Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Chloe Writes:

You know how I complain about Mom during March....she's always on the computer writing this silly blog or reading other people's silly blogs instead of spending time with me?  Well, can it please be March again????

Ever since school got out, she's done nothing. I mean nothing. I can't wait for the days when she takes her bag of sticks and leaves the trailer! And at home, she just lays around watching TV.  Says she has nothing to do.

Well, that's kind of an exaggeration--she does lots of stuff. She cleans, she works in the yard (I've been helping!), she's been throwing LOTS of stuff away (I've been hiding my toys so they don't disappear!). But she sure hasn't been writing. And I'll let you in on a little secret---she needs to write. Sometimes she's kind of grumpy.  She's not grumpy in March when she writes every day.

So, anyway...

I've been trying to give her some writing ideas. I do lots of cute things every day (well, plus, I'm just cute). I chase rabbits, I dance around the squirrel tree, I'd learn new tricks if she'd teach me.  We've been to the lake, she and dad go places without me. There must be something she can write about.

We talked the other day, and she tells me she's working on it. And she has been on the computer the last couple of days, so maybe, just maybe, she's figuring something out.

I sure hope so!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

How Did I Do It?

I look back at old posts and wonder how I did it. How did I have so much to say and where did those words come from?  I wrote about silly, normal days. I wrote about little details in my day. And now, those simple posts seem as if they were written by someone else. And I couldn't possibly write about those things again---could I?

I'm just going to keep writing. Putting words into this blog. Whatever comes to my mind. I told students this often---JUST WRITE. Write whatever's in your head. Even if it sounds stupid. Even if you think no one will like it or read it. Don't worry about word choice, or spelling, or grammar. Get the words down. You can always go back.

So, I'm getting the words down. In desperation.


I know they will come.


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Just Write


Just put some words on to the blank screen.



But the words haven't been there.

I really and truly planned on filling up my blog with words about teaching, my students, retirement.


The words aren't there. At times, I feel bereft.  Empty.  I don't know who I am.

Oh. I hide it. I laugh. I joke. I play.

But just underneath the surface,

Tears form, unwanted, at the oddest times, and I think of the kids I will miss.

My babies.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A Not-So-Inspiring Post

I was going to write a really super sappy blog post about teaching, how much I love it and the students I teach. I was going to create this beautiful ode to teaching that would inspire everyone and share my love of this career I chose.

And then my 3rd hour College Prep Lit class walked in the door.

And I was reminded that teaching is not always perfect and inspiring. Sometimes it resembles a Welcome Back, Kotter episode....

In the space of ten minutes today, I:

  • Listened to complaints about how hot my room is and explained they could sit in the hall and work
  • Repeated the directions for the day 19 times (Once for each student. Because you know it only counts if you say it directly to them)
  • Explained 19 times that the assignment for the day was also on Schoology---our LMS (This is besides the fact that I also handed out a a calendar with the work for each day)
  • Reminded one he needs this class to graduate and to get to work
  • Again, listened to complaints about the heat. Again, suggested the hallway
  • Explained that the work for this assignment needed to be worthy of the 20 points (a point for each word, right?)
  • Regretted telling a student she could use the "B" word in her letter when describing a character. That opened the door for negotiations with the others. 
  • Again, reminded senior he needed to get some work done
  • More complaints about the heat
  • Told students I was rewriting my blog post. 
  • Explained that John Travolta was hot--- in 1975---when I was 18.  They just shook their heads and had no clue who I was talking about until a bright girl in the corner reminded us he was in the movie Old Dogs.
Finally, class ended. 15 of 19 turned in their work. 
Here comes 4th hour...

"Geez. It's like a sauna in here."

The lesson? Some days--heck, most days--are more like Kotter than any of us want to admit. This group I have 3rd hour are smart, they discuss and argue and back themselves up with facts. Most of them read a lot. 

And somedays, they like to push my buttons. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

My Last Lecture

"How exactly, do you catalogue your childhood dreams?"   Randy Pausch

In 2008, Randy Pausch, along with Jeffrey Zaslow, wrote a little book entitled The Last Lecture. It's a book that has stayed with me for a long time. In fact, I'm rereading it right now. Although it's an extension of a lecture he presented at Carnegie-Mellon, I really look at it as his love letter to his kids. You see, at the time he gave the lecture and wrote the book, Pausch was dying of pancreatic cancer, and he had three kids under five.

Well, I have a love letter I want to write also. A love letter to my school family, my kids, and teaching. As of today, I have nineteen days left with students and one more inservice. I've begun purging my room. Throwing some things, giving some things away, and wondering what in the heck I was thinking in keeping some of them.

And as I purge, I've reflected and remembered.

And so, in this month of lasts, I'm going to write and remember and share.

Friday, March 31, 2017

{solsc} 31/31 #sol17 The Final

It's day 31 and the final day of the Slice of Life Challenge.  The last couple of years, I quit. Didn't finish. Failed.

I let the "I'm too busy" excuse convince me it was OK to accept less than my best.

Want to know the difference this year?  

My kids.

I've always tweeted out my blog posts. And I knew people read them---I just never thought about my students reading them. But they'd come in and comment on something I'd written.  This Time Next Week was a post that was shared by a few of my speech kids. It hit us all that speech was over and my time with them was going to be done.  

A former student tweeted me and said when she saw I had posted she secretly hoped the post would be about her :)  I haven't yet, but I will.

The thing was, when I knew that a few of them were reading them, I didn't want to miss a day. I expect them to write every day (to be fair, I share a prompt with them in case they can't think of anything to write about), so I couldn't give up!

So congrats to everyone who wrote every day. And congrats to those who didn't. You still wrote more than you would have if you didn't join the challenge.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

{solsc} #sol17 30/31 Hey! Isn't This Your Last...

"Hey! Isn't this your last....."

Fill in the blank. National Honor Society induction, Speech contest, semester, conferences...
Whatever it is, yes. It's my last. Come May, I will be shutting the door to my classroom for the last time.

It's my choice. But as I have written, it's a bittersweet time in my career right now. And that "Isn't this your last..." not my favorite--especially when I say it.

"Hey! Isn't this your last?" suggests that I am a short timer, that I am counting down the days and hours until I am done. It seems to say that I don't care and have quit learning new things. This is far from the truth.

I've been working on Standards Based Grading for a couple of years---just this semester I created a SBG rubric for class discussion that I've been using in my College Prep Lit class. It isn't perfect, but I keep tweaking it every unit and it's becoming very workable.

I also have standards and I can statements for most of the classes/units I teach. Our district is in the midst of going to standards-based grading and I will not leave my classes with nothing for a new teacher to start with. And besides that. It is something I truly believe in. I'm not short timing this!

I continue to change every class I teach based on the kids in the class. I've always done it. Why would I change now? My Contemporary Lit class this semester is very different than the first one I taught. I've developed it for several years. And next year's teacher will have notes and ideas to begin with.

Because that's the other thing. I know it's the last (but I'm working on it being the best), I've left all my plans for this year in notebooks. Day by day plans. Because I still remember my first day on the job:
"What do I teach?" I was hoping for some ideas, a syllabus.  But no.
"Anything you want," I was told.

Next year's teacher will still be able to teach anything they want, but at least they will have a place to start.