Ugh, Why, after 26+ years, must I have school nightmares? Last night it was that I missed teaching my first period class. Just forgot the schedule and decided to come in time for the third period. I avoid everyone and park around back. Get to my classroom and the darn music teacher and his students have left their music stands and chairs in the middle of the front of the room. My room is HUGE, carpeted and I have green chalkboards, not whiteboards. The kids are stealing chalk, painting themselves with chalk, and I EXPLODE. Someone turns on the VCR and TV and when I turn them all off, the sound is still coming out of the stereo. I pull out the plug and I take one kid out who is covered in a thick layer of chalk on his face and arms, who of course is saying, "what did I do, I didn't do anything!" I walk him down to the office, and now I am having to face my principal who isn't happy that I was late and now I have an unruly kid. I go back and forth in my brain. "I have too many students. That is no excuse. I have to share with a freakin' history teacher. That is no excuse. The band teacher didn't even put his crap away. That is no excuse for not controlling your students..."
And did I mention that I had taken my lesson plan out of my bag and brought only personal papers with me to school and I don't have the hand-out to copy?"

Maybe I will do some planning today after a long, long run...I paid for and signed up for EnVoy training, I haven't had a tune up in years...Any other suggestions to clear out school nightmares?

PS: I was reading the end of  Heft
before I had this nightmare with tears streaming down my face...I don't know if I recommend it or not, it is too new for me to review. Well written, I like the heady vocabulary. I doubt if I empathize with any of the female figures in the book. I want them all to "man" up and take care of their shit.

My daughter, a Senior in High School, asked me to post her Tufts 1 minute application video. The prompt is:

You may have heard the quote "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter, don't mind." We don’t mind. Who are you?"

Here it is:

I don't know how one minute consumed our household for an entire week, not counting all the whining and pleading and putting aside time that disappeared, that it took to get it polished finished.

So did she nail it or what? Advise, comments, compliments and views appreciated!

Happy Holidays! Phew, right? I wanted to the end the year with some positive activities.

The first one is an INB entry I called "Cuff and Link" to remember the difference between less than and less than or equal to: (Why Cuff and Link? Guess the movie reference and I will send you an amazing freebie!)

The next one is a project I stole borrowed from some amazing math teacher who took her students on a journey to save a princess using all kinds of equations of lines and line inequalities. I didn't have that much time, so I shrank it for a one-two day project. I was super pleased with the outcome...well, 99% of the time...So basically there is an Evil Tower hiding the prom tiara and crown, a magic key that opens the tower, the prom castle, the rival school boundary where they tie up people and paint them red and black (our colors are blue and white), and the limo graveyard filled with quicksand. Here are some of the treasures: Leave a comment if you want the hand-out.

One of my love bug Freshman...currently a D student with 99% if this project correct and a lot of heart.

This one missed the, uh, boat.

This Freshman did some of her best work, ever! (a C student)

And well, this Junior, with all his issues, has amazing drawing skills and a delightful imagination.

I, too, love my students. I love my job.

Now if I had a magic wand so I could protect, rescue, and save all my Algebra students.

Thanks for sharing this journey with me!

If I only I had read Teach like a Champion 27 years ago. Okay maybe 10 years ago. I wasn't probably ready to read it sooner. It is still intimidating for me to think about being consistent. I am consistently kind. I am consistently thinking about food. I am consistently thinking about how I can make the content more meaningful. I am consistently thinking about how I can become a better leader. How do I let that kid and oh, that kid too,  know that they off task, what the consequences are, and at the same time, not interrupt myself or the learning environment? Is it okay for the other students to chime in and monitor each other, as in, "hey be quiet, the teacher is talking." I am consisting believing that 14 and 15 year olds can monitor themselves, be respectful, helpful, do their homework, and all want to work as hard as necessary to master the material. I did...Okay, so I was really weird. I wanted my teacher's approval. I wanted them to know they could count on me to be prepared, to answer questions, to be want to know what they had to say. I thought my teachers were the most intelligent, honest, important people, ever.

So the teacher next door asked me "what have you done? It is so quiet next door!" It helps that we have been studying for finals. It helps that I have adopted the "100%" strategy for giving instructions. It helped that I asked my students," What does a learning environment look like?" as an exit ticket.  I was so touched that EVERY student had a positive idea about what this looked like!

This student is quite the chatter box. Very smart and came to me mid-term from a Geometry Teacher.  She has a major crush on a Junior in the class. He has had his up and down moments, from being thoughtful to walking out of class with a bathroom pass and not returning.Hers is a pretty traditional look at classroom behavior:

Here is his:  "A learning community likes like a room where people are working together to open their minds to something new. It is taught by somebody interested in their subject and is willing to help. I don't care if he is the biggest BSer in the world. I love him and how his mnd works. I don't think I could have said it better. I think I will send this to his mom.

This student is struggling significantly. He has a particularly hard time in math. In my class he is either trying to sleep or bugging his best friend. He has A and B's in Ag Science, Digital Media, and Physical Education. He has grease under his nails. I am sure, although he is only 15, he can drive a motorcycle, a truck, and tow skiers on a boat. I would trust him with my car, to build a fence. I am jealous that when the world comes to hell in a hand basket, he will survive because he's got skills.

Whether or not these kids lived by the rules they see are necessary, they sure in the heck know what it takes for an entire class to be a learning community. Maybe they just needed a reminder that they knew.

I saw a friend of mine after the Winter Choir Concert who has beaten breast cancer. She is an amazingly sunny-outlook person. She allowed herself to be sad and angry and ask "why me?" only one day...then she went for the radiation and kicked cancer's butt. I said to her how much I admired her because always being positive is hard. We both had a good teary hug after that.

I got called into the VP office's Friday afternoon."There is a complaint that your classroom is too noisy." I was stunned. Not stunned at all that my classroom is too noisy...I am a sucker for the ADHD student needing to move around...I am a sucker for the enthusiastic shout out...I speak loudly...I have a high tolerance for active learning. What was stunning is that the student never spoke to me directly. The counselor who brought the complaint to the principal's attention never brought the complaint directly to me. That is what hurts.

I am in a new school, with new ways of doing things. I want to take responsibility that I have not provided for a student an environment that works for him or her too. I am always sitting on the fence between squashing a student's spirit and getting more help (ie referrals or phone calls home if the evil eye and one to one conversations in the hall do not work). I admit this fallibility of mine.

The VP asked me to come back on Monday with a plan. I ordered Teach Like a Champion. I read some websites, checked Edutopia. I know an engaging lesson takes care of its own discipline. And I need more information.

My 27th year of teaching, and I am still hanging in there, I am still loving it, and boy, do I still have a lot to learn.