Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tuesday Tell-All


*Well folks, it's one of those weeks--a week when the universe conspires against you to make all of your least favorite things happen all at once: parent/teacher conferences, hall duty, monitoring lunch detentions, and midterm grades being due. It's the perfect storm, and I can't believe it's only Tuesday.

*I've been thinking a lot lately about personal growth and how it so often seems to happen imperceptibly until one day you realize you've completed changed. Story behind this: I was reading in my old journal from 2008 on Sunday, and I had written down a few things I was hoping to work on (being more assertive, being less critical about people in my head, etc.). And you know what? While I'm not perfect, I hadn't realized what large strides I'd made in those areas until I looked back now, 6 years later, at those goals. Take yesterday, for instance---I sent two students to the principal and didn't even bat an eye. At the beginning of my teaching career, that kind of thing terrified me, and it often ruined my day. Now, I just accept that discipline is a part of my job and take it in stride.

*I sent two more students to the principal's office today too, so you might even say I'm getting a little TOO comfortable with the idea of discipline...

*Nope, make that three students. I just sent one while I was monitoring lunch.

*(I also made my 5th hour "practice being quiet" yesterday after the bell had rung before I'd let them go to the computer lab. And I probably should have felt guilty for getting a kind of sick pleasure out of the forced 3 minutes of silence that followed, but I didn't. Being a teacher is ruining me.)

*I am ashamed to admit that I have been eating pizza every day for the past 5 days. I guess that's what happens when the perfect storm of a week hits and I have to plan time to even go to the bathroom.



*I finally was able to go running again last Saturday (I hadn't gone for 3 weeks because I got so sick), and it was fabulous---I got to test out my new running watch, and I got to enjoy the most perfect sunrise. Of course, the problem with the watch is that it made me realize how slow I'd gotten from taking just 20 days off---I'd gone from averaging about 9:40 a mile to averaging 11:15. Yuck.

*Since the holidays got over, I have felt like my regular house decorations need a little sprucing up--I mean, I've had the same 3 candles as the centerpiece on my kitchen table for like 4 months now. Any ideas on what I could use as a centerpiece this time of year besides candles and/or a vase of flowers?

*Today, to open up our new unit on research (which will culminate in the students turning in a research paper on the person of their choice), we're exploring the question: "What makes a person important or significant?" Today, to get them thinking about that question (since they'll have to argue why the person they've chosen is significant/not significant), I had them split up into groups and come up with a list of criteria of how they could judge if a person is important or not. Then, based on their list, they have to rank the following five individuals in order of importance: Abraham Lincoln, Adolf Hitler, Lady Gaga, their great-grandfather, and Susan B. Anthony.

Needless to say, it has been FASCINATING  to hear their reasoning. In almost every case, Abraham Lincoln is chosen for the #1 spot, but beyond that, the students will almost always have Hitler in either second place or last place, depending on their criteria. After, I've made them share their thoughts with the class and subject themselves to some on-the-spot questioning from me (which almost always involved me playing devil's advocate and being completely a pest with them). In fact, in my third hour, I had one group so tangled up in their reasoning that they were forced to admit, by their criteria, that I was at least as important as Abraham Lincoln.

*So there---I'm as important as Lincoln. Who knew?

*I think my favorite argument was the one I used with the group who insisted that importance was determined almost solely by the number of people you affected. So, using logic that I knew would drive them crazy, I posed the following statement: "I have almost 800 friends on Facebook. Someone else might have only 200. Does that make me more important than that person?"

*Their answers were priceless, as you can probably imagine. It's on days like today that I think being a teacher is the funnest job in the world. (And yes, I know that "funnest" is not a word.)

*I'm curious as to how you would rank those five individuals. If you have a chance, leave a comment below ranking those five individuals in the order that you find them the most important: Abraham Lincoln, Adolf Hitler, Lady Gaga, your great-grandfather, and Susan B. Anthony.

*(I'll even share some of your responses with my classes tomorrow, especially if you include reasoning. Consider it homework!)


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