Day 180 of 180 2016 – 2017

Today is the day!  Wheeeeee!  Today is today is today is today!  Day 180 is almost done for students.  This has been a quiet blog year as I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out who i was outside of teaching.  However, I feel like this year – most likely due to that very process – has rejuvenated me.

Also, and this is terrifying in many ways for me, I’m not teaching summer school this year.  It’s been fourteen years of summer school for me.  Fourteen years of working with students who need extra help, extra company, extra something.  I can’t believe I’m going to take an actual break.

I think I’m finally starting to accept that it’s okay not to do everything.  I’m 41 not 21, and if I am to be the best teacher that I can be, I need to rest.  I’m so grateful that I’ve found some younger teachers that have the enthusiasm when I’m tired.  It’s been a solid year.


Day 117 of 180 2016 – 2017

Hold on to your hats everyone, Storm Stella is coming our way!  Panic in the streets!  Make sure you have all the bread and milk in the store.  Mug others for theirs if need be! Run!  Panic!  Freak out!  AAAAAAAH!

or, y’know, something like that.

As is always the case at this time of year, the MCAS is imminent and my heart is hurting for my students.  Many of them will do fine.  They know how to organize their thoughts; they understand reading comprehension.  They have this.  My students who are lower-level English language learners have me worried.  They try so hard, but their English grammar is not good yet.  It’s getting there, but … not yet.

Some of my teacher friends and I started a creative writing club after school.  So exciting!  There has been an insane amount of positive feedback from the students.  Students are producing great works.  I’m hopeful that this is the start of something great for them and for us.

Day 102 of 180 2016 – 2017

Breathe.  Just breathe.  My poor students are gearing up for their MCAS next month.  Between breaks and the A week / B week classes, without any snow days, we see kids 10 more days for my 45 minute class and probably the same for their 90 minute ELA classes.

A lot of them act out as soon as I mention testing.  It’s understandable, but so much of what is going on is about them not feeling confident in their own abilities.  Dear students, you are smart.  You are.  Period.  End of sentence.  Why do you doubt yourselves?

We have made it 102 days.  We will complete our next 78.  All will be fine.

Day 93 of 180 2016-2017

We’ve made it past the half way point!  Yay!  Things are moving along here in leaps and bounds.  That always happens in January and February.  It slooooooooooooows down in March, and then BANG!  Hello April, May, June.  Peace out, All.  Craziness.

I’m fairly certain my work wife will be leaving me for a new state at the end of the year.  She and I will have shared a room for four years.  And, honestly, the location is the least of it.  Food runs, birthdays, laughter, tears, gossip, anger, love, sadness, peace, pride, and every other emotion.  All of that will be gone at the end of the year if she does move.

It makes me wonder if I should take that as a sign to transfer schools, or if I should try to stick it out another year.  Realistically, with everything going on in the US, I feel like staying where I am is probably the better choice.  Technically, as long as I move within the district, I don’t lose years or time in.  However, I can’t help but think ‘last one in, first one out’.  So here I stay, and sit, and try to be the best me that I can be.

Clean cup!  Move down!

I don’t post a lot to TeachersPayTeachers.  I love the site, but I haven’t put up as much as I’d like to put up there.  What I’ve learned from the experience, regardless, is that it makes me more brave.  I have done a lot more to put myself out there in other parts of my life.  I think it has to do with taking these first steps.  I can’t say enough positive about plans and activities that I have gotten from there, and the pleasure of adding my own pieces to this great site.

And finally!

I’ve started a creative writing club with some of my fellow-teachers.  It met this past Monday.  I thought, “Maybe five students will show up.”  Thirteen showed, with more saying that they would be at the next one!  Craziness.  I’m in the process of capitalizing on this momentum for my own writing, and to create a writing retreat for twenty-five to thirty students over April break.

Over all, though the hit of possibly losing the work wife is a major hit, I’d say the ups outweigh the downs.  Not a bad place to be at the half way point.

Day 83 of 180 2016-2017

Hello World,

It’s been awhile.  While not technically on the home stretch, I always think of it as the home stretch as soon as we hit day 81.  So in my mind, we’re definitely getting there.  I have some amazing students this year.  We’ve been able to forge some amazing bonds.  This was shown to me most clearly today.

One of my 10th graders asked where I had been last week.  Here, but I didn’t see you.  What’s up?  I had an appointment with my physician and I wanted to talk to you first.  Now, I knew it wasn’t pregnancy, so I was confused.  But then he proceeded and it all made sense.

He has been identifying as a lesbian since age 14, but in truth, has identified as a male since 12.  His parents do not know, and will not know.  They have spoken about disowning any child who might be queer.  Trans would definitely be included under that.  But he wanted to know about the process, and figured out that I was someone who he could talk to about it.

That makes two students this year.  I wonder if the school knows?  Does administration have a sense of who their kids are?  I’m collecting resources.  I’m guessing our staff needs more educating than our students.

Day 66 of 180 2016-17

Professional jealousy exists, and I am most certainly not above it.  Every year or so there’s a new darling here in our department.  The problem, as one can guess, is that when you fall from grace, you fall hard.  Everything that once you were praised for, becomes something suspect that you are doing to deliberately to be rude (obviously).  It’s hard not to feel hurt/slighted, and in turn, I find that I am filled with petty jealousy.  I want to be positive and supportive.  And in truth, at least 80% of me truly is happy that my peers are being appreciated.  Unfortunately, that 20% of me wants to cackle and say “Just. You. Wait.”  Ugh.  I need to kick myself in the head and get over it.

Day 60 of 180 2016-17

One third of the way down!  That’s insane to me.  Completely insane, but there it is.  My ninth graders are working on open responses right now.  I pulled up my PPT that has the grading rubric for how I score them right there.  I feel so much more organized than previous years, which is odd because I see many more students.

I think my organization is definitely related to my bullet journal.  It was a new organizational system to me part way through last year, but it’s definitely working.  I know what I’m doing each day of the week.  I know what needs to be photocopied when.  Over my previous years of teaching, I’ve used an organizer.  And I still use it now to keep notes and such, but the act of drawing out my days and month has definitely helped me.  It makes me take the time to look over my week and plan what I know needs to be done before I do it.  It’s helped me organize what I do with my classes, and has helped me to keep a rhythm to my weeks.  I’m so grateful that I’ve stumbled into this system.

November is an odd month here at my school.  As a vocational school, we rotate A week and B week.  I saw my A week students 5 times in this entire month.  Between a district Professional Development day, Veterans’ Day, and Thanksgiving recess, that was all the time we had.  For the most part, the fact that these weeks are so uneven will get fixed in the wash, but it still shocks me.

Day 57 of 180 2016-17

It’s been a long time since I last posted.  This year is fairly crazy in terms of how many students I see and how many rooms I float into.  It’s been burning out my ability to keep track of my days here.

I thought I wouldn’t like my schedule this year, but as is often the case, I dig being the underdog and attempting to elevate my station.  The new teachers working with me are great, and I love seeing all the kids.  I won’t lie, the work load can get intense with so many students.  I see twice as many as I saw last year.  But I’m having fun with my curriculum.  With the classes this year it feels more like discrete problem solving with my students.  Specifically what are you struggling with, and how can I focus on that issue? Don’t get me wrong, I like the global teaching of ELA that I’ve done in the past, but the more specific tactical help is an enjoyable change.

I can’t believe I’ll be through a third of the year on the 29th!  It’s flying by, zoom!

Day 34 of 180 2016-17

Yesterday I had an amazing conversation with a few of my students about the difference between fair and equal.

We were discussing why there are organizations for black students or Hispanic students but not groups for white students.  (Keep in mind the students involved in these conversations do not identify as Caucasian, so it wasn’t a “we feel privileged and don’t like it, waaah!” conversation.)  I asked why black students would want to have a group.  The student thought about it, and then said it was because of all the shitty things that happened to them in the past and are still happening.  Okay, I said.  Why would white people want a group then?  The light bulb went on, and we proceeded to have a conversation about privilege.  We talked about how technically there are options for all groups to meet because things are equal, but how that isn’t the same.

I love those moments with students.  It’s my favorite part of teaching 10th grade.  Seeing the students’ emotional and intellectual growth flourishing in front of my eyes.  My Grinchy heart grew a million sizes during that class yesterday.

Day 27 of 180 2016-2017

Okay, so I was doing well with Read180, but now I’m overwhelmed.  I’m watching what is going on and seeing where my mistakes are but now I need to be able to plan better than I am.

I need to: switch up the small groups; do a group lesson on the point of Read180; explain the goal; explain what needs to happen to get out of class; separate all the pairs of friends; create seating charts for both small groups and while they are on the computers (the computers!!!!), plan better whole group lessons; try not to beat my head against a wall.

Also, I need to grade like a wild thing. Maybe at home tonight, I’ll have a me, my headphones, and my desk night.  That does not sound enjoyable.  And it isolates me from the wife.  Sometimes a teacher’s work is never done.