Whenever anyone asked me what I was going to do if students walked out of my class today, I said, “I’ll hold the door, then walk out with them."
Doing so was one of the proudest moments of my career.
I thought it’d happen in the middle of World, so Mrs. T was going to supervise any students who didn’t walk since we’ve got the Cavern of Learning open, but school started on a two-hour delay because of the snow, so I was actually with my APUSGOV class. They all walked.
Most of them had actually been part of planning the walk-out. They and other students worked with the administration to plan a 17-minute march, student speeches, a petition drive, and info session on registering to vote and writing their representatives. They also called for a “Walk Up,” as in walk up to 17 people and be kind.
I can’t even tell you how incredible it was to listen to them speak. I know I’m not the only one of my colleagues who got emotional because they were so impassioned, honest, brilliant… A few of them went to Concord to meet to the governor this afternoon, others spoke to NHPR or other outlets. They want it to be clear that walking out wasn’t the end of the action; it’s the start.
And change is coming.
I taught my classes, gave the same exhortation that I gave yesterday and so many other days- decide where you stand- and then I got ready to teach more about the world tomorrow. I spent the evening at winter sports awards, and got what is becoming a traditional (and awesome) coach’s gift: Thin Mints and flowers. So the ordinary things went on, and that might make some people think everyone will move on and forget about school shootings until the next one- it’s happened before, after all- but I don’t think so.
We took two jumpers, two relay teams, and a 1000m runner to States today. It’s a smaller showing than we’ve had in recent years, but it was a good showing; both jumpers medaled, both relays PRed. Our lone distance runner had a scrappy race that he referred to as his “UFC try out” afterwards.
Rubbin’ is racin’.
My dad came up to the meet, which was cool. Amusingly, he realized that as an assistant coach at a state championship, I do… very little. Heh.
It’s especially true since I had no sprinters in individual events, and no 4x200s. No drills to oversee. I made sure the 4x4s checked in and told them to have fun and go fast. At this point, there’s nothing else I can say. They know what they’re about.
And, hey, we’re home in time for that other big sporting event today.
The indoor track team had a 6:30AM bus departure for the State Championship Qualifier meet al UNG. SO I got up at 5:45AM, threw on my coaching clothes, grabbed my gym bag, and hurried out of my apartment…
AND WIPED OUT COMPLETELY on a patch of ice in my driveway.
I wrenched my shoulder, bruised my knee, and had no time to deal with either, so I was pretty sore throughout the whole meet. Oh, and when we arrived we were greeted by the one coach who- in thirteen years- has not learned my name; that’s 25% because I’m a lowly assistant coach, 25% because I’m a female coach, and I don’t know what the other 50% is about. But whatever.
The kids all ran well. Our focus was getting our relays qualified because our individual event athletes already hit the standards they needed to. Our boys 4×200 and 4×800 didn’t really have a shot, but both ran well (and the 4×800 with a sprinter thrown in because one of the actual runners overslept and missed the bus). The other relays all did have a shot; both 4x400s made it, and the girls 4×800 might squeak in.
My girls 4×200 gave it their all, but came up about .7 short. They were satisfied with the fact that they’d PRed, though, and I was so proud of them.
That’s a wrap on midterms! I mean, there are exams on Monday, too (Block 5 classes), but I don’t have to give any. And book papers have all been graded and returned, emails have been sent to parents whose kids are in danger of failing Q2… So all I’ll have to do on Monday is grade my World midterms and redecorate my bulletin board. Oh, and go to a meeting.
I actually got one set of midterms graded today, but I spent most of the afternoon with the track team. We had a quick practice- just blocks, baton drills, and a few hallway sprints for my crew- but it was a pizza practice. This is a post-season tradition; everyone who qualified brings in a couple bucks, and we order as much pizza as we can afford so that we can eat it after practice. Today we timed it perfectly; the delivery guy arrived just after we finished stretching.
So the team hung out in my classroom and ate pizza for about an hour. One of the girls made brownies, too, so we had dessert. It was a good way to end the week.
I had to coach a track meet today, so I went to church last night. The priest asked how I was, and I said, “I teach government and politics, Father. How do you think I am?”
At least there will be cake….
I spent most of the ride to the meet explaining government shutdown stuff to the kids who had questions because that’s what I do. The rest of it I spent KT-taping ankles and knees, and dispensing advice about sprint form because that’s also what I do.
It’s a good combo of skills, I think.
And it was an awesome meet!
All of my sprinters ran well, and most PRed. And the four relay teams all had MASSIVE PRs! I couldn’t be more proud of them. It bodes well for their chances going into qualies next weekend.
And it’s always good to close out the regular season on a high note.
This morning my APUSGOV students told me that they’re going to bring cake to class on Monday since they’ve brought cake after every other potential government shutdown. It’s been “yay, the government is open!” cake these past few times, but it does shut down tomorrow it’ll be “happy shutdown!” cake instead.
I am okay with this (the cake, not the looming shutdown).
It’ll also be time for them to show me their finished pizza project skit, which I watched them film parts of today (I cannot wait to see it in all its glory). OH! And can we discuss how they had to delete a ton of memes off their phones so they had room for the stuff they filmed, and then airdropped everything onto one phone for editing over the weekend? That’s modern high school in a nutshell. Heh.
After the filming, we switched gears to chat about executive privilege because it’s relevant to current affairs and to the current unit. It’s also fairly nebulous and tricky to explain, so we may revisit it on Monday, too. Or something else entirely. Who knows what the government will do between now and then!
In World/English, Mrs. T and I wrapped up writing conferences and set all our students to work doing revisions. The wall between our classrooms is now closed again, and final drafts of book papers are due on Monday by the end of the day. About a dozen kids turned them in already, which is awesome.
I spent Block 5 doing some miscellaneous tasks: typing up my team’s philosophy so The Vice Principal can put it in a letter to incoming ninth graders, emailing the local Republican and Democratic Party chairs to invite all the congressional candidates to APUSGOV, asking Mr. B to order me some books… Then one of my APUSGOV students came in to ask some questions about my midterm, which is made up of the multiple choice sections of two AP practice tests. She did the 1999 test, which is on the College Board site, and wanted me to explain a couple of the questions she got wrong. Mrs. T came by as I was doing that and said I was in my element.
After that I went to practice and got to see an alumn who’s just back from Basic. He threw down and did a few sprints with the kids, which was cool. He and his relay teammates won a state title as juniors, and they were some of the classiest competitors I’ve ever coached, so he’s a good role model to have around.
I was about a minute late catching the bus for track today. In my defense, I got stuck behind the slowest driver ever on my way up to the high school. Head Coach didn’t give me too much of a hard time about it, though.
And the meet was good! A lot of our athletes PRed in individual events, and so did the girls 4×400 team. The 4×200 team was trying to PR- and make States- but didn’t quite get there. It was still a great race, though. And a cool thing for me was that they lined up against the team from my alma mater, so my old coach and I ended up side by side at the finish line to cheer. I asked him if it was surreal since he remembers when it was me on the line to run that very race, and he laughed.
It wasn’t nearly as wizardly as debate prep is. Our students were writing rough drafts of their nonfiction book papers, and they were doing fine, so I didn’t have much to do. I edited drafts if kids completed them early, and answered questions as they came up, but that’s basically it.
I did a bit of midterm prep Block 5 and went to practice. Head Coach and I are scheming to break up the monotony of hallway practices next week. I’ll let you know how that goes.
I came home a bit ago, and was met with an email from my dad (who, as longtime followers will know, is the school board chair in my old hometown) about cell phone usage. He knows my school doesn’t ban cell phones and asked me to explain what I thought about that. I said this:
Banning phones doesn’t teach kids anything except how to be sneakier about using them. The philosophy up here is that we should be teaching responsible usage. So we allow cell phones in our classrooms as long as students get our permission to use them; if they don’t ask, or if they’ve been told no and use them anyway, or if the usage is keeping them from getting their work done, then we’ll address it. But, more importantly, we look for beneficial ways we can show students to use their phones. Some examples:
writing their homework in their Reminders
taking pictures of board notes, posters, book pages, or other things they want for future reference
audio recording a class discussion (w/ permission)
making videos for projects
using the Remind app to text their teachers questions (or we text info to them)
using flashcard apps, quiz games, etc… to study
I have some colleagues who integrate cell phones even more. They can be a great tool. I think it’s attributable to our approach that Incidents of inappropriate usage are increasingly rare.
One of my former students, who’s now in tenth grade, asked me to proofread a short story he’s writing for his English class. This is how he repaid me:
The stickies say “Go Red Devils.” So I responded by writing “Manchester is BLUE” in huge block letters across the top of his story.
It’s a soccer thing.
The special ed. department set aside today for teachers to meet with case managers and discuss students’ progress toward their IEP goals. They offered us food and coffee, too, which was so nice. Mr. F, Mr. W, and I went down first thing since we all had Block 1 prep, and all had to see the same case manager, Ms. N, so it became a nice little breakfast meeting.
Mrs. T was out again, so she couldn’t join us, and I was left alone again in our Cavern of Learning. Actually, I wasn’t totally alone; her sub was one of our former students, now a senior in college, to whom my initial reaction was, “Ugh, I’m old.”
But it was cool having him help out. He wants to teach, so subbing is good experience, and this bunch of students is fun to work with. I was super happy with their work, too. Even my most chatty, distracting little group buckled down when I separated them, and acknowledged that was what needed doing.
The team and I had a working lunch because we had a parent request a meeting during our typical team meeting time Block 5. I thought that the parent meeting would take an hour or so, but it actually took nearly two. Shows how well I estimate… But it was a meeting with many layers, so it was hard to guess how it would go. I think it was productive, though.
I was late to practice because of it, of course. When I arrived, I discovered one of my relay boys from last year had come back to visit, and Head Coach had asked him to do baton practice with this year’s relay teams. Since he’d already started, I just sat and let him finish. It was fun.
Then the kids asked us for relay stories, which was totally to delay running stairs, but we obliged them (I told the story of my final collegiate race). And then they ran stairs. And then I went back to my classroom to write quizzes for APUSGOV. I only got home about an hour ago.
So it was a busy day, and I’m tired now, but it’s all good.
A half dozen girls complimented the skirt I wore to work today (a hot pink maxi skirt- with pockets!- I got from Gap years ago), so I’m feeling like a fashionista.
Mrs. H called me a Disney princess, which also works.
And the teaching was good, too!
The two sections of World that were behind are all caught up, and I actually really liked how the lesson went. I was showing Fight Like Soldiers, Die Like Children again, but I had full class blocks this time, so we really got to discuss it. The final point I made was that conflict recovery is possible, and the choices we in the global community make- even seemingly unrelated ones- will determine how long it’ll take and how hard it’ll be.
So endeth the lesson.
For the rest of the quarter students have my class time and Mrs. T’s to write papers about the nonfiction books they chose to read. They had about six weeks to get the reading done, and I made weekly reading calendars for each book (there were six to choose from) to help them manage it, so most of them are totally ready for this. We’ll have to figure out what to do for the ones who aren’t, of course; we already have one meeting tomorrow that I’m not looking forward to.
I wasn’t looking forward to chatting with a student about academic honesty this morning either- it’s not fun to watch the severity of the poor decision truly hit a a kid- but it had to be done (the other student was absent, so it’ll have to be done again…) And I was quick to explain how to make amends; I’m a big believer in that.
I missed most of track practice because I was in a meeting, but I got there just in time to see one of our former athletes who’d come to visit. That was cool.