Reflecting on the awesomeness of Holidays
Posted by newbie-tchr at 3:55 pm in 1

So my grad school program has this initiative started about providing a “stress relief” for student teachers. I’m assuming a donor got the idea that we need a break…which we do…and that a good way to get it would be to give us a choice between taking a day off for yoga classes OR mindfulness classes. While very well intentioned, and sweet that they were concerned for us – if you really want to provide a stress relief, maybe make Thanksgiving break come sooner. Sleep > Yoga.

I woke up this morning, and jut going two days without planning, grading, or thinking about all the things I have to do in the upcoming days feels AMAZING. Don’t get me wrong, I love teaching – but I also love sleep. And catching up on my tv time. And hanging out with family and not making lists in my head of things to be copied/graded/read. If my grad school really wants to give us a stress free day, a random Friday off would be way more relaxing than any class.

My one plug from this week though – just finished teaching the kids a really cool lesson on the Media and Congress. In our previous unit on Elections, we spent a lot of time focusing on traditional media like newspapers, tv, radio, internet, etc. So for this lesson, I thought I’d take a different stance and focus on how Congress uses new social media like Facebook and Twitter to create their own publicity. I differentiated with Academic and AP, but in both I have to say it was one of the most interesting lessons yet. The kids LOVED it, and even in my lower level classes we had a really great discussion about social media and targeting voters. Essentially all I did was print out copies of two facebook pages – one was Nancy Pelosi’s and the other Senator Mark Warners; and then two twitter pages – Rep. Eric Cantor and Sen. John McCain. Combine the handouts with questions to accompany the lesson and you’re set!

Comments Off on Reflecting on the awesomeness of Holidays
Someone definitely has a case of the Mondays.
Posted by newbie-tchr at 11:48 am in 1

Last post, where I talked about getting into the groove of things and feeling comfortable – totally jinxed myself. Got to school today and dealt with a variety of issues that made me a hot mess come first period.

1. To begin with, my first period AP Human Geography class had a unit test today and I needed to make copies, print their scoresheets, and get ready for what they do after.

2. Went to go print the test and of course – every printer in this school is broken.

3. Ran around to the hidden printer on the opposite end of the school…20 minutes later I have my tests, ready to be copied.

4. Finally get to the copy room, not only is there a line but someone aka a whole department of teachers, had decided to make their copies for what seems like the entire year – and take up all the copy machines. I mean really – do you have no planning period during the day, and actually need 200 copies of 10 different assignments. REALLY?! And all of these truly need to be printed right before 1st period? I mean, yes, I was running late – but come on people!

5. Luckily grab a copy machine…that didn’t jam – a first, I might add….and get to class in time with the tests and bubble sheets. But oh wait, I’m not done.6. Pass out the test, which my CI had made for me, and realize that some of the questions didn’t cover content from the book. And I missed them in my lectures. Enter my major apology to the kids & having to look at the data this afternoon and figure out which questions to take off.

My CI sent me an email telling me to not worry, it happens and take this as a learning experience – isn’t she awesome? It’s just embarrassing messing up so stupidly in front of the class/her. Plus I probably looked frazzled from my morning adventure in discovering how important it is to make copies the day before.

Lesson learned –  make copies the day before, and look at the assessment ALOT while planning. Ugghh Backwards Design, I thought you were just a theory until today.

Comments Off on Someone definitely has a case of the Mondays.
As stated previously….it really never gets boring.
Posted by newbie-tchr at 10:48 pm in 1

So in the past few weeks, I definitely feel as though I’ve gotten into the groove of teaching. And the funny thing is that my 5th period class – once the bane of my existence, is now my favorite.

As prepared as I am starting to feel, there’s definitely one situation I still don’t feel 100% ready for.  I had a student recently transfer into my class, and ummm. Well, to begin with “RJ” is a male transgender in the process of becoming a female. No biggie in of itself – except, oh wait, he’s extremely confrontational with male students. And he’s got an IEP for being emotionally disturbed. And included in that IEP is his ADHD. And he’s emancipated. And he’s homeless.

This poor child has so many things working against him outside of my classroom, that it’s hard to control the catastrophes he creates inside of it. My CI and I are working very closely with the SPED educators and his caseworkers, but there are times where his behavior is so out of control I’m legitimately at a loss. Yet, you can’t help but sympathize with him, knowing that his outbursts could easily be a result of him not having a place to sleep the night before, or his hormones, or the lack of ANY support system outside of school.

We are lucky in the fact that he likes us – and so his outbursts are far less in number than other teachers’ rooms. However, that doesn’t limit them to 0. Guidance is considering putting him in an online class instead, but I worry how the lack of social interaction could effect him. But maybe if it’s for the good of the class, it’s something to be considered.

So the query is – anyone have experience with this one? Considering that his outbursts tend to be offensive towards males, sexual in nature, and highly disruptive – I’m clueless.

ps – On the bright side, a non-profit here in town thinks he will have an apartment provided for him in a week or two, so we’ll see what affect that has.

It Never Gets Boring…
Posted by newbie-tchr at 7:46 pm in Firsts, Other duties

They never tell you in grad school how to handle bomb threats to your school. Yesterday we had a bomb threat at our school, causing them to evacuate the school for three hours. Cops were called in, and I have to say – they really did thoroughly check the school. Once the teachers were allowed back in, all the cabinets and doors in our classroom were left open from the search.

The whole ordeal was crazy though. The threat was called towards the end of the school day, which meant that AT FIRST – the kids thought it was awesome. An excuse to miss class? Few of them are upset about that. It wasn’t until the school day was over, and the police still wouldn’t let anyone leave that they got mad. Since the parking lot for students and teachers were so close to the building, no one was allowed to get their car and leave until the whole thing was cleared, which was about 5pm.

Talking about it with my students today, it was so funny to hear their reactions. The consensus was “that sucked,” especially the ones who had to leave their backpacks and belongings in the school overnight. (Kids who left before the building was re-opened had to leave everything in the classroom they were in when the evacuation alarm went off) I personally was freaking out since I had left car keys and my cell in the class, not realizing that it was a real alarm and not just a practice drill.

The one crazy thing though was how quickly the news spread outside of the school. For the most part, the kids are inseparable from their phones – meaning that unlike me, they were smart enough to have their phones when the alarm went off. So when the administrators evacuated us to the football field, the kids were on their phones calling parents, updating their facebook statuses, and texting everyone and their mom about it. Phones have come a long way since I was in high school, and it was such a start contrast from any similar drills I went through. It’s both really cool and scary how much technology connects people now.

Comments Off on It Never Gets Boring…

The other day we had parent teacher conferences – 8 solid hours of mania. So much happened, I really don’t know where to begin… Going into the event, everyone, including my CI, warned me that none of the parents we wanted to see would come. My reaction? There’s no way. The day before I personally called 24 different sets of parents/guardians/family members, and after hearing several “of course I’ll be there’s,” I figured I would prove them all wrong. The day of, we sat at our little booth, and I patiently waited to prove everyone wrong. Parents did come by – AP Parents that is. Hours were spent talking to parents whose students had 98’s, 99’s and even the occasional 89 in our classes. But the parents I called? Not a single one showed up. Out of all our classes, only one student showed up from a non-AP class – and that wasn’t even a student who really needed to come. The rest were all parents from AP’s, who coincidentally all had kids acing our classes.

I don’t particularly enjoy being proven wrong, but this instance was even more exacerbating. Every parent I called had a student who had either an F or a D in the class. Since government is a class that students HAVE to pass in order to graduate,  I thought there might be a little motivation there for parents to want to help there kids succeed. Yet, no one showed. I understand that some people have to work, or maybe lack transportation – but there are ways around it. Call, email, send a note in – help us out here! I’ve got several kids who are emancipated, or even homeless and I think that situation is one where I can understand that odds are no one can, or will come in for them. But come on, parents who are there and able to come in – at some point, the responsibility is on them. As a teacher, I can effect what’s going on in the confines of my classroom, but I can’t make your kid do homework, or study, or anything outside of it. Success in school is something that extends out of the classroom, and getting parents cooperation makes that easier for teachers and students. With these parents that won’t come in, or return calls, I’m at a loss. My teacher is used to teaching in this school system, and has gotten pretty used to it, but my skin just isn’t tough enough for it yet. It does bother me, and as she so eloquently told me while trying to convince me to let it go, “Beyond knocking on their doors, what else can we do?” We have done everything in our power to contact them, and I guess the ball is in their court. But even now, thinking of how unfair it is to those kids, it still does bother me. Is there a way to encourage their involvement, or is it really something I just need to give up on?

Oh, and the other non-frustrating thought – it is so weird seeing how much kids and their parents look alike. Yes, that sounds obvious, but it really is the weirdest thing when a parent walks up and you feel like you’re looking at an older version of your student. It’s like living in Benjamin Button world.

1 comment
Teacher Workdays = epic
Posted by newbie-tchr at 7:59 pm in 1

Today was my first teacher workday sans professional development, and I have to say – best thing ever. With all the grading, planning and cleaning that needs to be done before the first quarter ends, I don’t know what I would do without today and tomorrow off.

It did fly by though – it’s odd how 8 hours just flies by, and how much I still feel like I need to work on. What’s funny is that my grad school program has this new focus on handling stress, and are requiring us to take one day off to go to a workshop to get advice/techniques about handling stress. After my workday, I got to say – if they really want to help me with stress, all they need to do is give me another day off like that and let me plan/grade/get things done.

It’s been so hard finding time on weekends/after school to get these things done, since I feel like I need to give myself time too. Personally, I think that if I didn’t give myself time to chill out or have some substance of a personal life, I’d be the worst teacher ever. But with the job, that I’m starting to realize never ends, it’s hard to find the balance of a personal life and getting work done for school. During the week, it’s hard – by the time I get home, all I want to do is be a vegetable/do something relaxing. On the weekends – I want to be outside (the effects of a windowless classroom) doing anything but schoolwork.

1 comment

Take One. Pass it on.