Category: Mr. F

Day One Hundred Eighty-Two

So, the other day, Mr. B emailed me to ask me if I’d be willing to be a building rep for the teacher’s union. I didn’t respond with my immediate reaction, which was, “Do you really think that’s a good idea?” I took some time to think it over. Mr. B has been my mentor for years, so the fact the he was the one asking was partially why I eventually said yes. There was an election, but I was running unopposed, so it was all but official at that point. Today it’s actually official. 

That’s probably the biggest thing that happened to me today. It was the first day of final exams for the underclassmen, and I had no exams to give, so my day was pretty quiet. Exams are scheduled so that students take two each day with a half hour break in between and lunch after. Today, they took the exams for their Block 1 classes, and I don’t have any (APUSGOV was on A days- and seniors took finals last week- and my prep time was on B days).

I spent most of the morning cleaning out my classroom, except for the hour or so when I was in a team leader meeting with Mrs. C, Mrs. R, and The Vice Principal. I didn’t realize how full my file cabinets had gotten until I decided to go through them and clear the clutter. Now they’re mostly empty because everything is digital. No need for old curriculum binders, or anything like that.

I had lunch with Mr. W, Mr. F, and Mrs. T. We went out of the building for that; I’d gotten a gift certificate to a local restaurant from a student, so we spent it, and talked about the year, and relaxed… When we got back to school, Mrs. T and I graded Multi-Genre Projects with Mrs. T; we each take half of the projects, so the grading is quick, easy, and awesome. I know I keep saying the students’ work is amazing… but it really is. The level of detail on some of these projects is phenomenal.

Oh, and this one fun: one of the boys on the football team had asked for an extension on the project (he needs to pass World and English in order to keep his eligibility for fall sports, so making sure he had time to do well was great and responsible), so he had to print everything out and hand it in today. He showed up with five of his teammates in tow, and they were chanting his name the whole time he was printing pieces, and when he handed me everything they burst into applause.

Gotta love a supportive team, right?

This afternoon, I got invited to a house party by one of the many presidential campaign staffers I keep in touch with (APUSGOV networking). He’s got one of my incoming GOV students- a girl who was in World with me two years ago- interning on the campaign, which is awesome. He couldn’t say enough good things about her. Helping to run a house party is a huge thing, so it was really neat to see one of my students taking that on. I’m super proud of her.

Day One Hundred Eighty-One

Today was the last day of classes, and it was something of a mixed day. 

There was a graduation rehearsal this morning, so a bunch of my seniors stopped by one last time to say thank you, and give me hugs or high-fives, and one even brought me candy (my students know I have a massive sweet tooth). Plus, it’s Pride, so a bunch of students were running around with rainbow-colored flower crowns in their hair, showering people in glitter (with their consent, of course). So there was a lot of joy.

And my first section of World was awesome. I started class by leading a cheer, as I’d done yesterday, and then we got down to business. I think going over how to outline for the final was especially helpful for these students; a bunch of them told me afterwards that they felt much more confident and prepared, and I’m glad. They were super proud to turn in their Multi-Genre Projects, too, and they were cheering each other on the whole block. Like, one student would finish and others would clap for them. 

Block 4 was fun, at first, too, but shortly after class started, two of my students were escorted down to the SRO’s office. I don’t know exactly what happened, but, clearly, there was an Incident. It’s a lousy way to end ninth grade, that’s for sure. 

So… That happened. But the rest of class was all right. I spent part of it in the hall because a handful of my students went out to record audio for their projects, and a handful of Mr. T’s students were out there, too, and everyone was being a bit silly. At one point, they attempted to steal one of my desk chairs, but they stopped when they realized I was just going to let it happen. Heh.

When Block 5 rolled around, Mr. F and Mrs. T converged on my classroom. I was taking down posters when they came in because the tape loses its stickiness in the summer humidity, and I like redecorating in the fall anyhow. I also cleaned out my desk and cabinets, put away some of my supplies, etc… while we were talking. It’s not like I had to get it done in a hurry; it’s just a habit of mine to take my classroom apart as soon as classes end. Mrs. T says it’s the opposite of nesting instinct, which… Pretty much.

But I paused long enough to celebrate the fact that we’d made it through a really tough year. I mean, yeah, there are still finals, but we’re done teaching for the year, and we’re pretty happy about how most of our students learned and grew. It was wicked hard to make it happen sometimes, but we did it.

Day One Hundred Seventy-Two

I told my APUSGOV students that I’d caught their senioritis because I was draaaaagging this morning. It’s a casual Friday, so I was wearing jeans and a top from the Gap, and I didn’t put my make-up on, and my hair was totally just up in a bun. I decided to put on some jewelry to make myself look more presentable. That’s my trick. 

I let my students have the block to finish their final projects, so it was pretty chill. A handful of them came in just for my class, which is funny since it’s over before 9:00AM, and I think I should feel honored? Maybe? 

In World, I checked off students’ final Multi-Genre pieces (graphic pieces) and had them begin editing their work themselves, peer editing, and- if they were ready- conferencing with me. Afterwards, Mrs. T and I had a meeting of the minds to discuss who’s ahead and who’s behind since she’ll be wrapping up Romeo and Juliet next week and we’ll be opening the wall between our classrooms for conferences and revisions. It’ll be so fun to be back together again. 

During Block 5, she and I went to meet with The Vice Principal, who wanted some information about some of our students, but apparently some Incidents happened so we had to wait until the end of the block. We had a good discussion eventually, though, about the things that seem to impede student success the most (poor reading skills, truancy, and/or parents who don’t hold their children accountable for anything). And when I got back to my classroom afterwards, I found cake on my desk, courtesy of Mr. F, who’d gotten it out of the prep room. So that was pretty great!

I puttered in my room for a bit, ate cake, and then walked out into a beautiful afternoon! TGIF!

Day One Hundred Seventy

Mr. F brought Mrs. T and I coffee this morning. His parents brought it back from some trip they’d taken somewhere (I’m very specific, I know) It was basically French Vanilla jet fuel, and it was amazing.

It was Senior Skip Day #2 today. Since our school does every other day classes, our seniors decided they had to skip them all, so… two skip days. I let them know every year that I think the second day is super lame. But, y’know, I’m still not the type of teacher who plans a test for that day; my whole APUSGOV class was absent, and that’s fine. I read a book. 

Then I want across the hall to Mr. T’s room (while someone else covered my World classes) and did karate! He’s been teaching about Eastern philosophy, so I offered to come in and demonstrate how that relates to martial arts. I did a few tricks and katas, and answered questions. We had an unexpectedly deep chat in his Block 2 class about how people who practice martial arts should use their skills, and how it doesn’t make anything better to be disproportionately violent, and we should be careful about what we put out into the universe. That was pretty awesome.

So, yeah, I spent about half of the block with each of his classes, and then went back to my own for the other half of the block. Multi-genre projects continue to take shape in exciting ways; I saw the most awesome storyboard for a cartoon about new treatments for cancer, and a lot of cool infographics, and other really creative stuff. I did a couple conferences in the time I had, as well. 

During Block 5 I went to have a chat with The Vice Principal about some students, and ended up staying for a longer chat about the year, the new principal (who’s coming to meet us all tomorrow morning, so I should have an interesting entry tomorrow), etc… Then I went out for a short track practice, and that was that!

Day One Hundred Sixty-Six

My seniors realized this morning just how close they are to the end. I started APUSGOV by going over the plan for the rest of the unit: test next class, time to work on final projects during both classes (which will really be one class because of Senior Skip Day) next week, final projects due the following Tuesday. Someone asked, “That’s it?” and I nodded, and it hit a bunch of them that, yeah, there are really only four more days of APUSGOV. That is it.

One boy blurted out, “Oh man, I wasn’t ready for these emotions!” and got a chorus of “Same!” in response. 

So we took a moment, then got on with today’s class (a vocab quiz, a lecture on local government and town meetings, test review). I’m benevolent and all, so when I gave students the remaining time to work on their projects, I also let a bunch go upstairs to finish some crazy Physics assignment involving a bridge. I don’t really know what’s up with that, but it sounded stressful. They know when my project’s due; as long as they get it done, they get it done.

In World, students started drafting opinion pieces for their Multi-Genre Projects (if they hadn’t started already- a bunch of the A day students are ahead of schedule), and I checked in drafts of informational pieces. I was introduced to a site called Canva, which a handful of students are using to make their projects look like magazines (which is SO COOL). I love technology when it’s used like this; I love the tools students find. 

Another cool thing: last night was academic awards night, but I couldn’t go because I had a family thing to go to. So the ninth grader who’d received the award for excellence in World Cultures came up to me after class to thank me for it, and to tell me he loved this class. It was so nice, you guys. My teacher heart grew three sizes. 

Mrs. T had a meeting at the district office, so I watched her Block Four class for her during my lunch break. They’re working on Act III of Romeo and Juliet, so I got to come in and do stuff like rattle off lines from memory (I am a MASSIVE academic show-off), and point out that the play is anti-Catholic, and otherwise geek out about Shakespeare. So that was fun. And, afterwards, I went and ate cookies with Mr. F because why wouldn’t I?

image

I did have actual lunch food, too, honest.

Practice was exciting because some of the athletes who’d been on the bubble to make the division meet found out that they were in, including my 4×100 girls! So now I’ve got two young relays headed to the big meet, and I couldn’t be happier for them. They’re nervous, of course, but they’re excited.

Day One Hundred Sixty-Three

I was almost late for work this morning because I could not find my keys (they’d fallen under the couch in my living room). It was apparently that kind of morning, though, because Mrs. T, Mr. F, and Mr. L all arrived at the same time I did. Luckily, we made it to our rooms just before the first bell. 

In World, students started drafting the second (informational) pieces for their Multi-Genre Projects. It didn’t go quite as well today as it did yesterday; there are a few students in each class who are behind, and there were a bunch who had a hard time focusing today. It’s a Friday, the prom is tomorrow (ninth graders rarely get invited, but they still like to gossip about it incessantly), progress reports just came out, etc, etc… I did my best to keep them on task. They have next class to work on this piece, too, so hopefully it’ll go a bit better when some of these distractions aren’t present.

And in between my World classes, I had a very cool guest in to talk to my APUSGOV students (and any other politically-minded student who asked to be added): Denny Ruprecht, NH’s youngest state legislator (a few days past his twentieth birthday, just through his finals at PSU, and not yet out of braces). He was really nice, and students had a great conversation with them. There are a few who can be counted on to ask questions, and once they got rolling, more and more put their hands up. They covered all kinds of topics. And another cool thing: a few students I didn’t even know came at the start of the block to ask if they could stay to hear him speak. Maybe they came to be with their friends, maybe they came for the politics, doesn’t matter. I said yes, of course.

I also dashed out of a ninth grade house meeting during Block 5 to meet a campaign staffer for Cory Booker, who wanted to talk about potential internship opportunities for students. I’ve said this before, but I take meetings with everyone who contacts me, and pass on every internship application because it’s such a great thing to get involved with a campaign. There’s nothing like the NH primary; it’s a singular experience to work it.

Day One Hundred Fifty-Eight

I asked my ninth graders to tell me what they think is important right now. These are their Multi-Genre Project topics:

Today they were supposed to come in with their research notes complete so that they could draft a works consulted page and complete a project outline. If they did that before class ended, they could start drafting their first pieces (expressive pieces). Classes were short today since it was a half day (teacher workshops in the afternoon), so that was a pretty perfect amount of work. One or two students are behind, but I’ll have them come see me next week during flex time; that ought to be enough to catch them back up. Generally, everyone is enthusiastic about their work,

In APUSGOV I lectured on state and local government, which is actually pretty unique in New Hampshire (citizen legislature, two-year terms for governors, an executive council and no lt. governor, town meetings, weak county governments….) And I got about half a dozen questions, which is awesome because it means my post-exam seniors are still curious. I like that. 

Also, I got interrupted mid-teach by our Teacher Education students, who have been doing fun things all week, came by to award “Teacher Superlatives,” as voted by the student body. I won “Most likely to win Jeopardy” because I am nerdy and encyclopedic (and a wizard).

I didn’t win “Most likely to win a rap battle,” though. Meh.

After students left the building, our administrators treated us to a fabulous lunch in the cafeteria to close out Teacher Appreciation Week. Then we had some PD on personalized learning, followed by some group work on QPAs. Mr. I was leading the PD, and at one point he was talking about how to teach students to curb their impulsiveness. I may or may not have smacked Mr. F in the arm to demonstrate an impulsive behavior. I’m helpful like that.

I work with serious, dedicated professionals. But, mostly, they’re also ridiculous like me. And that’s the best. 

Day One Hundred Forty-Seven

Today my World students had to come in and put the research they’d done in previous classes to good use by writing me an essay about an issue currently affecting East Asia. Their topics included pollution, overpopulation, the mental health of students in countries with high-stakes tests, the declining birthrate in Japan, the dictatorship in North Korea, unexploded ordinance in Laos, child labor and human trafficking in various countries… Most students were well-prepared and felt confident about their writing, even the ones who usually get anxious about assessments, so the vibe was really positive.

However, five students blew off the class time they’d had to do their research, in spite of constant reminders from me that this essay was coming, so they found themselves in a bit of a pickle. I’m not in the business of causing permanent academic damage, but I do want these kids to learn how to solve their problems rather than having me solve them. So I read them the riot act, focused on helping the students who were prepared, and waited for these five to propose some solutions. Eventually, two of them asked if they could finish their research during class, then come in during lunch and write their essays; when I said yes to that, two others followed with similar plans. Only one student didn’t come up with some way to fix the situation, but that one is going to brainstorm with his case manager after vacation, so he’ll get there eventually, too. 

So there was lots of learning about the world, and about how to succeed as a student. Yes, it’s late in the year for the latter, but I figure it’s better late than never. Plus, I think it’s going to stick at this point.

image

I had a student come in to make up a quiz during Block 5, and ended up being joined by Mr. F and another student (also making up a quiz) because school counseling needed his room for something or other. Mr. F graded geometry tests while I wrote out some APUSGOV review notes, but we also kept cracking jokes at each other. Also, I told the story of Mr. T’s total rookie mistake, which, predictably, did lead to me being asked several times today if I was dating him. 

I think our students were amused by the silliness.

While we were working and silly-ing, a boy who’d been on the college visit that Mr. F chaperoned yesterday came by to apologize because he’d misbehaved during lunch at the college. They shook hands, and Mr. F thanked him for having the character to apologize, and I thought that was pretty cool. Again: lots of learning today.

I went out to practice early so Coach T and I could hide Easter eggs, which is one of our favorite team traditions. I’m talking something like 200 eggs. We hid them on the track, in the bleachers, in snow banks, in the mud, all around the fields, in the woods… Finding them was the team’s warm-up, and it was an absolute ball. One of my sprinter boys came back with, like, 17 eggs stuffed in his hoodie! But, because we coach awesome kids, they mostly ended up splitting the candy, so everyone got a bunch. Pretty great, right?

Day One Hundred Forty-Five

I woke up today with a splitting headache. If I hadn’t been the only ninth grade teacher on my team in the building today, I definitely would have taken a sick day. But I was holding down the fort while Mr. F and Mrs. T chaperoned freshmen college visits (half the freshmen and half the teachers went today, the other half will go tomorrow), so I swallowed a few Tylenol and hoped for the best. 

I felt pretty terrible all morning, but I got through it. The students who weren’t on college visits went to their Block 1, 3, and 5 classes like normal, but during team time- Blocks 2 and 4- they were all in the Cavern of Learning with me. They continued current events research for my class, studied for upcoming math tests, and worked on The Central Asia Novel Project for Mrs. T. I was able to redirect students who got off task (with one exception- sent to the Vice Principal’s office), and had a few interesting conversations about the purpose of research and learning about what’s going on in the world. 

I finally started feeling better after lunch, which was a relief. By the time Block 5 rolled around, I was tired, but my headache had mostly gone. It’s a good thing, too, since I had to get on the bus to a track meet. 

It was cold, and windy, and a good third of the team is sick or injured- and we’re coming off two other meets in the past five days- so it definitely wasn’t a day of stellar performances. A few of Coach T’s distance kids and one of my sprinter boys did manage PRs, which is awesome, but mostly today was just about getting that competition experience that is so vital early in the season. 

Today also put my medical savvy to the test. I was KT-taping knees before the meet started, and explaining how to treat injuries like shin splits and muscle strains pretty much all afternoon, and one of my girls fell in the dash so I actually had to get the medkit out to disinfect and bandage the scrapes on her arms and knees. It’s times like that when I find myself channeling my mom (an unflappable, no-nonsense woman who worked as an ER nurse for most of my childhood), which isn’t a bad thing, but it is funny when I realize I’m doing it. 

It happens to most of us, though, I suppose. 

Day One Hundred Thirty-Seven

This morning I spent my PLC time doing QPA stuff because I didn’t have anything else to do, and Mr. W asked if he could use one of my APUSGOV assessments to show people how to use the QPA evaluation tool. It had already been evaluated by my department, but the scrutiny was still a bit nerve-wracking. And someone discovered a typo on my rubric.

So embarrassing! But, y’know, it happens.

During the bell change, I had to deal with a student who routinely tries to take things from his classmates (and gets in trouble for it just as routinely). I actually had to step in front of him and block his path to stop him from taking another boy’s bag. I’m not a small person- I’m actually fairly tall- but he’s still bigger than me, and he got right in my face when I told him to get out of my classroom, so that was not especially fun. But it was only a moment. 

And the rest of the day was good. My World students really liked the lesson on Hinduism, and appreciated having time to read their books for the Central Asia Novel Project and/or study their vocabulary (quiz next class) after they finished it. They’ve been tackling some complex things at a fairly fast pace, so I figured a day that’s a little easier, quieter, and more leisurely would go well. 

I forgot my lunch, so I went down to the local deli to get a sandwich, and came back with a bag of cookies, too. I shared them with Mr. T and Mr. F because I am a good friend to The Cacophony (and Mrs. T is healthy about what she eats, so no cookies for her). 

Practice was windy, and we’re still doing relay passes on a dirt road because our track has snow on it, but we’re making it happen. I think my 4×1 teams have potential.