Sunday, November 6, 2016

Day in the Life: Third Month (November) Refection #DITLife

Sunday, 6 November 2016
Third Monthly Post/Reflection
Trudging through the trenches...

Woo-hoo! It's a weekend post. It was also Daylight Savings and we gained an hour of sleep. I had to manually adjust a couple clocks this morning. Today is a day to relax mostly since Saturday was pretty busy as was Friday.

Friday was our first Cadet Promotion & First Quarter Award Ceremony. There was no morning formation; cadets were sent directly from the cafeteria or gym to their homerooms. Classes are shorten by ten minutes so I finally saw my first period for its whole 40 minutes! Here's the parade schedule:
  • Homeroom (7th Grade Girls)
  • 1st Period - 6th Grade Honor (boys/girls)
  • 2nd Period - 7th Grade (all boys)
  • 3rd Period - 7th Grade (all boys)
  • Lunch
  • Planning
  • 6th Period - 7th Grade (boys/girls)
  • 7th Period - 6th Grade (all boys)
  • 8th Period - 7th Grade (all girls)
  • Parade (at conclusion of parade - students will be dismissed)
First period went over distance between points and reflecting points over the x- or y-axis on a coordinate plane. Students continued using their graphs from this post activity. We also reviewed how to order rational numbers on a number line. Second, third, and sixth periods (all seventh grade math classes) were uneventful as we continued a lesson that was started on Thursday talking about simplifying algebraic expressions. Their homework was to answer the focus question of the lesson to turn in on Monday. Seventh period was okay. A few students returned from being in ISS (In School Suspension) all week. The class dynamic was a bit off as the returning students had not done their assigned work I had sent to them and opted instead to try to take the class off task by not coming with their proper materials (mainly pencils and math journal).

The class was unexpectedly shortened by five minutes as the Commandant came on the PA to announce he needed all student leaders and JROTC command staff in the gym. Band students were also told to go to homeroom to get their belongings and report to the band room in preparation for the award ceremony. As students started filling the halls, another announcement was made for all students to return to homeroom. We all thought it was a mistake because we had our eighth period on our schedule and told the students to ignore the announcement. I started my eighth period and we had class for about 10 minutes. The Commandant was back on the PA to state that the high school needed to begin moving all homerooms to the gym and that the middle school should get ready to move next. I opened my door to see other teachers coming into the hall as well. I saw our tactical officer and asked her why we weren't following the schedule. She didn't know either as she had a class and was trying to get an administrator on a radio - with no luck. Since students were switching from other classes and running around the halls, we had to end eighth period. One student was irate. She loves my class and says it's the one class she looks forward to most. A couple other girls agreed with her and I said they needed to complain to the administration as they are the ones who put together the assembly schedules.

Normally we have the ceremony outside. The students form up behind the school by grade level than march around to a side entryway. Our marching band leads the way followed by middle school grades sixth through eighth then high school seniors down to freshman. Teachers march in behind our respective grade levels. We stand behind the groups and assist our military tactical officers.

Unfortunately the decision was made to hold the ceremony in the gym. The gym was not designed for the almost 600 students we have this year. Many middle school students had to sit on the floor. The sound system had not been checked so every speaker sounded muffled. Also there was only 100 chairs set out for parents and guests. We had about 130 or so people show up! Parents were justifiably upset. Not many middle school students were given rank for this quarter due in part to behavior issues and failing grades.

After school, our boys cross country team had a pasta party in prep for the next day's state meet. They also watched the movie, "The 4-Minute Mile." I left early because I had to pick my daughter up from college then make it to the 6:30 pm showing of "Marvel's Doctor Strange." Won't spoil anything - but I feel it's the best Marvel movie to date. Absolutely loved it!!!

On Saturday, I arrived at school at 9:50 am. Only two of our seven athletes were there. My other coach arrived a little after 10 am. We had wanted to leave by 10:15 am. It takes around an hour and a half to get up to Columbia. The students had been instructed to be at the school by 9:45 am. We wanted to be up there by noon. Our division didn't run until 2 pm but we wanted to give the athletes time to warm up and stretch properly. Unfortunately, we had one athlete that didn't get to school until close to 10:45 am - he is our fastest runner so we couldn't leave him behind. We arrived at the meet at 1pm. We set up our tent, picked up our information packet, went over last minute strategy with the athletes, and made sure they were all wearing the proper uniform items. It was our best showing at a state meet. This is my fifth year as a cross country coach along with my co-coach. Every year we get better. This year we finally had a runner place in the Top 15 for our division. He placed 7th overall with a time of 19:13. We were ranked 12th as a team last year; this year we ranked 7th as a team. The athletes all gave their best perform of the season. They were a bit disappointment that they didn't finish closer to the top but they were happy with their improved times. We treated them to a nice dinner on our way home. Many of the athletes will be running track and field too so they are eager to get started. However, my co-coach and I have deemed next week an off-week as we figure out how we're going to work the schedule for conditioning activities.


1) Teachers make a lot of decisions throughout the day. Sometimes we make so many it feels overwhelming. When you think about Friday, what is a decision/teacher move you made that you are proud of? What is one you are worried wasn’t ideal?

I almost took a personal day on Friday. It was tempting. And I thought a parade schedule would be easy on a substitute since classes are shorten. But I'm glad I didn't. We have several long-term subs already on our floor and it would have been chaos! Well it was a little more chaotic than usual but nothing we couldn't handle. I'm glad I had my eighth period even for 10 minutes. They were able to get the homework at least.

A decision that wasn't ideal was putting off the test for the sixth graders I have seventh period. I've delayed their test twice now. It's not their fault - many of them are ready to test on ratios, rates, and unit rates. Our classroom printers are no longer serviced by the district so we can't get ink for them. I have requested ink be ordered from our department funds but it hasn't arrived yet. So I have to print the test off at home (well, remember to print it off that is) then run off copies at school. It's a pain.

2) Every person’s life is full of highs and lows. Share with us some of what that is like for a teacher. What are you looking forward to? What has been a challenge for you lately?

This sounds horrible: I'm looking forward to our week-long Thanksgiving Break (21 - 25 November). I'm counting down the days. I'm glad to have Tuesday off this week as well. It's not that I'm unprepared - I have my lesson plans done through the end of the month. I have lots of activities to do in the classroom; I can fill 45 to 50 minutes of class time. I want some time for me.

As prepared as I am, the challenge is fitting everything I want into my 45 to 50 minutes. Many times I prepare the Weekly Bell Work slides, but we never get to use them. I've been waiting for them to get themselves in order before they enter or they take too much time getting settled once they are in the room. My goal this week is to just bring them into the room, seat them quickly, and have them submit their Bell Work via an iPad app.

3) We are reminded constantly of how relational teaching is. As teachers we work to build relationships with our coworkers and students. Describe a relational moment you had with someone recently.

My cross country athletes. As described above, I've known many of these young men since they were sixth and seventh graders. They are now seniors and juniors in high school. It's been an amazing journey to watch. For three of them, it was their last cross country meet with our school. One is a senior and will be out for track and field (he's our star 400-meter hurdler - placing third at state last year). But for the other two, they'll be going to a different school next year. And I've contemplated not coming back next year as well, so this just might be my last time training with them.

4) Teachers are always working on improving, and often have specific goals for things to work on throughout a year. What is a goal you have for the year?

Working towards a mathematical mindset. I'm getting more work shown on assessments, during class work, and on homework assignments. Especially with the sixth grade honor students. I'm doing more visual modeling and challenging them to go above their grade level.

5) What else happened this month that you would like to share?

The seventh season of Walking Dead began a few weeks ago and answered the question everyone had wondered: Who was bludgeoned by Lucille? I read the graphic novel which the show doesn't always follow but is good source for most stories. I predicted that Glen would die (like in the comics) because it offers up the most drama for the other characters. Abraham was a close second as his character in the graphic novel had died long before Negan was even introduced. Now I never predicted them to kill both in the same show - that was bold!

Speaking of shows, I finished season two of Daredevil and almost done with Luke Cage both on Netflix (and both Marvel comic related). Both were well done and looking forward to seeing them team up in The Defenders series with Iron Fist and Jessica Jones.

On the home front, we survived Hurricane Matthew with minimal damage. We still lost most of our kitchen appliances and will be out of our townhouse for a couple months, but it was nowhere near the loss we had over a year ago. The flooding was only about 14 inches this time instead of well over 48 inches last year. We do have flood insurance so that's a good thing.

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