Category: so much joy

Day One Hundred Eighty-Three

Well. My streak of not crying ended this morning. 

I think the emotion just built and built. I didn’t have any exams to give- I was just grading the ones I gave yesterday- so my door was open, and a bunch of my ninth grade students came by to say thank you, they loved my class, they’re going to keep paying attention to the world and believing they can change it… 

Then one of the rising juniors in my merry band of activists came to talk about life and campaign work (which I LOVE that she’s doing), and possibly setting up an independent study with me in the fall.

Then the last busses left the school, and the faculty went out to wave. Yeah, two kids flipped us off, but a bunch waved and cheered back, so that’s a positive on the whole. 

Aaaand then I went to my mailbox and found the most amazing note from one of my APUSGOV students, and bwaaaaah. Totally burst into tears in the mail room… I will never be able to convey how lucky I was to teach these kids this year. 

I’ve still got three in-service days, but for them it’s done.

Day One Hundred Eighty-Two

My students are really polite. I don’t write enough about that, and I really should. It’s been the trend for the past few years. More and more kids address us teachers as “sir” and “ma’am” (that’s not a thing up here like it is in the South), say “thank you” at the end of class, help us tidy up without being asked, that kind of thing. We all definitely appreciate it. 

There’s also been an increase in the number of students giving thank you gifts, which I don’t think any of us expected, but it’s super sweet! You all saw my Death Star plant. Today I got a gift card to a local restaurant, a bunch of chocolate, and a smiley face rock (which will go next to the Death Star plant, obviously). I was kind of blown away by that.

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I accepted the gifts and well-wishes happily, and gave the World final to my two Block 4 classes. In both of them, the mood was upbeat; the students knew they totally had this. And, at the end, I wished everyone good luck on their last finals (tomorrow), and said what I refer to as my favorite words of the year: class dismissed.

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 Seventy-Eight

Today was the last day of class for half of my students. Monday will be the last day for the other half. Then it’s just finals. 

I gave students the option to work on their multi-genre projects or prep for the final, and made myself available to edit pieces or offer help. Then, in the last five minutes, I showed them a “year in review” sort of video I had made, which ended with my last lesson. 

What was that lesson?

“You are the next world-changers.”

That, more than anything, is what I want them to know. I thanked them for the year, said goodbyes, gave a few hugs, and that was that.

I ran to the grocery store after work to grab something to bring to a graduation party. I ran into one of the graduating seniors, a girl who’d been in my class as a ninth grader. She told me she’s studying social studies/secondary ed. in college because of World. 

The party I went to was hosted by a group of girls I absolutely loved getting to know over the years. They were all in at least one of my classes and/or on the track team. All of my APUSGOV girls were there, and you all know how amazing they are. They’re smart, and kind, and determined to do good things, and, man, they just shine so brightly.

I am SO glad that they’re part of my life, and the wide world is going to be so lucky to get to know them next.

Day One Hundred Seventy-Five

Today was long, but it was a good day. 

The merry band of activists that meets in my classroom made cake and started designing a website to spread their message. So that’s awesome. One of the kids’ moms does site design for a living, so she came in to help, except I totally forgot no one can log onto our wifi networks without our tech folks okaying it. D’oh. But they managed to get some work done anyhow.

Then, in World/English, Mrs. T and I conducted more multi-genre project writing conferences- another nine each- and we’re really feeling good about our students’ work. I think everything I read was quality work; even if pieces needed to be improved, it wasn’t hard to explain to students how to go about it. And I did read two projects that were just straight-up AWESOME. One was about mass shootings and the other was about mental illness, and both packed in some powerful writing.

It’s all very serious, and so was what I did with my prep time. Tom White was back in Mr. I’s Genocide Studies class, so I went down to see him lecture. Those of you following along will remember that he was one of my high school teachers, so it’s always amazing to be his student again- even as an interloper!

We had to say a quick goodbye because I had a faculty meeting. That was, well, a faculty meeting in June. There were cookies, though, so that’s something.

Afterwards, I had about an hour to go home and chill before going back to the school for Spring Sports Awards. And that was amazing, as it always is. It’s  recognizing a season of tremendous work, goodbyes and hugs from the seniors, flowers and other coaches’ gifts… We had five amazing captains this year, but one of them stood out because this sport changed him SO MUCH for the better. And I got to tell him how proud I was of him. 

That’s what it’s all about.

Day One Hundred Seventy-Two

Today was incredible.

It was the final day of APUSGOV. We ate donuts and watched The West Wing (”The Stackhouse Filibuster” because I love a filibuster, and the episode’s ending fit the occasion: “Tonight I’ve seen a man with no legs stay standing, and a guy with no voice keep shouting. And if politics brings out the worst in people, maybe people bring out the best.”). And then I delivered my last lesson. I told them this was their time, I thanked them for the amazing journey they took me on this year, and then I gave them the farewell letter I wrote.

I won’t share its full contents, but I will share a bit. I’m fond of quoting poetry, and this class was fond of hearing it, so I left them with a snippet from Mary Oliver:

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?“

I didn’t cry, but it was a near thing. 

I got to see most of my students again during Block 5 because we had one last congressional candidate in as guest speaker. This one’s the democratic frontrunner, and I’d bugged his campaign SO MUCH about scheduling a visit that I was actually super nervous. Like, if it didn’t go well after I was a total pain in the neck? Oh man… 

My World students made fun of me for my nerves in between drafting and conferencing, which… Okay. 

I didn’t need to be nervous, of course. It went so well. It may have actually been the best meeting with a candidate we had. I know I sound like a broken record at this point when I say my students asked such good questions, but they did. One of the underclassmen who’s been joining us even came with prepared notes. I am so proud of her! 

The Vice Principal caught up with me after the bell to ask how it had gone, and to congratulate me on getting so many guests in. I still can’t believe that we did! The lesson is that it never hurts to ask. I have engaged, inspirational students; folks in politics should want to meet them.

Bonus Day

Today we took a dozen athletes to the Meet of Champions. 

This meet is fun because my middle and high school coaches are always there, and it’s good to catch up with them. My middle school coach always shakes his head about the fact that I’m not twelve anymore, but then he asks after my team and wishes us luck.

It was a bit hot for a track meet, but that didn’t stop our boys relays from PRing in the 4×800 and 4×400, or our long jumper from making New Englands (and sprinting a decent 200m, too). Our girls didn’t do quite as well, but one of the seniors on the 4×800 ran a monster PR, and our sophomore vaulter made a mark, so that’s good.

Coaches aren’t allowed infield at big meets like this, so Coach T and I, who usually run all over the place, spent much of our time jumping up and down in the bleachers and grabbing each other by the arms while our athletes competed. 

We’re kind of ridiculous.

But we should be, right? Getting athletes this far is exciting. 

We celebrated after the meet with pizza before the long ride home. And that’s it. The Head Coach will take the long jumper down to UNH for New Englands, but for everyone else- including me- the season is over.

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. 

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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!