Archive | September, 2022

How to Survive Back to School Night

27 Sep

Step 1: Spend the week ahead stressing about filling in the syllabus template.

Step 2: Shamelessly copy the syllabus template last year’s teacher write, making a few modifications.

Step 3: Spend the days before modifying the slideshow you used in the past.

Step 4: Borrow slides from the slideshow shared by a colleague.

Step 5: Share your slideshow with a colleague new to the grade, building and school district.

Step 6: Teach all day the day of BTSN.

Step 7: Drive home, thankful that you have end of the day plan, to walk and feed the dog.

Step 8: Change clothes, then drive back to school.

Step 9: Eat dinner (provided by the PTO) on the balcony attached to the staff room, laughing with colleagues.

Step 10: Go overtime on your period 1 presentation because 10 minutes is really short.

Step 11: Repeat presentation five more times, but finish before the bell.

Step 12: Drive home.

Step 13: Take some time to wind down before going to bed.

Step 14: Wake up Friday morning with a headache.

Step 15: Be thankful you planned a writing sample for all Friday classes.

Step 16: Go to bed really early Friday night.

Step 17: Make it a two-nap Saturday.

Step 18: Feel normal by Sunday.

Second Best Monday

20 Sep

“Was today your best Monday or your second best Monday?” a smiling colleague asked me as I walked down the main hall towards the parking lot at the end of the day yesterday.

“Second best,” I replied.

It was, in fact, only the second Monday of the school year, marking the start of our third week at school, and it was definitely not as good as the previous one. It was, mostly, my own fault.

I’d gone to bed at my normal time and fell asleep quickly, as I normally do. Unfortunately, two hours later my phone, which sits in the kitchen at night, not my bedroom, blared with an Amber alert. It took me a while to get back to sleep.

I keep the radio on low all night, set to NPR because the sounds of people talking is soothing to me. From 11 pm until 5 am, my local station broadcasts the BBC. I often wake around 3 or 4 and it lulls me back to sleep. Yesterday morning however, the Queen’s funeral was being broadcast. When it happened yesterday just after 4, my brain registered this fact and I listened. I gave up at 5, only 15 minutes before my usual wake-up time and decided to watch.

Needless to say, I arrived at school, not feeling my usual perky morning-person self. Fortunately, i had a better sleep last night.

It takes all types

13 Sep

There’s a lot to learn when you start middle school so we, like most middle schools, guide the new 6th graders gently. I won’t even start touching anything remotely curricular until sometime next week.

It doesn’t mean we are just goofing around. Today we learned how to write an email to a teacher. Here were my tips:

I then asked my students to send me an email telling me something fun or interesting about themselves. I promised I would write back. I should mention here that I have 6 classes of 30+ students. By the end of the day, I’d responded to almost two classes. I discovered some expected, and some unexpected facts about my new students.

  • Lots play sports, but one student does acrobatics
  • One student likes to stay up late
  • Several are worried about how much homework they’ll have
  • One likes to bake
  • A girl likes heavy metal, especially Queen and Metallica
  • A few speak more than one language; Many speak a language other than English at home.
  • Pets so far include: dogs, rabbits, hamsters, and one axolotl
  • A few have lived outside the US; many have visited outside the US
  • There are many artists, and one needle felter
  • One person prefers the outdoors and
  • One student read for  7 hours and 23 minutes!
  • Another is part of the lgbtq+ community
  • At least one is left-handed
  • One is a pescatarian
  • Several love pasta
  • Several others love pizza
  • One person called herself “the grammar police”

It’s a lot of work to reply to each email, but it is totally worth it. I love seeing the diversity of their interests.

The Hot Seat

6 Sep

“Did they forget to turn on the air conditioning?” asked a parent at Wednesday evening’s ice cream social.

A number of other parents asked similar questions as they entered my classroom where I stood fanning myself. It was so hot in my room that my eyebrows stopped working. Sweat ran right through them and into my eyes.

A stretch of 90+ degree weather had heated up the school and our AC was clearly not working despite assurances from the district office to the contrary. Their remote sensors told them so. Some teachers in classrooms near mine were collecting data. The highest classroom temperature was 87ºF. For most of us, it was around 84º.

The custodian had complained to the powers that be. Teachers complained. The principal complained. At Wednesday evening’s ice cream social, we encouraged our parents to complain.

Thursday morning, someone finally showed up. Yes, the air was circulating but something was up with another system. A button was pushed and we started cooling off.

When students show up today, I’ll be back in the hot seat. Fortunately, I’ll have a a little more control over how I feel.

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