Category: so much fun

Bonus Day

Today was our last regular season track meet. It was a little conference meet- only six schools, and we’re the largest- so it was over before noon. And it was a good one. The best moment was when our boys’ captain qualified to run in the 800m in the conference championship because he was so close all season, and just couldn’t get his time down… and he smashed the mark by five seconds or so. Our whole team was ecstatic.

All our relay teams had monster PRs, as well. There is no more nerve-wracking thing for me as a coach than being on the infield during the 4x100m, and just hoping the passes happen. Having a team of rookies ratchets up the pressure on me, too, because good passes are our thing. That’s what we’re known for, and I’m known for being able to teach them. 

I’m sure I amused other coaches by watching with my hands partially over my eyes.

The boys still have room to improve (comes of having no consistent leg 2 runner), but the girls were perfect. I was jumping up and down after every pass.

It’s the most beautiful thing in track when it’s done right.

And just in time for post-season.

Day One Hundred Fifty-Four

Today capped off Teacher Appreciation Week. Our teacher prep students (yes, we have a whole program complete with an on-site preschool and internships at all the district schools) have been doing little things like putting surprise candy in our mailboxes all week. Today they decorated the whole school with supportive signs and personal notes, so we walked into a celebration of us. That was fun. 

Then they came around during Block 3 to deliver awards to the winners of student-voted superlatives. Mrs. T and I won “Best Friends.” She also got “Best Dressed” (I’m told I was runner-up), and Mr. F won “Most Outgoing.” I heard them coming, so when they burst into my silent room (my students were writing essays) I got up and cheered right along with them. 

At lunch, I went down to their classroom because they had food for all of us, and it was fun to hang out there for a bit. 

I definitely feel appreciated. 

It’s Friday, so practice was quick: relay passes (soooo pretty) and grass strides. Tomorrow is the last meet of the regular season!

Day One Hundred Fifty-Three

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.

Day One Hundred Forty-Seven

I was not happy when my alarm went off this morning. Luckily, I still have the super sweet Teacher of the Month parking spot, which cuts down the time it takes me to get to my classroom, so I could hit the snooze button for five extra minutes.

And it was a good day.

I introduced a new project in World to replace an on-demand essay assessment. Students would research a current issue in Asia and write about it, and that was just kind of meh. This group of students needs to needs to work some skills besides timed writing- namely, using class time effectively and working well with others- and I want them to get more broad knowledge, so I decided to change things up. Each student is researching a current issue, and then putting together a mini-poster about it. They had class time today and will have next class- plus homework time- to do that. Then they’ll share their work with a group of 3-4 other students. And, finally, they’ll write me an essay about what they learned from their research and their peers’ presentations. 

I wasn’t sure how this project would be received, but in both classes my students were quite enthusiastic. They really dug in, and got a ton of work done. And the student who has insistently “hated this class” (he doesn’t, actually, but wants his peers to think so) all year announced that this project is cool. Yay for that! 

I had a congressional candidate visit during Block 5, so Mrs. T ran our team meeting. It was a good visit. A few of my students couldn’t make it, so it was a smaller crowd than I wanted, but stuff happens. The students who were there asked great questions about the environment, gun control, health care, and more- and heard some of the sharpest rhetoric yet, which is good for contrast. It’s a bit stressful to host these events, especially outside of our normal class time (I’m always worried no one will show), but they’re so good for the kids.

And then I got to spend the afternoon in the sunshine- first hot day this year- cheering my sprinters through 300m repeats.

Day One Hundred Forty

Since I’m the Teacher of the Month right now, I get a super sweet parking spot by the front door, which cuts the time it takes to walk to my classroom in half. It’s so awesome. Today, though, some random person took my spot! There’s a pretty big sign, so it’s not like it’s unclear who the spot is for. But that was the only little snag in my day (despite it being Friday the 13th) so I can’t complain. 

That doesn’t mean the day went according to plan. Mr. L came in on rounds to observe my APUSGOV class, and ended up observing a fascinating discussion about foreign policy (specifically as it relates to Syria)… which was completely not what I was actually supposed to be teaching. I don’t even remember how we got on that topic, but you all know I won’t stop a good discussion even if it is unplanned. And it’s not like it was irrelevant!

I also got observed during World-by Mrs. M, my counterpart on one of the other ninth grade teams, this time- and later we had a good chat about what I’d done in class, and about our team dynamics. It was the start of a unit (Central and East Asia), so it was- as I jokingly say- “The Me Show.” I’ll say soooooo much less on Monday when the start digging into the modern history of Afghanistan. Today I was pre-teaching vocabulary and framing the work we’ll do next week. It went well, though. Actually, it went the best in my Block 4 class- lots of questions- which was the one that didn’t get observed, but it’s all good.

Today was the only spring day New England is getting (we’re doing winter again starting tomorrow, and in like two weeks it’ll be summer), so practice was delightful. We had a light day because we have a meet tomorrow- baton passes, starts, strides- but because it’s Friday, and Coach T and I are committed to “Fun Friday” this season, we finished with a game called dragon’s treasure, which is sort of a miniaturized version of capture the flag. It was pretty fun, and it ended with Coach T diving to tag one of his runners and eating dirt.

That’s pretty typical.

Day One Hundred Thirty-Seven

“We’re not talking about Hiroshima! We’re talking about track!” -one of my athletes

Let us note, I have no context for that quote. I have a team that discusses everything from ridiculous memes to building mercenary armies, so I just don’t question it. We had our first meet today- I’m just now getting home- and it was snowy (and also sunny), cold, and awesome. All of us coaches are super happy about how our athletes competed. We have a ton of rookies, so mostly today was about laying down some baselines, but a handful of veterans threw down some championship qualifying stuff already. We came away with two third place finishes overall, which is fine. It’s all about improving from here. 

While I was at the meet there was a faculty meeting, and I apparently won Teacher of the Month. I’m a bit embarrassed I wasn’t there, but Mrs. T assures me everyone knew I was coaching. 

What else? Ooh! It’s local voting day, so Mr. F and I ran out and voted during our prep time (he was coaching an away game this afternoon, too). I had a wicked headache, but it was gone by the time we got back to the school. I think it was the stress of needing to get so much done in a short amount of time. We barely made it back before the bell change!

I scrambled a bit to get stuff on my whiteboards, but it was okay. I introduced a new unit (Central/East Asia) in World with the usual pre-teach of vocabulary and some quick activities on the region’s geography and culture. My Block 4 class also had me do a karate trick because they’re especially excited about that. 

All in all, it was a good day. 

Day One Hundred Thirty-Five

Mrs. T asked if she could do anything for me since I had to preside over debates by myself yesterday, so I said she could fetch me a unicorn. I came in to work today, and…

That’s fun. 

We wrapped up debates with an amazing one about Palestinian Statehood, and I gave my closing remarks about how proud I was, and how important it is to be able to speak articulately about current issues, and how their opinions matter. I saw some smiles and head nods… I hope they took it to heart…

After that, students used the remainder of our time to do quarter reflections because the quarter is almost over. I was happy to see how many kids wrote about how developing argument writing and debate skills would transfer to other classes and to real life. That’s something we want them to understand.

I spent my prep time nagging Mr. B to buy me books because I always do that in the spring. Then Mrs. T and I got prepped for next week, and then we left town (in a SNOWSTORM). We’re in Hanover for a conference (ECET2 NH/VT). More on that tomorrow!

Day One Hundred Thirty

It was very serious in APUSGOV this morning because they had an on-demand essay to write on Letter from a Birmingham Jail. And it was serious, at first, in World/English because Mrs. T and I laid down the law about excessive sign-outs and wandering, like we did yesterday. I thought we’d get more push-back, but it didn’t happen, and we actually had a good, productive class. 

It did have tough moments. In one debate group, one student- who is very smart and focused- deleted another’s contributions because he didn’t think it was “good enough,” then didn’t understand why she wouldn’t keep working. There were tears. Mrs. T and I had to mediate that one. But then all four group members reached an accord and started working really well together.

Later, we stopped debate prep to show Taylor Mali’s “Totally Like Whatever” because Mrs.T was wearing a t-shirt with a quote from one of his poems on it, and we realized that one was good to play before students started rehearsing.

And then I helped a bunch of students with an early April Fool’s Day joke. We snuck up on Mr. F with an air horn. So ninja. Another of them stole his stapler and plans to cover it in jello.

He got me back by sneaking up on me with his coaching whistle, though. 

We think we need a scoreboard. 

At practice, Coach T and I continued our “Fun Friday” tradition by hiding Easter eggs in the (muddy) woods around the track. I’m talking something like a hundred eggs. It was awesome. 

Now I’m going to clean off the mud on my face and hands, make myself presentable, and go to Good Friday service!

Day One Hundred Fourteen

Today was so much fun. 

It started with Court Madness in APUSGOV. Best day yet. The debates are getting sharper, and the decisions about which case advances are tougher to make. Roe v. Wade advanced over Baker v. Carr (that debate was amazing), Citizens United v. FEC advanced over Schenck v. United States, and Brown v. Board advanced over Obergefell v. Hodges. 

I did the origins of ISIS lesson with my other two sections of World, and it went SO well. I’m seriously loving the rewrite, so it’s well worth the time it took to do. In my Block 3 class, which is my most challenging class to engage in a lesson, they got SO competitive about solving my cause-effect puzzle, and the group that managed to do it first was definitely the underdog group, which was awesome. They couldn’t believe it when I declared them the winners, and I was happy I got to do it because some of them really struggle most of the time, so it was good for them to get a win. 

I will be energized for a long time by recalling how much it made them smile. 

I got observed by The Vice Principal during my Block 4 class- I was due for a formal observation, so I knew it was coming- which was cool. All four groups in that class crushed it, so they had a lot of time to do their homework, which was fine by me. We ended up playing vocab hangman (by request) for the last ten minutes of class because they have a quiz next class.

After the quiz, we’ll continue studying the war in Syria. Mrs. T is letting me use her class time, too, because this stuff is complicated, so she and I spent most of Block 5 setting up the Cavern of Learning. I also had an interesting chat with The Principal, but I’ll tell you about that another day.

Day One Hundred Ten

Soooo I decided to rewrite all my upcoming lessons on the Middle East at about 2:00 this afternoon (school day ends at 2:20).

I had to rewrite some of them because the geopolitical situation is so fluid, and then I decided I wanted to deliver the information in a different way than I had in the past, so I ended up rewriting everything. I created some new activities, found some new video clips and articles to use, and just kept going until it was nearly 5:00. 

I think it’s going to be good, though. 

But let me go back to the school day because it was awesome. It started out in a very serious way: with a faculty meeting about school safety. We reviewed our lockdown procedures, our SRO spoke about the training the local PD does, the admins all talked about what we can do to promote the best school environment we can. And- this was gratifying- The Principal gave very clear support to student protests. 

So we heard all that, then went to do work. 

I went up to my APUSGOV class to start Court Madness. I blurred out my students’ names to let you get a load of these brackets (the goal is to argue which case is most significant):

We got through four of the opening round debates today. My students judged each debate they didn’t argue, and Mr. F and Mr. W came in to be guest judges because they knew it would be awesome (and it totally was). Brown v. Board of Education, Obergefell v. Hodges, Citizens United v. FEC, and Schenck v. United States all advanced to the next round.

The debate between NYT company v. United States and Citizens United v. FEC was FASCINATING. Both students did a heck of a job, and that’s just such a cool match-up (drawn randomly out of a hat). Really, they were all great debates, but everyone agreed afterwards that was the best one. 

And there were funny moments, too. The student who had to argue Regents of the University of California v. Bakke over Brown v. Board of Education knew she had a seriously uphill battle, so she baked brownies to bribe the judges. And the debate between Obergefell v. Hodges and Gideon v. Wainwright involved two students brandishing pocket constitutions at each other. 

They were still making dramatic gestures with their pocket constitutions, notes, and whatever else- and yelling about soup, which… I got nothing- as my World students came in. I’d say they were a mix of amused, bewildered, and slightly scared. 

We wrapped our study of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict the same way students did yesterday: on the subject of generational power. And then this unit’s Culture Projects were due- I don’t think I put this in yesterday’s entry- so we were treated to presentations on Middle Eastern sports, tourist destinations, fashion, and food. Students get so excited when their peers actually make food for their projects. I was informed I was the best teacher ever, even though I didn’t really do much.

We had some time after presentations, so we played vocab hangman (point for getting the word, point for defining it). It was uproariously fun. They get so competitive about it!

During my prep time I was mostly on the phone with a campaign staffer, scheduling his candidate as an APUSGOV guest. We’ve talked many times, and I just realized today I’ve been mispronouncing his name (I hear m and n, and b, d, and v poorly). I apologized, but ugh. So awkward.

These campaign staffers are going to get the hot mess version of me a lot.

As long as their candidates keep coming to class…