Questions for Teachers

I have foot-in-mouth disease, and it’s been getting me into trouble for as long as I can remember. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve said the wrong thing, at the wrong time, to the wrong person anymore. Sometimes the more extreme of these moments can haunt me for years (not an exaggeration), and I spiral into a death pit of shame, regret, and embarrassment, every time something triggers the memory of what I had said. A bit dramatic? Yes. But it’s #truths. Occasionally I have to remind myself that it’s better to just have awkward silence than to say the wrong thing. I’m pretty bad at small talk and socializing in general with strangers – combine that with my RBF, and I’m doomed.

Today I had one of those foot-in-mouth moments AT WORK. Oh god. I need to remind myself just to shut up more often during staff/department/grade team meetings. Today I basically told an admin that it was “irresponsible” to give a teacher multiple preps (multiple courses to prep for), when one of those preps is an AP course that has never been taught before by that teacher or even at the school (especially when a teacher is new to teaching). When I left the meeting and re-played things in my head, a flush of “oh my god what if that was taken the wrong way, I should have chosen better words!” came over me. #deathpitspiral

So here I am with a lot of questions for the teachers out there. I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how I spend my time as a teacher, specifically how I can optimize time in terms of planning/grading/etc to stave off burn-out. I would also like to get a pulse on what is considered fair game in terms of the work expectations placed on teachers.

First, how much time does it take you on average to plan a lesson for one course? I find that if I’m planning a lesson from scratch it takes me on average 2 hours to complete, from finding resources, creating the PowerPoint slides, and creating the handouts/worksheets.  I have never worked out of a book, and I’ve never heard of a science teacher teaching from pre-built lessons/curriculum. If I get to reuse materials from previous years that work time gets cut down, but I still have to lesson plan and create new slides every year.  Am I doing something wrong? How long does it take you to plan a lesson?

Secondly, how many preps do you think is reasonable for a teacher to have? Two preps? Three preps? Four preps? This year, I have 3 preps – AP Bio, Honors Bio, and Regular Bio. At our school, we teach 5 classes and have 8 hour school days, which means I teach for 5.5 hours and have 1-2 hours a day to prep (on average, with block schedules and meetings).

Lastly, what types of additional tasks are you asked to do regularly on top of teaching, planning, grading, meetings, etc?  At our school, we have stacks on stacks of data tracking spread sheets, surveys, analysis, and plans that we have to submit. Do you consider these documentation tasks to be fair game as a part of the job description?

I have a very real fear of being the ever present negative complainer, which leads to even more foot-in-mouth moments. Please, teacher friends and readers, give me some fresh perspective!

In the mean time, here is my throwback to the 90s outfit from today. I picked this dress up at Urban Outfitters a little while ago, and decided to go all out Sassy Magazine in the mid 90’s style with my Docs and my granny-chic new glasses from Warby Parker x Leith Clark. It was fun getting dressed this morning.

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glasses: warby parker –  cardigan: uniqlo – dress: urban outfitters – tights and tank: h&m – boots: dr. martins

Hello 2017!

Another day, another year! 2016 was pretty amazing (deaths and politics aside) – B and I planned and grew our first vegetable garden, we traveled all through Australia, climbed three 14ers, took a canoe camping trip, and my sister had twins! Last new years, I made a small bucket list and I got through every item except for one – the hike from Aspen to Crested Butte. That hike is definitely going to happen this year, no excuses. This year’s bucket list is also going to include a trip to Paris and London, more planning and growing (we’ve tripled the growing area this year) vegetables, climbing four more 14ers, going fly-fishing a lot (and actually catching a fish on my own), visiting/camping in every national park in Colorado (there are four), snowboard Vail and Whistler, and getting more comfortable snowboarding through trees. Also, I’m turning 37 this year – hello middle age! If I could afford it, I’d add, buy a motorcycle, to my bucket list but let’s be real – I’m working with a teacher’s salary here.

B and I threw another New Years Eve party this year and it was so much fun, I think it’s going to be a regular thing from now on. It was a small but close group, and the shenanigans went into the wee hours of the night. I picked up a vintage punch bowl at the thrift store a few days ago, and we mixed a double batch of very, very potent Rabbit Punch for the party. That punch fueled a lively game of catch-phrase, B showed off his favorite Christmas present (a Silky Saw), and I managed to get some fabulous photos of everyone. Most of my friends are/were teachers, and we all know how to have fun!

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Happy New Year everyone!

Holidaze with the Schebenses

B and I hosted a small holiday party this past Saturday with a few of our friends, and I just wanted to share some photos from the night. I have been waiting for a good opportunity to break in our new dining room table with a feast, so I bought a standing rib roast and made prime rib. B and I are not religious in the least bit, but I do like the festive coziness of a Christmas tree. A couple of our friends brought their menorah along with print outs of the prayer (written phonetically) for Hanukkah. We started off the night with gin martinis, friends brought the red wine, and we ended it with hot apple cider and group photos!

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Break Time

I’m on day three of Winter Break today, and it feels so glorious to be able to sleep in, drink coffee in bed, and take leisurely strolls around the neighborhood. These first few days of break are always filled with hard core lounging, so here’s a quick wrap up of the key chill action that took place last night and today.

Last night, B and I joind our friends Bear and Mallory at a cute little speakeasy style bar in Golden, Colorado callled Golden Moon Speakeasy. This place is so awesome, any feeble attemps to describe it just won’t do it justice. The drinks are named after Lord of the Rings phrases, such as What Has It Got in It’s Pocketses, and they distil their own spirits at a separate locationn nearby. B got a flight of their spirits, and my favorite was the Violette, which is a beautiful lilac colored liquor that is sweet and florally but with a healthy kick (a bottle of it will be in my stocking tomorrow morning, becuase B is a nice guy). I ended up trying out a couple of their cocktails, the “An Unexpected Party” and the “Cloud City”.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis morning, B and I lounged till late morning, then took a stroll with Bambi over to the Denver Central Market which is a warehouse type market with high end food stalls – similar to the Ferry Building in SF and th Chelsea Markets in NY.  Every major city has at least one of these now. I obviously love them, and I love that this one is within walking distance from our house. Also, the bakery in the market has pudding crossants. I sat outside admireing the street art with the dog while B went in and got our treats.

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I made B play photographer on the way over. He was not happy and moaned/groaned the whole time. He does not make a good Instagram Husband at all. Nothing new with the outfit, just a recycle from this day. The bag on the otherhand, is a recent present to myself.  I’m not a bag lady by any means, and most of the time I just put what I need in my coat pockets. Having a little purse like this can be handy though, when the coats can be left at home. It’s the middle of December today (Xmas Eve), and it is 52˚F out right now! Happy holidays everyone!

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sunnies: rayban – cardigan and jeans: uniqlo – t shirt and belt: urban outfitters – shoes: adidas – bag: minor history – bracelets: madewell

This Week.

This past week has been craaaaaazy.  It started off with a holiday party on Monday, went on to a 13 hour work day Tuesday, into Finals week, and is ending today (Friday) with another holiday party.

The Fall semester is winding down to a close with the last 2 final exams taking place on Monday.  Grades are due the following day, and we are on winter vacation starting Thursday. It’s been a great semester – I’ve been growing as an educator without feeling overwhelmed, and my kids have been super awesome. Teaching AP Bio is super cool, as the kids are self motivated and more importantly excited for my class every day. Mind blowing, seriously. All my classes have been awesome – these kids man, they really warm my heart to the core every day, even when my face still looks stone cold.

I really hope it all continues to go well next semester – but I’m wary since I’m getting an additional class to teach come January. This means my average 45 hour/week job is turning into a 50+ hour/week job, which to me is not sustainable. Fingers crossed I find magical time in my day to make it all work!  Sadly, we (in science) all know there is no such thing as magic.  I crush my students’ dreams all the time when we get to the unit where we discuss the Conservation of Matter and the first Law of Thermodynamics.  It’s when I tell them that magic doesn’t exist, and while we’re at it, Santa Claus doesn’t either.  Nothing can be created or destroyed, only converted. So back in the day, the Santa Claus I thought I saw in my living room just converted his clothes from dad clothes to a red furry Santa outfit!  I’m so mean. Just to remind every one so I don’t start getting hate comments, these are 15 year olds.

On Monday, I got dressed with “day to night” in mind.  I knew I’d be at school late (hello finals week!), and that I would have to rush just about straight from school to a holiday party at the Breckenridge Brewery in Littleton, CO.  Brewery tours aren’t exactly the place for typical sparkly holiday outfits, but I still wanted to spice it up a bit. Good thing I had new boots to throw on!  I picked these up from the Madewell site recently with all the great holiday sales going on. They are calf hair, meaning they feel even more like a dead animal than just plain leather. I really am a terrible person. Lastly, I topped it all off with the goth-iest of lipsticks I own, Kat Von D Liquid Lipstick in Damned.  Because damn, I’m damned after that last comment about my shoes being made from baby cows. Terrible.

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top: free people – jeans: mother denim – boots: madewell

The News

There is a bunch of “new” here.  It’s Friday, and I have a lot of new things I’m obsessed with. I guess I’ve been feeling kinda spend-y lately – after all, December is when the best sales happen, and the only person I really buy Winter Vacation Presents for is B. So there is a lot of new to share here on the blog.

First up, is this t-shirt I picked up at a recent Trails and Ways show here in Denver.  Trails and Ways is a band from Oakland (the Bay Area!) that I first discovered watching PBS’s Farm to Table Family videos. I bought their album Pathology and seriously became obsessed with their single Tereza from an earlier album.  Trails and Ways recently released a new album, which I also scooped up promptly and have been listening to almost non-stop since.mother-denim-high-rise-maverick

Next up are my new glasses from Warby Parker.  I have seriously bad eyes, thanks to the Schenck lineage.  Both my sister and I have coke-bottle-thick prescriptions, and without my glasses or contacts, I can’t see further than a foot away from my face.  I’ve been wanting to get Lasik for some time, but my prescription only just recently stopped getting worse. I love the look of glasses, but with my strong prescription, it’s often easier just to wear contacts. This new addition to my Warby Parker collection though, are super comfortable.  They have nose pads, which help with the sliding down the nose problem. The frames themselves are also relatively light weight, which help with the end-of-the-day glasses strain. The kids really like them – I got compliments on them starting 1st period!warby-parker-hadley

New jeans!!  New and different! I haven’t owned a pair of jeans that aren’t skinny jeans in a really, really, long time. I saw these, and immediately thought Rossin – they’re the perfect kind of stretchy, comfy, funky but still adult-ish, 70s-ish style that I could easily picture her in. They’re definitely not the most flattering style for my long-torso-short-legs body type, but I still love them anyway. Mother Denim seriously makes the most comfortable jeans ever. These are my second pair of Mother jeans, and I will be on the lookout for more. They are ridiculously expensive full price, but affordable if you find them in the extra-sale section at Anthro.

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The jeans were a big hit with the kiddos on Friday. Right away, while in the halls herding children into first period and welcoming my own kiddos, one of my 10th graders looked at me and said with a laugh, “Miss!  You look like such a nerd today!”  My response was, “thanks!” and I really meant it.  At least 4 kids said “nice jeans, miss!” as the day went on.mother-denim-high-rise-maverick3

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Lastly, I bought myself a new coat. I wear my Arcteryx Atom jacket just about every day, but I wanted something a bit less technical looking, and with a bit more warmth. I stumbled on this coat at Banana Republic this last weekend and it was 40% off store wide.  I knew a coat like this would never make it to the sale section (it was already sold out of some sizes online), so after some internal debate, I snapped it up. I’m so glad I did too! It’s filled with down, and waterproof (I’ve yet to test that claim though) with a full faux fur hood. It’s so warm and super cute for around the city/to school. My Arcteryx will always be my favorite, but this one fills a different need.banana-republic-parka

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glasses: warby parker – t-shirt: trails and ways – jeans: mother denim – sweater and parka: banana republic – shoes: converse

No Voice

I’ve been sick with some cold/flu/who knows for the past 2 weeks. It started over the TG break with a super sore throat. I battled it out the full following week and by Friday, my students said I sounded like a frog. Over the weekend, my voice gave out. I knew I was in trouble on Sunday, when I tried to call Bambi (my dog) in from outside, and no sound came out. I sucked it up and went in to work anyways on Monday and regretted it it almost immediately.  I should know better by now. Working while sick sucks, but teaching while sick sucks the life out of you. I was dead woman walking come 3pm, and I left early with sub plans on my desk. Advice to myself – take sick days when you need to, even when Final Exams are fast approaching!

There has been a lot running through my mind lately since my last post – the election – self care – teenage hope – the constant ask/expectations of more and more of teachers.  All being saved for another day, if ever I get my voice back.

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cardigan: madewell – shirt: urban outfitters – jeans: uniqlo – shoes: mia – lipstick: bite beauty multistick in almond