Category: indoor track

Day Sixty-Eight

Mr. F and I were supposed to go to an IEP meeting this morning, but it got rescheduled, so we were able to go to the prep room, grab the cinnamon rolls Mrs. T made, and grade papers and stuff. 

World/English started smoothly. It was day two of introducing the research project, giving public speaking pointers, and laying down the law about being able to choose seats, etc… About twenty minutes in, Mrs. T got a call to pick her son up from preschool because he had a fever, so I was left alone in the Cavern. I hate to admit it was frustrating because, obviously, she had to go… But, yeah, it was a little frustrating in the moment. When there are two of us, one can handle the particularly needy and/or disruptive students while the other handles everyone else; it’s exhausting to do it solo. 

But, again, nothing for it. I survived.

I did end up assigning seats, though. The class couldn’t even manage five minutes of quiet work time in the seats they chose (yes, I was timing). When I told them that, and pointed out that I’d warned them repeatedly to stop talking and focus on their work, there was a general acknowledgement that my assigning seats was a reasonable move. 

It was mostly quiet and productive after that.

I saw some cool projects coming together. Topics include the Biafran War, Nelson Mandela, refugee camps in Kenya, the rehabilitation of child soldiers, the hunt for Joseph Kony… It’s all big stuff these students knew little or nothing about prior to ninth grade, and I’m hoping their presentations will be really eye-opening by the time we’re through.

I spent Block Five editing APUSGOV papers, mostly, but I did take a break to talk to Mr. F, Ms. N, Mrs. R, and The Vice Principal about how hard this year is. I’m glad I’m not the only one feeling that way. 

At practice, The Head Coach had me take the sprinters to do starting blocks, which was fun, and it’s something I pride myself on doing well. I spent some time after practice finishing those APUSGOV papers, so my car was all alone in the parking lot when I left. 

Onward…

Day Sixty-Three

I really liked my APUSGOV lesson today. Each student got a handout describing a bill’s path to becoming a law, and they had to “follow” it by walking around the room and finding answers to twenty questions about the process. I’d taped info blurbs all over the Cavern of Learning (Mrs. T doesn’t have a Block One class, so I could use her half, too).  Half the class had bills that originated in the Senate, and half had bills that originated in the House, so students were spread out and didn’t bottleneck in any part of the room. It worked super well, and it got them out of their seats- which last class did not do- and got them asking questions as they went. 

Definitely a keeper.

World/English started with a vocab quiz. By popular request, Mrs. T and I split the vocab into two parts this unit (the given terms and their choice words), and gave two quizzes instead of one. The grades and the students’ feedback both indicate that we should keep doing this, so that’s the plan. We like it when they advocate for something and experience success as a result. That’s a great thing.

After students finished their quizzes, they got back to work on their book papers (or research projects, in the case of the half dozen students who are ahead). Mrs. T and I both did five or six conferences, and sat with various students needing one-on-one help with their writing. It was a wicked productive day- perhaps because the due date is approaching (Thursday)- and we were impressed. We said as much repeatedly. 

During my prep time I had one of my APUSGOV students in to make up a test. While she worked, I did my grading, hung up some new posters (Christmas gifts from my mom), and glanced over my lesson plans for the next couple weeks. And I got an email from our front office secretary, who does Pampered Chef, telling me I’d won a raffle at an event I was at yesterday! So my mailbox was full of Pampered Chef goodies, and that was awesome.

It was almost 50 degrees, so we got outside for track practice and did 50m time trials followed by a bit of a workout. There were some surprises in the time trials- in the form of big improvements from last year- and that’s delightful. 

Day Sixty-Two

A student cussed me out again today. 

That totally sucked. 

But I escorted him to the office to cool off, let the Vice Principal have a talk with him, and got on with class. Sometimes, that’s all that can be done. Meantime, three other students had crises of varying proportions, and Mrs. T dealt with those. She’s a mom, so she’s good at that.

I’m saying, though, it just wasn’t a good day for a lot of folks.

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It wasn’t totally bad, though. 

There were some laughs. A student attempted to sneak out of his assigned seat by stuffing his hoodie with his backpack and a tissue box (for the head) so it looked like a person, and Mrs. T and I both cracked up about that. Plus, we got to read some beautiful papers, and encourage a few students who’d been struggling and finally had some breakthroughs. I even got a smile out of one of my least smiley students because he finished his book- which I know was hard for him to do- and I told him how genuinely proud I was.

During flex I had a couple of my seniors come retake their last unit test, and crush it. And I had some great conversations about life and current events with some upperclassmen who came to see me during my prep time. I love that they come by just to chat.

I had to dash out before the bell to go to the doctor, but then I came back for the tail end of track practice. It’s always fun ending the day with my team. 

Day Sixty

There are still closed roads and power outages throughout the district, but we did have a full school day. Mrs. T and I spent part of Block 1 revising our plans because of the snow day, and part of it making a seating chart for our ninth grade classes, which was definitely helpful. 

We explained our rationale for assigning seats to the students when they arrived: many are behind, they- by their own admission- work better if it’s quiet and they have fewer distractions, and we want to set them up for success. We also reiterated basics like don’t throw stuff, don’t touch each other, get off Snapchat… It’s not stuff we’re used to having to say this far into the year, but if that’s what it takes… Most of our students nodded or shrugged, and got to work, and really did benefit from the changed atmosphere.

One did cuss me out, though. Twice.

Can’t win ‘em all.

We had a team meeting followed by a 504 meeting during Block 5. Mr. F brought candy, which was such a win. And, I have to say, all of our 504 meetings have been super positive, and this one was no different. It’s not like that every year, so yay for that.

I went to track practice afterwards. We had to do battle with the ski team for space on the stairs and in the halls, but we managed. I really like the team dynamics; there’s a ton of enthusiasm, and I’m starting to see a lot of potential in our rookies. It’s fun.

Day Fifty-Nine

Last night I decided I wanted to redo an entire unit in APUSGOV, so I stayed up late to edit some papers, and went to work a little earlier than usual this morning to print copies and update my boards. Was I ready to teach the new stuff by the time the bell rang? You bet I was.

I actually spent the first half hour of class going over the unit test they took last class. Then I handed out unit guides, assigned the first assessment (a research paper on major legislation, which I wrote instructions for at about midnight), and started talking about Congress. I showed some West Wing (”Mr. Willis of Ohio”), too, because it’s a fun addition to my teaching.

Mrs. T and I had our hands full in World/English because, well, it’s Monday after a vacation. We had kids who were coming off a rough time at home, or too little sleep, or something else, so we had to be mindful of that and manage any disruptive behaviors that resulted. Also, it was snowing, which distracts even the most focused students, and we just had to live with it.

I did raise my voice once to end an argument- I had to get up over it- and I’m annoyed because it’s not something I like doing. The problem is I haven’t yet found another way to deal with this group of students. They respond if I yell; they don’t respond to anything that worked in past years.

It’s wicked frustrating.

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I know I keep saying that, but it’s true, and maybe I didn’t expect it fourteen years into this profession. It doesn’t make me want to quit or anything dramatic like that; it makes me want to just figure it out already. 

This is the struggle of the impatient perfectionist.

There is good work being done, though. Most students are drafting, a few are revising, and two are totally done. Those who are behind are catching up. And I’ve answered lots of cool questions about writing and about African history, so this is sparking some curiosity- and that’s the goal.

I tinkered with my APUSGOV lessons some more during my prep time, and put shiny new books (for the unit on Central Asia, and courtesy of Mrs. T’s giant English budget this time) on my shelves. Then I went to track practice because, once again, tis the season.

The team is about the same size as it was last year, and it’s young- only three seniors- so it’s got a lot of potential. The Head Coach and I are looking forward to seeing what they can do.

Day One Hundred Eighteen

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. 

Bonus Day

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.

Bonus Day

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. 

States next weekend, and that’ll be that

Day Ninety-One

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. 

Bonus Day

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.