The school is starting to thin out. Last day of proper instruction is in 2 weeks, all major projects are in and and the year is seriously winding down. So students have been ghosting in and out of class. Today, our school held our biannual Presentation of Learning, where students man course tables and present one project they have worked on in the past semester. Here is Cathy impressing the hell out of a few teachers with a print out (no internet) of her blog from our blogging intensive week. <3
My dress is new – an impulse purchase (even on super sale) while shopping in DC one weekend with my sister, and not well suited for the rain we had today.
dress: equipment – shoes: madewell
Today was progress report day. I gave each and every student a print out showing learning targets and their progress towards meeting them (aka did you do your assignments). It was a huge hubbub and I’m now officially the most unpopular teacher at school. The kids were in a tizzy and I even had 2 students storm outside for a break in the hall to collect themselves. It’s appalling to me how many students come to school every day and still manage to complete absolutely zero assignments – no classwork, no lab, no quizzes, and most definitely no homework. For some reason or another (I’m still mulling it over), this quarter has been an especially bad one. In one class out of 30 students, only 7 have a passing grade or higher. That means even if I “discount” students who never show up, I’m maintaining a 30% passing rate. I have an abysmal HW return rate – they just don’t do it. I also expect students to not only do their work, but to do it well and according to the guidelines of the assignment. I don’t give credit for “effort”, meaning if I ask about osmosis and they scratch something out about Osmosis Jones, I don’t take it.
So this begs to question, “What am I doing wrong!?” By the end of my third section of Living Environment class, I’d fallen into a pit of self-doubt. After all, if so many kids are failing, it MUST be me and NOT them. I’m doing something wrong, I need to change something. Is that true? Or have I been brainwashed by all the anti-teacher rhetoric floating around out there? These grades (or lack of grades, rather) has weighed heavily on me all day, so I went searching for answers. I gave my classes time to air grievances and make comments, I conferenced with my co-teacher and I even sought advice from my administrator (“let me think about that one…”). This is what I learned today:
Student #1: “You grade too hard miss! I struggle in all my classes, but yours way more than others!”
Student #2: “You’re too strict! I worked so hard on this and you still only gave be a 2.1 (we use standards based grading where 1=not meeting the learning target, 2=approaching the target, 3=meets the target and 4= excels at the learning target)!
Student #3: “You give too much work!”
Student #4: (to another student, right in front of me) “I can’t even listen to her talk right now, I’m too pissed. Ugh, she needs to just shut up!”
Student #5 “WHAT? This is mad f-ed up! I do all my work!”
-I should have other teachers grade my lab reports and compare scores. Maybe I am too strict with grading. I use a rubric, which the kids have a copy of. Maybe I need to ease up on sticking to it.
-I need to ease up on assigning homework, and/or I should not count all of them, just some.
-The kids thought I was laughing at them sinisterly when in fact I was trying to force a smile while they were all voicing their discontent. My uncomfortable smile apparently = evil I’m-out-to-get-you laugh. Crap.
-I just need to ease up in general.
In my defense, this is how I help support my kids academically with their work:
-I scaffold the shit out of every assignment I give by outlining reports for them, giving them graphic organizers, vocabulary instruction, etc. I practically hold their hands through every assignment. My co-teacher even created a “fill in the blank” lab report for my SPED (special-ed) and ELL (English language learners)!
-I give written feedback on every assignment I hand back.
-I’m available at any hour of the day for tutoring or help in person, over email or even by phone. The kids have all my info, for real.
-I allow practically unlimited time for turning in assignments. I accept any and all late work up until the day before grades are due.
-I allow for revisions: If a kid is not happy with his/her grade, they can revise their work (based on my feedback) and re-submit it.
-I assign work that is within their reach with realistic timelines (I think), such as “write a paragraph on whether or not the BRCA gene should be patented, using my given topic sentence”.
So, what do you guys think? What do I need to change? How can I up my passing rates without compromising my ethics and just pushing kids through? My grade team had a discussion around broken grading practices and how to fix them last monday. I need to continue the discussion. Please help.
In the meantime, here’s what I wore today, pencil in hair, sinister smile and all.
shirt: madewell – belt: j.crew – jeans: bdg – socks: juicy couture (gift from my sister years ago) – boots: steve madden – necklace: my popo via mommy
I was happy to be back in SF last week, but I’m also happy to be home. It was a week filled with friends and also included a three day snowboarding side trip in Tahoe (the kids picked up on the irony of heading to Cali to find snow – I got a lot of comments on that today). There really is nothing like San Francisco air (except maybe the water!). Spring break is already around the corner, and I’ll be getting another breath of fresh air when Aimee comes to visit!
This wrinkly top is an old one from Madewell. I have a slight obsession with the color (burnt sienna?), but the material seems to harbor smells. TMI?
glasses: warby parker – sweater: uniqlo – blouse: madewell – tank (underneath) & jeans: f21 – boots: steve madden – belt: j.crew – necklace: my mom’s hand-me-down
A thin cardigan: warmish, thin and drapey. Cardigans keep you warm during prep and cover up your arms so you don’t feel too naked in front of the kids. They also cover any arm jiggles you might think you have when you are furiously trying to get through a lesson before the bell rings and you’re writing like a mad woman on the board. Definitely aim for something not so thick and bulky that you end up dripping with sweat before you get a chance to breath and remove layers. Some reliable, tried and true and fairly affordable options:
J. Crew: this on is currently on sale at $50 (with extra 30% off) which brings it to $35. It will last a long long time (3 years and counting of weekly wear for me) and is the perfect amount of open weave vs. warmth for the classroom.
Uniqlo: can’t go wrong with Uniqlo. Great price and quality that compares to more expensive brands. $19
Stretch skinny or straight black jeans: slimming, easy, stretchy, and comfortable. Black jeans are simple and basic enough that they match with everything possible and allow you that extra time in the morning to just grab your coffee mug and run so you can get to class early and prep. The color also makes them professional looking enough – they’re not sweats and they’re not blue jeans. Boom, profesh. Some reliable, tried and true and fairly affordable options:
Uniqlo: black skinny fit tapered stretch jeans. Normally priced at $50, you can usually wait for them to go on special at $40
Madewell: more expensive, but really soft and will hold their shape. $99
Forever 21: inexpensive, washes well, and durable. $10
Button ups: sleeveless and sleeved (for winter, the only time it can actually get cold in a classroom even with 35 teenagers fogging up the place). A dressed up (professional) version of a top with room for your pits to vent/breathe. Helps to have armpit breathing space when you’re doing your daily song and dance in an effort to keep the teenagers “engaged” with the lesson. I mean, lets face it, not all kids find the functions of the golgi apparatus and endoplasmic reticulum fascinating. But they will find my mimed rendition of protein synthesis at least mildly amusing. Miming takes a lot of energy, and as we all know, a by-product of work is moist pits. Some reliable, tried and true and fairly affordable options:
Uniqlo: see above. $30 Classic cut (not too slim, not too manly boxy)
Madewell: on sale now, only in lime green. Wait till other colors go on sale, then get-em while they last. Durable and roomy without making you look like a box on top. $40
Black ballet flats: This should be a big duh. They’ll help you survive the day even when kids are too busy talking about the latest cafeteria fight to even acknowledge your presence at the front of the room. They’re comfy enough without being sneakers, and … bonus points for being able to slip them off during staff meetings so you can give your dogs a
breather rest. Some untried and possibly sucky but fairly affordable options:
BDG at Urban Outfitters: on sale now at $20
Forever 21: $25
Frye: my personal splurge, 2 years ago. The leather stretches out over time. $149
Watch: the bigger the face, the better, so you can check yourself when you’ve been rambling for too long about how “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”. One I like but don’t have, nor am I willing to shell out the cash for just yet:
Nixon: I like men’s watches – big. $125
So, fellow teachers, did I miss anything?
Last night B and I went out on a ‘date’, meaning we went out to a nice dinner, and a nightcap. For me it’s an excuse to throw on some tights and indulge in my love for roomy sack dresses. Anything that accommodates cocktails, apps, a main and dessert without making you feel like your clothes are on the verge of exploding. We went to the Library, at Public. On the Schenck scale of goodness (more on that some other day), it was pretty good. Poor picture quality – the hallway lights in our building have that ever present yellow tone and I didn’t want to bother fiddling with the white balance. Also not shown, the 2 other layers, hat and scarf worn on top of the dress to shield me from the freezing weather outside.
dress: united bamboo for madewell (purchased right before christmas at an extra 50% off sale, making it a killer deal for a well made silk dress) – tights: uniqlo heattech (very necessary for the cold front that’s been coming through NY) – booties: zara (on sale now) – clutch: f21 (old)
look familiar? yup, I’m full on outfit recycling like crazy now, something I never really did in the past. I used be inspired/care enough to come up with different ways to mix up what is in my closet. Not so much anymore, as I’ve been sticking to my work uniform of black jeans, a button down and booties. At least I now have a new button down to throw into the mix, never mind that it’s from the same store in the same cut. It’s a new color! The elfish booties – an Anthropologie find on black Friday, on sale with an extra 25% off! And I didn’t even have to deal with crowds at my sister’s neighborhood shopping area in DC. They make me feel like Arwen, where in reality they probably make me look like Elf.
It’s Thanksgiving, so B and I are in DC with my sister Kris and her husband Dave. Ate turkey, pie and everything else, twice. I have a nice stack of papers waiting to be graded over the weekend, so today and tomorrow are dedicated to eating.
I’m blending in with this dress and all the greenery in DC. B said “you’re camouflaged! ” when he took my picture and convinced me that standing on a log was a good idea. He also thinks that I need to learn how to do spinning heel kicks if I’m going to wear shoes like this. The dress and shoes are pretty expensive by my standards (anything over $60) , so I have to make sure I get a lot of use out of them.
“So..Miss? What can I do to raise my grade?”
you can do your work for once because right now it’s too little too late buddy, you’re shit out of luck let’s see what you are missing and hopefully you can complete it by the end of today, which is when I have to turn in grades.”
It never fails: on the day grades are due, a full 3 days since my deadline for turning in late work, I always get some kid who tries to complete all their missing work in one fell swoop. It’s not going to happen buddy. What is going to happen now is bi-weekly progress reports.
This is me leaving school late in the evening, but not even close to being the last one out– head cut off because no one is ever cute after such a long day with teenagers.
necklace: unicorn crafts – scarf: who knows anymore, it’s hella old and actually pretty boring – dress: old madewell that is finally on sale (never mind, they’re sold out) – cardigan: j.crew – coats (that’s right, I’m wearing 2 now since it’s so cold): marmot and h&m (old)- tights and hidden heat tech shorts underneath: uniqlo – boots: boutique 9 – same old same old bag: freitag
My style sensibilities have been changing…and it’s veering closer and closer to a uniform of purely neutral basics. It’s like I’m heading back to white rice territory, after years of trying to make the most interesting and complexly flavored fried rice out there. I’m cutting out the fluff and I’m crawling back into my comfort zone, the safety of neutral colors in classic cuts and fits. It makes getting dressed much easier, faster and stress free. You can never be too over dressed or underdressed with basics, otherwise the point of having basics would be defeated. Right? On this note, I just got back from shopping for basics at the most basic of stores with zero creeper hipster appeal, Uniqlo. The moment I walked in to the store today, I was thinking, yeah, this is my JAM!! I had just left Zara, which assaulted me in all its trendiness with everything black/army green/oxblood and covered in studs/mean animal faces/leather sleeves. Uniqlo with its stacks of logo-less, glitter-less, graphic-less, simply cut clothes was refreshing and welcoming. This is what I picked up today, all of course at teacher-friendly prices. For more of a basics guide, check out this post by refinery29, where they pick apart the basic basics, through the ages. Technically, I fall into the 30′s category, but can barely afford the 20′s category. Big poo.
Boring? Or classic? Either way, these items came home with me because they went perfectly well with what I wore out shopping today. My everyday basic outfit, jeans and a tshirt, with my going-to-be-with-me-for-the-next-10-years-just-like-my-other-one-was Freitag bag. The boots come and go, get swapped out with black flats, flip flops or converse, and some days lipstick gets thrown in the mix too. For the most part though, this is it: my everyday basic outfit.
glasses: warby parker – t-shirt: alternative apparel – belt: gap – jeans: madewell – boots: ecote via urban outfitters
B and I actually “went out” friday night, meaning went out to a place that didn’t involve our couch. Amazing really, considering that for the past few months we’ve spent just about every weekend on our couch, drinking wine and watching movies. All domestic and shit. This domestic and shit phenomenon is a common thing among teachers – in bed by 10pm, awake by 6am and forced to be perky by 8am when the kiddos walk in your classroom door. So by the time the weekend rolls around, all you want to do is marinate on the couch hugging a bottle of wine. If anything, you might head out to the local bar with your other teacher buddies, drops some cash on beer and unhealthy bar food while you discuss dropping knowledge on shared students. This Friday night however, B and I had a plan – we had an invite to a Punch Party at B’s friend Darren’s house in the Lower East Side.
After 30 min of rifling through my closet, B hassling me to hurry up and 5 outfit changes, I resigned myself to the going out basics. Skinny black pants, a basic t-shirt, black boots and red lipstick. There is still a whole bunch of exciting things going on, while still being basic enough to not feel like you’re out on a sartorial limb. This is my new go-to fashion philosophy: Basic, reliable and comfy but with a few interesting details. My two details for the night were my new hard-ass studded booties and a new lipstick, Red Square by Nars. All together exciting enough for this increasingly fashionably lazy teacher out on a Friday night. Didn’t even bother putting in contacts or changing my ever present teacher-bun-hair!
glasses: warby parker beckett - jacket: two year old madewell, but similar one here – flannel: uniqlo – t-shirt (which I looove, btw) & booties: zara – belt and pants (got mine on super sale): j.crew – necklace: f21