Blog Archive

Sunday, April 23, 2017

She is so mature

The other day after school I had a visitor.

One of my female students asked to sit in my room and work.

I don't say no unless I have to leave.

While we worked on our respective tasks, we chatted.

I've known this girl all year.

She is an amazing kid who is incredibly centered.

And our conversation is the most impressed I've been yet.

She told me that her ex-boyfriend had been arrested.

I think ex-boyfriend is the right idea?

She said it was someone she used to talk to?

Her frank assessment of the situation was remarkable.

The young man's father had called her several times to tell her about what happened.

As she explained it, the kid got caught with a gun.

Though she was deeply disappointed, she was also unusually insightful.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

What to do, what to do?

I love it when a lesson comes together.
It feels like magic.

It isn't.

It is more like a combination of inspiration, preparation, and dumb luck.

The dumb luck part is kind of magic.

There are days when every kid is at their best.

And there are days where most kids are just not.

Today, bizarrely, was a not day and pretty much everything still went really really well.

I guess I should tell you about the lesson.

So, technically, this is another NaNoWriMo story.

Today was the first day of writing groups as begin the revision process.

The goal is for students to help each other improve their stories.

Before they can do that, they need to know about each other's stories.

Which brings us to today.

Monday, April 17, 2017

An almost perfect day.

First day back from a long weekend in April.

I had expected it to be a little rough.

I mean, it's April.

Who is still good at school?

And we have a major project due.

And tomorrow we start literature circles.

And I spent the weekend out of town unexpectedly.

I wasn't sure I would be at work today until late last night.

That, by the by, is why I failed to post yesterday, sorry about that.

The point is, I had expected a lot of squirreliness.

I might even have been sort of maybe prepared for that.

What I wasn't prepared for?

An almost perfect day.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Book Love

We are starting lit. circles next week.

This is another thing I have made a million excuses not to do.

Because it's hard and kind of scary.

It is also absolutely the best idea.

Students need to read.

They need to read on their own, on a schedule, outside of class.

The point is, we are starting next week.

To do that, I had to get some information.

Last week, I gave a survey to my students.

I asked them who they wanted to work with and who they wanted to veto.

They also need to choose what they read.

Well, within limits.

So that was today.

It took me a little while to get all organized and stuff.

And due to a meeting I totally forgot about, I was NOT as prepared as I meant to be.

Thank goodness my first hour is soooooo forgiving.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


So this post isn't about me.

It is about my department chair.

This semester, she has hosted a student teacher.

It has gone well.

The student teacher is well-prepared.

She has the content knowledge and pedagogy.

Classroom management, not quite yet, but you know, #newteacherproblems

This post isn't about her either.

Her mentor teacher, my department chair, is the topic.

From talking to her, this is the first time she has hosted a student-teacher.

And, overall, she says it has been a positive experience.

I have enjoyed observing her.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Look it up, guys!

Our research unit: urban legends

The goal is to help students recognize fake news.

They need the skills to determine what to believe.

They need to know how to search well.

They need to be skeptical.

So, what better way to pursue that goal than to research stories.

I say urban legends, but really any modern story counts.

A few kids are looking at conspiracy theories or fake news.

Some are looking at persistent myths like Big Foot or the Loch Ness monster.

Before we started, my colleague created an introductory activity.

Students were given printouts of on-line articles.

Their job was to investigate the veracity of those stories.

It was hysterical to watch them.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

It's not all bad.

Lately, I feel like public education has gotten totally beaten up.

There is so much focus on the negative.

Negative political forces.

Negative public perceptions.

Negative finances.

But, you know what.

It's not all bad.

My district is making some incredibly positive changes.

We are consolidating our existing alternative programs into one newly purchased local building.

We are adding seats and services.

We are expanding our "International Welcome Center" for students new to the country.

We are implementing trauma-informed practices.

We are adjusting our schedule at the high school to better meet the needs of students.

As part of that schedule, we are adding an advisory program.

We are expanding our Gifted and Talented program.

The district has signed a contract with a new custodial company.

We are also bringing our bus services in house.

That means we will be providing about 30 local jobs.

We will also have more control and flexibility.

And the buses will be housed on land leased from the community.

And the buses will be serviced by local mechanics.

It won't be easy or simple to do any of these things well.

Nothing is ever perfect.

But I am still proud to be part of a place that is working for kids and community.

So, I know things are tough.

I know the world is a hairy, scary place right now.

This time of year can be plain old awful.

Testing season is horrendously stressful.

The last few weeks of the school year are filled with antsy kids and competing priorities.

That, however, doesn't mean there are some pretty great things happening.

When a teacher says to me, upon learning about all these changes,

"For the first time in a long time, I feel hopeful. I feel like what we are doing will really make a difference."

It is a good thing.

Despite all the negativity, progress is being made and children are being served.