Category: teacher

Day Seventy-One

Instead of going to PLC meetings this morning, the faculty and staff got to go to the annual Christmas breakfast, made by our culinary students and served by the administrative team. My cacophonous friends and I met in my classroom and went down to eat together. It was a fabulous way to start the day. 

Then I went to APUSGOV, and skyped my friend, Ian Hines, who is a Republican digital strategist, fundraiser, and web designer out of Maryland. I love having him talk to my students because he’s wicked smart and good at what he does, he and I are political opposites despite being shaped by the same events, and he doesn’t look a thing like students expect him to look based on his job description (he’s a 32yo lax bro with tattoos and hipster glasses).

So it was fun. 

Afterwards, I had them dig into Fed. 70 to continue our study of the executive branch. We’ll chat about it next class.

World/English went pretty well, too. The bulk of our students really used the time well, and their projects are looking great. They were also oddly excited about the meteor shower tonight; the Google doodle probably fueled that.

We did have to speak to a handful about some really stupid stuff: farting at each other, hiding each other’s things, breaking each other’s pencils… It’s not behavior we’ve had much of in the past; usually they leave it behind when they come to high school. But this year is a different year… 

Mrs. T, Mr. F, and I talked it out during our prep time: what’s working, what’s not, what we can do better… I’m so glad we stick together and have each other’s backs. It always helps.

When students put me down when they don’t want…

what do you think a good gift for a teacher is…

what do you think a good gift for a teacher is?

Coffee and chocolate, if that teacher is me… I think it’s sweet to get any gift, though.

Day Seventy

I like to tinker with my upcoming lessons if I have time, and this morning I had time, so that’s how I spent most of my prep block. Then Mr. W and Mr. F came by to chat about various things. Mr. F had candy, so he wins. 

Mrs. T and I had the best day in the Cavern that we’ve ever had on a B day. Our students chose their own seats and they stayed on task. They were determined to show us that they could. They did great work, too, and it was fun rather than draining to oversee it. I was even able to take a few minutes help some APUSGOV kids who came in with questions about their papers; no one acted up while my focus was off of them.

It was amazing.

I don’t want to jinx anything, but it looks like we may have finally figured out how to make class work for these students. 

Best story of the day: a boy who’d really struggled to write his book paper and asked for an extension got ahead on the research project and used some class time to finish his revisions. He turned in an awesome final draft, and brought his grade in my class all the way up to an A from a C-. I’m so proud of him. I sent his parents a note to say so.

If you’re not ever contacting parents with good news, make time to start doing it. It’s good for everyone involved.

When a student says something ignorant, and I …

Day Sixty-Nine

Well. Today there was an Incident. It was the kind that involved the SRO, The Principal, and a bunch of paperwork. Sooooo that was not fun. 

I am okay, though, and lots of my friends came by to make sure of it.

And, other than that, the day was actually really good. APUSGOV was nice and easy. We had to take five to talk about how frigid it was outside. Then we watched an episode of The West Wing (”The Short List”) and talked about it. After that, we read Article II of the Constitution, and had a little chat about what’s coming up between now and vacation. I also handed back drafts of research papers, so a few students came in during flex time to edit and revise. Gotta love that initiative! Final drafts are due next class.

The aforementioned Incident happened during World/English. If not for that, it would have been a completely awesome class. Our students did SUCH good work. The little things Mrs. T and I have been doing- dividing the double block into work/break time, doing daily goal-setting, etc…- have been helping a lot. The classroom environment and the work completion are so much better. A few of the girls actually came up to me just to let me know how much they appreciated it.

I also got a bunch of compliments on my hair (it was fancy and braided, and usually it’s just in a bun or a ponytail), my dress and boots, and my shiny unicorn nail polish

Ninth grade girls are the best.

I observed Ms. J’s American Lit. class during Block Five. They’re preparing for a debate, and I love debates, so I enjoyed that a lot. Plus, it was a really well-planned lesson. She’s doing super well.

There was a faculty meeting that ran long in the afternoon. I spent most of it cracking jokes to make Mr. T and Mr. I laugh. I had to go back to my room to finish up some grading, but I was done before five, so I wasn’t the last person to leave today! Woohoo!

When another teacher tells me how their classe…

Day Sixty-Eight

Mr. F and I were supposed to go to an IEP meeting this morning, but it got rescheduled, so we were able to go to the prep room, grab the cinnamon rolls Mrs. T made, and grade papers and stuff. 

World/English started smoothly. It was day two of introducing the research project, giving public speaking pointers, and laying down the law about being able to choose seats, etc… About twenty minutes in, Mrs. T got a call to pick her son up from preschool because he had a fever, so I was left alone in the Cavern. I hate to admit it was frustrating because, obviously, she had to go… But, yeah, it was a little frustrating in the moment. When there are two of us, one can handle the particularly needy and/or disruptive students while the other handles everyone else; it’s exhausting to do it solo. 

But, again, nothing for it. I survived.

I did end up assigning seats, though. The class couldn’t even manage five minutes of quiet work time in the seats they chose (yes, I was timing). When I told them that, and pointed out that I’d warned them repeatedly to stop talking and focus on their work, there was a general acknowledgement that my assigning seats was a reasonable move. 

It was mostly quiet and productive after that.

I saw some cool projects coming together. Topics include the Biafran War, Nelson Mandela, refugee camps in Kenya, the rehabilitation of child soldiers, the hunt for Joseph Kony… It’s all big stuff these students knew little or nothing about prior to ninth grade, and I’m hoping their presentations will be really eye-opening by the time we’re through.

I spent Block Five editing APUSGOV papers, mostly, but I did take a break to talk to Mr. F, Ms. N, Mrs. R, and The Vice Principal about how hard this year is. I’m glad I’m not the only one feeling that way. 

At practice, The Head Coach had me take the sprinters to do starting blocks, which was fun, and it’s something I pride myself on doing well. I spent some time after practice finishing those APUSGOV papers, so my car was all alone in the parking lot when I left. 

Onward…

When I try to leave the school immediately aft…

When I try to convince students to get down to…

They’re like: