Winter Hike

Winter Hike

We went for a hike today, then went to Young’s Jersey Dairy to cut our own Christmas tree. Family traditions to fill up our holiday weekend.

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Respectful Relationships with the 99%

Like many of my colleagues, I am struggling this year with building respectful relationships with my students. I have very few rules posted in my room, but I believe deeply in each one, and it drives crazy to have to do battle every time a rule gets broken. Is “Respect each other” so hard to do? And when I try to be patient and respectful to them, why do they snap back with attitude?

Case in point: I created a new seating chart, trying to separate my chattier boys from each other. On my chart, one boy in particular was placed without many neighbors. He threw a fit. Instead of just sitting down so we could start class, he turned to the rest of the class, threw up his arms, and declared there was no reason for him to have to sit down. He told me I couldn’t sit him in the front, and invited the class to join him in anger about my unfairness. Not only did he lack respect for me, but also to the rest of the class, who just wanted to get started with our day. He would not stop yelling until I told him to report to the office.

The entire team of sophomore teachers got together with the administration to discuss how we would handle the future. They plan to meet with the entire class and try to “set them straight.” We are advised to provide them with more teacher led instruction, which I hate, and to first warn students when they break a rule and then issue them a consequence. And when they grand stand, we are to send them out, which will subsequently double whatever consequence we give them.

And so, on this Thanksgiving day, I will try to focus on the 99% of my students who show respect and let the 1% go, till I see them on Monday. Hard to do, but worth it.

The Joy of Play

Mama, will you play with me?

I confess, I still don’t like playing. I’ll read with them, sing to them, take them to the potty in the middle of the night, but please con’t ask me to play. I feel so guilty about it. Shouldn’t every mom jump for joy, when asked for a round of Uno, or to play trains? But the truth is that although I love my family, sometimes I just need some time away. I keep waiting for that magic moment where they’re old enough to play something I like. But the truth is that I have lost my joy in playing. I hope reading with them, one activity I love, is enough.

Honest Leadership

I was all prepared to give the test. One week is enough to read 11 chapters, right? This is college prep English, after all. But then I realized Friday was HOBY presentation day, where we have guest speakers coming to get the students excited about a summer leadership conference. Still, I thought, this isn’t a problem. The other sophomore English teacher was in the same boat.

And then it happened. One of my students got red in the face and told me I was being unfair. She explained that she’d been trying all week, reading as fast as she could, and that she was nowhere near ready. I was annoyed. Really? I retorted that in an actual college class, they’d have to read much more.

Our guest speakers arrived, and rather than the 15 minutes I thought they’d spend, they stayed longer. Two girls, talking about the power of leadership. I started dwelling on what my student had shared with me. As someone who professes to be student-centered, how did insisting on a Friday test fit with my new philosophy?

It didn’t.  So as I shut the door behind our guests, I said, “We have someone in this room who took on a leadership roll this morning. She wasn’t afraid to tell me when she thought I was being unfair.” And when I asked how many other students were in the same situation, more than half the class raises their hands. I put off the test, after getting assurances from students that they would read over the Thanksgiving break.

So, fellow reader, did I do the right thing?