I love watching my students do things they love. Tonight I went to our school musical (they did "Peter Pan") and it was so fun to watch some of my students just come allve as they performed. Sometimes as a teacher I think I forget that they aren't just students - they are kids figuring out what they like to do, learning and trying new things, making friends, playing sports, and practicing for the musical. I love those moments when I get a little glimpse of the people they are. It reminds me how lucky I am to get to surround myself with good kids all day long.
I'm trying to write sub plans and create lessons and send them to my team because I said I would and my fingers keep typing and my brain keeps working but my eyes keep closing and I keep falling asleep and then jerking myself awake and rereading what I just typed and I'm scared that I'm going to send something really weird in an email to a colleague and never know it but I can't just go to bed because I have a sub tomorrow and I don't have stuff ready for her and grades are due on Thursday but I have PILES of late work to grade still and my kids keep asking when I'm going to grade it and if I don't get this all done tonight I'll just be up all night again tomorrow but all I really want is to go to bed and sleep for a few days but I have to be at work in just a few hours and doesn't this couch look comfortable?
I've been at the UCET (Utah Coalition for Educational Technology) conference yesterday and today to learn about how to use technology to improve student learning. I have learned so much, and I feel like my eyes have been opened to so many new possibilities! Here are the things I'm most excited to try when I get back to school:
I love conferences. I always leave feeling so energized and excited to get back to teaching!
Have you read Jennifer Gonzalez's post Find Your Marigold? If you haven't, stop reading this and go read that first.
I want to be more of a marigold. It's so easy to get bogged down in all the hard things that happen in education: the new schedule, the pressure to help every kid pass that ever-looming end-of-level test, the students who ask to turn in late work after you've said (multiple times) that yesterday was the last day to do so. Sometimes it's just easier to focus on the negative instead of using the mental energy it takes to think of the good things that are sometimes hidden.
But honestly, being a walnut tree (or being around walnut trees) saps my energy! All that negative energy makes me more tired, more overwhelmed, more stressed. Amazingly, though, having a positive attitude gives me energy. When I take the time to notice the good things - the student who wished me good luck on the Praxis test this week, the fact that I have such a good relationship with my administrators, the TED Talk parody one of my students wrote - I feel more like I want to go back to school tomorrow and take on the world. I am kinder to students, I plan better lessons, and I am more willing to help other teachers.
See? I know how important it is to be a marigold! But it's so easy to get sucked into the walnut tree mentality. What do you do to stay positive as a teacher, and to help other teachers stay positive as well?
He came up to me while I was concentrating on something else, hand outstretched. "Miss B? Here."
I took the small paper he handed me and almost automatically said, "Thanks," but kept answering the other student's question. When I finally took a second to glance at the paper, this is what I found:
This week my students read an article about sneaking food into the movies. They found evidence for both sides of the issue, and today they had a debate in class. It was such a fun activity, and they got SO into it! Here are some quotes from our discussions:
"Teacher, I have FACTS. Everyone, listen to my FACTS."
"I'll wait until you're all ready to listen to me."
"I think it's wrong, but I'm still going to do it."
"I sneak food into the theater all the time! I sneak Rancheritos, McDonald's, Panda Express...my sister-in-law just has a huge bag we put everything in."
Oh, middle school. How I love you.
Today I was in a meeting after school for a technology learning initiative that I'm participating in. We watched a short video about creativity and then were challenged to go out in our school and take a picture of the school from a new perspective. Here is my picture. Nothing fancy, but I like the way the light kind of bounces off the lockers at the end.
I've actually been thinking a lot about perspective lately. It seems like, especially with some of my students, all I ever see is the negative, the reasons why they are hard to teach. But I want to switch my perspective, to look for the good things they're doing, and to catch them being good - instead of always nagging them. Maybe if I look at them with new eyes things will change - for me and for them.
Today my colleagues and I held a (very simplified) Passover Seder for our students to prepare them to read Night. As part of the Seder, we had students try some representative Seder foods, asked the traditional Four Questions, and sang songs. We even had an afikoman - our students' goal was to keep a treat hidden from my colleagues and me until the end of class, when they could "sell" it back to us. In some classes, they really got into bartering and getting a great prize from their teachers. I now owe:
Honestly, even though I now have to pay up, these bartering sessions were my favorite part of the day. I LOVE seeing my students light up and have fun with something. I love it when they get involved and participate. I think these are the days they'll remember - so hopefully, someday, they'll read or hear something about a Jewish family celebrating Passover and they'll think back on that day in 8th grade when they ate horseradish and bartered with their teacher.
Hey teachers! What are some fun things you do to create days to remember in your classroom? Leave a comment below and share your great ideas!
This weekend was Valentine's Day. Did you know that, without knowing it, you have become my valentines?
I remember one day during my first year of teaching when a college professor asked me what surprised me most about teaching. And the first thing that came to mind was how much I loved my students. I remember that first week of teaching, being so overwhelmed and so tired, but looking around my classroom after you left and thinking, "I LOVE these kids!"
And you know what? It happens every year. Sometime during that first month of school I inevitably look around and feel this incredible love for you. Usually it brings tears to my eyes as I realize that, once again, my heart has grown to fit 200 more thirteen-year-olds. And then throughout the year you will do something that reminds me of the reasons I love you.
Your high fives and hugs and knuckles and "snails".
Your jokes - especially when you don't exactly mean to be funny.
Your writing, and those moments when you FINALLY understand.
Your excitement for life.
When you move on to high school, I will miss you. You may not believe me, but there is something about each one of you that gives you a special place in my heart. So thank you - thanks for being you, thanks for making me smile, thanks for keeping me young.
And most of all, thanks for being my valentines this year.
Love, Miss B.
I love writing 6-word memoirs with my students! It's fun to see how mine change from year to year. Here are today's memoirs, written as I watched my students write their own.
Five best friends, more like sisters.
Middle school English is my life.
Real books are better than Kindles.
Three continents down, four to go.
Ben and Jerry are my boyfriends.
I'm a daughter, sister, friend, and book lover turned English teacher. This blog is all about the things I'm learning as I go through my many adventures. For more info about me, check out the About Me page.