, and the students are so eager to ask and/or answer questions, and that makes it fun for all of us. We discussed the current war in Afghanistan, watched some video footage of counterinsurgency efforts in different provinces (because I wanted to show that progress is uneven, and see if they could get at why that is), theorized about the future if the US withdraws its troops… In both my classes, a student pointed out that would probably impact neighboring countries, which gave me a perfect segue into the next thing I planned on teaching: the impact on the war on Pakistan. Their homework is to do some research on Pakistani culture, and next class we’ll examine what’s happened since the war in Afghanistan began, and what may happen in the future. 

My Block 4 class goes the latest lunch in the schedule (12:30), and I didn’t bring a snack today, so I was wicked hungry. Thankfully, the culinary class always has an amazing soup and salad bar (in addition to a sit-down restaurant that’s open to the public… they know us teachers don’t have time to sit down), so I went and got myself some food. I’d just gotten back to my classroom when The Vice Principal came on the loudspeakers and announced that a water pipe had burst, and everyone had to evacuate to the gym. 

I took my lunch with me and ate it in the bleachers.

Everything was all right, at first; the admins explained to the kids what was going on, and told everyone to sit tight until they had some more information. Of course, some kids immediately texted their parents to come pick them up, so a wave of dismissals started. Then, when it became obvious that things weren’t going to be fixed before the end of the day, The Superintendent made the decision to dismiss school entirely as soon as possible. As soon as that was announced, there was chaos; kids immediately got up and tried to leave, and it took several minutes to get everyone settled so The Vice Principal could explain how dismissal would work. 

She told everyone that it was not possible to get back to the classrooms at that time because the fire department was still determining if it was safe (water in the ceilings + electrical wires + gas lines = you get the idea), so they either had to wait or leave their stuff behind. Of course, not everyone listened. I was in the hall outside the gym (because some of our students have service dogs, and I’m allergic, and being in the gym with them was making my eyes itch), and I and several of my colleagues ended up having to stand shoulder to shoulder to physically block the hallway while The CTC Director and The SpEd Director reiterated to students that it wasn’t safe to go back to the classrooms. I’m louder than either of them, so I shouted the info when it was apparent not all students were hearing it. 

Gotta love having Teacher Voice.

The students were frustrated, of course, but most of them understood that we weren’t keeping them from getting their stuff just for the heck of it. Some students, though, really couldn’t cope (for lots of reasons, I’m sure, because stress affects us all differently). They shouted, and swore at us, and a couple even started crying, which I felt terribly about. I wish I could’ve told them that it was only going to be about twenty minutes of waiting, but we didn’t know that at the time. Thankfully, the nurses were there to escort criers to their office- which was in the clear zone- and give them a quiet space to calm down. 

Anyways… It was only about twenty minutes, and then everyone was able to grab their things, head out to their cars or to the buses, and go. My classroom is fine- no water!- but about half the ceiling panels are out and my tables are everywhere, so… I guess I’ll deal with that in the morning if we have school.

The SRO caught me as I was leaving to thank me for “holding the line,” and we both had a laugh about how scary and intimidating I obviously was (The SRO is a good half a foot taller than I am- and a heck of a lot stronger- and so are most of our students). I joked with him, too, about the year he’s having because it’s been ridiculous for all of us, but it’s been wicked ridiculous for him. He agreed that he’s basically a disaster magnet. 

So… That was my day. Definitely did not predict the ending!

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!