Tests and buses

Our Mock Exam is tomorrow! There’s no way to find a Saturday morning that accommodates everyone, but my kids who can’t make it have always been extremely good about finding a time before that Saturday to take it. This year was no exception. So, I’ve already graded a handful of exams.

Even with our unexpected two-week leave, these kids are killing it. I’m not going to lie, I was anxious about the Mock scores. I didn’t want the kids to feel defeated. But after these scores, I’m looking forward to seeing how the rest do tomorrow.

This is our state championship game. We prepare all year for one match. And they’re ready to bring their very best.

*****

A friend has been watching Jonas because his teacher has been out of town. She kindly dropped him off at school today when I was done. We were going to go to math club together…but someone found the bus loop first…

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Unified

A fellow teacher, friend, and mom of a student came to my room and spoke life into me today, both in words and in deed…and it rejuvenated me.

I’ve said this before, though maybe not in this space…

One of the greatest gifts I received from the walkout was the unity I felt with fellow teachers. But as the walkout came to a close, that unity was threatened. And I kept thinking, They cannot take this from us, too. If we let them take this, they win.

Well I think it’s safe to say they didn’t win. We’re stronger now and more unified than ever before. I can’t speak for the whole state, but I can speak for my district: we’re a family; we’re in this together; we’re in this because we believe in children; and we’re in this for the long haul.

Plan B

We’re on block schedule right now for junior state testing. It’s made the transition back a bit more complicated in terms of planning, but the kids have handled it with grace.

To make up for lost time, I assigned not one but two quizzes on Monday. And since we’re on block, the last day of the week for my odd hours was today. Yes, they had three days to prep for two quizzes.

And they did amazing.

They say necessity is the mother of invention, and I feel that’s often true for teaching. I’ve had to re-do my unit for AP prep/review due to our new timeline, and–at minimum–I’m thinking of new ways to help my kids learn. And that’s always exciting to me.

The first quiz I gave was a vocab and theorems quiz: definitions the kids just need to know. I gave them twenty minutes. They were done in ten.

The second quiz covered everything I asked them to learn–on their own–during the walkout. Because it was longer than most quizzes, I let them work in groups, but told them I would choose only one student’s quiz from each group to grade and that would be the whole group’s grade. Holy. Moly. I’ve never–ever–seen kids so focused on math. Every single conversation revolved around calculus. They conversed; they debated; and they came up with mostly the right answers together.

I walked out of school today exhausted, because block. But I also walked out so incredibly proud to be these kids’ teacher.

As one group was finishing their quiz, they were discussing meeting Friday night to study for Saturday’s mock exam (swoon). One girl said, “Yeah, I told my boyfriend he can expect to see me again after May 15.”

When they work this hard, it makes you want to do anything for them, doesn’t it?

This is a stubborn, hardworking generation. Lord have mercy for anyone who stands in their way. They will move mountains.

And I can’t wait to bear witness to it all.

A torch

As I was walking into school this morning, my phone buzzed, indicating I had received a work email. Because I think I’m a better multi-tasker than I really am, I opened my inbox to see whom it was from. I recognized the name immediately as the mother of both a past and current student. (The benefits of staying at the same school…whole families get to know you…and that’s no small thing.)I opened the email to see this:

Good Morning Ms. Peterson

I just wanted you to know that we believe in you and we appreciate everything you have and continue to do for our children.

Yesterday my husband and I picked up the ‘torch’ to continue the fight!!!  There were a lot of parents there and there will be more today so do not be discouraged, it’s not over!!

Attached was a picture of their peaceful protest at the capitol. Emotions have run high the last few weeks. But when I get letters like this, a lump catches in my throat and my emotions skyrocket. If there’s one thing this community knows how to do, it’s support each other. For years, I’ve seen teachers show up to support kids’ on the field, on the stage, on the court, and in the classroom. And now, those kids’ parents are showing up for us, supporting us. Thank you doesn’t seem quite right nor nearly enough. So maybe a better promise is that I’ll keep showing up; I’ll keep supporting, just as these parents have done for me.One of the greatest gifts the walkout gave me was an entirely new sense of community and unity with my fellow teachers and with parents. We belong to each other. And because of that, we will always work to protect one another.

Coming back

Today was our first day back after the walkout. When I got to my hallway, I saw several of my chairs lined outside my door; when I entered my room, my desks were still how I had left them on Friday, which was the arrangement they were in from last Tuesday’s SAT. My wish that some magical fairy would come rearrange them back how I had them was not answered…until…an assistant principal popped in right as I started moving chairs and quickly helped me get my room back together.

Fairies do exist!

*****

I was uncertain how the kids were going to be today…would they be anxious about their upcoming AP Test? Would they be hyper after Prom and after having two weeks off? Did they do any of the work I assigned? Would they do any work today?

Oh, why do I even worry about these loves?

Did every kid do every assignment? No. Did every kid stay on task all hour? No.

But for the circumstances, they came in with a lot of work done and ready to review more.

I don’t know what my AP scores will look like this year. I don’t really care. I care that I get to share a classroom with these kids–my kids. The moments we have left together are finite. And I want to enjoy them all.

Listen

This week two different students asked if they could talk about personal issues. I talked with them, but I’m more of a listener than an advice-giver, and so I’m not sure I gave them what they were looking for.

But the fact that they trusted me enough to sit with them and to listen to their stories…I just can’t get over it. Yes, of course that’s what I want: for my kids to feel like they are heard and safe in my presence. But the truth of the matter is they have to go searching for that one-on-one time. And that takes risk on their part; it takes vulnerability.

There is nothing I want more as a mom than for my son to feel like he can tell me anything and everything. I want him to know that I want to know it all.

All.

The kids this week reminded me that those open lines of communication don’t just happen. They have to be intentionally made.

I’m thankful for kids who teach me valuable lessons–not just how to grow as a teacher, but also as a mom and as a human being.

I’m not sure when I’ll see my kids next. But I do know that I will miss them and the light they bring to my life–even if we’re out for only one day.

My headstrong loves

My kids touched me deeply today, multiple times…

One of my seniors allowed me to listen to her proposed speech for graduation. It was flawless. It made me both laugh and cry. It hit me how close graduation is and how I’m not ready to let these kids go. But how much good I know they’ll bring to the world.

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Another one of my calc kids told me he emailed all 149 Oklahoma Representatives and Senators explaining the dire need for further educational funding. One Representative, a former calculus teacher, asked to meet him. He has a meeting set up for Monday.

*****

Lastly, my fifth hour told me that they were still behind the walkout 100% (and I’m fairly certain it was not just to get out of class). They said we have to fight until we’re competitive with surrounding states and that we shouldn’t give up.

I’m very torn about the walkout. I’m thankful our Legislators took us seriously. But I’m still not sure I can trust them. Regardless, my students’ support means more than words could ever express.

I told them that they are a very special, a very persuasive generation, and never to let people belittle them because of their age. They are wiser than they are often given credit for.

To which one young lady responded: “We’re pretty headstrong.”

“And don’t you ever change.”