Friday, January 16, 2015

Be Kind to Others

Ahhhh, a three-day weekend! I am so ready to sleep in tomorrow morning after a rather long week at school. Of course, since it's a three-day weekend, I woke up this morning feeling like someone lit a fire inside my lungs. Typical. Well, I'm not going to think about that right now. I think I'll live in denial a bit longer.

We started our day with mass first thing. During his sermon, Father Vince talked about how we need to live our lives more aware of what's happening around us. It could be something simple like the fact that the baptismal font had been moved off the altar in church (none of us noticed), or it could be something much more important like a friend who is unhappy. He said that we need to be kind to others because everyone has their own battles that we know nothing about.

So true. We teachers think about this quite often. We may never know what's going on in the lives of our students outside of the classroom; we just know that we need to make them feel safe and loved while they are with us. It's so much more important than making sure they learn their ABC's.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

People Are Weird

I went to the supermarket after work today, despite the fact that I really just wanted to go home and take a nap. I don't often go shopping on Thursdays, so I don't know if this was the regular Thursday crowd or if aliens had landed and started shopping at our local Safeway. Whatever the case may be, there were some, oh, let's say...interesting people there today. It got me thinking while I was walking up and down the aisles how many very different people there are in the world.

I mean, I can't imagine a day when I would ever consider wearing boots with yoga pants, but I found myself thinking, "But on you, honey, they totally work!"

They didn't really, but you don't want crazy people to suspect you're thinking negatively of them. Right?

When I got to the checkout line, the clerk picked up a piece of paper and said to me, "I mean, listen to my schedule..." and she proceeded to read her weekly schedule to me. Oh so many thoughts running through my mind. Did she mistake me for someone who works at Safeway? Someone she should be complaining to? Was I wearing a sign that said "Official Time Keeper"? When she finished complaining, I informed her that I was a teacher. "I work every day." I thought that would stop her complaining and get her to start ringing up my groceries.

I was wrong.

Instead, she started complaining about her sisters who are all teachers and who were just getting back to work after three weeks off, "whooping it up!" Why was she telling me all this? Why on earth did she think a total stranger would be interested in her work schedule? I would never think to do that, but for her it seemed incredibly important.

Like I said, so many very different people in the world.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Our Favorite Books

Today started out foggy and a bit dreary. We haven't had much dense fog around here this winter; I'd forgotten how cold it can be. Not that it's anything like a New England ice storm, but there are levels of cold. This is California. We don't really do winter, per se. We do fall, part 2.

I'm really excited about a project my students are doing right now. We're calling it the Greatest Books Project, and it's based on the Call Me Ishmael project that I first read about on the Edutopia website: Five Minute Film Festival - 10 Stories About Life-Changing Books. For the Call Me Ishmael project, people were invited to call and leave messages about books that had a lasting impact on their lives. So I decided to do something similar with my students, the Greatest Books Project.

Now, I didn't expect that my students would leave messages that are as emotional as some of the stories in the link above, but I know how much they all love to read and I thought this would be a fun way to share their favorite books. After listening to some of their messages (we're using Google Voice for this project), I'm even more impressed with this seventh grade class. Such incredibly wise young people! And so much fun to work with!

Don't tell them I said that though. :)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Quick Post

The day after being out sick from school can be just plain old exhausting. You're still recovering from whatever kept you out, and you have to deal with all of the work you left for the sub. Well, here's an idea...when the teacher is sick, perhaps we should cancel their classes for the day. Are the students really learning anything when the teacher is out? And chances are that the reason the teacher is out sick is because the little germ factories we call our students forgot to leave the plague at home.

Think of the money saved on substitutes, the sanity of the teachers who wouldn't have to come up with sub plans, and even the electricity saved on an empty classroom.

Oh, who am I kidding. Most of us just go to school sick because it's just easier that way. Am I right?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Sick Day 21st Century Style

I woke up this morning with a nasty migraine. It only took a few minutes to realize it was going to last all day, so I called in sick. Well, I didn't exactly "call" in...I sent a text message to our vice principal who responded via text message a few minutes later. Impersonal? Possibly. But when your head feels like it's going to explode, another person's voice in your ear might just send you over the edge.

Lesson plans are a lot of fun to write when lights cause you further pain, but it was certainly easier than going to school all day. I wrote my plans up in a Google Doc and emailed them to my sub before she even left her home. I told her that if she had any questions she could text me or have one of my students send me a message via Voxer. I love using Voxer with my seventh graders! They can send me text messages or voice messages and I can quickly respond to them. It's much faster than email for me. I've also set up a seventh grade group for us so that they can ask questions (like homework help) of the entire class. Quite often I don't need to respond at all.

Another tool that comes in quite handy when I'm out sick is Edmodo. I added a few assignments for both seventh and eighth grade in Edmodo early this morning and scheduled them to show up during class time. All my sub needs to do is say, "There's an assignment in Edmodo," and the kids know exactly what to do.

After school today, my phone started buzzing off the table as my students were sending questions to our seventh grade group via Voxer. A few of them I had to chime in on (due dates, and the like), but for the most part, they answered each other's questions. I monitored their conversations from my couch where the cat and I spent the day watching shows on Netflix. I remember the days when a sick day meant sheer boredom due to daytime television. Even that's a thing of the past.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Imagine That

Where do ideas come from? Divine inspiration? Years of study? Pure luck? How did J.K. Rowling come up with the idea for those wonderful Harry Potter books? Were these ideas always with her, or did a switch suddenly turn on one day and whisper "Hogwarts" to her? Is it possible that there's an imagination gene and you're either born with it or you're not? Or are we all born with infinite imaginations but just lose the ability to use it over the years of our childhood?

I'm going to assume it's the last response. But if we lost the ability at some point, that should mean that we can regain it. Right?

I used to draw when I was growing up. I drew a lot...and I was good. Really good. Time stopped mattering when I had a pencil in my hand. I imagine that's what it's like for creative people. I don't remember ever thinking I didn't have time to draw anymore or that I should stop drawing altogether. But, at some point, I did. I never picked up a pencil again. Why? I don't remember.

Every once in a while, I think to myself, "I should start drawing again. I always loved it." But something keeps me from trying. Lack of time? Or, and this is more likely, lack of faith in myself. Perhaps in this year of #Courage, I should bring out my sketchbook, grab a few pencils, and just get started!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Ah Saturday

Not much worthy of note happened today. Well, unless you play for or are a fan of the New England Patriots. We won!! I was so happy when the game finally ended. I don't think I took a single deep breath during the entire game.

I had planned on sleeping in this morning then doing a little bit of grading followed by a lot of lying on the couch under my New England Patriots blanket reading a good book. The hitch in that plan came when I discovered that I'd left my laptop's power cord at school. Drat!! I hate when that happens. Fortunately, however, I live close enough to school that it wouldn't take very long to go get my power cord. I just needed to decide whether or not I really needed to. I mean, I was just so comfy and warm in my apartment. Is grading really all that important? Couldn't I just ignore my work for the weekend and relax instead? Isn't that what normal people do?


So I walked to school to get my power cord. Hey, at least I didn't drive...I should get some credit for that, right?