Archive | February, 2020

Period Politics

28 Feb

Checking my phone between conferences yesterday, my interest was piqued by this NPR headline:

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You can read the full article here, but the report opens with, ”

Scotland is now a big step closer to becoming the first country  in the world to make tampons and pads free to anyone who needs them.

ThePeriod Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Bill passed through the first of three stages in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday by a vote of 112-0, with one abstention.

How ironic that I had a graphic novel on a similar topic, Go With the Flow by Lily Williams and Karen Schneemamn.

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Publisher’s Summary: High school students embark on a crash course of friendship, female empowerment, and women’s health issues in Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann’s graphic novel Go With the Flow.

Good friends help you go with the flow.
Best friends help you start a revolution.

Sophomores Abby, Brit, Christine, and Sasha are fed up. Hazelton High never has enough tampons. Or pads. Or adults who will listen.

Sick of an administration that puts football before female health, the girls confront a world that shrugs—or worse, squirms—at the thought of a menstruation revolution. They band together to make a change. It’s no easy task, especially while grappling with everything from crushes to trig to JV track but they have each other’s backs. That is, until one of the girls goes rogue, testing the limits of their friendship and pushing the friends to question the power of their own voices.

Now they must learn to work together to raise each other up. But how to you stand your ground while raising bloody hell?

Sprouting

25 Feb

Way back in October, in a desperate attempt to spruce up my room for Fall Conferences, I bought three potted chrysanthemums. The flowers they bore were a lovely autumnal mix of yellow red and orange and they really gave the classroom a homey feel. I liked them so much that, when conferences were over, I brought home and replanted them in the containers on my front stoop. I expected them to be gone by now

Although it is still Late Winter, Spring conferences happen at the end of this week.   I have been looking at the chrysanthemums that are still in those containers on my front stoop. They are looking a little raggedy.

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It is hard to believe that we are almost two-thirds of the way through the school year, but it is a good time for this next round of conferences because the sixth graders are a bit raggedy, too. They are tired. They have discovered their social lives. I am not as interesting as I used to be. Maybe I am a bit raggedy, too.

I’d been thinking about pulling out the chrysanthemums and planting something more alive. But if you lean in a little closer, your heart will stir.

Little leaves are spouting on the old growth. And a tiny flower will soon bloom close to the soil. Instead of pulling them up, I think I might prune away the dead and dying bits so the new growth has room to grow.

I guess that is a bit what Spring conferences are about – pruning away what is in the way so students can bloom.

Hope

18 Feb

It rained so hard Saturday that Lucy stuck her head out of the door for a potty walk, and tried to turn around and go back inside. I forced her out just long enough to take care of business.

I’d woken up that morning with a pain in my back and goopy eyes. Sigh. On top of terrible long weekend weather, I was not feeling well. I stayed in my pyjamas all day, drank lots of tea, and used eye drops frequently. I’d had plans for things I’d wanted to accomplish, but I didn’t have the energy. Lucy and I were content to stay snuggled on the sofa.

I felt a little better Sunday – well enough that I actually thought about doing things, though I didn’t actually do them. The rain had abated, though puddles were ubiquitous. And Lucy went out without prodding. Things were looking brighter.

I was up before dawn Monday, as is my norm. I felt better, more energized. I poured myself a cup of coffee and began a task I’d put off all weekend: my taxes. They aren’t that complicated, so I was done in an hour.

The sun was up and so was Lucy, so we went for a walk in the sunshine. When she wasn’t sniffing all the scents the rain had stirred up, Lucy did her usual stand and look around thing. Today, I joined in. There was a little warmth in the sun. I stood still, closed my eyes, and soaked up what I could. When I opened them again, I noticed a hummingbird hovering at a neighbor’s bush. And a robin in the tree beside the bush. Warmth seemed to have penetrated my soul.

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Spring conferences

10 Feb

I love my team.

There are a lot of reason why this is so, but let me tell you about our plan for Spring Conferences – which are at the end of February, so really, should be named Late Winter Conferences.

Out Admin team, in discussion with the Leadership team, decided that, during this round of conferences, we should make a special effort to conference with the students we are most concerned about. Teachers would reach out to those families first and leave any leftover spots for the students who are performing well.

The 15 minute conference schedule from Fall was too short for struggling students and just a lovely chat with the families of students who were doing well. My team started planning immediately. In our minds, we figured that, in Spring, we would meet with specific families as team, spending 30 minutes with the student, parent and all their Core teachers, so we could work together to ensure success.

But apparently, that’s not what the Admin team meant. They really just meant the neediest families would get first dibs on time slots. We heard that another team had a similar idea, so we went to the Admins with a proposal.

Reluctantly, they agreed. We have to send an email to the other families offering whatever time slots we have left and make it clear that we won’t have time to meet with everyone.  That’s fine, as long as we can devote more time to the students who need more support.

I mentioned our plan to another teacher and she thought we were crazy. Her team doesn’t get along as well, I guess. She might have used the term “divide and conquer”.

Maybe, if this really works well for us, we will be able to convince more teams to try it. I’ll keep you posted.

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Where my brain went

4 Feb

Sometimes, I worry.

So last week, when I checked my email before school and say a message from a parent that simply said,

Adrienne,

My husband and I would like to meet with you.  Do you have time on Friday, January 31, 2020 at 4:30?

I worried.

Had I done something wrong? Had I said something wrong?

The day before we had begin a discussion of Hammurabi’s code by talking about justice and fairness. My classroom read aloud is Kate Messner’s Breakout and we had tied Hammurabi in to some of the problems with the criminal justice system she talks about in the book. Had I shown my liberal bias and upset a conservative family?

I sent an email back suggesting an alternative time and ended simply with

Could I as what you would like to meet about. I like to come to parent meetings with the information I need, whether that is grades, curricula, etc.

I worried as I drove to school. I asked the Math teacher if he’d received an email from the family. He had not. The Science teacher wasn’t in yet. I stewed and set off in search of an administrator. If I had done something wrong, I wanted an admin present.

I found the VP who is my direct supervisor and we had a great discussion about race. The night before, he attended a district sponsored conversation about race and found it so powerful that he was hoping to get the recording and share it with staff.

I felt a little better and set about getting ready for the day. I checked my email and I’d heard back from Mom. My new time suggestion worked for them – and they wanted to talk about grades.

Somehow, with all the hullabaloo in my brain, I’d forgotten that report cards had been sent home. Until this year, middle and high school report cards were mailed from Central Office. It took almost two weeks from the time I posted my grades until families received their copy in the mail.  This was the first time they were sent electronically, so I had no idea families had received them.

I relaxed.

When the family came we had a wonderful conversation. Their child was actually doing fine in my class and I had a few suggestions on what to do better. There were a lot of laughs, too.

I don’t know why my brain always goes to the worst case scenario. I am going to file this experience away and hope that, the next time a cryptic email comes from a parent, I give myself some credit for being a good professional.

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Randy Ribay

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