Tag Archives: Job

School’s Still Out for Summer #MyWANA #Teacher

1 of four bags of supplies I bought for the classroom this year.

1 of four bags of supplies I bought for the classroom this year.

Right now I dread next Monday. I love my job, but there’s so much freedom during the summer. I love staying up late to work and sleeping in and wearing flipflops and yoga pants and putting my hair up in a ponytail and not wearing makeup and reading tons of romance novels and listening to my grooveshark playlist for hours and deciding last minute to take an overnight trip to the casino and summer. Yeah. All of it.

By next Sunday I’ll be ready…sort of. By the next Sunday I’ll definitely be ready.

I took the first step today: School supply shopping for the classroom.

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to embrace the last few days of this break.

Dead Girl Walking

It’s All About WHY

Today was one of the best days I’ve had at work in a long time. The yearbook still has a bajillion pages due, and most of those pages have no pictures because of deadline issues, our ad sales are down by $7k and book sales are down around 140 (around $10.5K), I ate THREE cookies–not the diet nasty things that taste like paper but the yummy frosting topped sugary scrumptious melt-in-your-mouth buttery delights–AND still it was one of the best days ever.
One of my kids fell in love with journalism today. She fell in love with the power of writing stories that matter, stories that can change the world. She was in J-1, and she kind of sort of liked what we did and LOVED the first amendment discussions and debates we had, but STORY was an extra add on she had to muddle through to get on staff.
Today I talked to beginning staff about the difference between an assignment and writing stories: Assignments are what you turn in to English teachers. Stories need to say something powerful in a way that resonates with the student body. You search for stories, you talk to people, you feel the words when you’re writing them, and when you’re done, you look at everyone in room and say This IS AWESOME, and you know it is because you did the quality reporting to make it awesome, and then you wrote and revised and wrote some more until the story was there and it made you feel something, something more than the blankness of looking at words on paper that mean nothing even though they follow the news or feature format. Last semester two of our papers were filled with stories. The last one was filled with assignments. We never want a paper of assignments again. Ever.
Back to today:
We’d finished looking at samples of assignments vs. stories, and I told the kids I wanted to see their questions for their first stories by the end of class, and the girl said, “But, Mrs. Lee, I don’t know what to ask. I don’t get it.”
That confusion is normal for cub reporters, but she was really frustrated by it. I gave her some people she needed to talk to and started to give her some question ideas, but I could see her frustration was growing worse than ever, and in that moment, I realized she hadn’t completed step one of writing. She didn’t know WHY she was doing the dating violence story.
So I asked her why.
And she said because it was the story she’d signed up for.
And I said, nah, that’s not why you’re doing the story. I have a paper filled with stories and you picked this one. WHY?
And she said because it’s important.
And I said what does that even mean? Be real here. WHY are you doing this story? It certainly doesn’t have to be done. WHY does it matter. WHY?
And her eyes filled with tears and she said BECAUSE IT DOES. IT MATTERS. And I said “That’s right. It matters. It matters so much. You did the research yesterday. You saw the numbers, and they’re huge. You saw the outcomes, and they’re horrible. You see that there are girls on this campus in violent relationships who feel alone and isolated and desolate and they don’t know where to turn or how to cope or what to do. And you’re going to show them by telling others’ stories that they’re not alone, that there is help out there and that they don’t have to stay in the relationships. You’re going to talk to the people who can help. You’re going to give them HOPE.
Then we talked about how to write the questions. I always start with what I want to know, what interests me, and I build from there.
She left my room on fire to find those stories. She’s bringing her questions tomorrow.

I have no idea if she’ll finish the story. I hope she will. It’s a tough first story to do. But I do know I remembered the power of the high school journalist, the importance of the high school reporter, and the absolute necessity to do something more than fill our pages with assignments.
What we do matters. We just need to remember WHY we do it.

Sleepless Nights

When DD moved to Huntsville to go to school, I spent weeks staring at the ceiling in my bedroom worrying about her.
What a difference three years makes.
Then, I looked at her and saw a kid. Today, I see a young woman.
She moved home after a year, and I was thrilled.
In February she moved out, and I was thrilled. 🙂
The first thing she did when moving home was get a job at the local Starbucks. She was promoted to shift manager this month.
She’s always marched to the beat of a different drum. You can see that in all the blog posts over the years. She’s an artist and an only child and, I’ll admit it, I spoiled her. We both paid the price for that, but it all worked out okay.
I’m so proud of the young woman I see today. She’s still finding her way, but I don’t spend hours staring at the ceiling worrying these days. It’s not that the worry isn’t there. It’s more I know she’s grown into a responsible person who makes solid choices.
I’m proud of her, and I can’t wait to see the future holds.

Even The Best Plans

I planned on writing from 8-10 tonight, but DD stopped by for one of the first times since she moved out and asked me to go get brownie mix with her.
Family first.
That’s new for me, which I realize is sad.
For years I worked in the newsroom, dragging DD with me, leaving DH out completely. Focused on one thing: success.
And I found success. I love my job. It was fun. But I pushed my family to the side so often it’s crazy.
I can’t get that time back, but I can make the time I have now better.
Lesson learned: I had time to write earlier, but I knew I was going to write from 8-10, so I didn’t take advantage of it. Mistake!
I did get the writing in. But it’s 11 now, and I have no idea how I used to stay up until 1 and 2 a.m.
I’m falling asleep at the keyboard!

Bad Weeks Happen

I am so thankful this week is over and I sure hope next week is better!
It will be because I’m going to wake up every morning and give thanks for the good things, of which there are many.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the teacher who’s on paid administrative leave for her blog where she called students whiny and more. Her name wasn’t on the blog and she didn’t name any students. If the blog was personal, I’m afraid for teachers everywhere. If it was a school blog, shame on her. I don’t know which the case is. If she was blogging on duty, what they heck? How did she have time?!
The thing is, kids are whiny.
But adults are, too. Trust me on this one. I’m a huge whiner at times.
And kids are irresponsible.
But adults are, too. Again, trust me on this one. I can give you examples of my irresponsibility time and again, but I’m not doing it here in a public forum.
The list goes on and on.
KIds have changed. Either that or I’ve gotten older and become the dinosaur talking about “back in the day…”
But expectations on kids have changed.
My students for the most part are over-extended. They do too much. They’re in too many APs. They’re constantly focused on tests and passing them instead of real learning. They have TONS of opinions, but they often can’t defend those positions because they don’t know how. (It’s not on the test, so they don’t know.) Or they do know how because it’s part of the junior AP English test.
Then there’s the whole tech revolution. These kids are constantly plugged in. They don’t know the meaning of true peace and quiet and meditation and aloneness.
If I had been expected to perform on tests, take 4 or more APs, take all the credits needed to graduate, work, and stay in contact with my friends-boyfriend-mom-dad-grandma-aunt susie-teachers-college advisor-scholarship committee, I’m not sure HOW I would’ve done it.
I have a Master’s Degree in English. I loved college. I’d go back now if I could afford classes. But I’m not sure I would’ve survived freshman year without burnout if I were a teenager in today’s schools. That said, I was a solid student but I was NOT a top performer in any subject other than newspaper and writing. I know there are a few top performers in every class, and those kids can do EVERYTHING great. I’ve had those kids in my classes, too, and I love them. But they’re not the norm.
I was a big proponent of TAKS. I loved that it was supposed to be a tougher test that couldn’t be taught. Dumb me. Of course, it could be taught. The testing companies have to sell the test prep materials. I still think TAKS could be a good tool (EOCs too) if used correctly. Use the data. Kids don’t pass? FInd out why. Monitor and adjust constantly, and hold teachers accountable if they have multiple low performing years with kids who should have passed. By hold them accountable, I mean spot checks, portfolios, oversight. That last idea isn’t a big hit with teachers, I know. But we shouldn’t be able to close our doors, do our own thing and only worry about one or two times a year an admin visits to do evaluations. If teachers have great results year after year with students, get them out there teaching the new teachers how to get those results. There’s a teacher I know who gets 100% of her students who actually come to school where they need to be to pass the test even though they’re projected to fail. She’s had those results with these kids since I’ve known her (over 16 years). She should be teaching all of us how to reach at-risk kids.

It’s been a bad week, and I’m glad it’s over. But I still love my job, even the parts that drive me crazy. Today, I shot the Polar Plunge. My school’s Student Council raised around $900 for Special Olympics with a Polar Plunge fundraiser. Students and teachers voted for the faculty they wanted to jump in the pool and the student council had a student team as well. The people in the running and the student team volunteered for this when it was 3 degrees outside. That’s something special. (Crazy! But amazing at the same time.) One of our assistant principals won best costume. It’s times like this that make the bad weeks okay.