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.”
Mrs. Z brought coffee and donuts in for PLC this morning, which was amazing. She said it was because so many people’s progress report grades glitched in our grading program, and it caused a ton of stress. I mean, my grades were fine, but yay donuts.
I spent my prep time writing college recommendations for a couple of my APUSGOV students. It takes effort to craft good recs, but it’s also such a positive thing to do, especially for kids I’ve known all four years. I’m totally happy to sing their praises.
World/English was… squirrely.
Mrs. T and I have a really challenging mix of students on the B days of the A/B schedule. A third need constant reassurance, a third need constant redirection, and a third want to escape our notice entirely. Since we’re conferencing, it’s hard to devote our attention to the whole room, which means the attempts to misbehave increase. We usually do a good job of anticipating that, but today we hit a few rough patches, and both had to raise our voices waaaay more than usual. It was kind of exhausting, and afterwards we discussed things we’ll do differently next time.
I did read some cool narrative drafts, though. They were about everything from cartel violence to the Argentinian soccer team to the Cuban Revolution. One of the boys who’d been having a hard time figuring out what to write heard me mention the Avianca bombing to someone else, did a bunch of research, and cranked out about half of a story already. It’s a tragic story, of course, but it’s gripping.
Oh, and here’s an adorable thing: one of my APUSGOV students came in during lunch to make up a test, and she was still there when the ninth graders came back to class, so I stood at the door to let them know. They were SO quiet so they wouldn’t disrupt her.
So they may be a pack of squirrels, but they are quite kind.
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.
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:
McCulloch v. Maryland
Gibbons v. Ogden
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!
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.’
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!
Today started with PLC. Both of my World counterparts were absent, so I spent the time wrapping up the project I started yesterday (planning for an incoming student with unique needs). Mrs. T is going to look over my work and add some English-y things, and then w should be all set. It’s important to us to work quickly; it reassures this student’s family that we’re on top of things, it helps us get organized and prepared, and it’s good for our professional reputations. We’re given these kinds of challenges because our administrators know we can handle them, and that’s a compliment to us.
We had a great day with our combined World/English classes. Students are drafting pieces, and they’re doing it with so little help from us. Fly free, little birds!
I wandered the room, answering questions and doing quick writing conferences by request. Meantime, Mrs. T took up a stationary position where she could check in finished drafts and monitor the 4-6 students in one corner who can be loud and unruly (but not malicious- they just need a close eye on them). It was good teamwork!
Unrelated note: I had a gift certificate to the restaurant our culinary program runs, so I went down to grab a salad for lunch. Instead I got a steak bomb, and it was amazing.
I have guest speakers coming to APUSGOV tomorrow, so I shut the wall in the Cavern of Learning and spent Block 5 rearranging my classroom. I had a few minutes to spare, so I was able to change into running clothes and get out to practice a bit earlier than usual. It was a quick day: 4×4 hand-offs and a 3x150m workout. MOCs, here we come!
You know how I talked about emotional whiplash on Monday? Today there was SO MUCH.
Morning PLC was hilarious. I spent a chunk of it revising my APUSGOV syllabus for the course audit, but also joking with the rest of my department. We’ve been roasting each other for the better part of a decade, but it’s all in good fun.
The lockdown alarm was tripped accidentally during the bell change before Block 3. I’m angry at the seconds it took me to react, grab my keys, lock the doors, and direct my students to get down against the bookshelf (that’s our spot). I’m more angry about how frightened they looked until the principal came on the PA and said it was a false alarm.
I had to go on and teach after that, which… Ugh. I mean, I did it, but still. It took about half the block to shake that off. And, y’know, I was calling kids over to my desk to ask what they’d chosen to research for multi-genre, and I must’ve had at least a dozen choose school shootings.
Research did go exceedingly well today, so I’m happy about that. And I’m happy about how my 4×1 girls passed at practice today. Tomorrow we’re having a pizza party because there’s nothing more to do. Everyone is so ready, and it’s awesome.
Also awesome: the way my community came together for a fundraiser for Mr. B’s family at one of the local restaurants tonight. The restaurant donated a chunk of the proceeds from all of its orders, and there were raffles, and there was a huge auction. It seemed like the whole town was there, too. Like, the event started at 5:30, and I parked in overflow parking at 5:25. This is one of the reasons this community is my home, though: there’s so much compassion here. People show up for each other.
At one point, Mr. B’s wife came to thank me. Now, I don’t think I’ve done all that much, and I am an awkward panda, so I was like, “… why?” D’oh. But she was gracious. I think M. B was pretty overwhelmed; he’s a super quiet, unassuming kind of guy. I doubt that he knew, before all this, just how much this community loves him and his family.
The students in both of my World classes were writing essays today, which went well in spite of the fact that there were multiple interruptions involving cupcakes.
The first one was unexpected. A girl on one of the other ninth grade teams came in during Block 3 to hand a cupcake to one of my students (yes, she asked my permission first). Then another of my students realized this girl had more cupcakes to give out, and bolted down the hallway. She returned a moment later, looking very proud of herself, with a cupcake in hand. I cracked up at that point.
The disruption to my Block 4 class was my doing, and I’d warned my students it would happen. See, my APUSGOV students took their exam this morning (and my colleagues laughed at how jittery I was during PLC), and I promised them cupcakes after it was over. So they came running up to my classroom en masse, which was fun. We’re not allowed to discuss the test, which is WAY HARDER than I anticipated it being, but they were in good spirits. That’s a good sign.
I spent Block 5 having a grading party with my cacophonous friends because we wanted to sit and chat about stuff, but we all had work, too. Then I spent practice doing 4×1 passes with the boys. One of our former athletes came by, and he did relay for four years, so he critiqued, too. This one will coach someday, too, I think, so it can’t hurt to practice.
Today was hot, humid, and full of pollen, so my allergies were terrible. They make my eyes all red and itchy, and it’s hard to see, and just… not a good look. This was confirmed when I walked into PLC and Mr. I asked if I’d had a late night.
He made up for it later by pointing out that I love my job and take it seriously.
It’s… reassuring isn’t quite the right word, but close… to hear someone else say that, you know? Because later on in the morning, as class was starting, I was feeling out of sorts, and stressed for no particular reason, and I reminded myself that he’d said that. It made me feel better.
And then I was treated to an APUSGOV presentation about domestic policy with parodies of “No Diggity” and “I Want It That Way,” and all was right in the world. Presentations (the other two were more traditional) took up the bulk of the block, so I had just enough time to chat about what’s next (AP exam practice!)
Then research took up the bulk of World. My students were not as enthusiastic about it as their peers were yesterday, but they still got good work done. It’s interesting to see which topics are popular in different classes. Like, yesterday, a lot of kids were looking into LGBT rights and womens rights in various parts of Asia. Today, lots of kids were looking into the dictatorship in North Korea, child labor and poaching.
Practice was all about 4×1 hand-offs for me and eight sprinters. I made minor adjustments for the boys, and major ones for the girls- including putting a new girl at third leg, and moving the one who had been there to anchor. It took A LOT of trial and error to get passes down, but I think we did it.