Category: meetings meetings meetings

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.

Day One Hundred Fifty-Seven

Today was one of those days when a lot of little things went wrong. Like, nothing catastrophic happened, but there was enough to put me out of sorts: a white out bottle leaking in my desk, a marker being out of ink when I tried to use it, a student letting me know today that he’s going on vacation for ten days, a guest presenter canceling last-minute… You get the idea.

My World classes were still all right. My students did group work activities on East Asian cultures, so it was pretty low key. They made a mess doing some Chinese arts and crafts for one activity, and I think I was a bit short with them about it, but it wasn’t too bad. The general mood stayed positive. 

I did roast one of the lax kids (it’s an ongoing joke that sprung out of the fact that Mr. F and I roast each other all season and our athletes wanted in), which got a laugh out of everyone… 

Block 5 was team meeting time. Thankfully, nothing went wrong there. Then I headed out to practice, greeted a handful of former athletes who came to visit, and got to work. I went to get the relay batons out of our supply shed, and as I was jogging back I sprained my ankle.

In true, melodramatic fashion I’m treating this like it’s the worst thing ever. WHICH IT IS.

At least no one saw me do it…

I had a meeting after practice, so I had to put my dress clothes- and heels- back on, which was not awesome. Buuuut I made it through.

Day One Hundred Forty-Nine

Here’s a thing: I am an auditory learner in a world dominated by visual learners. I’m fully capable of adjusting my teaching practices to meet the needs of multiple types of learners, but I have yet to be able to adjust my own learning style. Sooo this morning, when those of us who took the PD course on CBE met to discuss next steps, and the two teachers leading the meeting showed us an organizational chart, I just did not get it. It was neat, and color-coded, and awesome, and useless to me. 

And I get snippy when I don’t understand things- especially if there’s something I’m responsible for doing- which is part of the reason why I’m not good at meetings. 

Sigh. 

I worked through it, though. And, hopefully, no one got too annoyed with me in the process. And we had baked goods for breakfast, so yay. 

I had a pretty chill day after that because my students were working on posters. My Block 3 class is devouring this project, and I love it. I’m a little worried about my Block 4 class because there are a bunch of students behind schedule, and two who had to start over because they didn’t follow the instructions (thank goodness I checked notes), but they do tend to pull things off at the last minute. We shall see…

I made sure to get my work done early during Block 5, so I could go help the other track coaches set up the infamous obstacle course. It’s a yearly tradition, and it’s so fun. Good for morale, you know?

And we managed to do it before the rain came!

May the Fourth be with you!

Day One Hundred Twenty-Seven

I woke up today and wondered how it was only Tuesday, which seemed to be a common sentiment amongst students and staff. So it’s not surprising that it was a bit of a rocky day. I think there was a fight in the halls, but I totally missed that, and generally tempers seemed short.

Things were fine in the Cavern of Learning, though. Actually, they were super productive, too. Mrs. T and I got our steps in (I don’t actually track them, but you know what I mean) going from group to group to answer questions and look over various things. 

There were moments of silliness, of course, but everyone needs those. And right now our students have 160 minutes (with a five-minute break and a half-hour lunch break) to work on debate prep, which is serious and difficult. Gotta have laughter in there, too, you know? As long as it’s got an on-off switch, it’s all good.

We had a team meeting Block 5, but it was short, so I got to do a bit of grading afterwards. Then I had a club meeting with the student activists who want to continue the post-Parkland, post-March work; I’m the adult who will sign forms and backs of checks, but it’s their show. 

And then I had practice, and- cue the music of triumph- we actually got on the track! 

There’s about 200m clear of snow, which is plenty for a sprint workout. I have all the emotions about being on a track in early spring: how it looks, how it feels under my feet, how it smells like mud and grass… I associate it with so many memories. It made me so happy to be out there. 

We race (away) in two weeks!

Day One Hundred Twenty-One

All my lessons on current issues in the Middle East, including today’s (on Yemen, and how that conflict and the one in Syria have impacted the global refugee crisis), are front-loading for debate. Basically, I spend a month teaching our students what’s going on in the region, and then Mrs. T teaches them how to argue about it. 

Or, y’know, she will when her son isn’t sick. 

She was out today, so I was left all alone in our Cavern of Learning to do it myself. It’s exhausting, but I managed. I wrapped up my lesson, then did all the initial set-up: grouping students, assigning topics (groups chose what focus on, I assigned pro and anti), going over instructions. We’ll have debates on Palestinian Statehood, US military action against Bashar al-Assad, arming Kurdish rebels, US involvement in Yemen, accepting a larger number of refugees… It’s going to be interesting.

Our schedule gets funky this week because of SATs, so I won’t see this set of students again until Friday, but it should be all right. 

I spent most Block 5 in a ninth grade house meeting (I mostly behaved, aside from childish glee about the fact that morning PLC has been canceled this week, so I won’t have to get up early on Thursday for that). I spent the rest of the block setting up my room for APUSGOV; we have another congressional candidate coming to chat!

And then I went to track practice.

It’s cold. It’s windy. There’s still a ton of snow on the ground… But it’s track season, and we’re gonna rock it.

Day One Hundred Eleven

Today I taught one of the World lessons I rewrote yesterday. Ultimately my goal is to explain what’s currently going on in Syria, but to get there I need my students to know a little regional history, and they come in as blank slates.

I set up my tables so there were six groups (trick: if you have more chairs than students in a class, and you want small and even groups, remove the unnecessary chairs and watch like a hawk so no one rearranges the remaining ones… I still had two try). Each group had to learn about a particular event:

  • The Iranian Revolution
  • The Iran-Iraq War
  • The Persian Gulf War
  • The Kurdish Independence Movement
  • The Iraq War
  • The Syrian Civil War

Each group presented what they’d learned, and I drew the connections between each thing. Or, at least, I did it, at first; then they started figuring it out themselves, which is awesome. 

Next class I’ll build on what they learned and tackle the rise of ISIS.

My day ended with an amusing ninth grade house meeting. I was amused, at least. At one point, The Vice Principal was trying to schedule some upcoming stuff, and forgot we had a teacher workshop day, so I said, “We all block those out of our minds, too.” She laughed. Other admins in the room… not so much.

Day One Hundred Three

My department head, Mr. B, is a New Hampshire political stereotype: fiscally conservative, socially moderate, registered independent. He has a file cabinet covered in campaign stickers going back to the 1980s. Mostly, they’re from Republican campaigns, or conservative Democratic ones. I’ve been gradually liberalizing this cabinet- and Mr. B himself- my entire career. 

I went down to his classroom during my prep time Block 1 to give him a new sticker (from the event I was at last night), and ended up having a half-hour conversation about political things, and teaching, and his kids… Those are good to have sometimes.

And then I went to crush my day.

I always say that I am at my most wizardly and badass when I’m teaching ninth graders about modern conflicts in the Middle East. Today I lectured on Israel and Palestine- continuing where their homework left off- to prepare them to do some issue exploration next class. I got awesome questions from multiple students, as well as comments linking other things we’ve studied in with this new information. It feels so good when a lesson clicks.

My Block 4 students even got their homework done in class because they just devoured my lesson. They got it. 

So that’s great.

Right around ten minutes before class ended, though, I started getting a wicked bad headache…. which lasted through my back-to-back meetings (house meeting Block 5, faculty meeting after school). I was not charming, to say the least. I did my best to just not say anything.

Day Eighty

I didn’t get lunch today, so I’m devouring macaroni and cheese as I write this.

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I had a meeting during my lunch time (making a plan with my team’s special ed. case manager to support a student who didn’t read their book for World), and a team leader meeting during my prep block (during which my colleagues noticed I don’t take notes… because I am a wizard… and an auditory learner), and a faculty meeting after school. 

Whew!

But it’s all good. My classes were good, too. 

My APUSGOV students kept working on their “Pizza Bureaucracy” project, which they’ve decided to present as a skit. They storyboarded it today, which was fun for me to watch because they’re such a creative bunch of kids. They are prone to going on tangents, but I don’t mind as long as the work gets done. I probably could have given them a tighter deadline, but one never knows how many snow days there will be this time of year, and setting the due date at the end of the quarter just works.

I also passed along an invitation to a “meet the candidates” event hosted by the local Democrats next week (note: I pass on invitations to Republican events, too). It’s being held at a rather fancy inn (this is a ski town, so there are lots of those), so there was much discussion about how to dress. My students’ thoughts:

  • “Pantsuits!”
  • “Country club casual.”
  • “Like you’re wearing $55 socks.”

I love it. 

It was an open wall day for World/English, but Mrs. T was absent, so I was all by my lonesome in the Cavern of Learning. I told the sub coordinator to use her sub elsewhere because there was need, and a sub on an open wall day is just one more person I have to pay attention to. In a room of forty ninth graders, all my attention has to be on them. 

I got a good workout going from student to student to answer questions and look over outlines or beginnings of drafts. 

I’m going back to replenishing my calories now.