Tag Archives: change

Senior Pictures

Did you get your senior picture taken? Did you make your senior appointment? Don’t forget the senior deadline. Get your picture done. According to my records you have not had your senior picture taken. Hey guys, help me out. Here’s a list of seniors not pictured. Can you tell the kids in your classes to get their pictures made? Okay, Lifetouch will be on campus on THIS DATE to take your last minute senior pictures. 

Hello. This is Mary Beth Lee. According to my records your senior has not yet had their photo taken for the yearbook. Lifetouch will be on campus on THIS DATE to take all last minute senior photos. This is the LAST chance for your senior to be photographed for the yearbook.

Notes (168 of them last year) delivered in class the week before final chance photos. Appointments required. Appointments made. 

Library set up. Pictures taken. 

Yearbook day: I’m not in the senior section!! Did you get your picture taken? Well, I did, in January. I called you, sent you notes, made your teachers harass you, the counselors called you down AND I made announcements the entire time Lifetiuch was here for last chance photos in OCTOBER. You’re right. You’re not in the senior section.
My introduction to my new school came courtesy of senior pictures. EM-S ISD uses a company called Glamour Craft, and they were on campus this week taking senior pictures. My new admin wanted me in the building just in case I was needed. I wasn’t, and that’s probably a good thing.

Monday was tough. I started unpacking my boxes and setting up shop in the new digs. It doesn’t feel like home yet. Brian and I stayed at the Venetian once. It was the swankiest place I’ve ever been. We had a butler and a doorbell. But we were still happy when we got home to the old house. That’s what Monday felt like. My new school is like the Venetian. But I have to find a way to make IT home.

I grew up in black and gold. I chose to swap the black with purple.

When I finished unpacking Monday, I sat at the computer and said What the heck have you done, Mary Beth?

After a few tears, I shook the bad feelings off and reminded myself I always hate school before the kids get there. Then I made a list of things I needed, because lists make me happy.

A bookcase was at the top of the list. Walmart to the rescue. $15.96 for a Mainstay 3-shelf bookcase. Sign me up.

People who know me understand the hilarity that was about to ensue. When it comes to mechanical issues, I’m pretty sure I have a learning disability. The book case instructions were photos. No words. YouTube took care of that. Two videos later (random guy:awesome, Target, your video is foreign language to people like me who don’t speak assembly required!), I tackled the project. 

Step 1: go find a screw driver because I left my years of tool collecting in the old newsroom.

Step 2: arrange everything and make sure the pictures match.

Step 3: use the hammer

Steps 5-9: suck it up and get over being afraid of doing it wrong. Do the work.

Step 10: unpack the books and put them in alpha order in the new shelf.

And with those books, a whole lot of joy.

Because words are my business and books are my first friends and sharing books with my students makes me so happy. 

That bookcase changed everything as far as attitude goes. 

I’ve taken a huge leap and change is crazy scary, but I’m still me, and my new kids will be my kids just like my old kids are still my kids. And this year is going to be hard, so hard, but hard isn’t bad. 

I’ll always bleed black and gold. But adding a little purple to the mix is a good thing. 


*I’m missing so many books. I think I lost a box somewhere. 

*putting old staff photos up on the shelf helped.

*a screw lock or something like that fell off the case. I threw it away because the case seemed fine without it. I hope the case is still standing when I make it back to the newsroom next week.

*standing there and letting fear stop you from moving forward is always the wrong answer.

Red4EdTX

I blog about education regularly. If you’re unaware of that, check this out or this or this or this.

You get the picture.

Politicians are actively trying to privatize education while vilifying teachers. I don’t know a single district that hasn’t been affected by this change. I know we’re gearing up for the new school year and teachers are still exhausted from last school year. But those of us who stayed, and some great ones didn’t, aren’t going to give up. We’re going to show up every day and do our best to educate our students. In spite of guidelines that stress the test, we’ll stress LEARNING and the test will happen also.

I’d go on, but I stumbled on the red4edNC.com website last week and this letter that says it all perfectly. I think it’s time teachers in Texas join our friends in NC. I’m all for red4edTX. It’s time we tell our politicians we won’t allow them to kill the public school and we won’t continue to drive good teachers out of the true business of education. Anyone else in?##

My books will be available in all ebookstores Aug. 25. For now, they’re still available on Amazon exclusively. I hope you’ll check them out!

Dead Girl Walking

 

 

2012-2013 The Year of Change

For a regular blogger, this last year held a ton of distractions. It’s easy to see those distractions in my light number of posts.

From filling our empty nest with a teenager and a dog to building a house, it’s been quite the journey. My plan is to blog A LOT more from here on out.

If you follow my Mary Beth Lee profile on Facebook, you’ve seen these photos. If not, I hope you enjoy.

ON Graduation

ON came to live with us Spring Break 2012. She graduated June 1 this year! WOO HOO!!!!

Emmie

Emmie came to live with us last June. I love her like a baby. I’m serious. I’m a dog mom. She’s a rescue. She had a rough life before us. Now she has the easy life. It’s weird because I’d been a cat mom for 18 years and didn’t plan on having a dog. I ❤ Emmie.

Then there’s the house

The slab. We were so freaking excited.

The slab. We were so freaking excited.

Framing and all that good stuff

Framing and all that good stuff

:)

🙂

It was so cold, but we saw brick. We had to take a photo.

It was so cold, but we saw brick. We had to take a photo.

MY OFFICE!!!!

MY OFFICE!!!!

The front was done. It looked so close. LIES! THe outside is the easy part.

The front was done. It looked so close. LIES! THe outside is the easy part.

I just like this picture of DH looking at the frame for the sidewalks.

I just like this picture of DH looking at the frame for the sidewalks.

Garage door. This is so funny. We got the WRONG garage door, but we loved it. Cost us $1k, but it was worth it!

Garage door. This is so funny. We got the WRONG garage door, but we loved it. Cost us $1k, but it was worth it!

Yeah, we still think this is close to done.

Yeah, we still think this is close to done.

This doesn't look too far away, right?

This doesn’t look too far away, right?

:)

🙂

We're wondering if this will ever get done.

We’re wondering if this will ever get done.

with our builders

with our builders

what it looked like a week before that meeting with our builders.

what it looked like a week before that meeting with our builders.

holy cow we got the keys!

holy cow we got the keys!

AND the mortgage.

AND the mortgage.

Figuring It Out

I understand the idea of the test. If you’re new to this blog, the test I’m talking about is TAKS soon to morph into STAAR.
I went to school in the 80s. I had the teacher we called “Boring (insert last name starting with B here).” I aced his class. Every day we walked into the room, picked up a worksheet and wrote the answers, typically simple vocab, while he read the newspaper at his desk and told us to shut up. In ninth grade, my physical science curriculum consisted of rewriting the book in spirals and watching World War 2 films every Friday.
The problem: I’m not sure the test stops that kind of behavior. The move to a more rigorous STAAR won’t either.
This book I love called Whatever it Takes compares standardized testing to an autopsy. It says the real challenge schools have is getting involved in the process BEFORE the autopsy.
That’s a thought I can get behind 100%. Only the involvement has to be something OTHER than a test.
The simple fact is, and every bit of research proves this to be true, a test is false reassurance that education is better than it was in the past.
So what can we do?
1. Master teacher critiques. (not administrator. Admins are great. I LOVE mine. But they’re managers now, and most have been out of the classroom for too long to relate. PLUS, anyone can put on the dog and pony show of quality teaching for an announced admin eval.)
Two of the best teachers to ever instruct at my school have moved elsewhere. Anne Patterson is in Highland Park. Sheila Curlin works for a company that helps AP teachers become better AP teachers.
Both should have been in other classrooms helping teachers become better. And their classrooms should’ve been open for observation.
That observation should have been MANDATORY.
Curlin and Patterson could teach teachers more about excellence in the classroom in one lesson than 30 hours of post graduate work.
We have teachers like them on campus still, and we’re not alone.
2. Lesson Plans…and not those silly little papers we fill out with objectives listed. Real plans. With scaffolding. Plans that show how over the course of a unit we will measure student understanding of objectives (not by a test, but by formative assessment. NOT paper, not Scantron, not something created and billed by a multi-billion dollar businesses run by men who have no idea about real education.).
Instead these assessments are found in real discussion, in debate, in playing devil’s advocate, in creative projects. The list goes on.
The plans don’t stop there. They end with teachers looking at the results of their work, looking at the successes and failures and making changes as necessary. AND documenting those statistics and plans.
3. Team Teaching. At least teaming for those students who need extra help. How much more would a student learn if their English, history, science, social studies and elective teachers were using the same over arching idea then covering their subject area. EX: The Olympics. In a social studies class students could cover the history and geography and human element of the games. In math they could do anything from measuring distances/engineering ideas/body mass/mathematical equations that show who wins and/or loses, etc. In English students could study literature from ancient Greece and Rome or even study media reports from the WW2 games or 1987 games. They could compare and contrast games now compared to their origins. They could research. They could write, really write, based on facts and evidence and something other than a cute or touching two-page story about a time they met someone who changed their lives. In science they could study Physics, Bio, Chem, A&P starting with the Olympics.
Take that to art. 2-D and 3-D work that starts with the Olympics focus and spirals out. At the end of the unit, the students totally understand the Olympics, and the concepts they’ve learned have been reinforced from class to class to class. True learning has taken place. Learning that transcends a test.
An awesome master teacher friend of mine used to teach Art History. She always had tons of kids pass that extremely difficult AP test. She always used literature and history lessons while teaching art, and her kids were able to understand art’s place in time and culture because of the spiraling of curriculum to curriculum to curriculum.
This kind of teaching can ultimately be measured by a test, but the test doesn’t drive the curriculum.
The kind of education above isn’t easy. It cant be simplified to pass/fail. It requires real collaboration, not just a few words on a piece of paper, not hours and hours out of a school year sitting at a desk with a no. 2 pencil, a test booklet, answer document and certified educator acting as test administrator instead of a qualified professional who has spent YEARS learning the craft of teaching.
I read once that REAL education change won’t happen until we quit trying to change students into widgets, nuts and bolts. I believe that. I hope others do, too, before it’s too late.

Nothing’s Changed

How much has been spent on testing that is supposedly making our schools stronger?
I don’t know the answer to that question. I do know SAT averages haven’t changed all that much since I was in high school in 1987. I know when I went to college I could write any type of paper I was asked to write. I could read anything I was asked to read, and I could read it critically. I understood when my professors gave me work due by a certain date, that the date was non-negotiable.
Why do we as a society continue to buy in to the idea that testing takes the place of education?
If a Fortune 500 CEO or political pundit walked into a heart surgery, pushed the cardiologist aside and said he had everything under control, we’d call the man crazy. But both can say they’ve got the answers to education issues, and we believe them even if they’ve never spent time in the classroom. Even if they went to private schools from birth and the only college experience they have is the kind found at the Ivy’s.
I’m all for a set of standards and examining data and collaborating for best practices. I believe in Whatever it Takes. I think vertical and horizontal alignment is essential.
But testing hasn’t made a dent in quality education since we embraced it. It’s broken education and left the state broke. Perhaps it’s time we find more than one answer.