School Week Round-Up: Week Twelve

Week 12, what a week of ups and downs.

Lessons: We tried our first HyperDoc in second grade. They understood pretty quickly how it worked, but their feelings on it are lukewarm. This is probably largely because it’s not the world’s most incredible HyperDoc; it’s very training-wheels-style. That says more about me than it does about them, I think. But since we have so many devices in our school now, I think other teachers could start to incorporate HyperDocs as a tool more and more in other subjects. Plus, it seems like a good idea to have a library of HyperDocs on a variety of topics, to pull out when needed. I might even make a couple to post on Google Classroom in case I have any unexpected absences; if kids understand HyperDocs pretty well on their own, then they can probably walk a tech-challenged substitute through it.

Support: “It’s like this week is the week where all my technology just decided to go crazy.” A first grade teacher made that remark to me as I was re-setting up her SmartBoard after she decided to switch from pairing it with a desktop to pairing it with her laptop. It was funny to me because technology does sometimes seem to have moods and issues that can’t be explained logically. Really, there probably are logical explanations, we just aren’t fully aware of them.

I’m also a little nervous about students taking the AIR test on Chromebooks next week. I hope we have few issues. I need to re-read a lot of the directions, to feel better about it.

Things I Did Well: This week the principal came and observed one of my classes. And… I got probably the best evaluation I’ve had in a long time, possibly the best since I’ve come to this district, possibly the best of my career. Did I do a perfect job? No. Not by a long shot. But my principal had reasonable, achievable feedback for bringing up the parts that were weaker for me. And, not that her feedback has to meet this particular metric, her ideas for improvement were ideas I got excited about.

Things I Will Do Better: Well, I’ll start with incorporating my principal’s ideas into my lessons and professional practice! She also had good ideas for better harnessing my strengths, too. For example, she acknowledged risks while agreeing that backchanneling can be a powerful tool, and had some ideas on how to sharpen students’ focus while using it.

Cold Prickly: I am having a difficult time dealing with election results, and the domino effect they have had. I am not referring only to the presidential election, I am referring to elections on my state and local level too. Out of every candidate, all the way down the ballot, only three I voted for won their race; out of those three, one ran unopposed, and one’s headed for a recount. I also had two issues on my ballot, and only one ended in the result I voted for. So, I definitely feel like I was on the losing team this time around. But I still have every intention of holding my elected officials accountable, whether or not I voted for them.

More than that, I feel heartbreak over reports of hate crimes. For example, my sister and her husband saw a swastika and “kill [slur]s” spray painted on the grass on the bike trail they used to get to their polling place. They contacted authorities immediately. They live in a community where that is less of a threat against a minority, and more of a call-to-action aimed at people who agree with the sentiment; so while I worry over who might have seen it, it’s not because I think someone’s feelings may have been hurt. It’s more because it emboldens people who think that idea is okay. 

I have also read stories shared by teachers on social media about assuaging students’ fears. My heart goes out to these school families.

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Additionally, I’m reading some of the president-elect’s actions as counter to some of the things he said on the campaign trail. For example, “drain the swamp” was a repeated chant at many of his rallies, symbolizing the removal of “insiders” from Washington, D.C. Yet his transition team seems filled with many such insiders. My concern there is for his supporters, who voted for him as the change candidate, believing that it was time for someone with an apolitical background to be in charge. What I see is someone who was not a politician very quickly becoming a politician. Obviously that was going to happen to some degree; but I wonder where the line is for supporters. We are all of us willing to forgive in our own candidate what we condemn in the other, but I wonder what will be the point where supporters do decide to hold their candidate accountable to things said while campaigning. For example, I am very skeptical of there ever being a physical wall on the Mexican border that Mexico pays for. If that wall does not materialize, what will the peoples’ reaction be?

A resource I’ve enjoyed is this NPR critique of Donald Trump’s plan for his first 100 days in office. It’s a helpful reminder of the limits of presidential power. Some of these things cannot and will not get done unless others go along with them; the suggestion of congressional term limits stands out as an example.

Warm Fuzzy: This week I am thankful for my supportive husband. For example, this week a local church group provided dinner for teachers at our parent-teacher conferences. But, by the time I got to eat, the options were rather limited. I remarked to another teacher that I was okay with it, because I could simply text my husband and he would have dinosaur-shaped macaroni and cheese waiting for me when I got home. Well, I forgot to text him… but he still had dinosaur-shaped macaroni and cheese waiting for me when I got home! That was just one of several examples of why I love him this week. He is such a great helpmate and I love him so very, very much. </mushy stuff>

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