Monday, August 7, 2017

Discover

Earlier today I thought to myself, "I haven't DISCOVERed anything new lately."  I've felt lost, not sure of who I am anymore.

But this afternoon, as I devour an ARC of Ruth's new book (AMAZING, BTW), I was motivated to write, and in thinking about writing and telling stories, I looked back at our summer. And I DISCOVERed something...

I've called this summer the "Old Dudes' Concert Tour 2017". My husband and I have seen Paul Simon, Carlos Santana, Paul McCartney and Jerry Jeff Walker in concert this summer. And you know what they all have in common? They are in their 70's and still rocking. I'm not kidding. All played for two and a half to three hours--no opening acts, no intermissions, no holding back.  They have not given up their passions, their interests, their lives just because of their age.

So who am I to think I have nothing left to give, nothing left to share?

And then a phone call happened. The new teacher who is going to be teaching many of my old classes called with a few questions. And it felt so good to talk to her, to answer her questions.  So maybe I won't be in the classroom, maybe I won't have a hundred kids to take care of, but I can mentor those who ask, those who want it and still be happy.

And I can write.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

It Finally Hit Me

Today.
It hit.

I'm not going to be starting school this month. 

For the first time in 55 years, I don't need

  • new school clothes
  • a book bag
  • new shoes
  • cool pens
  • notebooks
  • chocolate and peanut butter for my desk drawer
  • a schedule
I don't need to
  • plan my last Sunday's at the lake
  • work on my sleep schedule
  • make bulletin boards
  • arrange my room
  • think about the first five days
  • make lesson plans
  • update anything

I went to school and met with the teacher who is going to be teaching my Creative Writing classes. MY Creative Writing classes. 

But not anymore. 

Throughout last year, I created binders for all the classes I taught and made day by day plans. Added all the directions, handouts, etc that I used. I knew that I wouldn't be back and wanted to leave a guide as to what I did. Trust me. I know that each new teacher will make these classes their own, but at least they have a place to start planning.

Today, I met with the new Creative Writing teacher. 
And I shared all I had. 

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.

But.

I know they will come.

Eventually.


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Just Write

Write.

Just put some words on to the blank screen.

Write.

Words.

But the words haven't been there.

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

But

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.



Wednesday, March 29, 2017

{solsc} 29/31 #sol17 Today


Today
I wish for warm sun
with a gentle breeze coming off the lake

Today
I wish for empty days
with time to fill as I wish

Today I wish for golf games
concerts at the park
and grandkid giggles as they splash in the lake.

Today
the end of school 
and the promise of summer
seem an eternity away 


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

{solsc} 28/31 #sol17 Saying Good-bye

Tonight was my last speech awards night. I needed to say good-bye....

10 years.

“When does speech start, Mrs. Day?”

I’ve come in early and stayed late. Read scripts and planned rehearsals
“Remember, you need to plan a beginning, middle and an end”  But what do I know?
“Don’t be inappropriate”

I’ve listened to kid after kid
Slow down
Speed up
Enunciate

I’ve ridden more school buses than a 60-year-old should have to
I’ve locked keys in buildings
Blown out projector bulbs
Raced to the gym for forgotten ballots
Wiped tears, hugged and consoled, and given a million high fives.

I have beamed with pride as the nervous performed and they know they’ve done their best and I’ve celebrated excellence at All-State.

But
It has never been about me.
This has never been my speech team.

It is yours. It is as successful as you make it.
Juniors, you are now the leaders.
Step up.
Talk to Mrs. LeFebvre about what you want to do. Help her out at rehearsals. Help the newbies. Recruit!

Next year won’t be the same--for any of us.
But it will be what you make it.

Make it a good one.

Monday, March 27, 2017

{solsc} 27/31 #sol17 All-State


I spent today with some of my speech kids at the Individual All-State Speech Festival. It is an amazing day full of outstanding performances from high school kids. And even though I coach some of them, it still amazes me that these are high school kids.

And then, I feel like a fake.

Because here's what I know. I don't really have a whole lot to do with how good my students are when they perform.  Oh, I offer suggestions how to interpret things. I tell them if something isn't working. I help write introductions. But the hard work?  That's the kids.

The really good ones, come with a piece that they have found and believe in. They find time in a really busy schedule to practice their piece one (or two) more times before they go home. These kids, they're never satisfied, it's never good enough.  They constantly try new ways to say and do things, they record themselves and watch it back, and they ask, "What about if I do it this way?"

And they deliver. They are all in. They share their pieces with pride, passion and poise.

You can't coach that.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

{solsc} 26/31 #sol17 Hello There....

Hello There...

I am running out of ideas to write about, so I'm going to try this list style of post

I keep writing ideas on my Pinterest board, but nothing stuck out for me to write about. Even Chloe didn't have any ideas!

I wish I could write brilliant, inspiring, creative blog post every day. But I can't.

I love when ideas for writing just jump out at me and beg me to write about them, but that did happen today. I kept waiting for inspiration....I'm still waiting.

I dance my fingers around on the keyboard, hoping they will work some magic...they didn't.

I sing the Writer's Block Blues the end of every March. 

I think  about the last two years when I gave up writing too early. I don't want to do that again.

I really really want to finish out the month strong---but this post isn't the way to do that :)

I need to plan out the last four posts I'm going to write this month.

I should take my notebook with me tomorrow as I take my Speech kids to All-State.

I can write about the little moments throughout the day and come up with some inspiration for the rest of the month.

I like this idea--better pack my notebook now, so I don't forget it.  Ooooo. And I have to start a new one!  That's always exciting!

I always write better when I keep my notebook with me.

This is an idea I found on my Pinterest board. I pin throughout the year, so when I hit writer's block like I did today, I have something I can write...


Saturday, March 25, 2017

{solsc} 25/31 #sol17 Celebrating March the 25th



Celebrating March the 25th


Tulips reachin' up to the sky
The Grass is turnin' Green
We're all lookin' at the trees
New Leaves there are seen

We're all talkin' summertime
Everyone's countin' down
Put those Christmas decorations away
On March the 25th!


With apologies to Shel Silverstein



Friday, March 24, 2017

{solsc} 24/31 #sol17 Prom Season



It's Prom season, you know, and I HATE, HATE, HATE Prom. Just ask my students. The drama drives me crazy. But today, in my Contemporary Lit class, I was reminded  of the kindness of teenagers. And it just might help me enjoy chaperoning this year
                Yes. I have to chaperone Prom my last year at school. My junior homeroom kids chuckle                     every time I complain.

One of my senior girls has made it her mission to make sure a senior boy has a prom date. Now the boy is a great kid, but he can be annoying. Not many social skills.  He probably isn't going to get a date.

And a friend in her class just broke up with her boyfriend of a couple of years. And this girl is going through some really tough personal things right now. And not always making good choices in her personal life. But she wasn't going to Prom because of the break-up.

Two seniors connected by another senior.

And now, they are going to Prom together.

The boy wasn't sure the girl was serious. Was she just making fun of him? He was assured the girl was serious.  During my Contemporary Lit class, the girl and the boy Facebook messaged the entire time....planning what to wear (top hats, I hear) and making plans.  The girl had the biggest smile on her face I've seen in awhile.  I'm sure he did too.

And so, two seniors going to Prom as friends, and making sure the other enjoys a rite of passage.

Sounds like a good time to me.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

{solsc} 23/31 #sol17 So I Hear It's National Puppy Day

So, I hear it's National Puppy Chloe Day.  I guess Mom and Dad must have forgotten all about it. There were no presents, no special treats, not even a walk outside.

Zip. Nada. Nothing.

You think they could have thrown me a bone.

I guess they think a dog's life is easy.  They think all I do is sleep all day and wait for them to come home. They just don't understand all the work I do while they're gone.

First of all, I keep all the strangers--people and animals-- out of our yard and away from our house. If I wasn't here, barking and scaring them away, I don't know what would happen. The squirrels and stray cats would probably take over the yard. And that creepy guy with the hat who puts stuff in the box on the house?  Who knows what he would do.

And then, there's their beds.  If I didn't spend time every day, keeping the bed warm and fluffing the covers think about how cold and uncomfortable their bed would be!

All I ask is a little appreciation. Is that too much to ask?

And a bone. A bone would be nice.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

{solsc} 22/31 #sol17 The Start of the Final Quarter

It's no surprise that I am retiring. 
I mean, I've know for quite awhile that this would be my last year.
I talk about it.
Joke about it.
Laugh about it.
Cry about it.
Dream about it.

But if I'm honest about it, it just didn't seem real. 






And then today, I sat down as I always do at the beginning of a quarter. I had my little calendar sheets in front of me. I started penciling out lessons for the quarter....

And I started to think about it....

This is it.

The final quarter.

Wow.

It's getting real now...




Tuesday, March 21, 2017

{solsc} 21/31 #sol17 What I Didn't Intend to Write --Again

Three and a half years ago, I didn't intend to write a blog post about a former student.  And, today, I didn't intend to write about him either.

I intended to write about the great conversations in my College Prep Lit class.
Or, All-State Speech on Monday.
I could have written about my birthday celebration last weekend.

But
At lunch, we learned the young man had died.
No one was sure of the cause.

So, today, I use my words from years ago:


Monday, March 20, 2017

{solsc} 20/31 #sol17 Spring To-Do List

Yea! Spring. And here in northeast Iowa, the snow is gone (well, except for the really big piles where the plows dumped).  Of course, my tulips have been three inches above ground the last two snowfalls, but that's besides the point.

I needed something to write about today, so thought I'd use today's prompt in Creative Writing:


10.  Poke around the yard and see what's growing. We planted a few perennials last year. Let's see what survived.  And, if it looks like something didn't....
9. Look through gardening catalogs and hit up the greenhouse and see what they have growing. Growing things are a must during early spring!
8. Check out Pinterest for cute outdoor decorating ideas.
7. Sit on the back deck with a glass of wine and dream about summer.
6. Watch Chloe chase the squirrels from the yard.
5. Watch the squirrels torment Chloe from the top of the tree.  When she starts dancing around the tree on her hind legs, it's pretty cute.
4. Grill
3. Sit in the sun somewhere and just enjoy the warmth.
2. Go mushroom hunting. As warmer weather comes, so do the morels! 

OK, OK, OK. This is Chloe and I'm taking over here. The NUMBER 1, THE ONLY thing you should do in the spring is go for a walk with ME!

Geesh, Chloe. No need to be rude. It's finally nice enough. We're going after school!


Sunday, March 19, 2017

{solsc} 19/31 #sol17 Chloe Writes: Sleepover


You all know how much I like to go on adventures with Mom and Dad, so when I saw they were packing suitcases the other day, I got really excited. I wondered where we were going. Is it lake time yet?  Wherever it was, it'll be fun 'cause Mom and Dad like to go fun places and do fun things.

But, then they told me I couldn't go and would have to have a sleepover at Vicki's. She's where I go for my spa days.  I was just there a couple of weeks ago, so it wasn't time for a bath and haircut yet.  

Dad dropped me off and said good-bye. I wanted to cry, but I didn't. I'm six and a half, after all and big girls don't cry.  But then, Vicki put me in the kennel and shut the door and left!  I really didn't like that. It was not going to be a good weekend.

Vicki wasn't gone very long. though, and when she came home she let me out and I got to go upstairs and play with her and Sadie and the other dogs.  I was kind of scared at first. Sometimes, other dogs haven't been very nice to me, so I was a little nervous, but it was REALLY fun. We ran around the house and jumped over the couch. At first, I didn't want to, 'cause Mom would NEVER let me do that, but it seemed like it was OK, so then I started to play. We played and followed Vicki around all night. The other dogs were really nice! I was so busy, I forgot to eat until the middle of the night!  

Mom and Dad came and got me in the afternoon. I was so happy to see them. Mom said I almost shook my butt off when I was wagging my tail.  I gave them lots of hugs and kisses. I gave some to Vicki too so I could say thank-you.  It was such a fun sleepover!

But now, I am really tired. Mom and Dad are too, so we're just going to take it easy today.

See you soon!
Chloe




Saturday, March 18, 2017

{solsc} 18/31 #sol17 Home

I love being with family and friends
     laughing
          talking
               planning
But
I love coming home to the quiet of our home
watching the sun slide and
     the shadows creep
listening to Chloe's heavy breathing
and the clicking of my husband's computer keys
As I doze peacefully in my chair.

Friday, March 17, 2017

{solsc} 17/31 #sol17 It's Been a Good Day


It's been a good day, this 60th birthday of mine. I've been sung to, brought chocolates, and lots and lots of Facebook birthday wishes--some that made me cry.

A dear elementary friend, whom I have dubbed the keeper of the memories for our graduating class has been sharing our school pictures from high school on our 60th birthdays. I love this tradition (and it's also a great way to remember people)


Tonight we head out for fun and good times with friends.  I'll see you tomorrow.



Thursday, March 16, 2017

{solsc} 16/31 #sol17 Teaching Better


My Instructional Coach and I sat together and reflected for the last time today. It was a meeting we had been putting off because we didn't really want this coaching cycle to end. 

The cycle started so naturally. She came in at the beginning of the year just to observe, to see high school kids in action. But she loved my College Prep Lit class and the discussions we had about books. She read and discussed right along with us. I loved that about her. Even the kids would ask when we were discussing if she was coming in to join us. It was so positive to have her in my room.

And then one day, she told me about a class she had visited that used thinking prompts to guide discussion. It sounded like something right up my alley. 

"Want to try a coaching cycle with me?"

I thought, "Why not?"

And so a partnership was born.

I know some thought I was crazy to do this in my last year. Why not slide by? Why did I need to work with a coach? What could I possibly learn? 

I did it anyway and loved every minute of ir.

Let me tell you about working with a coach.
It's reflecting on what you already do and upping your game. It's thinking about what you already do and making it work better for kids. These discussions in class made me look at the  standards and how they connected to the books and literature I am using. I paid more attention to the interactions of certain students and their groups. I would not have noticed that before. I shared the standard with students and we talked about what they needed to do---and their discussions got better.  I love the dynamic of this class because of the work I have done with my coach. 

Working with a coach is not teaching harder, it's teaching better.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

{solsc} 15/31 #sol17 Time Passes, And So Will He

He started the semester a month late. Oh, he was supposed to be here. He just didn't come. And then, when he did start, he missed two or three times a week. Not very conducive to getting work done---especially Speech.

Those days he missed often coincided with days he was supposed to deliver a speech. And then he wouldn't be ready. He is a really nice kid, very personable. But he wasn't doing the work. Out of the four speeches we do during the first quarter of the class, he did ONE of them. 

So he was failing. And not doing very much about it until last week when I wrote this on my white board.

Yesterday he was ready with the one that was due AND the very first "real" speech we do. He asked if he could do them both. I said sure  (I'm more concerned that he shows what he can do rather than he can do it on time). And he did great. 

There's one more he needed to do. I asked him about it. He tells me he will be ready today.

And he was.

The thing is. He does a really good job giving speeches. He looks up at the audience, he has a really nice speaking voice and he knows what he's talking about.  

And now I have proof.

When he was done today and working on the next speech we will give, I figured out his grade. He went from 38% to 75%. He had a huge grin on his face when I told him. 

"I just don't do well with public speaking, Mrs. Day."

"But you do." And I shared with him all the things he does well--and so did some classmates.

"Now, next quarter, let's not go through this again," I said.

"No problem!"

And you know what? I'll bet it won't be.



Tuesday, March 14, 2017

{solsc} 14/31 #sol17 Writing is Hard

for Cole. One of Darin Johnston's students who is ready to quit. And to the rest of us too.



Writing is hard. 
Harder still? 
Writing every day. At fourteen days in, it can seem impossible to finish. Some days we all want to quit. Why even try?

But those days pass. 
And you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and write one word. And then another.

YOU WRITE.

Big moments make slices. 
  • Two of my speech kids were selected to perform at All-State 
  • The school board voted to accept the retirements last night

And funny happenings in the classroom make slices.
  • Mrs. Day, since you know watch more basketball than I do...
  • My Creative Writing kids coming up with creative ways to take care of the shoe squeakers
Little moments make slices.
  • Listening to the quiet
  • Watching snow fall
  • Baby smiles

Dogs can write slices :)
Because sometimes having another point of view when writing is a good thing.

The point is you just have to keep trying and keep writing. As I look back on some of my previous years posts, I sometimes cringe. They aren't all masterpieces. Sometimes your slice is going to suck. 

BUT YOU WRITE ANYWAY.






Monday, March 13, 2017

{solsc} 13/31 #sol17 Chloe Writes: Snow Day Disappointment




I was so excited this morning. Mom and I got up and there was snow outside! And Mom didn't seem like she was in a hurry like most mornings.  I really, really thought maybe she was staying home with me today. She does that sometimes when it snows.

Mom stayed in her pajamas and drank coffee. I even got to sit in her lap and cuddle this morning.  We played with the ball a little bit and ran up and down the stairs for awhile.  

But, then....

All of a sudden, she went upstairs and got dressed. And Dad got up and went outside and ran that big loud machine that blows snow all over me (I hate that thing). And before I knew it, SHE WAS GONE! 

I pouted a little bit when she left, but Dad stayed home for awhile. I took a nap after he left and got woke up when Mom came home from work.  She was home lots earlier than she has been. She told me if it wasn't so cold and snowy we would have gone for a walk---I don't know why that should stop us. I like when it's cold and snowy. But, anyway, now that she's home early, we'll start going for walks more and I really like that! 

I hope the snow melts fast!




Sunday, March 12, 2017

{solsc} 12/31 #sol17 Speech Happies






Nine Division 1 rating and 7 Division 2 ratings. My co-coach and I are happy. Yesterday was a good day at State Speech. But, Uffda! It was a long one. Up at 4:00am. On the bus at 5:15am for an hour and a half bus ride. A full day of performances and running around campus. We finally arrived home at 7:00pm. 

Trust me. The wine at the end of the day tasted really good.

There are lots of things to celebrate besides ratings though. 
  • Students themselves could see the growth they made-even if they didn't get a 1.
  • The smile and thrill of the freshman who received ones from all his judges (there are 3 at state) and the jacket his parents had to buy him because of it.  Evidently, the jacket was all the incentive he needed.
  • We had a "Promposal" yesterday also. And the best part was they met at the speech contest a couple of weeks before.
  • Seniors who tried new events and wished they had tried them before
  • Making judges cry
  • Parents who drive an hour and a half to see their son or daughter perform for five minutes
  • Chocolate malts while we waited for the final results.




Saturday, March 11, 2017

{solsc} 11/31 #sol17 I Did Not Plan Ahead


So
Why didn't I think ahead?
Why did I go to Leigh Anne's party
yesterday?
Yesterday I had time
to write. 
I could have written a post about
State Speech
my kids
the snowstorm coming tomorrow.
But no.
Yesterday
I took the easy way out
and joined the party
(and it was fun)
But today
After 14 hours with
HUNDREDS of teenagers 
I have to think of something to write about.
Geesh.
I should have had Chloe write a post.



Friday, March 10, 2017

{solsc} 10/31 #sol17 I'm Going to Leigh Anne's Favorites Party


I was invited to a party earlier this month--well, actually, we all were. Leigh Anne from A Day in the Life invited us all to a Favorites Party. The idea is to share five of your favorite things with the others. You can read the whole story on her blog.



Anyway, here's what I bring to the Favorites Party...

1. Well, of course, I would have to bring Chloe to any blogging event. She's half the team after all!  And she would definitely keep us all entertained.


2.  Like Leigh Anne, I'd bring favorite pens. I used to be a Flair addict, and I still like them. But my new favorites are Papermate Ink Joy Gel Pens. I bought a couple at the beginning of the school year to try out and absolutely love them. They write so smoothly. Our local Shopko put them on clearance in September and I went a little crazy stocking up.  They come in lots of great colors and that lets me pick colors to match my mood!



3.  I would bring Culver's Concrete Mixers. Because what's a party without ice cream?  Culver's is a a chain out of Wisconsin, but now have stores in the midwest--well, at least Iowa and Minnesota. They actually serve frozen custard and it is to die for. Trust me. You want some.

4.  I think we may have to change the place of the party--or I'd have to have my own, because I would want you all to come to the lake. There isn't a better place in the world to relax and recharge.
The view from our deck

5. And I would have to bring a book. But I'm not sure which one because I keep changing my mind about favorites. I recently read a young adult novel entitled All the Bright Places  by Jennifer Niven. I want to wander with Finch and Violet. But I also liked The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner. Amazing. and it contains my favorite quote (which would technically mean I would be bring six things)---  And isn't it the best quote ever?

“If you're going to live, you might as well do painful, brave, and beautiful things.” 

So there you are. My contributions to Leigh Anne's party. When you need to, join the fun. What would you bring to a favorites party?




Thursday, March 9, 2017

{solsc} 9/31 #sol17 This Time Next Week


Saturday is State Speech
Our season is ending
Next week
I won't have to be 
at school
at dawn
or
leave at sunset.

Next week
Kids won't want to practice
during my
"free time"
or 
after track
or during their study hall
but
my class

Next week
There will be
no more 
funny conversations
or serious ones
or prom ones.
There will be 
no more
snacking
noise
laughter
No More.
Ever.



Wednesday, March 8, 2017

{solsc} 8/31 #sol17 A Last I Will Not Miss

My last Iowa Assessments. My shoes squeak as I walk about the room, making sure everyone bubbles in on the right test. As juniors, they know the drill. They've been joking about making Christmas trees, about not really reading and just guessing. Most won't do any of this, but they can joke about it.

I think back to my own days of bubble testing. I was in second grade the first time I felt like I wasn't smart enough. We got our test scores back. I was in the 98th percentile overall, but a boy, the one I always tried to be better than, got a 99.  Why didn't anyone tell me I was better than my test score?

Throughout my teaching, I have always tried to convince students of this. But it's hard today to convince them they are more than their test score when one of the final things I have to say is, "You must be proficient in the areas of reading, science and math in order to take concurrent classes at the college. If you aren't proficient in reading, you may be required to additional reading classes."

I get it. I do.

But this is a "last" that I will not miss.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

{solsc} 7/31 #sol17 Happiness

While he's great at making other people laugh, there's always a sober undercurrent in him when you talk with him.  Not depression or sadness, really, but he's not a happy kid all the time.

But lately, you see, there's this girl.

"Mrs. Day, so L and me, I guess we're kind of a thing."

"You are?"

"Yea, it makes me pretty happy."

"Well, I have been noticing you've been together quite a bit. I wondered about it at Districts."

"We weren't a thing then. This has only been a couple of days."

"Well, you might not have known, but I could see something going on."

"Yea."

He practices his piece with me. Then we talk about prom and their group.

"Yea. I'm pretty happy."

And then she walked into the room. Her grin was as big as his. I'd say she's pretty happy too.

Monday, March 6, 2017

{solsc} 6/31 #sol17 The Purge Begins



"Ewww! Is that hair in your closet?"

I laughed and pulled the blond wig off the top shelf.

"Why do you have a mullet wig in your room?"

Like many odd things in my room, it was left by a student. This particular wig (yes, there have been others) was used by a young woman showing us the proper technique for straightening your hair.

The wig has had a long life. It gets pulled out of the closet for any type of skit or activity. And sometimes, it just gets worn for the heck of it.

It sits upon a rag doll used last year in a speech commercial for "Ginger B Gone". The doll is creepy. I won't lie to you, as it moves about my room, it always seems to find a place to sit and stare at me.  But the doll also gets used for class activities. This year it appeared in a lip synch during Drama class. I keep trying to get her owner to take it home, but so far, no luck.






The whisper phones have had a long life. Made for me by a former principal, they have been used to read aloud, to practice speeches, and to read writing while editing and revising. They also seem to be as fun as Legos, since more than once, students have taken them apart and created sculptures with them.  They've been nabbed by the choir teacher.











Do you see the screwdriver in front of my computer?  The thing is huge. It came with my desk and I have no idea how long it has been there. I have great fun with it because anytime a student ask me for something weird (and it happens a lot), I say, "No. But I have a screwdriver." and then pull this out.  I've decided it stays with my desk when I leave.








There is an unwritten rule with my speech kids that if you are late for practice you owe me chocolate. This year one of my senior boys was late to improv. This is what he brought me. Chocolate syrup.

If nothing else, it's a great conversation starter.  And it will get used at our speech awards banquet later this month.

Well, that's all for this installment of "The Purge". Stay tuned. There's more weirdness where this came from.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

{solsc} 5/31 #sol17 A Silly Moment




I love the randomness of teenagers. The things they just pop in my room to tell me.  My favorite moment this week happened on Wednesday.

Our girls basketball team played in the state tournament on Tuesday afternoon, so school was let out for the day.

On Wednesday, a senior boy bounced into my classroom.

"Mrs. Day!  Mrs. Day!  I got a girl's phone number yesterday!

The response from the guy sitting just inside the door?

                                                 "What? Did your mom get a new phone?"



Saturday, March 4, 2017

{solsc} 4/31 #sol17 Celebrate


My favorite part of the week. Celebrations.

I've been celebrating my week for a long time, almost as long as I've written my blog.  It helps keep me positive and focused on the right things in my life. I keep track of them through the week on a post-it in my bullet journal. And Twitter. If something makes me smile during the school day, I often tweet it out.

Waiting for the bus

I've done quite a bit of tweeting this week (you know that if you follow me at @mrsday75). On Saturday, my Speech kids performed at district competition. They did great. We've sixteen events moving on to state next weekend. My favorite part of individual speech competition is giving my phone to the kids and telling them to take a selfie.  Then, as they perform and receive ratings, I can share out the results using our school hashtag. People follow along all day and congratulate the kids.

I turned in my Early Retirement papers this week. It still doesn't seem real---in my head I keep thinking, "Next year I'll..." and then remember, there won't be a next year in teaching or in speech (although I'll sub and volunteer with speech). Weird. But I'm looking forward to this new chapter.

Other good things this week:

  • I received copies of Passenger and Wayfarer from Alexandra Bracken this week. She had tweeted out she would send copies to classrooms if teachers tweeted her, so I did.  I have several kids who will love this series
  • Our girls basketball team played in the state tournament on Tuesday. They didn't win, but a smaller school from a few miles away did. They ended up runner-up. I loved how many of our kids went to their games and cheered them on. When you live in a small rural area, everyone is friends.
  • Last practices with my speech kids. These last two weeks of rehearsal time is precious to me. I just love hanging out with these guys.
  • A friend started a new food blog. This woman is a great cook and she decided to start a blog and share the recipes she trying. You can check her out at The Pinterest Foodie

Well, that's about it this week. Hope your week was wonderful!