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.

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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.

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Good things!
Posted by newbie-tchr at 8:27 pm in Career planning, Other duties

So going to extracurricular events for students is more than paying off. For one, the kids love it. I went to a senior night for some of my girls who played field hockey, and they were so excited. I went in with my teacher, and the girls cheered for us from the sidelines and some of the other students who were spectators even came over to say hello. Plus, and this is the really awesome part, the principal came over to talk to my teacher and I and dropped the “what are you doing after graduation” question. And when I told him I was moving, but hoped to move back he smiled and said “well I’ll make sure and keep that job open for you.” SO AWESOME!!! Our principal has made comments through out the year about how important it is to show the kids we’re there for them on multiple levels, and I think going to their games and performances was something tangible he could look at. Yes, I guess I’ll never know if he would ever offer me something now, but I’m going to take the hints as a sign that he thinks I’m doing a good job.

The other good thing: totes pumped about my lesson plan tomorrow on George Washington’s Farewell Address. I know it’s nerdy, but I was able to incorporate one of my new favorite sites,  (Link leads to a good TeachersFirst review on how to use it) Because some of the low reading levels in my class don’t allow me to let the kids loose on the entire farewell address and expect understanding, I first created a paraphrased version of the speech, making it easier for them to understand. We’ll read the modified address aloud popcorn style, and then fill out a analysis sheet as a class. (for the analysis I’ll be using APPARTS) We’ll go through the analysis as a class, and then the kids will write their own “farewell address.” The students will write a letter to younger grades at the high school, telling them what legacy they think they’re leaving behind and then focusing on major advice they want everyone to know. Here’s where the wordle comes in – I made a wordle of the Farewell Address, and the kids need to incorporate at least 5 words from the wordle into their own work. Hopefully this will get the kids into it, and engagement levels will be up!

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