Category: so much fun

Bonus Day

The Class of 2018 graduated yesterday. It was a gorgeous, breezy, sunny day. The student speakers gave lovely speeches (the last one, made by one of my APUSGOV girls, called on everyone to work to change immoral policies- ie separating families at the border- and got a standing ovation).

A few hours after the ceremony ended, Project Grad began! It was SUCH a fun trip: bowling, laser tag, and bumper cars at Dover Bowl; trampoline fun at Blitz Air; a party cruise in Boston Harbor; an early morning at Storyland. On the bus rides in between, I played DJ and raffled off Amazon gift cards (anywhere from $20 to $100). I have to give props to the parents who did the fundraising and planning for all of that!

It is bittersweet to say goodbye to this big-hearted class, but as I said before, the wide world is going to be so lucky to get to know them next!

Day One Hundred Sixty-Eight

There’s a group of young activists who have been using my classroom as their organizing HQ since Parkland; they planned the March 14 walkout, spoke at community demonstrations, met with elected officials, wrote letters to the paper, organized a voter registration drive… and, off of about ten minutes of social media organizing last night, they came in today with orange ribbons to wear and distribute for Gun Violence Awareness Day. 

image

Also, at today’s meeting, the freshmen gave the graduating seniors pins decorated with the group’s logo. It was a way to thank them for building up this thing they’re leaving behind. It was a terrific gesture, and some of them definitely got a bit teary-eyed. 

A lot of those seniors are also in my APUSGOV class, so I saw them repeatedly today because- in addition to that meeting- we had not one, but two congressional candidates as guest speakers! At this point, the fact that we have candidates as guests is so well-known that other students get permission to miss their classes to join us, which is fine by me because I like a full room.

The first guest, a Democrat, came in during our actual class time, Block 1. He’s a young guy: ex-military, city attorney, very smart. He was totally frank, too, and my students- who have no time for vague, wishy-washy answers- approved of that even when they disagreed with what he was saying. As one girl put it, “He just went for it, Miss M.” And he got asked about EVERYTHING: gun control, Israel-Palestine, global warming, North Korea, legalization of marijuana, prison system reforms, infrastructure, national defense… Afterwards, I asked him about his military service, and discovered he’d been in Iraq at the same time as my older brother- and, for a few months, on the same base outside Baghdad. Wild, right? It’s a small world.

And, yes, it’s strange when you find out the thing you have in common with someone is a war.

Our other guest, a Republican, came in during Block 5, which is when most of my students have a free block, He’s also ex-military, and an ex-police officer, which was fascinating to hear him speak about. My students asked him similar questions to what they’d asked our first guest, and his answers were equally smart, but- as you’d expect- rather different. He’s a real limited government conservative, and I know I have students who don’t hear things articulated from that perspective often. So it gave them some food for thought, which is a good thing. 

Both guests told me how impressive these kids are (which is true), and how glad they were to have gotten to talk with them. Both said it made them hopeful for the future.

Me, too.

In between guest speakers, I was teaching World, which is also inspiring, especially during multi-genre. Because my room was set up for guests, and because it was pushing 90 degrees and muggy, Mrs. T and I made the brilliant decision to move our combined classes to the air conditioned computer lab at the end of the hall. I had the idea; she actually went and signed us up on the lab schedule so no other teacher could claim it. Now, the lab has computers and chairs for one class, and we had two, so there were kids with laptops sprawled on the floors, or in chairs they carried over from our rooms. It was a bit ridiculous, but it wasn’t hot, so our students were happy. 

So, all in all, today was awesome. Definitely one of my favorite days of teaching.

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!