Category: Mr. F

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-Four

So today was awesome. 

It’s Spirit Day, so everyone was decked out in school colors, glitter, and face paint. Classes were short to accommodate a pep rally at the end of the day, so APUSGOV was very chill; I went over the unit test they took last class, then we did current events presentations, and that was that.

Then Mrs. T and I did a tag team lesson in our Cavern of Learning. I started by dividing students into groups of six- three who’d read about drug violence in Mexico, three who’d read about drug violence in Brazil- and had them get laptops and headphones, and watch a 15-minute video to supplement their reading. They shared what they’d learned with their peers, I explained the growth of the violence to Honduras and neighboring countries, and we read an article about San Pedro Sula. So they had enough information to answer the question I posed last class-why are so many undocumented minors have been seeking asylum in the last few years- and I could see when it all clicked. 

Mrs. T tagged in to show them how to do MLA citations for my class materials, and set up a works consulted page, and assigned our first major assessment. She’s been teaching scenes and personal narratives for the past few weeks. What students have to do now is write a fact-based narrative based on anything we’ve studied about Latin America. So they’re plotting out ideas, fleshing them out with additional research (and citing it), and drafting. 

It all went SO well. We were happy about it. 

And then the pep rally was a ball. As we walked to the gym, Mr. T revealed he’d never been to one before, which… Wow. I grinned and told him to embrace the experience. Some teachers don’t, but me? Give me the band, the drumline, the fight song, and all the noise and cheering. Mr. F an I played musical chairs, as always, though I got eliminated early. 

Afterwards, it was parking lot tailgating (amazing chili dogs made by our hall monitors), and football. Half the town was there; it was packed! Our team lost, sadly, but it was still a fun day.

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 Six

Today went very fast and sometimes sideways.

I had APUSGOV first. I grouped students up and had each group brainstorm a list of things a newly established government would need to do in order to keep a country functioning, and then I tried to derail each group’s plans with hypothetical crises (rebellion, invasion, disease, famine, economic collapse… I also tampered with unsecured elections, educational systems, and so on). My point: good governments are multifaceted and hard to make. In fact, our first attempt at it failed. 

See that segue? It would have been SO smooth except for two things: my photocopies of the Articles of Confederation hadn’t printed properly (somehow missing a page), and my laptop wasn’t connecting to my classroom TV. 

D’OH.

I apologized, and took a few minutes to make new photocopies and get a projector from Mrs. T. Then my students got to work figuring out the Articles’ weaknesses, and things they didn’t provide for. I closed with a bit of Crash Course, and previewed what our study of the Constitution will look like next class.

I’m still getting used to the fact that I don’t have my World classes back-to-back anymore (I did for the past ten years). Also, the upperclassmen in my advisory are ridiculous (they fake whine about eeeeeverything) and they know it, so having them in between teaching ninth graders does not give me a breather. I do laugh a lot, though.

I tried to go use the bathroom, which is inside the staff room, after advisory, but The Vice Principal had commandeered the staff room to talk to a student. No idea why there and not her office, but… not my circus. 

I just didn’t get to pee until lunch.

I’m still doing basic intro stuff in World, so today I did vocab (which gives me an idea of how quickly and for what duration I can do direct instruction with each class). Then I did a lesson that’s a pre-assessment of several skills; my students split into groups and looked at different cultural artifacts (letters from the Gulf War, wedding photos from Pakistan, a bit of poetry or art- I vary that yearly). They made observations and inferences, and asked questions, and we discussed it all. For the remainder of class (and homework, as needed), they had to look into something further- their choice- so I’ll be able to see how well they research and cite sources.

I felt good about how the lesson went, especially Block 4. And then I got an email during lunch that an anonymous donor had paid for my dress down Fridays (it’s a dollar a week to our sunshine fund). Mr. F got one, too. We have no clue who did that for us, but it’s super nice.

During my prep, I marked the initial homework I collected in all my classes today (I always give a small assignment on day one because if it doesn’t get done I’ll know right away who’s going to struggle with work completion), and started reading one of the new books Mrs. T and I got about Afghanistan (I read all our new Africa books over the summer). I got about forty pages in before the afternoon bell. Woot.

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-Six

IT’S SUMMER!!!!

Two evening teacher workshops counted as a day for us, so today was it. We had our final faculty meeting, which was done before 9:30, and then we all went to finish up whatever we had left to do. 

I didn’t have much. I revised my APUSGOV syllabus because college board said it needs more detail. Then I finished organizing Mr. F’s shelves. 

Aaaand then we watched a movie in Mr. W’s room.

And then we left to celebrate. I really did have an incredible year, so it was a celebration for me. 

On to the next…

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 Fifty-Nine

You know, today was glorious, at first. It’s a perfect spring day, it’s payday Friday, and Mr. W and I did a karate demo for my ninth graders during World (and it was so much fun). Katas, tricks with body mechanics, sparring… Mr. W did the “one inch punch” to me (on my shoulder so I could twist and dissipate some of the force, and Mr. F still had to catch me).

And then there as an incident in the hall.

And then our SRO hurried of for… something.

And then there was a shooting. 

Again.

I’ve said before that nothing is as wrenching as listening to kids in public schools after mass shootings. The resignation is terrible. But there’s a defiant joy, afterwards, and a desire to affirm life. 

And so I found myself here with my athletes this afternoon:

That’s the public beach a few towns over, where we gathered for a team spag. Conference championships are tomorrow. 

Day One Hundred Fifty-Eight

Today, the Speaker of the NH House came to APUSGOV, which was very cool. There was a good discussion about some big pieces of state legislation that have come up recently (medicaid expansion, death penalty repeal, vouchers, banning conversion therapy…) And I love listening to my students talk to our guests. They’re so informed and well-spoken. A handful of freshmen, galvanized by Parkland and beginning to explore politics, joined my class, and I’m psyched they have such good role models. 

World was pretty solid. I did the same lesson today as I did yesterday.My Block 4 class was a bit slow, at first, in figuring out how different philosophies (Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism) influence other aspects of culture; I had to give multiple examples and reword my questions a few times. But once it clicked they were on fire. I think, ultimately, they understood it the best.

Halfway through the block, Mrs. T sent a student over to say it’s Mrs. H’s birthday, so she and I stepped out during Block 5 to get her a giant bar of dark chocolate (her fave). We miiiight have gotten ourselves one, too, along with coffee. We got coffee for Mr. F because he didn’t get home from his lax game last night until after 11:00, and we are awesome friends.

Track practice was short and sweet. Tomorrow’s off, and then Saturday is the conference championship. We’re as ready as we’re going to be.