Spring Sprung

These photos are from last week.  I broke my shopping ban in Toronto over spring break and picked up a second pair of Blundies.  Seriously, I need another pair of Blundstones like I need a hole in my head.  But these are black, and the pair I already have are brown. That is my thought process here, I’m not even kidding. But ALSO, they were cheaper because I was in Canada, another Commonwealth country, and I have more buying power with the current exchange rate. Justification of a ridiculous purchase! All jokes aside though, these boots will last me literally forever. One woman I know has had her Blundies since college, and I’m pretty sure she’s at least a little bit older than me.  This means my Blundies will last untill I’m dead. Just like this dress from 2012, this sweater from 2015, and this scarf from 2013.

On the school front, there are only 4 (or 5, depending on the positivity of the person) weeks till school is out!  Our kids have been testing these past 2 weeks, and the teachers have been feeling the testing fatigue. Testing at our school means 100 min blocks, all day every day for 2 weeks. I love my kids, but these blocks have felt extra long these days. I have also been planning these class blocks packed with super relaxing and chill activities such as annotating scientific texts, structured discussions/debates, argumentative writing, and synthesis.

It’s funny – every year I think I’m sooooo done, I’m just going to show movies for the rest of the year! But then a super interesting topic comes around and bam, I spend heaps of time really working to develop their thinking skills.  This year, they will be studying the potential future US/Mexico border wall, but through the lens of the ecological impacts a large physical barrier would create. These past 2 weeks I’ve been busy working on the build up – not even the juicy part! We’re still just working on learning ecological relationships (trophic levels, disruptions in food webs, etc), and I got evaluated this past Tuesday.  Ugh.  My lesson was pretty good – I had spent hours working on it myself and elicited the eyes of no less than 4 other people, which means it was “effective”. Evaluations really have a way of feeling punitive as opposed to a learning experience. It’s to the point where I have been trained to just be thankful that I’m “effective”. SAD!

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glasses: warby parker – scarf: topman – cardigan: madewell – dress: gap – leggings: target – boots: blundstone 510

Miss! Are You Wearing Makeup?!

I started this post about 2 weeks ago, and then promptly forgot about it.  So here it is…2 weeks later!

This past Tuesday, I wore makeup to school – like I do every day. On this day, however, it was a big deal to 3rd period. The “Do-Now” conversation turned into “Miss! Are you wearing makeup today?” “Miss! do you have a date tonight, is that why?” and “Miss! you look pretty.”  Thanks for the ego boost kids!

The truth is, I wear makeup every day, but that morning, I decided to add bit bit of eye liner – one extra step that I don’t normally do. My everyday morning routine consists of hitting the snooze about 4 times, dragging myself out of bed to brush the teeth, wash the face, moisturize said face with SPF, and get dressed. Once those things are done, it’s makeup time. I slap on a light skin base of some sort, stave off the inevitable oily sheen with some powder, run some brown goop over the brows, and dab some life in the form of blush onto my cheeks. Then I head downstairs to pour about 32 fl. oz. of coffee into travel thermoses (I set the coffee maker the night before), grab a snack bar for lunch and head out the door.  20 min later I’m on my way in to school.

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sweater: j.crew – blouse: madewell – jeans: j.brand – boots: h&m – belt: banana republic – everything old and not currently in stores

Spring Forward

I’m already looking ahead to Spring, and it’s not even really here yet.  B and I started plannning our new and expanded #discoverygarden in the middle of February, with snow actively falling.  In the fall, B and I broke up our front yard (old dead lawn) and right-of-way to make room for more garden space. We’ve now tripled our previous garden square footage! I can’t wait for when we can finally plant at the end of April and the start of May.

The weather here in Denver is still frigid though, so I’m still dressing the part with dark colors and wool. The bright late 2000’s J.Crew style lipstick is still going strong, today with Nars ‘Funny Face’.  I’m also still on my shopping ban though, so everything here is old or a hand me down from my sister. I did break my shopping ban to back this kickstarter project though – It was just too good to pass up!

Last 2 Days

I’m on a shopping ban till June – no shopping of any kind. No new clothes or beauty products, no extras of anything I don’t actaully truly need. It’s going to be tough, but it’s also forcing me to “shop my closet”. It’s a ridiculous phrase, because it feeds into our consumerist addiction of shopping by not shopping – the exact habit I’m trying to break! On the plus side though, I’ve been rediscovering loads of old loves.

I watched this Valentine’s Day make up tutorial the other day by Chrissstttiiine, and it reminded me of how much I drooled over the J.Crew style makeup back in 2010. Bright matte lips and minimal everything else – exactly what I love.  The next day I went rummaging through my lipstick collection (it’s embarassingly superflous) and dug out my old trusty NARS lipstick in Heat Wave. It’s always been a “summer color” for me in the past, but it’s been worryingly hot here in Denver this past week. In fact, we hit the record for the hottest february day ever last Friday at 80˚F. I’ve worn the same lipstick 2 days in a row now – something that almost never happens.

Today, on her way into 5th period, a kid said “Miss, you look like a character out of something today…your lipstick and the stripes…I don’t know, it’s a look”. I’m not sure what that means, but I interpreted it as, “Miss, you look super chic today, like straight out of a French-y scene in a J.Crew catalog!” right?!?

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shirt: uniqlo – jeans: f21 – belt: banana republic – shoes: mia – lipstick: nars heat wave

Yesterday, I dug out all of the old favorites. Everything I wore yesterday has been in my closet for at least 4 years if not more. My old favorite Madewell wool flannel blazer I picked up in DC while shopping with my sister. The oldest pair of Forever 21 jeans I bought back in my first year of teaching (worn 2 days in a row). The first pair of ankle boots I bought back in 2009 when everyone was all about tall riding style boots and I thought I was so hip to wear low ankle booties. The oldest t-shirt I own, so thin it’s almost too risque for school. All to match one of my oldest lipsticks. This is a lot of talk about old stuff. I’m approaching middle age. The next step to to buy a motorcyle (I reeeeeaaaaaaly want one again!) and wear all of my oldest and favorite-st clothes forever. In fact, I wore this same exact outfit back in 2012 on a trip to NYC before we moved there. So old.

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blazer: madewell – tshirt: threads 4 thought – jeans: f21 – belt: gap – boots: nordstrom bp – lipstick: nars heat wave

Nasty

Nasty Women of the world unite! I saw this t-shirt a while ago on the Instagram feed of a woman I watch on Youtube – Stephanie Villa (#stylecrush). I loved it so much I absolutely had to pick one up for myself even though I started a shopping ban at the start of the year. I wore it yesterday, and turns out it played right into the spirit week theme for the day – black out. Winning.

Speaking of winning, I’ve decided today that it’s ok to give myself some pats on the back more often. Over the years I’ve been so well trained by evaluation rubrics (like LEAP and Danielson) and professionalism rubrics (that’s a thing here in Denver) to think only in terms of what I coulda/shoulda/woulda have done better – because unless you’re a unicorn, you are not a good teacher (or at least just effective). So well trained, in fact, that I’ve completely forgotten to remember that sometimes, I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me! 

Today I hosted a learning lab through PEBC, where about 15 teachers and administrators came into my class and watched me teach. I was so nervous, my hands were shaking a bit at the start! The focus of this learning lab was on teaching students to use thinking strategies in a Science classroom. The content for the day was gene expression, so I taught it through the lens of supernumerary nipples, with some reading, discussion, and grappling. The kids were great – they did everything I planned, and asked the best questions. They performed so well they even all remained in their seats and kept discussing the prompt while I went into the hall to break up a fight! Seriously. Never a dull moment. Today’s learning lab was more learning for the observers than my own learning, but I did get one valuable lesson out of this – that I’m actually a pretty darned good teacher sometimes, and it’s ok to admit that to myself more often. It’s ok to be a Nasty Woman!

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glasses: warby parker – t-shirt: twostringjane (etsy) – cardigan and jeans: uniqlo – boots: madewell – bracelet/cuff: julia szendrei – belt: urban outfitters

Taking a Chill Pill

First off, thank you everyone for the outpouring of support and shared thoughts. The flow of responses both publicly and through email has helped bolster my spirits this past week immensely. I’ve been more zen about trying to do it all, and I’ve learned a few things about what teaching might be like in other areas around the world. I think teachers are inherently an empathetic bunch, and more often than not I just need a good shoulder to cry on/with before hitching up again for another wild ride at school.

This past week I participated in the Global Women’s March, took 10 teenagers from school snowboarding, worked a 50 hour work week, and taught my students a little bit about Chinese New Year in between all the science. I would call it a successful week. To ease out of the work week, I dressed super chill today with stretchy jeans, sneakers and a sweatshirt.  Kids responded with: “we can’t even tell that you’re a teacher, miss. You look just like us today!” and “Ms. Schenck’s got the second best shoe game in the building!” I have no idea who is first. I’m ok with being second.

I picked these up at the tail end of last year while out shopping the holiday sales. I needed another pair or shoes like I needed a hole in my head, but I had a moment of fashion weakness. Stan Smith sneakers have been back in trend for ages now, and I finally caved. It’s funny how Adidas sneakers have made it into 3 rounds of trends (that I’ve noticed directly) since I’ve been alive.  In the 80’s, these exact shoes were all the rage amongst the asian kids who played tennis, and Adidas shell toes were gracing the feet of hip hop legends like Run DMC. In the mid 90’s, Adidas sneakers were once again all the rage amongst my friends and the skater boys. In the early 2000’s, old school Adidas shell toes were all my friends and I wore – to concerts, on the motorcycle, to parties, all day every day. Now I feel like Adidas sneakers are in the midst of a new resurgence. I’m pretty glad I still had a pair in my closet from the last cycle in the 2000’s, but I of course “needed” to add these to the collection. I’m sure once the current Adidas craze dies down, they’ll be back out for another round in about 10 years. I’ll be prepared.

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sweatshirt: automattic (present from b) – t-shirt: ??  (stolen from b’s closet) – jeans: f21 – belt: gap – sneakers: adidas

Teacher Burn-out

The straight path to teacher burnout goes right through the district and the high school I work at.  There – I said it aloud to the public internets. My school and my district is burning me out.

I worked a 13 hour day this past week, and the rest were 10 hour days. These long days *only* include teaching five 60 minute periods, planning 3 different lesson plans (one of which is a college level course), and depending on the day, giving 100% attention to one hour-long department/grade level/staff/team meetings, and tutoring students during after school and lunch time office hours, all without a lunch break because students first. By the time my day ended at 8:30pm last Tuesday, with all lessons ready for the next day, I felt so stressed I could barely talk and when I could, it was only to pick a frustration fight with B.

One of the values I hear constantly in my school district is “students first”.  I’m totally on board with this – my teaching should be centered around what students need and how to facilitate their learning. But what it feels like, is students first, at the expense of teachers. It feels like we have a constant revolving door of teachers at my school, especially in the science department. In our district, there was a 22% teacher turnover rate from 14/15 to 15/16, well above the national average of 14%. At my high school, the science department has experienced an average 50% turnover for the past 5 years.

So what is the plan for teacher burnout? There doesn’t seem to be any plan in my district to retain teachers at all farther than “we are the highest paying district in the area” (which isn’t saying much, actually). This past week, our district superintendent came to visit for a Q & A session (don’t even get me started on how set up and fake it all felt), and when asked about his plan for teacher burnout and such low retention rates, he pulled a smooth move and basically said a lot of things without saying anything at all. Frankly I’m surprised my district is not more proactive about teacher retention, considering how costly a revolving door of teachers can be. I don’t even want more money – I just want the time and space to grow and be a better teacher. At least with my admin I feel heard, but not helped.

Instead, I’ve gone searching for help myself. I hosted a learning lab today where a group of experienced teachers came to watch a lesson in my class. Afterwards, we all debriefed, did some research, and discussed ways to increase thinking and build more inquiry into a science lesson. It was all together extremely inspiring, and I’ve agreed to host another learning lab in a couple weeks. I’ve also been asking teachers how they plan and will be searching more into how I can streamline my planning process and make it more efficient.  Lastly, I really need to just be ok with having mediocre lecture based lessons sometimes, because those are the ones I can get done quickly. It’s the only way I’ll be able to keep my sanity and not harbor bitterness, which leads to burnout.

Sorry for the big rant, readers, but I reached a big breaking point this past week. I need some self care, and some time. I will pull through. In the mean time, here are some old photos from before the break that I never got around to posting.  The dress is from Anthropologie, and the colorful pattern is really not my usual thing. But I loved the embroidery, and it just felt special, so I snapped it up from the sale section.

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glasses: warby parker – dress and tights: anthropologie – boots: dr. martins