October: Just Enough Constant Change

October, 2019.

People ask me how my “new job” (not actually a new job) is and I usually tell them that I live my life based on what’s on Google calendar. As a coach (in the morning, at least), I have 7 different teachers who I try to observe and debrief with on a weekly(ish) cycle. Plus meetings with other adults and coaches and student support and a random smattering of Professional Development (PD) days and it’s just enough constant change to keep me on my toes. There’s also quite a few documents (which are largely self-imposed) to keep track of and Google calendar helps keep it all in one place (to be fair, so does Google Drive, but Drive is crazy making. Again, self-imposed).

In a similar way, I am basically unable to do any writing for the Knowles (Teacher Initiative) Writing Retreat unless it’s in my calendar (and even then, my success rate is low). At the end of our writing retreat, I said I was going to block off some times to write…and I didn’t. Then, our first hangout came. And (because I hadn’t written anything yet), I said I was going to block off some time to write (…and then didn’t). At our last hangout, I finally set a calendar reminder for 2 hours of writing every other weekend (I also about half an hour of writing immediately prior to the hangout).


I saw the calendar reminder go off this morning and went to bed. I went for a run (because I can only ever get my running act together on Sundays). I push back the writing for an hour. And then another hour to eat. I have to do some reading about instructional coherency for school. So I push the writing back for another hour (s)…And then I need to eat again.

And now it’s 10pm. I still have a few (many) things to knock out for school tomorrow (thank goodness for Gmail’s “Send Later” feature). But I want to put in some of the time I have set aside, especially because I’ve already missed so many days.

(This entry finalized, with minimal editing, 3 months later. Go figure)

Where did that paper go?


Handing back papers so the kiddos can finish ones they haven’t finished and can get some feedback on the papers I have gotten around to grading (spoiler alert: not as many as I’d hoped).

I collect the papers at the end of the period so that I can go home and grade them. Many kiddos don’t have all the papers to turn in. I ask them to check backpacks and notebooks. Sometimes they get lost.

One kiddo in particular insists that he never got his papers back.

I check his notebook 5 minutes after class ends.2017-07-05 17.35.12

What do you observe? What do you wonder?

Day 19: The One with the Windows


I keep forgetting (or just denying) that Afternoon Me is the Worst Me (as the cool kids say).

We did a reading guide, which went slowly in some classes, just right in some classes/groups, and was a struggle in others. Now wishing I had been harsher and a bit more vocal with the participation quiz aspect.

Student work (from the afternoon, but still some solid work)

At any rate, I liked the opening. We showed them a bunch of windows and asked them how many there were. Almost every kiddo was talking or writing:

Teacher confession: after 1 class, a colleague pointed out that there were different numbers of small windows in each cluster, so my initial calculation of 900 was far greater than what many students calculated as about 768 windows.

Also, we cleaned almost all of the papers (except notes) out of the math section of our binders. Maybe this is the organized year. (Dinna hold yer breath.)

Day 17: The One With the Review Day


Having just given a group quiz, Curriculum Partner and I spend the next day giving the kiddos some structured study time.

We often joke that in a different world, in a different school, with different kiddos, this day would look different. Our kiddos would take their group tests home and figure out the answers and study on their own. So many of our kiddos don’t have those study skills or don’t have someone at home who can help support those study habits (though they have figured out how to send me messages through our school’s grading system, which is pretty cool) or have to work hours that put public school teaching hours to shame (one of my advisees has such a schedule and I tell him not to do anything in advisory except homework, but then he does the binder organizing and the poem reading anyway).

But we aren’t, so we have our review day.

The review day has changed the most of all the days of our 3-day testing cycle and that might just be because our student body changes throughout the years.

We currently start off by explicitly pairing the kiddos with someone who speaks the same language (Sorry, Russian speaking advisee singleton) but is at a different level of English. We have the kiddos make a dictionary and translate the words they don’t know. They then use the rubric to grade their own quizzes and make a perfect test (we’ve had them do this separately, but they kind of bled together this time and I’ll take it, I think). Then, then check for periods and capital letters, which aren’t a thing yet, apparently.

They all put their quizzes in their binders, so here’s the rubric, the task card and some extension problems (“Make up your own problem for the test,” I said. It’s a start anyway):2016-09-07-18-54-51

Gotta say, though, I was more impressed with this kiddo’s note sheet, largely because he took the time to write everything out, translate it, then write it again for a specific example:


Objectives (in which I basically made the kiddos use their notes. #MathsHairDontCare):2016-09-07-18-54-19

Day -5: The One With the Reading Brainstorm, the Desk and the Run

First day back at school for teachers. Kiddos report next week. So good (truly) to see so many old and new faces.

Photo #1: Reading Brainstorm

2014-08-11 19.03.26 HDR

As a school, one of our (many) foci this year is reading. Among other things, we brainstormed what it means to be a teacher of reading and the implications it has for us.

Some reading thoughts:

  • I can read, but I couldn’t tell you the steps, strategies or problem areas. Pedagogical Content Knowledge? Content Knowledge for Teaching? Bueller?
  • “Fanfare” has come up repeatedly to describe celebrating around the joy of reading.
  • We’ll be reading “Hatchet” as a school. I’ve never actually read this book. Hello summer homework.

Photo #2: The Desk

2014-08-11 17.34.37-1

Spent about 2 hours trying to get my room in order. Today’s objective was to get my desk clean. Still working on it. Main takeaway: I need to put things in boxes (or bags) and contain the mess to one drawer.

Photo #3: The Run

2014-08-11 06.52.21

Made myself get up early (twice) to go running today as part of my ongoing struggle to achieve work/life balance. I did run for about half an hour and made it to school on time, so yay me?

I wonder:

  • What book(s) are y’all reading?
  • What books should I recommend to my students (9th and 10th graders, but all range of languages and abilities)?
  • Will this running before school thing last?
  • How long can I keep my desk clean? Will the kiddos even notice?
  • When I say “Book It”, you say “_____________”?
  • Did I totally fail as an adolescent by never reading “The Hatchet”?