Well, #Mtbos, I have succeeded 50% of your prompts. Considering all the things that has happened in the first 6 week of 2016, it’s a miracle I managed that much.
Chinese New Year (Monkey! My brother’s year!) came and went. I’m loving the daily warm weather for the past week or so, as I noted on Instagram. Accomplished a lot, looking forward to even more happenings later this year, but I’ve neglected my friends lately by going AWOL on them. Sorry about that. February is crazy. March less so. The end is in sight!
This past Friday was a voluntary professional development day at my district. The Big Wigs enticed us with a $500 stipend for attending the workshops they had planned out. I was super interested in the one called “Taking Off the Mask” about boys and how schools can better serve their needs. The workshop is partly inspired by this NPR story, which I remember listening to on the radio when it was first aired. It fascinated and inspired me.
Nothing else on the workshop list was terribly interesting to me. So despite being tempted by the $500, I decided to take the day off and invest in myself! I went to CSUEB with a colleague, Ms. C, after we played with her super cute malty-poo and visiting poms a little bit, and got some info on re-starting (and hopefully finishing!) that masters degree in Educational Technology Leadership. We are going through the program together, as a sort of accountability/encouragement/motivation with the goal of broadening our career options. It was super helpful to go and talk to a person face-to-face.
Then we went to brunch with Super-Co-Chair (the one who went on sudden maternity leave because her baby arrived nearly 8 weeks early, and thus created the cascade of work that’s occupied me for the past month) and my student teacher Ms. L. Of course we ran into a lot of students, both current and past. That’s how small my school’s town is. I’m never fond of the traffic that I face when going to-and-from work, but I’m always glad I can remove myself from the school-realm a bit by living farther away.
After brunch, I went to do CNY family stuff for the rest of the weekend. It was nice to relax and hang out with them. I took a break from family stuff on Sunday to return to the bay to teach the 4-5 year old Sunday School class at my church, but went back as soon as I could. Sometimes, I feel like being a kid again, without the worries and cares of grown-up-land weighing me down. I feel most like that when I’m with my family for an extended period of time – when I forget that my dearest and most hoped for wish in high school was to get as far away from that town, and from my parents, as possible. How things have changed.
I planned on getting taxes, all my grading, and some lesson planning done this weekend as well. That didn’t happen. Well, some of the grading did, but not much else.
By the way, does anyone else out there make their students define variables and write equations to represent a situation? There must be right? I’m having the hardest time getting my accelerated 7th graders to do either of these things. I’ve explicitly taught them how, and why. I’ve done examples and non-examples. I don’t know if they are just not convinced at the need to, or if it just entirely slipped their mind on this most recent quiz:
I’m giving them partial credit for showing their thought process somehow (ALWAYS justify or explain your results!!), and getting the correct answer, but I’m marking them off for not writing equations with a variable to represent what is happening.
I also tend to be rather strict when it comes to coordinate plane graphing: I train my students to do proper labels, scale (with tick marks!), arrowheads, and all that jazz. Apparently, I’m one of the only middle school teachers who do that. Everyone else thinks I’m crazy for being so strict about it.
But! But! The reason I do that is because I collaborated with the high school teachers a few years ago on creating essential standards tests, and we all agreed that it was important for students to attend to the scale and labels of a graph! That they CAN’T assume something is scaled 1 unit per grid unless there is some other information given! That they can’t assume two shapes are congruent without any congruent markings, or other givens either! Why am I the only one who is making that an expectation out of their students?? Arrgghh! Am I really being too strict? Should I not do that? But I should! Right??!! They are 8th graders, they can handle it! But my colleagues keep use the same reasoning of ‘they are 8th graders’ to NOT make their students do that. That it’s unreasonable to expect anything like that out of them at this stage. That it’s a success just to know they can graph a linear relationship at all.
Besides the busy-ness, this time of year is also when I feel the most insane – that I’m the unreasonable one. That I’m wrong. That I should be the one to fix my practice, my grading policies, etc. Because what kind of person expects an 8th grader to do SUCH. DIFFICULT. THINGS? A bat-sh*t crazy person, that’s who.
Which is kind of why I fell into a YouTube hole and dreamed about how to get my YouTube channel back into gear so that I can live the life of Michelle Phan, or one of the VlogBrothers. I have some ideas, and some money and plans to buy a better camera, but not much else. Because I would be bat-sh*t crazy to leave a good, steady pay-check in a job that I (mostly) like for something as non-guaranteed and unpredictable as YouTube stardom.
Yep. Definitely bat-sh*t crazy.