Category: meetings meetings meetings

Day Sixty-Six

Today was significantly less dramatic than yesterday. 

We spent the morning meeting working on the NEASC self-study (and drinking lots of coffee because maaaaybe none of us slept well). I ran into the SRO afterwards and thanked him again for doing a damn good job. 

I had a meeting with Mr. W during Block One; he wanted my help drafting a course proposal for the program of studies, and I was happy to lend my writing skills. After that, I was able to do some lesson prep for APUSGOV, but I didn’t quite finish before the bell. I ended up doing the rest after school.

World/English was really good. It was the last day allotted for work on book papers, so Mrs. T and I were both very busy helping students write conclusions, giving drafts one last edit, answering citation questions, and so on. I broke the block up into work time and break time like I did last class, and it went so well. I did hold two students for lunch detention for being disruptive during work time (they could choose lunch or after school), but hopefully I won’t have to do that in the future. 

Also, I didn’t raise my voice. After last class, I asked myself why I was doing it if I didn’t want to; I realized that I may not be able to change my challenging student’s behavior, but I can change mine. So no more raised voice, I’m done yelling. 

That’s who I want to be.

Most students worked right up to the bell, but they did it. This was a really hard assignment, so it’s awesome that they persevered and succeeded. We were delighted by the big smiles, sighs of relief, and proudly flourished papers. 

One boy asked if he could cheer.

Heck yes.

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-Six

My hair was wet when I dashed out of my house at 6:52 this morning, and it was so cold outside that my hair froze before I got to my car. I did make it to my 7:00 PLC meeting on time, though. So there’s that. 

Mrs. T ran the show in World/English today. She explained how to do the Africa Book Paper outlines while I supervised the students who were either behind or ahead of schedule. I think it went pretty well. One highlight for me was a conversation with a student who’d previously said he hated to read, and didn’t want to do it, and wasn’t going to learn anything; he told me that he’d finally sat down last night and read enough of his book to get to something he found interesting, and then kept reading, and then finished the book. He identified its major themes and told me what he’d learned, and it made my day.

The other highlight wasn’t anything inspirational. It was the moment when I told two boys to turn around and they immediately busted out “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” 

I cracked up and told them they were perfect. 

Day Fifty-Four

There really should have been a two-hour delay this morning because there was a lot of snow. Every district north of us (and I mean all the way to Canada) and most of the ones south of us delayed or closed, and the roads were absolutely awful, but for some reason The Superintendent didn’t call it. Sooooo we had a half dozen students (that I know of) and two buses get into accidents- none really serious, thankfully- and basically all of us were late to school. 

I arrived about fifteen minutes after the first bell. I was a bit discombobulated, of course, but I settled in and still had plenty of time to mark up current events for revision. And that’s what students did during the World/English double block: they revised and submitted a polished portfolio. If they finished early, they could use the time to read, or begin outlining their book papers with Mrs. T. 

While she was going over outlines, I was watching the room, fielding questions, and doing my best to rein in some bad behavior (the health classes are doing the unit on sex ed. now, and some of the boys were flicking the condoms they’d gotten at each other). We switched roles about half an hour in so I could work one-on-one with a student who was refusing to do anything, and then with one who needed lots of help and was getting anxious about it. If we didn’t team teach, that couldn’t have happened, so- as ever- I’m glad that we do!

I had a headache by the time it was over, which could’ve been from the stress of keeping those challenging students I was working with calm and on task, or could’ve been from the amount of Axe the boys were wearing today. It seemed more than usual, and I’m wicked allergic to it.

The headache made it so the two meetings- team, then faculty- in my afternoon seemed oddly long. But I made it through both of them. I had grading to do afterwards, but no Tylenol in my desk, so took papers home, which I rarely do. 

Now it’s time to grade them…

Day Fifty-Three

Okay, so I got my teaching mojo back today. 

I did a lesson on voting in APUSGOV: protections on voting rights, reasons for increases/decreases in turnout, demographic trends, etc… And we took a look at some of the data coming out about the midterms. That was ALL THE POLITICALLY NERDY FUN, and I got to answer some really good questions. We cracked some jokes, too; it’s a room full of unbearably clever young people, and that’s the best part. 

In World/English, it was time for students to revise the current events essays they’d worked on all week and submit them as a portfolio. As I went over the instructions, I was able to explain that this is the build-up to bigger things. This is research. note-taking, citation, and writing practice because book papers and research projects are coming. I wanted to be really clear about the purpose of the work they’re doing.

And it was great! Mrs. T and I took turns working one-on-one with students and monitoring the Cavern. We do it pretty naturally at this point; one of us will sit beside a student, the other will walk around. I ended up sitting with one boy for a good twenty minutes because he kept getting off task and distracting others. He buckled down once it was obvious I wasn’t going anywhere, and I was able to praise him for catching up and getting everything done, and he looked super proud of himself. That was a breakthrough.

I had an IEP meeting during my prep time, and got called out of it to go to another IEP meeting, which… oof. It was unexpected, so when The SpEd. Director pulled me, my initial thought was, “Oh, God, what went wrong?” I was relieved that it was just her needing a regular ed. teacher.

That would be me.

Day Fifty-One

I am, in fact, very tired today. What good social studies teacher isn’t tired the day after an election, though? This is what coffee and concealer were made for…

It was amazing to go into APUSGOV first thing. I read off the NH election results-  which included some major upsets, especially down ballot- and we chatted for a bit about that, and applauded all the students who cast their first votes. Then I taught a badass lesson on campaign finance (which I took from my AP training at Camp SaintJ, so credit goes to Karen Waples). 

I put students in groups and gave each group one of the following things to research with a couple guiding questions:

  • PACs
  • 527s
  • 501c4s
  • SuperPACs
  • FECA
  • BRCA
  • Buckley v. Valeo
  • Citizens United v. FEC

They put their findings on the board (fun with multi-colored markers!), and I threw up some notes on the 1800s Railroad Cases. Then we had a discussion to connect the dots between all the info (I may have said that a PAC and a SuperPAC were like a Pokemon and its evolved form during this… Maybe). 

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I may sound like a massive nerd when I say this, but it’s so much fun to teach this lesson. It’s a complex topic, and it’s so cool when kids get it. And when adults get it! I always get observed when I teach this lesson because my colleagues want to understand the topic, too, so at least one comes in on instructional rounds. 

A few folks want to see Mrs. T and I team teach, too, so we’ll probably have visitors next week. Today we took current events essays a step further by having students revise to incorporate information from another source, and cite it properly in-text. We had to help lots of students because it’s a new skill, so it’s good there’s two of us. I did have to step out twice for 504 meetings, but they were quick. 

We both had a meeting after school because we’re mentors, and all the mentors and new teachers in the district met today to chat about how Q1 went and to go over some upcoming things. I worked with both Ms. J and Mr. T because his mentor is sick. We had a good chat, and there was chocolate. And I got to catch up with Mr. A, who loves being a classroom teacher! So cool.

Day Thirty-Four

Today was SO much better than the last B day of our A/B schedule. Mrs. T and I assigned seats, which did wonders for the noise level in the Cavern; it did wonders for the productivity level, too, of course. I wish we didn’t have to play it that way, but so far the thing holding several of our students back is worrying how others will perceive them if they choose to separate themselves and focus on doing well rather than socializing. I’ve had a few talks one-on-one about that, and so has Mrs. T.

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I wish I was as good at it as Mr. Feeny.

Anyways. 

Students took a vocab quiz, did pronouns practice, and revised narratives. If they finished all that- and many did, including one or two who surprised themselves- I had them get ahead on stuff for the next unit. Specifically, I had them choose books for The Epic Book Paper and Research Project (redesigned from last year) and start reading.

We had a ninth grade house meeting during Block 5, so I spent about an hour after the bell getting ready for tomorrow. And that was that!

Day Thirty

So I’m back at work after a long weekend. My nail polish is chipping, and I have whiteboard marker all over the sides of my palms. It was a good day, though. 

Students worked on their narrative drafting in the Cavern of Learning, and a bunch opted to stick around during flex to keep working with Mrs. T or I. I have this one student who always comes in with an attitude, tries to break some rule (which one varies), complains when I tell him to knock it off, tells me he hates my class, uses profanity, tries to distract his peers, gets separated from his peers… and then he buckles down and does his work. This seriously happens everyday he has my class, so… 

I’m just embracing the routine. This is a kid who cares a lot about how his peers see him, so he won’t separate himself to focus on his work, but if I separate him as a “punishment,” he protects his reputation and keeps his grades up. 

If that’s what it takes…

We had a team meeting Block 5, and a faculty meeting after that, so I did my prep for tomorrow between 3:30 and 4:30. I was hoping I’d get out of work sooner because it was a gorgeous day, but that’s all right. At least I won’t have to worry about anything in the morning.

Day Twenty-Nine

I managed to get through last month without catching more than a little sniffle, but this morning I woke up with a headache, stuffy nose, sore throat, and fever. So the September cold got me in October…

I still went to work because it was just a teacher workshop day: meetings, NEASC stuff, PLC & department stuff… I’m doubly bad in meetings when I’m sick, apparently. Like, one of my older colleagues announced- when we were well over our allotted meeting time, I might add- that one way we could save time is by showing each other how to use Powerschool more efficiently. He said there should be a process for that, so I said, “The process is that you find a Millenial and bribe them.”

Thank goodness my colleagues think I’m funny.

We cruised through NEASC. Then I went to lunch with Mr. W, Mr. T, Mr. F, Mrs. T, and Mrs. B. That’s almost the whole Cacophony. Most of them had PLC or Department meetings afterwards, but not Mr. T and I. Social studies is so far ahead of the game. So he went to finish entering grades and comments for progress reports, and I went to touch up my next APUSGOV unit (my grades and comments were done three days ago because I am a wizard). I ended up gutting my unit test and putting a bunch of new stuff in it, so that’s done. I also had time to redecorate the team bulletin board.

Not a bad day’s work.

Day Twenty-Five

I did pilates with a bunch of my colleagues after work on Friday- between the pep rally and football- and I felt it this morning when I got up. My quads and abs let me know exactly what they think of my life choices.

It made walking around the Cavern of Learning a bit more challenging than usual, but I managed. Mrs. T and I did the same thing we’d done on Friday. It was harder today because some of our students have to be redirected a lot, but we anticipated that, so we adjusted our delivery and where we positioned ourselves in the room. Also, this bunch of students asks GREAT questions, so we allotted extra time for them to do it, and had a really cool discussion about immigration policy.

So now everyone is set to draft narratives, and will spend the next several classes working on that. 

We had a ninth grade house meeting during Block 5, so I did all my grading after school ended. I had some assignments to check in, and a few APUSGOV test retakes (kids did it in the office while I was in my meeting) to mark, but I got it all done pretty quickly.