Category: meetings meetings meetings

Day Eighteen

I did not like it when my alarm went off this morning, but at least I got to go to work in my gym clothes because it was Freshman Field Day. I had morning PLC and APUSGOV first, though. In PLC we had a chat about CBE and rubrics, and in APUSGOV I explained the evolution of the federal government’s power. 

This is a kickass lesson, and I love teaching it. I broke students into groups, and had each group look up one of these things, get the facts, and figure out if it expanded or limited federal power:

  • 10th Amendment
  • McCulloch v. Maryland
  • Gibbons v. Ogden
  • 14th Amendment
  • Heart of Atlanta Motel v. US
  • US v. Lopez
  • Obergefell v. Hodges

They put their findings on the board in that order so the chronology was clear, and then I talked my way through it, elaborating on what they’d written as needed. It’s like fitting a puzzle together, and I could see it on their faces when it all clicked.

Freshman Field Day was supposed to start as soon as that block ended, but we had a slight rain delay. Once we were sure the rain had passed, we brought the whole ninth grade out to the fields for some community-building fun. See, my school is a big, regional school that takes incoming ninth graders from five schools (three public, two charter) across eight towns. We do field day to encourage them to mingle and build up unity.

This year we had yard games, capture the flag, softball, kickball, trail walks, crafting, and a high ropes course (yes, my school has one on property… get on our level). I played a wicked fun game of kickball. I can’t boot the ball like some of the kids can, but threw a boy out as he ran for home, which totally upped my reputation amongst the freshman boys. The fact that I have the aim and the willingness to hit someone with a ball always surprises them (because I’m *gasp* a girl!) It’s hilarious.

After kickball, I took a group of kids on a trail walk. Mr. T came with us because he really hasn’t seen the grounds yet. We came back just in time for lunch, which the cafeteria provided for the kids and us teachers. After lunch was the traditional tug-o-war tournament, and then we all went back inside for last block. 

My fellow team teachers and I made ourselves presentable for a team meeting with a parent, which went really well. These meetings and last night’s Open House have really impressed parents, according to Mrs. F; I guess there’s been lots of positive feedback to the school counseling office and The Principal. Yay us! 

Day Seventeen

Open House Chocolate Cream Pie:

  • Mix 4oz, of cream cheese and half a tub of Cool Whip 
  • Spread evenly in an Oreo crust 
  • Chill for 30 minutes
  • Mix 12oz instant chocolate pudding mix with 2.5 cups of milk
  • Spread on top of cream cheese and Cool Whip layer

Pie did, in fact, make the day better for my whole floor. That’s a win.

And so was everything else today! I had two awesome World classes. I got some GREAT questions about Latin America, and my students had a big, broad discussion of immigration during Block 4. That was so cool. They devoured the independent work I assigned, too, which rocks. 

I also had a super busy flex block- 17 students came to see me! They were all able to get help, get work done, and improve their grades. It’s such a benefit for them to have that time. I had a feeling I’d like flex, and I definitely do so far.

I spent half my prep time in a team leader meeting and half in a 504 meeting. It was super positive (not all of them are), but it meant I had to stay after to prepare for Open House. It didn’t take too long, though; I washed my desks and boards, printed informational handouts, and then left for a couple hours. Some teachers stay straight through the afternoon, but I always make it a point to go home. I like to get coffee, eat dinner, change clothes, and reapply my make-up. 

At Open House, I always do a couple things: I write my credentials on the board (because I am a professional badass, and people should know), I congratulate parents of seniors and welcome parents of freshmen, and I try to remember to breathe. It’s so much more nerve-wracking than teaching is! But I think it went well.

Day Sixteen

Okay, so that meeting that I had last week that went all sideways? The follow-up was today, and it was really good. The SpEd Director and Ms. N loved the work I did, the student using it is succeeding, and my confidence is back. There were apologies all around, too, for misunderstanding each other last time. So all is well in the kingdom.

I did very simple lessons in both APUSGOV and World, but sometimes simplicity works. It definitely did today. It was a lot of fun.

My APUSGOV students had to read the Constitution and identify what powers are given to each branch of the federal government, and what powers are given to the states; and then I charted out their answers on the board. Totally not flashy, but the conversation we had about why powers were delegated the way they were? That was brilliant.

My World class was a unit intro; we’re starting our study of Latin America. So I went over the unit plan, taught the vocab (which led to many hilarious tangents in my Block 4 class), and gave them the remainder of time to work. They had a map to label, and an assignment on daily life (read and respond to an article about a specific country, do additional research on anything about that country and cite it). Anything they didn’t do is homework. So it’s a lesson in time management and decision-making, too, and I liked how I went. 

We also experimented with flex time for the first time today. Yesterday, we all spoke to the students in our advisories about which teachers they wanted to see for extra help, enrichment, whatever. We built their schedules for the advisory block, and today they went where ever they signed up to go. I had 14 students come see me; some wanted to make up work, some wanted to retake their last quiz. I thought it went really well.

It’s Mr. F’s birthday. We did lunch, and then I went to chat about upcoming things with Mrs. T before my aforementioned meeting. I had another meeting at 2:30, and then I went back to finish talking to Mrs. T. 

Now I’m making pie because Open House is tomorrow. It’s a thing.

Day Thirteen

Today started with a PLC meeting, as all Thursdays do. Mr. T and I discussed World Cultures-y things, and talked about open house- which is next week- since he’s new. We had some time before the first bell, so I went and found Ms. N, the case manager for all my ninth graders with IEPs (sidenote: having one case manager attached to a team is a big benefit of teaming). I wanted to talk to her about a student, but we decided we need a bigger meeting with Mrs. T and The SpEd Director, so that’s going to happen tomorrow.

I spent Block 1 editing current events essays so I could give them back to my World students for revision. And, cue the music of triumph, everything went as well today as it did yesterday, even in Block 4. I still had to redirect kids, but they responded so much more quickly, and without any back talk. The one boy I was having trouble with? Was all good. 

I have no idea what I did.

Maybe it was our chat after last class, maybe it was that I replied to a Remind text he sent to ask about an assignment. Maybe it wasn’t me at all. 

But I’ll take it.

I forgot my lunch, so I dashed down to the awesome bagel shop and deli about a mile from the school so I could get a sandwich. They had fresh chocolate chip cookies, so I grabbed three. I ate one, gave one to Mr. F because we’re buddies, and gave the other to Mr. T because he hadn’t had one of this place’s cookies yet. So good.

I spent Block 5 prepping all my stuff for next class, so I stayed after for a bit to do my grading. It was about 4 when I left, and I decided I needed an afternoon coffee. The baristas call me “Coach” or “Teach.’ 

Yes, I am!

Day Eleven

Only one of my students was born before 9/11. There can’t be more than a handful in the whole school, and next year there will be none. It made observing a moment of silence a bit surreal, and I found myself wondering how long after other major tragedies did that tradition last.

Anyways.

I did a walk through observation of Ms. J’s American Lit. class, which was fun because she has a ton of my former students. It did make it impossible to be subtle and non-disruptive, though. I apologized for that on a post-it note. 

Then I went and taught my own classes. My World lesson did go as well as it went yesterday. More kids needed help today, which is no biggie, and I still have one in that challenging Block 4 class who is really struggling to get out of his own way. I actually held him after class to talk one-on-one about his behavior. I haven’t had to do that in ages.

I will figure out how to work with him, though. I’m determined.

I could hear Mr. T teaching a lesson on racism across the hall all morning. so when we ate lunch together I asked if I could steal it. Afterwards, I had a team meeting followed by a faculty meeting, which wasn’t fun because I had a headache and there wasn’t any coffee. 

I survived, though.

And then I went to vote, and I saw a former student as I was walking in. He beamed at me and shouted, “I’m voting because your class taught me it matters!” So nothing else about today actually matters. That makes it.

Day Two

I had to show up half an hour early today for a 504 meeting. I was wicked glad it was short, though, because freshman orientation was this morning. I had to help set up, and then the building was overrun with new ninth graders. So it was a busy morning, but it’s worth it. It’s super fun to meet the new students, and show them around, and get to know them a bit. 

I can already tell I have a boisterous team with a lot of personality. There are a bunch of athletes, so I made a point of getting into several loud (but good-natured) debates about sports. What can I say? I entertain myself. 

And I got to see Mr. B! He brought his son to orientation, which was awesome and, honestly, a bit more emotional than I had though it would be. But, thing is, Mr. B has been there to support me since my first year- it’s like he’s watched me grow up!- and he’s been a great department head, and I’m going to miss him this year… It hit me again at my afternoon department meeting that, with him on leave, I’m the most senior member of our department. 

Holy crap.

After the department meeting I tried to help Mr. T set up Powerschool, but it was being wonky, so we ended up just having a chat. It was unusually hot- like, so hot that all preseason sports stuff was cancelled because it’s a health risk- so we were hiding out in the air conditioned computer lab, and neither of us wanted to go back to a hot classroom, so chatting was good. 

We had meetings for the last hour of the day. I dashed off some photocopies just before mine, so it’s one less thing on my to-do list for tomorrow. As I was leaving, Mr. R saw me and let me know a bunch of folks were going out for a drink, so I tagged along. I ended up sitting with Mr. I after everyone else left, and talking about life, teaching, this crazy year… It was pretty deep, and a little heavy, but it felt good, too, you know? I’m lucky I work with folks I can talk to like that.

Day One

WE’RE BAAAAAACK!

The first day always starts with a district-wide breakfast and welcome meeting. I walked into breakfast with Mr. F and told him we were going to make new friends, so we sat with two new teachers, one of whom turned out to be my new World counterpart. His name is Mr. T, and he’s super cool. Our other cacophonous friends joined us, and- to the newbies’ amusement- we got to work on my bingo board (I fill it with educational buzzwords and see how long it takes for them to be said at meetings). It’s my bit of mischief, but it does mean I’m listening!

I actually love the welcome back meeting because it’s powerful too see the faculty and staff of the whole district in one room, and The Superintendent usually starts it with something inspiring. Today he had us all stand, and gradually sat us back down in order of how many years we’d worked in the district- so all the new teachers sat first, then everyone with less than five years, and so on. It’s year fourteen for me, so I was standing longer than most, but one woman who works in the district office was left standing at FORTY-EIGHT years!

Obviously, we all stood back up to applaud her. 

The rest of the meeting was about the vision for the year (helping every student reach their potential). After that, we had some tech training (new program to do flex time scheduling), which I blew through because I’m one of those pesky, savvy Millenials. Then I went down to grab a bunch of new supplies from Mrs. Z. She rocks, but it’s so weird not seeing Mr. B… 

Anyways. Meetings, meetings, lunch (featuring whoopie pies from Mrs. T!), and more meetings followed- ending with a typically raucous Ninth Grade House meeting, which included this little exchange:

The Vice Principal: I realize I’ve been here twice as long as your past several vice principals, and I haven’t gotten sick of you yet.
Me: Ehh, give it a bit more time.
Mr. F: We’ll try harder.

That’s us, heh.

I would have puttered in my room after that, but I had to leave right at 3:00 to get to a doctor’s appointment. The nurse who took my pulse said it was fast. 

YUP!

Day One Hundred Eighty-Five

Teacher workshop day two was a day full of meetings: a meeting about new grading protocols, a meeting about CBE, a meeting about how adding flex time next year will work, a PLC meeting… Thankfully, there were breaks in between each one. 

The flex time meeting was the rowdiest. The faculty I work with has no chill, so new initiatives are always met with a barrage of questions. New initiatives that expose gaps in technological savvy are even more fun. But I think there’s a lot of excitement to try this out. I certainly think it’s got potential. 

Stay tuned, I guess.

Afterwards, I grabbed lunch with Mr. F, Mr. W, and- when she got out of her additional meetings (because she’s a department head)- Mrs. T. Then I had to head own to Mrs. Z’s room for a department meeting because she’s filling in for Mr. B temporarily (It’s weird, but I’m still very okay with it not being me).

I didn’t have anything to do after that because it was time for wrapping up grades and verifying them, and- BOOM!- I’m a wizard, so my grades were done last Friday. My room’s also in order, so I gave myself the job of helping Mr. F organize his nasty, cluttered book shelves. I’m halfway done, so I’ll finish tomorrow!

Day One Hundred Eighty-Four

Oh, hi, it’s a teacher workshop day in June! This year, I have three of them. For real. Sometime around the sixth or seventh snow day, the district started making the workshop days school days so the kids wouldn’t get out later, but those workshop days still have to happen, so here we are.

Today wasn’t bad. It’s not hot, and that helps a ton. And we’re going through reaccreditation next year, so we really did need time to go over some of the details about that. I’ve done it before- it’s every ten years- but a lot of my colleagues haven’t. So, anyways, that took up most of the morning, and then I went to putter around my room a bit, and get a few things done. 

Aaaand then I went to my book group! So, funny story here: there were all these faculty-wide emails from The Principal an Vice Principal about doing summer reading as professional development, and I… basically ignored all of them.

 It’s not that I mind reading or PD; it’s just that I already do a ton of both. I mean, you all know what I teach. You know I have to study constantly if I want to do it well (and I do). So I devour my content, and I do enough pedagogical stuff that I have more than enough PD hours to maintain my certification. So I was like, “Cool, a PD opportunity! Nice of The Powers That Be to offer that, but don’t need it myself…” and went about my merry business.

I missed the fact that it’s mandatory.

So today I was volun-told to read Empower by A.J. Juliani and John Spencer. And, y’know, that’s fine. Everyone else in that reading group is getting a kick out of the fact that I didn’t choose it because I’m usually on top of my shit, but whatever. I did set up a discussion file in Google Drive and start commenting on the first two chapters before 3:00 this afternoon. So there.

Day One Hundred Sixty-Five

It was back to school after the long weekend, into the home stretch, etc, etc…

Mrs. T and I opened the wall between our classrooms to begin multi-genre drafting. We like to team teach this part because it gives our students a solid 160 minutes to work (yes, there are breaks, including lunch), and one of us can supervise the whole Cavern of Learning while the other works one-on-one with particular students. Both of us walk around with clipboards, too, so we can do on-the-fly editing. 

The first thing we have them draft is the works consulted page. Once they do that, they can start an expressive piece: narrative, poetry, personal letter, etc… One of the students whose project is about school shootings asked if she could write in text messages- as if texting from an active shooter situation- and I okayed it. I thought she’d just type it out like a script, but she actually took her script and got her friends to text her the different lines while her phone was on screen record. She played it back for Mrs. T and I, and we both almost cried. It’s such a powerful piece of work. 

I hope she shows it to everyone. 

I hate how much school shootings are on my students’ minds these days, but they are and we can’t ignore them. So I want my students to express whatever they’re thinking. Their voices should be heard.

I find myself speaking more candidly, too, when asked about what I think. I have a few colleagues who are ready to leave teaching, who have recurring shooting nightmares. And, no matter how rare school shootings are- and they are rare, even now- I know my family can’t help worrying about me. Even the local priest worries about me.

I wish they wouldn’t, but that isn’t really up to me.

Anyways. 

Class went well, and so did our team meeting afterwards. We spoke to two sets of parents- one incoming, one outgoing- about some challenging stuff, but it was positive and productive. It ran long, so I was a bit late to practice, but it was all right. Only a few athletes qualified for MOCs, and The Head Coach had procedural stuff to go over with them, so I didn’t miss any of the actual workout. And, after, I stuck around to help the middle school coach, Coach B, with her sprinters. They’ll be mine in the future, so it’s good to build some connections.