So the topic turned to PLTW at home one night this week, as we plotted ways to get various combinations of children and adults to various extra-curricular commitments. To allow for some additional intensive ECA/ISTEP prep classes for our 10th graders, I voluntarily gave up my Introduction To Engineering Design course for the second semester to pick up three more sections of Algebra 1. I realized I had missed being this immersed in math. PLTW is cool. Really cool. But I’m a math teacher at heart.
Still, it’s killing me. Literally. I told Mrs. Dull that this semester has taken five years off my life. And it’s only half over.
When I start re-reading “Relentless Pursuit“, Donna Foote’s chronicle of a year in the life of four first-year teachers at a high school in Watts, well, that’s an indicator I’m feeling a little like I’m drowning.
I love my kids. And I hate my kids. And I love my kids. But like Eddie Murphy says (extremely NSFW), sometimes I find myself wishing misfortune on them. Nothing serious, just a paper cut and a jar of pickles. Or maybe a locker infested with cockroaches.
My obituary will read: “cause of death: 3rd period class”.
We took a quiz on Friday. I promised my students I would never give them a quiz without doing a review day first. If they miss the review, well, that’s their problem, not mine, but still. We’ve been doing Speed Dating reviews to great success, but every now and then you got to mix things up. Even the good stuff gets old.
I opted for a Kahoot review. If you played the trivia game at the bar back in your college days, you know Kahoot.
This particular class checked out long ago. I’m not sure I have any tricks left in the bag to bring them back. I was not optimistic. After our 101qs bellringer and checking homework, I launched Kahoot.
And I hear: “awwww yeah!”
Each student signs in with a code for the game at kahoot.it, and selects a screen name. Teachers can reject inappropriate names, and with this class I feel like it pays to be quick on the draw. So I see them start to pop up on screen:
“A’ight My Babies”
The little cherubs are using my catchprases as screen names. AYKM?
At least they are paying attention. Sometimes. Here’s to small victories. And maybe, relationship building.
We have been all-in on PBIS for the last four years in my building. (PBIS = Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports). A small but growing core group of teachers is constantly on the lookout to catch our students doing something good. Not in a condescending way, but just to say thanks for doing what they are supposed to be doing. Our markers of PBIS are Responsible, Respectful, Engaged, and Caring. When students display one or a combination of these behaviors/attitdues, they are given a purple ticket which is entered into a quarterly drawing for a goodie bag and on-stage recognition at a school-wide PBIS assembly.
So I’m walking down the stairs with a stack of copies at the end of the day and I hear an adult call my name from the top of the stairwell. It’s one of our freshman academy teachers who is also on the PBIS committee. She has a story to tell about one of her kids whose usual interaction with adults in the building is negative:
Her: “<student name> today: ‘Hey, here’s my purple ticket. Mr. Dull saw me pick up papers that a kid dropped in the hallway. I’m a rock star’. He must have said it 13 times in 40 minutes. I had to listen to him all class. Dull, You’re a rock star.”
Me: “Yeah, but you reminded me to write purple tickets at the PD the other day.”
The day ended with a faculty meeting. We just finished a round of state testing, so our principal felt it made sense for this meeting to be a little more low-key. We started off receiving an individualized note and a scratch-off lottery ticket (I won 5 bucks!).
Then it continued with a poster hunt with each group tweeting out a photo.
She didn’t have to. There’s a lot going on in the building right now. But she did anyway.
Appreciation is definitely a two-way street. Maybe even a five-points intersection. But this day the message from kids, teachers, and administrators (and back) was hard to miss: I appreciate you.