Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My Life as a Middle School Teacher

Most days, most years I adore what I do. There are always a handful of challenging students. But, for the most part, I believe teaching is what I was born to do. It's a bad time to be a teacher right now (in terms of the media, budget cuts, and pendulum of testing, testing, testing) and there are days and weeks that I second-guess my decision, but by and large, how many people can say that they majorly transform kids' lives on a regular basis? Even if it's only one kid a year, or one every other year, that I reach - that's a major impact I can have on the world. What a privilege.
I especially like working with the population I do. I went to a very different school than the one I now find myself teaching in. I went to the same school from 1st grade all the way until 12th grade. I had amazing teachers who were college professors in the evenings and summers. I had access to sports programs, tutoring, college counseling every morning, and enrichment programs daily. It wasn't just that I had the opportunity to go to college; I was expected to. Every single person in my graduating class of seniors got accepted into a four-year university. The students I work with do not get these same experiences and opportunities. Last year I had a student who was a gang member. I have had students who are homeless and who do not get fed any meals other than the ones they eat at school. Two years ago I had a student whose father was getting out of prison for the 3rd, 4th, 5th time? To assume that my students' top priorities are school would make me foolish. Some of them are just trying to survive. So, if I can encourage even one kid to go to college or graduate high school, it is impactful. It is meaningful work. I go to bed occasionally with the burdens of my students' home lives on my shoulders, but more often, I go to bed feeling blessed to impact them in any way.
If you follow me on instagram (@thehowardbunch), I occasionally post pictures during the day.
This was my first day of the year dress. Oftentimes I don't wear another dress to work for several more months after the first day and Back to School Night.
I incorporate technology into my day every single day. It's actually really hard for me when the Internet is down or our networks are funky - because every single lesson plan I have for my World History class has some sort of technology component. I use my SmartBoard All Day LONG. I usually also show at least one video clip a day in world history - and I'm constantly pulling up maps and such on the Internet to show them stuff. Today I was showing them the Alps and peninsulas, because someone asked me if the Alps was a country and another said Sacramento was a peninsula. Eeek.
 Because I teach middle school and teach 6 periods a day, I don't often have time for art. But I try to do a few projects throughout the year. This was our foreshortening activity. The art is supposed to be done from the perspective of an ant.
 I teach one period of technology elective to 7th and 8th graders and it's one of my favorite periods of the day! This was a generic, "get to know you" activity below. But they are in the middle of writing scripts, shooting videos, and editing their videos right now. It's such a fun project. Afterwards, they will get to vote on what they want to do next. I'm not scared of really anything. I'll learn right along side them if I don't know how to teach them!
 We've had a couple "Spare the Air" days where the air quality is too bad and it's too hot to go outside. So they have an inside break before they go down to the cafeteria. It's funny because they just all huddle up and chat (instead of wanting to play games).
We didn't have air conditioning in my classroom for several days and so I taught outside in the shade. It's a little hard to compete with the breeze and sunshine though. So, I started trying to find empty classrooms after two days of daydreaming outside.
Last Friday's spirit day was Mustache Day. The kids loved it. I was a little concerned that by the end of the day I'd have 25 mustaches on my desk - confiscated from kids who were getting distracted. But I didn't collect a single one. I'm not sure the kindergarten classrooms fared as well... 
We are reading The Outsiders right now in my English class and never before have I had so many students engaged. They are averaging A's and B's on their quizzes (WHOA!!!) and I have students who are asking me regularly, "Mrs. Howard, can I read ahead tonight????" and AUDIBLY sigh when I stop reading because it's time to go to the next period. I mean, seriously. Miraculous stuff. Talk about energizing me as a teacher!! One of my "always talking-rarely working" students said to me the other day that "All books are boring. Normally it's 'he said this' and 'she said that', but this book is action. It's always got something you have to pay attention to. You never know what's going to happen and I never want to put it down." We are on chapter 7, but he has read ahead and is almost finished with the book. Anyone know of any other books I can do with my class?
 This week we didn't have school on Monday and the kids don't have school on Friday. So it was a three-day week. I wore jeans on Tuesday, which I rarely do.
 And then I wore them again on Wednesday.
and I fully plan on wearing them again Thursday and to my professional development session on Friday. What a week!

Today was our first day of buddies with the kindergartners and, while I love doing buddies, it always solidifies my decision NOT to be a kindergarten teacher. Whew! I don't know how you do it all day. I would think you would go home EVERY.SINGLE.DAY barely able to utter a word. I think what I do is a cake walk comparatively. 


Autumn Sharp said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Like your new room config! Keep up the good fight. I miss it there.

Kristy said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I LOVE The Outsiders! It is one of my favorite books I read in school. My teacher had us dress up as some of the characters ?(or what we thought they would look like) when we finished the book. My friend wrote a young adult novel called Milestones. The sequel came out a few weeks ago. You should check it out.

erin - mutterings of eringirl said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I love this post. What you said about impacting students--even just one student--is exactly what I miss most about teaching. I miss the chance to make a difference. But I don't miss carrying the burdens home with me. I admire that you stay so positive about it, as I've always said that part would have been the hardest on me now that I have my own kids. I love how you are embracing technology- those kids are so lucky to have you!

I read "The Outsiders" in middle school too. We also read "Lord of the Flies" that year, I believe! I can't think of any other books at the moment, but I'll keep thinking about it. I have always loved reading, but I'm not always sure what is age appropriate!

lynda said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

You probably already know the following, but thought I'd send it to you incase....Connections to other books by S.E. Hinton

The book, like Rumble Fish, takes place in Oklahoma in the same universe as Hinton's first book, The Outsiders. However, unlike Rumble Fish, which only hinted at a connection between the two books, Ponyboy Curtis, the main character of The Outsiders, appears in That Was Then, This Is Now and even takes part in the events surrounding the dance.

The characters of Tim and Curly Shepard from The Outsiders also appear, as does their sister Angela, who is original to That Was Then, This Is Now. Randy, who was in The Outsiders, also appears as a hippie in this book, which is appropriate to those who have read or seen The Outsiders, as Randy is an affluent kid who feels guilty about the class division and becomes repulsed by it, which is the background and beliefs of many hippies.

In Tex, there is a brief description of Mark, who is original to That Was Then, This Is Now.

There is also a girl who appears briefly in the novel named Cathy Carlson, as well her younger brother named M&M.

Student said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

You should read Monster by Walter Dean Myers, We read it this year and I think it was great! We just finished reading The Outsiders and it was great too!

Mrs. Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Thank you! I will check out Monster!!

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