Blog Archive

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Good books are hard to find.

Good books make me happy.

Good young adult books, exponentially so.

This post isn't about any particular event or kid.

It is about a book.

A book I didn't know existed until a few days ago.

I don't know how I missed it.

Actually, ok, yeah I do know.

As much as I adore YA lit., the past few years, I've gotten lazy.

I just don't read as much of it as I should, or used to, or want to.

Not sure why exactly, the habit has eroded.

I need to get back in the habit.

Mostly because in a couple of weeks my students will be reading in lit. circles.

We don't quite have enough copies of enough books for every class to get the same choices.

That makes it logistically more complicated.

This post is about a book we have about a dozen copies of I might be able to use.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

So that happened.

Kids are funny.

Not funny ha ha, funny strange.

Some kids are, shall we say, funnier than others.

One of my odd duck babies gave me pause recently.

My students were working on final projects for Romeo and Juliet.

They had to compose an opinion-based, textual evidence-supported, constructed response paragraph.

Three cited examples from the original play were required.

After that, for the other half of their grade, a sociogram was required.

If you have never seen sociograms, I suggest you explore the concept.

They are pretty simple to explain.

And they require incredibly sophisticated abstract thinking.

To construct one successfully, students have to understand a number of things:

-how to use symbolism
-how to characterize the various characters
-how characters relate to one another
-how to use space, size, and color to convey meaning
-how to explain all those other things.

My students completed a Sociogram for Of Mice and Men.

Romeo and Juliet, however, has 18 characters to the 10 or so in Of Mice and Men.

Not surprisingly, this is a difficult task for students.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Not just good, but grateful.

One afternoon, a former student stopped by my door.

I've written about him before.

He is currently a Senior.

Last year, he really struggled.

First semester, he still didn't do so hot.

But I've kept up with him.

When he needed help, or a reminder of his goals...

Or even a verbal kick in the pants,

I have made it my business to be there.

This semester has been better, I think.

Well, maybe, I haven't seen him much.

He definitely stops by more frequently when he's struggling.

Today was an exception.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Make-up day

I rarely give make-up days.

In general, I probably give students too much time to start with.

But it needed to be done.

First, overall grades were atrocious.

I am a firm believer that if every kid fails, I did something wrong.

I failed to create the conditions needed for success.

Second, I was absent for FOUR consecutive days.

I had two back to back conferences.

The sub wasn't exactly who I thought it would be...

So we needed a make-up day.

I made this decision with serious reservations.

Especially for my more challenging sections.

I was wrong.

It was brilliant.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

"You were in a bad mood today?"

Kid compliments are awesome.

I don't know why, but they really matter.

Especially in March.

The long slog to spring break is rough.

Everyone is at wit's end.

And it is easy, really really easy, to get frustrated.

It is really easy to let your nerves fray.

It is even easier to overlook a lot of good things.

Then a kid says something that just makes your day.

Like, one day last week, I was quite aggravated with my fourth hour.

My fifth hour came in and I was snippy.

It felt to me like I was being an unreasonable meanie.

I tried not to take out my irritation on them.

But it felt like I failed.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

No one complained

Sometimes we don't have enough subs.

That always sucks.

And because of my role in professional development, I have two plans.

Which means I often cover classes.

I wish I was in one of those districts that pay for such work.

I'm not.

But I don't really mind.

Sometimes it's even fun.

Because I am a teacher in the building, I almost never have any behavior issues.

On the other hand, I don't always quite know what to do.

Unexpected absences are difficult to manage.

I know, I've failed spectacularly at supplying adequately last minute plans more than once.

Then again, sometimes the kids step up and surprise me.

This story is an example of such a day.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

But Linda's never late.

It is easy to forget how powerful we are as teachers.

How much influence and impact we have.

Here is an example:

I have a young woman in my fifth hour.

Let's call her Linda.

Linda is very quiet, reserved even.

She rarely voluntarily speaks up.

In fact, she is often hidden behind her hair and her phone.

Nonetheless, Linda is a pretty decent student.

She hated NaNoWriMo and still maintains she can't make stuff up.

I disagree, but I haven't changed her mind yet.

In other, less creative, open-ended tasks, she excels.

She is an adequate writer with a strong grasp of abstract concepts and strong work ethic.

I have never questioned my assumption that she is a good student in every class.