Category Archives: Teacher

Down the Rabbit Hole: Prom 2015

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It comes every four years, whether we want it to or not. Prom duty.

At our school, each teacher stays with his or her homeroom for all four years of high school.  So when your homeroom students are juniors, you are in charge of the prom for the year.  Last time I was a junior sponsor, prom was a total headache.  We had to do EVERYTHING: select themes, conduct voting for themes, meet with kids to plan decor, book reservations, make decorations, set up, conduct the dance and all the logistics and chaperoning, and tear it down…it took MONTHS of preparation in advance and HOURS of work the weekend of the event.

This year we wised up.

The art teacher was contracted and paid (not nearly enough money) to plan and execute our prom.  Our class was very fortunate to have raised enough money during the last three years to hire her, as well as buy materials and food to make the prom beautiful and memorable.

The theme was “Down the Rabbit Hole,” and there were students and circus performers dressed as Alice in Wonderland characters scattered throughout the event. They posed for photos and partook of a tea party.  The Queen of Hearts was even present to crown the prom princess and queens (we had a tie). Overall, the atmosphere was very magical and Carroll-esque.

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It was still really tiring being 34 weeks pregnant and spending 7+ hours that day working the prom in various capacities, from chaperoning setup to checking purses for prohibited items during walk-in and coordinating the court and crowning ceremony.  But it was worth it to see the kids having so much fun!

Bella was just as excited as any high school student because she got to be a crown bearer.  I have never heard of any other schools around doing this, but it is a MCHS tradition that young children and grandchildren of faculty members attend prom and carry the crowns during the ceremony.  It is difficult because the crowning ceremony takes place at 10 p.m., but Bella had been looking forward to it for weeks. She even had her nails painted the same color as her dress when we went and got manicures last week.  I’m not kidding.

We hung out in the “teacher’s lounge” area so she could see everything.

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Not only was she excited about being a crown bearer, but she loves interacting with my students.  I think it is mostly because she gets so much attention…they usually gush over her because they feel like they know her from hearing stories and seeing pictures.  We were included in some of their selfies, and it tickled her to see them on my phone once the kiddos posted them to social media.  She felt so big!

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(I cropped the kids out to protect their privacy.)

A few teachers took “good” photos of us during the crowning ceremony, but their cameras were so nice that they revealed how pregnant and sweaty I really was, so I’m keeping those to myself (and untagging myself from them on Facebook).

Overall, Prom 2015 was awesome, despite a few snafus with the venue.  It was the first in a series of weekends of summer memories that I can’t wait to share with my family and friends before baby Axton arrives!

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Exquisite Corpse

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We played “Exquisite Corpse” today in Creative Writing.  If you’re unfamiliar with the idea, you should totally Google it…its origins are pretty fascinating.

We tried one method which required the original writer to contribute a line using the structure “adjective noun verb adjective noun,” adding in articles and prepositions and the like as needed to make sense.  Then, that line of paper got folded backward out of sight before the page was handed off to another contributor, who added a line using the same structure. We loosened the structure as we progressed so the end result wouldn’t be so mechanical. We passed them around 7-8 times, but mine only ended up with four lines, and the last contribution was mine again.

It actually worked out pretty well on its own.

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From the Exquisite Corpse, I wrote:

a long day becomes graceful
rest
you will see

the old man gasped
at the black sky

the tall man looked
like death walking
down the road

a heavy secret quietly
rises
you will see

A Tough Time of Year

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You’d think being a teacher would make me apprehensive of August.  August brings its own set of anxieties, sure. But that’s almost a good rush, waiting on a new adventure with a clean (for the last time in 9 months) classroom fully stocked (for the last time in 9 months) with shiny new school supplies.  I’ve always liked that time of year, in a bittersweet way.

No, the toughest time of year for me as a teacher is mid-April to mid-May, that roughly 30-day window when everything you thought you knew about your school gets a thorough shake up.  Upcoming retirements that were discussed hypothetically for the last seven years become official.  Resignations are announced.  Transfers.  Pink slips.  Budget cuts for the next year.  Interviews.  Speculation about interviewees.  Next year’s schedule.  How many periods will we have?  How long will they be?  What time will the day start and end? What will I teach?  How big are my classes?

I swear, the person who christened “Teacher Appreciation Week” must have been a teacher.  It’s too perfectly positioned right in the middle of all this chaos for a layperson to have randomly picked it.

I always try not to get too emotionally invested in this tough time of year, because I know that it will all settle down quickly.  I know I will most likely be very happy “next year,” and I know I will forget about all this drama because I have forgotten about it every single year thus far.  But I like my job and my colleagues and my school so much, it’s hard not to get swept up in the shake up and the potentially negative implications for myself and those around me.

The good news is that my school works really hard to do what’s best for kids.  Am I looking forward to spending the latter half of my day next year at the STEAM academy across town?  Not particularly, and for a lot of reasons, not the least of which include the inconvenience of basically having two classrooms and not being on the main campus when my daughter gets off the school bus at the end of each exciting Kindergarten day.  But I have to re-frame the issue.  Is the STEAM academy, where students’ specific interests will be met and their passions hopefully ignited each day, good for our kids?  Will it be an amazing challenge to work with those subject areas to create an English class that incorporates STEAM skills and concepts in order to make the content exciting? Of course.  And so I tell myself that I will soldier on, that it won’t be that bad, that I can deal with the traffic and the snow and giving up part of my planning time every single day to drive back and forth.

Next year is going to be exciting and different.  And instead of seeing exciting and different as exhausting and overwhelming, I guess it’s time for me to embrace the fact that I chose a career path that will always lead in different directions. Yes, sometimes those directions are fads that fizzle or poorly planned treks into too-big projects.  But at least I’m doing what I love. And I can ignore or rise above the factors and factions that try to make me not love it as much.

Not to mention the fact that next year I won’t be trying to balance my career and family and graduate school and pregnancy.  As my friends and colleagues here know (since I won’t shut up about it and let them forget), I’ve taken 18 hours of graduate English courses in the past ten months to finish up my MA and teach College English next year.  For seven of those ten months, I’ve been pregnant.  I haven’t been the most effective mom or teacher this year.  So next year has to be better, right?

Right?

Right.