FRIDAY, FRIDAY, gotta get down (AKA do homework, grade papers, go to work, and scream) ON FRIDAY!

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First of all, I finished watching Freaks and Geeks today before work. NOW what am I going to do with my life?! BAHHHH. (That’s the reasoning behind today’s picture, kind of like… a memorial)

Anyway, today was yet another good day, thankfully. Usually Fridays are crazy because kids are ready for the weekend. (I know I am). Today, I learned that teaching is alllllll about thinking on your feet. I told my students last class they need to have Night finished and they need to be prepared for a quiz next class. First period comes along, I have a total of 11 students in class and I usually have 37. (10 were out for state testing, all of the others caught the nasty flu). I gave students the first 20 minutes of class to finish reading if they hadn’t, or to finish their reading comprehension packet and review the previous section. I expected that a few students would finish up the last few pages and the rest were already done. As I walked around while they were reading, I noticed most were at least 20 pages away from being done. GAHHH. I thought, “How am I supposed to expect them to take this quiz if they aren’t even done?” The rule in my class is that you have to have taken and passed 3 out of 5 of the quizzes in order to even take the final exam, and my students know that. I used the analogy of a basketball player never showing up to the practices and then expecting to start in the game…not gonna happen. And another dilemma, I didn’t want to give away the ending of the book to the students who hadn’t finished it when we did our discussion. So this is what I told them: For the first time ever, we are not going to have a discussion before the quiz. If you are not done with the reading, make an attempt on the quiz. Don’t panic if you don’t know anything, you can come and retake it once you’ve finished the book. And remember that you have to take and pass at least 3 out of 5 of the quizzes to take the final, and most of you have done so. So don’t panic about this one.

I handed out the quiz and about half of them passed it. When I was in high school, and even still today, I hated when teachers would push assignments or tests back just because half of the class wasn’t prepared. So I didn’t want to do that to those who were prepared for this quiz. And I think it went as well as it could have and I’m trying to be fair by letting them come and retake it once their finished. I’m getting better at this whole “think on your feet” thing.

Yesterday, my mentor teacher gave me a book to read called Teach like a Champion. It’s basically his bible and he swears by it. He told me I need to work on not letting students “opt-out,” meaning if students don’t know the answer to my question, I can ask someone else, but I always have to go back to the original person and ask them the question again to make sure they have the answer now rather than just letting them opt-out. After reading that section in the book he gave me, I decided to try it today. I probably did it about 20 times, and every time I did it, I looked at my teacher and he was grinning. After class he smiled and said “You read the book didn’t you? Today, you’re teaching like a champion.” …DAY. MADE. For him to say something nice to me like that is HUGE. And also the first time he has ever done so. Making progress!

We had a pep rally in between my two classes and it was so much fun! My students fought over where I would sit so I decided to just stand on the side instead. There were so many fun activities and games and SO much school spirit! It’s so cool to see them take such pride in their school and get so excited about it.

During third period, I did the same thing with the quiz as I did with first period but this time, I actually had a full class of 35. I don’t really know why. But this class did a lot better on the quiz and more of them came prepared. The difference between the two classes is like night and day. My first period is filled with zombies and low participation, and my third period is filled with laughter and raised hands. I always have so much fun in third period. My second period (I didn’t see them today because of block scheduling) is somewhere in between. I have a lot of honors students in second period and I feel like they’re bored, which is something I want to work on. But anyway, third period went well and everyone participated. I witnessed many students finish the book and start to cry. Lots of tissues were being passed around today, that’s for sure. Even one of my football players needed the tissue box passed to them. As hard as it was for me to see them cry, it was also an amazing experience to see my students so moved by a story. A few students even mentioned to me, “Miss Gray, this is the first book I have ACTUALLY ever read.” AHHHH! HEAVEN. I think that’s a dream for any English teacher. I’m so glad this text moved them so much. On Monday and Tuesday, we take our final exam! The real test of knowledge!

This has been a rollercoaster of a week if I ever saw one. But it ended on a good note, and that’s really all that matters. The bulk of my unit has been complete, and now it is just up to my students to demonstrate their knowledge next week through their tests and memoirs. I can’t wait! I did it! Well, WE did it. As I was walking out of the door this morning, my mentor teacher called out, “Good work today, champion teacher!” MY HEART IS FULL.

May this weekend be filled with relaxation, catching up, yoga, and more happiness.

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