Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Day 178 - BAM!! last week

The Memorial Day holiday kind of threw all of us into vacation tease and all of a sudden a very short week to finish everything. SO relaxed all weekend knowing its three days, then BAM - reality hits in that you only have 3 days to get everything done- then graduation!!!!  Yes, its always something- but mostly something wonderful.
The final in US History was pleasantly surprising.  All but two students scored proficient and higher on the content  multiple choice and the civil rights issues presentations were very thorough and entertaining.  The third part was the research paper for their presentation and its obvious the students spent time and care in their work and are becoming better writers and researchers. Except of course for the three students who gave up and decided to not do any portion of the final (heartbreaking).

Emotional times these are.

A-ha:  There are not enough opportunities for the staff at my school to enjoy each other and get to know each other.

Reminder:  Keep making efforts to sit and talk with different people. Don't only play it safe.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Day 177 - pink slips and yearbooks

This day was crazy.  Last day for Seniors to get pink slips(graduation clearance slips) signed and last day of classes for them.  Ya see, I always put the finla and/or the last portion of it on their last day.  I sign their slips after everyone takes the final.  This year, I was not expecting so many people so close to failing that I had to do all the math and grading-- along with after school and at break and at lunch students bombarding me with wanting to purchase and retrieve yearbooks.   Now I know for next year.
The bummer part about all of this busyness is that I didn't get to really say goodbye to any of my seniors.  I guess Graduation practice will have to do for that.

A-ha:  Kids want to buy yearbooks during finals week.

Reminder:  Do it different next year.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Day 176 - vultures

So much. I was on the verge of tears in Advisory as I realized I won't be seeing my Seniors after next week.  They all want me to sign off on their graduation slips...but...WAIT...I need closure, I'm not ready for goodbye to just be my sloppy signature. But they are.
In yearbook we talked about the loud voices of complaint versus the praise we so quickly forget to hear or give. Creating a very public creation is scary and risky---they should be proud and they are but it is a hard life lesson to learn about handling criticism.  We used sentence starters today to give feedback that empowers.  Every negative rumor/tweet/chat they heard had to be inserted into one of those. Yes there are typos, but the good news is...now we know what good spellers and close readers we have at our school, cuz I have not seen skills like that displayed in any of my classes! ;)!
After school the vultures(Seniors) were circling my desk, keeping me trapped at the computer, hollering and laughing at their own desperation, "okay I emailed you, now can you grade it? I fixed it now, can you grade it? all I need is your class..etc., etc. , etc.   I couldn't help but laugh at this situation with them...but then back to work.
Adult ED Graduation happened tonight too, and talk about not giving up. Those are the best graduations. Its very powerful to see students from last year who didn't graduate--get to finally graduate.

A-ha:  Positive feedback has a lot to do with timing. Some folks at my school have had great timing this week.

Reminder:  Proofread every single page on the big screen/whiteboard next year, not on the chromebooks.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Day 175 - community

A little lighter today, as yearbook distribution went smooth and more importantly- the kids were proud of what they made.  Their words of approval to each other made my heart feel like it was covered in soft fur, and purring. School is crazy busy and so many things are happening all at once, for everyone. There was a baby shower today for two very loved friends/colleagues thrown by another Wildcat family member whose birthday it was.  Another teacher's World History class wrote letters that inspired a visit from Jimmy Panetta today(I heard he had to bolt a little early to go meet up with Hilary in Salinas). At the end of the day, I bumped into our sports medicine guy who has been out with cancer--back at work today!  He just hugged me and wouldn't let go as he talked about how much the WHS Wildcat community supported him.
I work in a very special place with some very special people.  I don't think all teachers are this lucky.

A-ha:  There is a lot of myself that I haven't shared with the WHS community.

Reminder: To be connected, to know and believe in the connection- I must reach out.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Day 174- circle of mistrust

Heart broken as I learn some of my students had my school password and knew others had it---but no one thought it would've been a good idea to mention it to me.  They have been using it to override video games and blocked sites. At least one tried to change a grade but most of them, it seems from all the conversations today, know that teachers get emails as soon as grades are changed.  Tired...negative emotions wear me down. Thankfully not too many days like this.

A-ha: In the midst of drama is not the time to decide my future behavior or how I think students are going to act from this day forward.

Reminder:  Just because people act untrustworthy, doesn't mean they get to take trust away from my heart.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Day 173 - delivery...

Today...the yearbooks were delivered.  I felt so nervous.  I wasn't able to open one of the boxes until like 5 pm to take a peek. Its alright.  It actually looks much nicer than I had anticipated and I only found one spelling error so far ( a name- bummer).  No one else except me and the head office manager have seen it so far.  She was nice to support me through the first cracking of the book.  I didn't expect it to be this nerve racking. Next...we hand them out!!!!!!

A-ha: Feeling nurtured is so healing and new to me-- I really needed it this week.

Reminder: It okay to ask for help and to tell people you need a little nurturing now and then.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Day 172- plus the weekend

Friday, Friday, Friday...seems so long ago.  Well first off we had our very intense and fun Powder Puff football game, and thankfully my team, the Seniors, won!  It wasn't pretty tho. Girls were down every time I turned around and the darn Juniors surprised the heck out of us with their brutal defense.  But in OT, we won! 7-0.  Honestly we had sooo much fun and the students bonded in a way I had not seen before.  I swung by Applebees after the end of the game and I couldn't have been more proud of all of them laughing and giggling and aching while waiting for their table of 25.  It was definitely a crowd pleaser.

Then Saturday, the WATCH (Watsonville Area Teens Cultivate Habitats) students I mentor had their final presentations at school of their yearlong research projects( WOW!!!).  But afterwards.....all the students and mentors and science teachers go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium - they spoil us with dinner and we have a slumber party in the aquarium.  One of my favorite bonuses for showing up for kids.

Sunday am, time to book it back to school to pick up some students who agreed to take part in one of my students CAP, which she called a funrun for health awareness.  it was fun, but there wasn't a whole lot of running- mostly walking.  We went to Nisene Marks which is full of coastal redwoods and trails. 6 miles- not too shabby.  We ended with a beach clean up and bbq at the neighboring Seacliff Beach.   I think I'm sunburnt- forgot to wear sunscreen.

I'm happy when I am available to show up for kids.  It takes a lot of energy but they fill me right back up.

A-ha:  Kids don't know how much nature feeds them until they are in it.

Reminder:  Incorporating self-care into busy days works. ( Like a bike ride in between student events!)

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Day 171 - a rough start

Today I was totally embarrassed by my 11th graders.  Yes only 4 of them, but of course, when there are guest speakers- it feels like all of them.  Brown Berets visiting my class and a few of my students started arguing, using the f bomb, trying to get each other to "shut up". At the end of the presentation, the girl who dropped the f bomb went and apologized to the presenters for losing her cool at the "annoying boys who wouldn't shut up".  I was half proud of her for that.  it was all of about a 5 second interaction that the speakers may not of even heard( I wish) but it felt like an hour and it was on speaker blast.  Then another one had her phone out, I walked over, she knows the drill- put the phone in my hand, you get it after class.  She refused. I kept standing there. "No, Ms.MacLean, I won't do it, I won't do it".  I had security come and take her phone. It was like a bad high school movie.
But then it turned 9:15 am and everything was fine the rest of the day.
Picked up the Powder Puff t-shirts on my way home!

A-ha:  I would rather start my day rough and finish strong than the other way around.

Reminder:  Sometimes extracurricular activities are the highlight.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Day 170 - smackdown

Everything seems to be moving along just as usual for this time of year.  Some students not in reality about their grade or the time left, students making extra personal efforts to connect and students trying their damnedest to make up work and raise their grade.  Oh, and me taking on too much of the responsibility of their grade.  It's less than usual, but it still keeps creeping in and under my skin causing me to want to grab my hair and strangle...the air. Reality--- not everyone will graduate and some will be summer grads.  As a colleague said today, " Chrissy, with all your flexibility, the students have no excuse."
A bittersweet statement from a student last year on the last day, " Its not your fault MacLean, you did all you could.  This is my F."   And the A's are theirs too.

A-ha:  I feel so full of personal and professional growth, then feelings start creeping in and smack that ego down to "I don't know anything" land.

Reminder: Smackdowns teach me how to get back up.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Day 169- surge

Today my post ovulation hormone surge did not meet kindly with senioritis.   I felt it right away so I just stayed back.  "Here's what you need to do today--do not get in the way of anyone trying to accomplish that. I'm going to be over here at my desk putting in grades and returning your emails."  I made a wise decision today; letting them strangle, I mean inspire, each other instead of me doing it.

Keeping my distance helped the day go much smoother than I had imagined after that first surge of rage, I mean disbelief, I mean concern; I could feel in my blood at the beginning of second. I spotted it , I named it, I got the hell away from it. Day finished and a lot was accomplished.

A-ha:  The kids probably appreciate it when a teacher knows when to go away.

Reminder: But at the same time we get to experience moving moments like the Principals awards when  a kid almost cries and scholarship night when a lot of kids cry. Crying because they are proud of themselves. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Day 168 - organic

Sometimes you have to just let go and let class grow organically.  This can become a bunch of weeds and ruin the crop sometimes and other times its the best fruit ever!  I guess as we teach longer, we become better farmers and are able to decipher when its time to go organic and trust the sprouts that are growing outside of our plan.  Today I trusted the sprouts and it worked.  It wasn't the best fruit ever, but I believe what happened today in class as students wanted to discuss various rights to fight for, after they created their own 10 point plan of demands(based on Black Panthers demands for African Americans) was much more student oriented and aligned with their final then my plan.  Creating their own plan was timed- but I didn't think they were going to get so into talking about all the issues they brought up. They still need to listen better and paraphrase each other more often and accurately-- but they are getting there. They wanted to be heard, they deserved to be heard. they were heard.

A-ha: I am becoming a better farmer.

Reminder:  Class is most powerful when the students are doing the talking.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Day 167 - my favorite things

On Friday I was wondering, "why do I wait to the end of the year to teach my favorite things?"  So in US History we are going deep into Civil Rights and Economics its all about globalization and sustainability!!! I love this stuff and the students are trying to check out.  Why do I wait til the end?  Because the curriculum is built that way? Yep.  So I must do something about this.  There must be a way for me to go into these topics earlier in the year. Of course I touch on them and interject them as often as possible, but having those topics be the focused learning outcomes and the focus of all the learning is much more powerful.  Next year, maybe I should start with globalization????

A-ha:  Students have expectations just like I do. And they get scared and have a lot of feelings of disconnect when those expectations are not met or life changes what  was pictured-- just like me.

Reminder:  almost vacay.........!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Day 166 - Simba

Today I invited a community member named Simba Kenyatta to speak to my US History class.  He is an ex- member of the Black Panthers, an ex president of the Santa Cruz NAACP and an overall  revolutionary activist.  Wrapping up the Civil Rights unit with looking at different forms of protest and really hoping the students get the reason for the fight and the importance of the fight for Civil rights, I realized this white lady was not leaving a big enough impression.  So I invited Simba.  The kids were excited to hear from him and were perfectly thoughtful and respectful.  He had a great day.

A-ha: It really does only take a phone call sometimes.

Reminder: Always get members of the community in my class.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Day 165 - rockthevote

A woman from the elections office presented to the seniors today and got quite a fair amount of students registered. I am glad this happened but kind of wish it was a little sexier.  She wasn't really that excited and neither were the kids.  Neither was I.  It was a lot of going through the motions, which is necessary when filling out forms and such, but not any inspired discussions about the importance of voting.  I didn't really prep my econ kids cuz it wasn't on my radar and I am in way Econ mode as opposed to gungho Gov mode.
They got registered and many of them were happy to be.  I think some may have noticed what a privilege it is as many of their classmates couldn't register due to citizen status.  Sometimes I forget how many of our students are not citizens.

A-ha: Undocumented students, passionate about politics, issues and/or candidates can still participate by informing family members on issues and helping register people to vote.

Reminder: use the Rockthevote website more.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Day 164 - use your notes!

I just came from City Council meeting and our proposal to keep the street that goes through our school closed until 4:30, passed.  But holy moley...why do they put the motions for schools at the end every time!?There were some students there, but most left after waiting and waiting. I thought I was going to be out of there by 8 pm at the latest. Well, democracy takes time and we gotta hear the voices.  Even as I am complaining about time, I did feel the end was a little rushed.  They made an amendment to the recommendation and then voted without asking for any further public voice on the matter. I was surprised by that and of course I did have one more thing I wanted to say.

A-ha: I would make a good lawyer, if I used my notes. I wrote down some good arguments and points straight from the issues discussed prior.

Reminder: Use the notes you write down!!!!!

Day 163 - why people take on the AP load

Subbed AP US History today and what an excited group of kids.  Their teacher has done a great job of drilling the facts in while making them fall in love with history. The day before the AP test she had all of them in the quad making a humongous timeline of US History- including important people and noting the economic, social and political impacts.  Those students were chalking and talking like crazy- recalling info, helping each other, asking for help and building on knowledge.  I wasn't surprised today to hear from many of them that they felt prepared and confident in their AP US History test.
Today we talked about the military industrial complex and Eisenhower's farewell speech.  Students were making all kinds of connections, including back to George Washington- and that was before we watched "Why we fight". This is why teachers take on the AP load.

A-ha: Being with AP students today, made me wonder if I am underserving my students and not expecting enough from them.

Reminder: When the water level rises, so does the boat.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Day 162 - Camping

Friday morning was pack up and go time.  It took a few hours but myself, another teacher and some students were able to load up 3 vans full of camping gear and food for our overnight Senior camping trip.  Our academy is pretty male heavy, but I still didn't expect the female students to back out at the last minute.  Too bad, they were feeling out-numbered, way outnumbered.  2 to 17.  SO it ended up being me and 19 dudes- 17 teenage boys and two male colleagues.  I will take it as a compliment that the dudes didn't really notice there was a female on the trip.
I love this trip!!! Its only the third annual, but every time I get to hear these kids laugh hysterically, watch them run wild, joke with each other and take care of each other.  There is no cell phone or wifi access at the spot I take them to and we get a group site away from everyone, so there is no one for them to bother.  They get to be free and it is joyous for me to witness, knowing we have provided this safe opportunity for them to relax, share and have fun.  Even though its the end of the year, a lot of new bonds are made on this trip.  I think its the 7 mile hike that starts the bonding journey....
By Saturday morning they were pretty wiped out and ready to not be camping in the rain anymore. Me too.

A-ha: I totally think it is hilarious and kind of cute when teenage boys play cards against humanity, but anyone else and I cringe in discomfort.

Reminder:  Rainy camping isn't all that bad.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Day 161 - Cinco de Mayo

My school is a little more than 90% Latino, primarily Mexican-American and very few of my students knew the history (or remembered) and significance of Cinco de Mayo. We had a short lesson and discussion and by the end I think they were all proud of how Mexico's little ragtag outnumbered army, beat the French(who had the strongest army at the time).  School celebrated with a food sale day, a car show and some dancing the Caballo Dorado.
My Seniors were hanging around quite a bit today after school and all of them actually got some work done. They are stressed and bouncing back and forth between desperation, blame and denial.  A losing trifecta, but most of them will cross the finish line.

A-ha: Obsessing about what I think other people are thinking has got to be the most tiring thing ever. Thank god I don't fall there very often.

Reminder:  Listen, its more than just not speaking.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Day 160 - Not too shabby

Teacher appreciation week and I have received letters from students (I'm sure teacher initiated) and admin; some oatmeal and some coffee.  Oh, and a free Chipotle burrito.  Not too shabby. But definitely not working on the google campus.

A-ha:  I have not been telling my colleagues how much I appreciate them often enough

Reminder:  Everybody likes to be appreciated.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Day 159 - even just one

Wiped out. Tired. Presentations today and Open House was tonight.  "Ms.MacLean, I thought this was impossible, but I did it.  I learned I can do whatever I put my mind to." I heard variations of this sentence 4 times today.  Makes it all worth it and helps me not get too wrapped up in thinking about the groups with great actors pretending like they have been working their butt off.  I'm not angry with those "actors" as much as I am sad that they couldn't get inspired and missed out on an opportunity to discover their own greatness and power.  There may always be some students who wait to the last minute and think there presenting skills can carry them, but more suredly- there will be students who make possible what they thought was impossible.  Even just one of those is enough for me to keep going.

A-ha:  Students, or young people in general, do not get enough opportunities to feel important and listened too.

Reminder:  The ones doing the teaching are doing the learning.  Stay student centered.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Day 158: If only...

If only I could replicate the engagement and student directed learning that occurred in my class after school! Of course, finished Community Action Projects are tomorrow so students were quite inspired to stay after school until 5:30 and work the whole time.  Yes, this is how I wish the CAP looked every day that we took class time to work on it, but I will take the visions of today which are planted in my mind and  now I can help days like this grow.   The students were so engaged, and they knew it and they liked it.  Groups finally collaborating at the pace that makes sense to me and students constantly checking in to see how they could improve, with me and their peers.

Our first set of presenters went today and it felt engaging and alive but there is still much room for growth.  I really want students to identify their own strengths and interests before they design a project.  There were many noble, feeding the homeless and collecting clothes or baking cookies to raise money for a charity, etc. projects but I still vision more innovation and originality- a few got there!  I am excited to see the staff, the community and the students embrace this type of project; now lets go deeper!

A-ha:  I am not used to getting defensive and when I do, I stumble and fumble about how to be because I do not recognize myself!

Reminder: Work on that.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Day 157: the kids are going to miss us

I have noticed this past week that my students are attempting to spend more time with me lately.  In retrospect I do believe this happened last year too.  Towards the end of the year students start hanging out even more after school to do work, but they don't want to leave.  Now there are always some students like this all year but this is a different type of student and usually groups.   They just want to spend time with us.  Its as if they suddenly realize they will never have high school again and they start enjoying the teachers more and want to get every last piece out of them or maybe just make up for being jacka**es in the past. Whatever the reason, it is very sweet and I enjoy all the laughter and stories we share.

And then there was Prom this weekend and everyone looked gorgeous and had a fabulous time!

A-ha: My high heels really hindered my boogie factor this year at Prom.

Reminder:  Take the damn shoes off!!!!