Category: teacher

Bonus Day

The class of 2019 graduated yesterday morning. It was a perfect, breezy, sunny day after a cold, rainy spring. I thought it was cool that our new principal decided to come even though he doesn’t technically start the job until July 1, and that the graduation speakers shouted out The Principal so many times, and wished him well in retirement. Mrs. T and I got a shout out, too, from the senior class president, who’d been on our ninth grade team (and was in my APUSGOV class). That was a first for us. 

Oh, and the student body president compared the class to a mud pie in a hilarious- but also very sweet- speech. That’s memorable.

So, the ceremony was great, and afterwards was a flurry of hugs, handshakes, and photographs. I was really touched by how many of my GOV kids came running to find me, and struck by how fortunate I am to teach that class. 

Mr. W and I went from graduation to lunch, as is our tradition, and then back to my apartment to change clothes and get ready for Project Grad. Longtime readers know that our school’s Project Grad trip is an all-night adventure, via coach bus, to three top secret locations. This year, we headed to Boston to see Blue Man Group first, which was hilarious; the students really loved that. Then, we went to Apex Entertainment, which had bowling, arcade games, laser tag, and indoor go-karts. I’ve ridden go-karts at several Project Grad trips, but these were legit; the course actually took some skill- and arm strength- to drive on. So fun. The last stop was a harbor cruise. Students were treated to breakfast, a comedy hypnotist show (highlight: e made one of our huge football players think he was Beyonce), dancing, and some other fun stuff. 

We docked as the sun was coming up over the city, which was beautiful, and then got back on the buses for the ride home. Pretty much everyone just slept at that point, and woke up to a sunny morning in town. Most of them stopped as they were leaving to say thank you, or say how much fun they’d had. I think it was one of the best Project Grad trips I’ve chaperoned. 

Now I’m going to bed!

When students ask for extra credit, but they h…

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.

When people ask me why I’m a teacher and put u…

teachinginreallife:

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.

When I try to help students deal with their an…

teachinginreallife:

Day One Hundred Eighty

One of my seniors slipped a thank you card under my door before I arrived this morning, and I almost bawled my eyes out when I read it. And, like, I do not cry very often. Or, at least, I didn’t cry very often before this year…

I did keep it together while I taught my final A day classes, though. The first thing I did, obviously, was lead a cheer because we all made it to this point. After that, I went over some information about the World final (a reflective essay about second semester), and gave students the bulk of class to either prepare for that, or finish up their Multi-Genre Projects. I was available to help as needed, but mostly I just perched on my desk and observed them with pride. It’s the last day of class, and these students were fully focused, and they were also having fun. The number of them who were talking about how proud they were of their work, how prepared they felt for next year… Ahhh, it was all so great!

I finished class, as I always do on the last day, by showing a video recap of the year and giving one last lesson: if you understand the world, you can change the world.

So class started with a cheer and ended with applause.

But that wasn’t the end of my day! This evening, we had Spring Sports Awards, which was big for the track team because it’s The Head Coach’s 40th year and our captains made him a photobook to commemorate the occasion. They gave us all gift bags, too, after we gave out awards and letters. There was a framed team photo in my bag, as well as a giant box of relay chalk (YES!!!), and a new spike wrench. And- best and most unexpected thing- there were cards from individual sprinters, as well as one from the captains, and I ended up crying again. And again when the two rookie seniors came up to hug me.

What an amazing season we had… 

When students have one big, loud conversation …

teachinginreallife:

I’m like:

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Day One Hundred Seventy-Nine

Longtime followers will know that this was one heck of a year. Discipline issues from day one, a challenging ninth grade population, a number of students dealing with serious medical issues, students in crisis, vaping, the lockdown, the flooding, various Incidents that I can’t detail any further… We just got rocked.

So it was probably fitting that, midway through Block 2, as Mrs. T and I were conferencing with students and everything was going well, the fire alarm suddenly went off. I shrieked and jumped about a foot into the air, so… not my coolest moment. But then I pulled myself together and led my class out to the baseball field, which is our usual gathering spot. 

It was a rainy day, and my students marveled at my ability to walk across a muddy field in high heels, which I thought was funny. I was worried we’d be out there for a while, and that the weather would get worse, but the fire department gave the all-clear pretty quickly. I think it took them fifteen minutes, tops, to figure out what had triggered the alarm (some overloaded sensor or something).

We went to flex block, then to Block 4, which is when my day got really awesome. One of my special needs students came running up to me at the start of the block to hand in his final project- like, running so fast down the hall that his aide couldn’t keep up- and he was absolutely beaming. And his work is beautiful. He loves art, so he drew a picture of the ending of N.H. Senzai’s Shooting Kabul, which he absolutely loved reading. The other piece of the project was a comparative essay about Shooting Kabul and a book he’d read earlier in the year about Nelson Mandela. I loved reading about the parallels he’d found in the two stories; he noticed things I hadn’t noticed, which was so cool. 

The other cool thing was the culmination of a lot of work. We have a student who really struggles with reading and writing, and his self-confidence is so low sometimes that it makes me sad, and life is just rough, you know? Most of this semester, he’d been avoiding work- no matter what we did- so he was in danger of failing, and was ready to give up. But, instead, he did something that was really hard: he gave Mrs. T and I a chance to try and help him. For the past two weeks he’s come in after school, during study hall, during flex block to work with one or the other of us- or both of us- to make up work, and to have additional time on the current stuff. Today- two days ahead of schedule- he finished his Multi-Genre Project. 

I had to sit beside him for the better part of an hour to keep him on track instead of on his phone or talking to his friends… and I had to prompt him to keep going, and reassure him the his work was good so he wouldn’t just delete it all… and I also had to be unobtrusive enough that my presence wouldn’t make shut down out of anger… And, boy, did it pay off. He finished a project that he’d been convinced he wasn’t capable of finishing. He smiled. He’s going to make it.

Block 5 was a blur of the music of triumph, and then I had to go to the last faculty meeting of the year. Fittingly, one of the topics for discussion was what we thought our successes were. 

When a parent’s voicemail has limited space an…

teachinginreallife: