Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Blog Giveaway Delay

Hey Everyone!

Due to an unanticipated and very awesome turn of events, Adam and I are vacationing right now and we have been since last Thursday. This led to a delay in my first giveaway, which was planned for last weekend. I just wanted to let my awesome readers (longtime and recent!) know I haven't forgotten you and we will definitely be having a blog giveaway, which will be announced on June 8th. It's going to be legendary! Teachers, you'll want a piece of this, I think. :)

That's all for now! Happy teaching if you're still in, and happy summer break if you're out!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Things I've Done This (School) Year That I Never Expected to Do

Taught kids how to play Euchre (Random poll: do you know what Euchre is? If not, where are you from?)

Comforted a crying sixteen-year-old boy who failed his ECA... it was totally heart-breaking because he only missed it by five points

Spent way too much time printing personalized certificates for Drama Club awards

Was labeled during my final evaluation as "one of those that's on the borderline of 'Effective' and 'Highly Effective'" which is "pretty good for a third year teacher"

Made a bet with one of my struggling students stating that if he passed the ECA I would make him a personalized Nutella cookie and bury a little plastic truck in it (Brad loves going muddin')

Made a Nutella cookie and buried a little plastic truck in it :)

Got crushed in a hug from a kid who never thought he'd pass the ECA and he did

Danced hip hop in front of the entire student body

Gave out more than fifty homework passes (which students earn by getting a 95% or higher on a test)

Helped 94% of the students in a struggling class period to pass the ECA

Actually enjoyed grading 72 I-Search papers (totally worthwhile research paper assignment)

Felt like I was student-teaching all over again while teaching English 10 for the first time (*shudders* Didn't enjoy that feeling much...)

Dramatically flipped myself over a chair and landed on my back... which hurt like hell

(Finally) took on some more leadership roles within my school building

Wrote and directed my first cabaret, which seemed to be a great success

Helped this year's sophomore class create a scrapbook for a teacher who is leaving

Hated teaching Julius Caesar and vowed to figure out my own method of doing it next year

Missed more days of work than ever before, but none of them were sick days. In fact, most were professional development days.

Cried in front of my drama club kids

Sang... a lot... in front of my drama club kids

Went to my first conference since college

Felt guilty every.single.day. the first semester for teaching English 10 when another teacher wanted it so badly

Took in $6000+ for our drama department

Was labeled as a student by a local news station(!) (maybe it's the freckles?)

Learned The Wobble (courtesy of some students)

Watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail for educational purposes :P

Chaperoned Prom and had an awesome time

Received tons of thank you letters, cards, gifts, etc. throughout the year

Signed on board for a conference next school year

Received the Silver Stapler Award from a friend and colleague who I greatly respect - an award that the teachers in our building share with each other once a month as a way to recognize awesome teachers (morale booster at its finest)

Turned down an excellent job offer my husband received, largely because I love my low-salary teaching job so much and I would have had to quit

*     *     *

Wow! What a crazy year! It's no wonder I'm so tired. The 2012-2013 school year wrapped up today (well, technically it wraps up tomorrow, but today was the last student day) and it's kind of funny: I'm completely relieved that it's over and we're moving on to summertime, but I'm already looking forward to the 2013-2014 year and making it better than this one!

P.S. - Stay tuned this weekend! I'm planning my first blog giveaway. Teachers won't want to miss it!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

High School Lately

Well... sorry about disappearing for nearly a month! Those of you who are educators know that the April-May time period is absolutely insane. Things are finally starting to settle down a bit as we begin our coast to the end of the school year. The fact that we only have two and a half weeks left just blows my mind! It feels like just yesterday that I was complaining about third quarter slump!

So... high school lately...

If April does not yet have the moniker of "National I-Hate-My-Life-Right-Now-Thank-You-Very-Much-Standardized-Tests Month" then it should! Half of my day is spent with tenth graders who are consistently being pummeled with "this test will make or break your future!" No pressure, guys. Quite honestly, as an English 10 teacher, there is a healthy dose of pressure to help these kiddos succeed on the test. It's kind of a hot seat, along with Algebra I teachers. (MATH TEACHERS AND ENGLISH TEACHERS UNITE!) I have tried to keep calm and teach on, but I don't mind admitting that the week before tests I was working feverishly to make sure they knew everything there was to know about semicolons and fleshing out a valid counterargument while writing arguments of judgment and policy*. Now, for better or for worse, the tests are over and we can finally breathe and move on to fun stuff, like fairy tales, parodies, and six-word memoirs.
*Side note: I don't feel comfortable for pretty obvious reasons discussing the content of the test, but I will say this: I was highly displeased with the writing prompt, and my poor students were highly confused. Oh well... can't win them all.

Tomorrow is the last performance of our spring production. It's pretty bittersweet, let me tell you. I was talking to my husband a couple of weeks ago and I mentioned that I would be happy to have my life back once the play was over. He kind of gave me this funny look before he said, "Steph, this is your life. Life after the play is more like a vacation." I don't know why that statement was so enlightening, but it was. Sometimes, for one reason or another, I forget that teaching and being the drama club director and everything else isn't just a job... it really is my life. It's a lot easier to swallow the tough days and savor the really great days when I keep that in mind. The show this spring has been a great experience. It was pretty experimental for our school (it was more of a variety show than a traditional play), but I'm glad we took the chance on it. I'm confident we will return to more traditional theatre next year, but I've learned a lot through this experience. First and foremost, I've really come to appreciate the group of students I work with in drama club. They are fantastic. I've also learned that they are capable of challenging work, and that they are very dedicated to what they do. It's nice to see a group of kids stand up for the arts... I wish we saw more of that in my community.

I'm already feeling kind of antsy about next year. Don't get me wrong... I am officially pants-wetting excited for summer break. Next year, though, is going to be really... different. I've got a feeling. I'm taking on a three-show season instead of a two-show season for drama club, and my schedule may or may not be a little different next year. I also have big plans for my classroom. I'm going to be making some changes, which I will definitely be chronicling here. I'm also hoping to revamp my curriculum a bit (provided I get to teach the same classes... if I'm honest, I'm pretty okay with teaching whatever they throw at me, but I really love teaching Honors 9 and I hope, hope, hope that doesn't get taken from me!).

I'm trying to get myself more involved in my school culture. You would think I have enough on my plate, but I really do want to do more for my school. I don't know that I want to take on any other extracurriculars (the two I have are full-year jobs), but I just kind of want to have more of a presence in my school. I'm working on that.

And on a final note...
My Honors 9 students get to watch "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" this week as we wrap up our unit on The Odyssey. Jealous, bro? ;)


Have a great week!