Day 89 of 180!

I turned 40 on day 87 and my tenth graders brought me a balloon and chocolate.  It was super sweet.  I don’t understand how, when I started teaching, my oldest students were eight years younger than me, and now they’re twenty years younger than me.  Where did the time go?  I’m convinced that teaching keeps me young.  It must be that, because outside stress definitely can wear on me.

Reflecting on this week, I feel like I was not productive and I’m not sure what I missed.  Maybe it’s the last week of the semester woes on me?


Day 83 of 180!

My juniors had an incredible debate today, even if they struggled with the words sometimes, during an anticipation guide for The Great Gatsby.  (Big love to Simply Novel – Secondary Solutions for the unit plan!)  It was cool to watch them defending their opinions to each other and trying to persuade the rest of the class to agree with them.

On the flip side, my freshmen are ready to make me bang my head against my desk.  “Miss, who’s Rowdy?”  Really?  You chose to write an essay about a character that you don’t know?  “Miss, I didn’t read the book.” Okay, but we read two-thirds of the book in class, so you didn’t read it or listen???? “I didn’t do my homework, Miss.” Yeah, well, I can’t help you with that.  And the millions of excuses?  They don’t cut it.

Today I learned that my students believe these are all viable excuses:

  • I fell asleep so couldn’t do it.
  • I had a game.
  • My sister had a sleep study so I didn’t get home until 3am (and didn’t bring it to the hospital to work on, either).
  • I never read the book.
  • I don’t do homework.

I would like to cry now.

Day 81 of 180

And we’re done for the day!  Now I’ve had all my classes at least once since break.  It’s challenging to get students into academic work mode when they’ve had vacation and then a week of vocational work.

I had partially prepped an activator sheet for them.  Turns out I needed to prep it more.  In reality, I need pictures of it, and not just use the example.  However, I think that now that the kids have done it once, it shouldn’t be as confusing other weeks.

When using an interactive notebook, I wonder if I should have a prep day every quarter, where we number pages, insert some sheets that I know we’ll use, fill in what  we can, and so forth.  Would that be a waste of a day, or would it be a time saver?  Obviously I can’t guess everything because things change, but I do know that I need activator sheets.  I do know that pages need to be numbered.  I know that the table of contents can be at least partially filled out.  Time to do some research!

More research:  Where do people put vocabulary sections in the INBs?  Not vocabulary for a novel necessarily, but the important terms that would be used in any unit, in the case of ELA I’m talking about literary terms and maybe Greek and Latin roots..  Do people create one section or put it through out?  I was thinking of putting it directly after the Table of Contents so that the list can keep growing that way.

Day 80 of 180!

100 days left, Ladies and Gentlemen!  100 days left and finally I feel like I’m getting into a rhythm.  This year has been a crazy ride so far.  However, I have an essay on my left turned in by one student.  I have other students in front of me who are finishing them up.  Focusing on the positives! (Two more essays were just turned in!)

I sold my first item on TeachersPayTeachers this week.  I won’t lie, it made me feel super cool.  I’ve got more things to put up too!  I’m loving my interactive notebooks.  I’ve purchased quite a few items – and they are awesome – but creating my own has helped me more.  The more I focus on my own foldables, the more I understand not only the how but the why of it.

As of today I only have two items in my store, but I’ll be adding more over the next few weeks.  Check me out, yo! Many of the items I’ll be adding are for helping my poorly organized students organize within their interactive notebooks.

Day 78 of 180

… It took all the strength I had
Not to fall apart
Kept trying hard to mend
The pieces of my broken heart
And I spent oh so many nights
Just feeling sorry for myself
I used to cry
But now I hold my head up high
I will survive
Oh, as long as I know how to love
I know I’ll stay alive
I’ve got all my life to live
I’ve got all my love to give
And I’ll survive
I will survive
I will survive…


Day 2 post Winter break, and tomorrow is a full day of Professional Development.   Also, from tooooooooo warm weather (almost 70 on Christmas = wrong and bad) to feeling -6 when I woke up this morning, this is a rough day.  I was missing 8 of 16 kids this morning and had an observation from an outside consultant.

I posted those lyrics as a reminder that I can survive this.  There are so many things that are negative that I could focus on, but the truth is that the more I dwell, the more frustrated I get.  it’s no good.  So I’ll survive.  My students will survive.  Even if I’m frustrated with how things are being done here this year, it cannot stop my actual goal.

My actual goal is to educate students.  And as of Monday, I only have 100 days to do it!

Day 73 of 180

Nothing like realizing that you had counted one extra day and you were actually one day behind.  Bah humbug.  However, it’s Friday, and next week is only 2.5 days and my students are researching their fool heads off on topics surrounding WW II before we start reading Night when they return.    At least, that’s what my 10th graders are doing.  They’ll finish that research after break.  My gift to them is to not read about war and death and atrocity that has already happened when there is so much in their streets every day.

My AP Lit seniors are also doing research, but they’re looking at literary terms and political/scientific influences on The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde.  They’ll be presenting on their topics today before starting The Awakening over this break.  I’m not sure how we’ll all do with this.  It’s a new book to me as well.  I’m excited.

Next week, in those last days before break, I’m doing some vocab building and front loading of time period information on Great Gatsby for 11th graders, and trying to finish Absolutely True Diary of A Part-Time Indian with my 9th graders.

I can get this all done.

I think.

I hope.

I can.

Day 64 of 180

I made it through the week!  I made it through the week!  I was observed yesterday by a consultant.  I’m trying to remain optimistic because I think she has a lot she can teach me, but I’m so tired of being observed.  I’m tired of wondering what I’m doing wrong, or what I’m going to accidentally do.  It doesn’t matter if I have a phenomenal day with the most amazing outcomes.  I’m still going to wonder. Also, what’s really hard to believe is when someone says, “this is just between you and me” or “this is no way evaluative”.  Well that’s just stupid, because while it might not be used on my evaluations, of course it’s evaluative.  I understand the difference, but I get frustrated with the language.

Day 61 of 180

Today I am grateful for students who would plan a surprise party for one of their friends who might not have a great day otherwise.  The birthday girl is the second youngest in the classroom, and she lives in a crappy part of the city.  This love from the kids in her classes clearly made her day.

Day 60 of 180

Back from Thanksgiving break and I realized that I isolated myself quite a bit because I have been feeling very negative, and I didn’t want that negativity to exude onto others.  At the same time, when someone says, “Oh, how are you?”  I didn’t want to lie and say “fine” or “great”.  So instead I hid myself away.

In reality, what I need to do is change my negativity and focus on being more positive, because the downers in this job?  They can gut me.

Positive things:  my tenth graders did really well focusing on Ethos, Pathos and Logos today.  I was pleased with the questions they were asking and how they tried to make sense of them.  I think that teaching the rhetorical triangle is harder for me to teach than anything else, up to and including poetry.

I decided to write essays with my second week Enrichment students.  I don’t know how well it will go, but I’m thinking that it will be a better experience than my first week with them.  It’s hard to be a ninth grader in a shop, knowing that you might actually be spending 3.5 more years in there.  It’s s forced moment of looking at your future, and I’m not sure that students are ready for it.

My AP seniors are writing timed essays related to All Quiet on the Western Front as I type this.  They are timed for 40 minutes, so we all know where they were then, but they have longer to write them down.  Only one student is missing today, so it should be easy to get her caught up.  The positive moment here is that I’m beginning to get caught up with where I want them to be.

Day 57 of 180

Friday.  Next week we have only two days.  The students we see today, we don’t see for a week.  This is normal, but when they know there is a teeny week between this time and the next, they get a bit crazy.

“Miss, I don’t wannnnnna work.”  
“But Miss, it’s FRIDAY!”  
“But Miss ….”

And so I took a PDF of the The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, read it to my classes, and taught them how to answer MCAS Long Composition prompts with it.  I refuse to not be productive.  Apparently, I am the Grinch.

Good points of this:  I love reading to the kids.  Many of the kids benefit from this and, sadly, have not had enough experience with people reading to them for pleasure.  I want to incorporate more children’s lit into my classes.  I say that every year, but this year I’m trying to invest in these books for real.

Bad points of this:  Students cannot see how they are benefiting from this and think that I think they’re stupid.  I need a better introduction to my children’s books, probably in my syllabus, so that they understand why we are using them.

Sad reality:  I asked a group of students if they had stories read to them when they were children, and the closest they could think about it was “I saw a lot of Disney movies.  Does that count?”