Rites of passage.

About a week or so ago, I was at a district meeting. One of the huge perks of these meetings is sometimes the group will get to go eat lunch like grownups. Nothing in styrofoam. No plastic cutlery. Real plates, filled water glasses, napkins, and hot food. There’s a Thai place we frequent: service is fast, it’s delicious, and reasonable prices. It harkins me back to my days working in pharmaceutical marketing, when I made as much as I do now, and traveled the country and the world. In fact, it was on one of these business trips that I met my husband, but that is a story for another time.

While waiting for our food, my high-school counterpart mentioned the last Harry Potter movie coming out. I began this series with my older son, and mentioned that I had asked him if he wanted to see the last movie together on its opening day. As the words were leaving my mouth, I burst into tears (getting teary writing this! EEEK!). He is far away from nest-flight, but still…so it begins. So it begins.

And I cried, I am sure, because I know what happens. I know how JK Rowling concludes this epic. I am not sure if she made these harsh choices years in advance, or just got mad or tired toward the end, like a horse seeing the barn, racing toward this end.

Yesterday I accompanied the 8th grade students to the high school. I felt like a returning celebrity: enthusiastic greetings of, “MRS. LOVE!” and lots of hugs and hellos from former students. Many of whom I honestly didn’t recognize. The evolution from a middle school child to young adult is staggering. Who were these people? There were still some shy smiles behind the older faces.

I can still see the little boys in my sons’ eyes. They are both taller than I am now. One has been shaving since 13 (no joke). I will keep this in mind when we start next year: these students are somebody’s child.

Oh, would someone please send me a box of Kleenex before the last day?

Guidelines.

Been thinking a lot recently about social media.

This was not a banner year for technology integration in my school, or in my classroom. There were more trips to the “Swap Room,” misplaced or borrowed chargers, and blatant disregard for Internet safety, common sense, and use. It’s indicative of the chaotic year we’ve had, too. I am not complaining, just processing and reflecting. I have already taken personal steps to correct ways I can be a better teacher next year, and that’s very positive.

I consider myself tech-savvy and love to use the Internet for good and not evil, and try to have some common sense and balance my teacher-life with my creative-life and personal-life. Not easy. And supposedly I am a grown-up.

But we have given immature, developing humans a very powerful tool. I am not suggesting we clip Icharus’ wings, but dang. They really have no concept for how permanent this seemingly impermanent tool is. All thoughts and notions, venting and vexes, seem to go magically away into the ether. But just talk to a politician whose career options have been, um, compromised, or a young college girl who posts an ignorant opinion. We all make mistakes, and yet this generation’s mistakes are stamped in stone. If sticks and stones break bones, the bandwidth really hurts.

I love to read good writing, and came across this post: Social Media Guidelines

For a final project, I allowed my students to start their own blogs. In spite of my warnings, a few chose to think it would be funny to use their real names, or trash-talk other students and call them out by names.

And if they fail this final project, that one bad grade isn’t going to be the most damaging thing unless I can, at the eleventh hour, get one of them to heed those warnings.

This is no joke.

Twenty points for Gryffindor!

Totally Random Quote of the morning: “Mrs. Love, are you aware there’s a banana over there?”–D

FatLadyPortrait

I tried an experiment with grading this year: not sure how it worked. The grades for this year are largely for completion, and some rubric-oriented structure. In the past, I have been a huge believer in rubrics, and even more so exit tickets, but this year –this year has been, um, pretty much not good bad yucky weird messy and kind of unraveled sort of thing. There were a few reasons for the shift to completion grading: Part of it was simple indulgence: I just wanted to see what would happen: would students be more motivated to turn work in, and try? That has been a huge issue with my students. When they go home, school is far, far behind them. (As it has been for me this year, too.) The other piece was I wanted to see if there would be organic, authentic “growth.”

And, there are mixed results.

I had a district meeting the other day; and, although it was very worthwhile work, I was still out. I left an assignment of vocabulary posters and random words. The vocabulary “posters” I use are based on the Frayer model, however, with a few important additions or distinctions. I want students to think more deeply and abstractly about words, so not only do I use synonyms, but add the concept of “compare’ and antonyms with ‘contrast.’ There are students who still say, “Mrs. Love, there isn’t an antonym for this,” and I say “BROCCOLI!” This is in reference to a big talk about examples versus non-examples, but what makes sense, and cupcakes and broccoli. How cake is not a contrast to cupcakes, but broccoli is. Oh why oh why don’t these children watch Sesame Street anymore? Which one of these things is not like the other?

Okay -went to a sad place for a moment.

Anyway: the posters turned out BEAUTIFULLY. They worked in groups, had fun, colored, engaged –all without me even being there. Is that the sign of a good teacher? Or more importantly, the sign of ‘good’ students?!

Words like: Impact, sinister, unique, consequence, and yearning stand out.

When I returned, I had them ‘present’ their posters to me and the class. We haven’t worked on presentations at all this year, and I felt more than a tinge of guilt when there were a lot of mumbling, backs-to-the-audience talks.

The thought occurred to me that, when I am putting in completion grades for their wonderful posters, I wish I could just magically yell out, “Twenty points for Gryffindor” to the magical forces, my grade book would be supernaturally completed, and all students would be smiling and successful (although I am definitely, solidly a Ravenclaw, my students would be soundly Gryffindor for their bravery and stoicism.)

It’s just too bad that most of them, realistically, won’t read the Harry Potter series. But that is a challenge for another day.