Sunday, February 12, 2012

Life in High School

A few months ago, the literature teacher at NCHS informed my principal husband that she would be leaving at the semester's end to pursue her music career. I had heard inklings that she was headed this direction, but everyone thought it would happen this summer. Having pursued my secondary English endorsement, I knew I was in a good position for this job and wanted to go after it for next year. However, mid-year - that was something else, until I began to think about the students left behind in those classes.

I came to teach at the junior high in 2007, and my first classes of students were now the juniors and seniors about to make a teacher switch mid-year. That did it; I wanted the job. There is no question that I have worked hard in the junior high and loved every minute, well, almost every minute of it. I truly loved working with my colleagues, especially Mrs. History. The two of us were so compatible in our thinking, planning, and organization. I did not want the junior high language arts program to flounder and really encouraged my former boss to hire a particular young lady. After a lot of prayer, he did it. I worked hard, planning lessons to the end of the year, making copies of studies that I knew would be helpful, leaving everything on the computer so she would have easy access, and meeting with her weekly to answer questions and provide encouragement. As I expected, she is doing a wonderful job. It's been baptism by fire as she has dealt head-on with all kinds of issues, but she's been thoughtful, moderate, and firm in her decision-making and discipline. She's a great fit for that assignment.

Thanks to a full week of snow days, I was able to spend two days preparing my new classroom and getting ready to teach literature again. Yes, again. For several years at QCS in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, I taught American Lit, World History, 7th, 8th, 9th grade Reading/English, 12th grade Bible... whatever was needed (other than science and math). Those years, and my on-going relationships with colleagues from that time, have really helped me as I have made this change. I love teaching high school students again. But it is so different! The technology available to me now that I did not have at QCS is incredible. What an amazing benefit to have so many resources right at my fingertips via the internet.

Technology aside, serving at QCS taught me many things, especially planning ahead. The political dynamics in Haiti were always a bit dicey, and we were never sure when something would erupt and close school. Due to the uncertainty, we were required to prepare and distribute assignment sheets every Friday for the following week, detailing lessons just in case our students could not get to school because of burning tire barricades or soldiers in the streets. I did this type of planning for years, and that routine is still a part of my life today. It's probably why it was relatively easy for me to leave plans behind for my junior high replacement. I'm always looking and planning ahead. Case in point, my blog with homework posted ahead for those who are absent or planning extended absences.

It has been a serious challenge to get to that place in the high school. For the first week, I was really pushing myself with prep. However, I'm finally there. My lessons for this coming week were finished last Wednesday, and I hope to move that up to Tuesday for next week. I can always make changes but having a blueprint in place makes my life so much easier. At first I was worried about whether the students would accept me on this level. I knew their former teacher was challenging, but I heard last week that some consider me to be more challenging. What? Not possible! I'm requiring a bit more reading and writing, but I honestly don't think it's harder. I don't have as many daily assignments, preferring to have students working on bigger assignments over time. We'll see how it all functions in the weeks ahead, but I am loving my job, my classes, and my boss... yeah - my hubby. It's a good thing to be back in the high school again.

One thing that was relatively unrelated to literature (but helped create a fun classroom experience) was the table contest from last week. Our tables (rather than desks) are a bit funky and I didn't like looking at them, so I held a table covering contest. First place winners would receive a free-homework pass, and runners-up might win a free-journal pass. I had some great entries, as you can see:

First Place Winner - all hand drawn - The Edgar Allan Poe table

Second Place - The Brit Lit Table

The Granddaughter Award (Gracie's favorite)

Third Place - The Poetry Table

It was fun and the students are delighted to have their passes.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Missing my adorables!

Thursday, mid-day, our two red-headed grandchildren flew off to CA and the next step of their stateside journey. They'll spend a week in California with their parents before heading to KC and the mission commissioning - career assignment - for mom and dad. After that, it's on to Indiana for a month with our daughter-in-law's sister and family. In early April, they will all head back to France and continue their ministry in that beautiful country. Our good-byes were not as tearful as they might have been. I took the time to buy new toys for the little ones, a great distraction for them and for me. I made it through without sobbing all over them; I was terrified I would lose it and make their transition even more difficult, but God is good and gave me the fortitude to get through that very difficult moment.

In addition to all the good-byes, Grace and Eliott will say a loving hello to a new baby sister in May as baby girl arrives to join the family. We have had a precious time, six weeks worth, with our beautiful little redheads and look forward to lots of chatting over the internet. What a blessing. For now, here are my little adorables:

Eliott Ray LOVES cars and trucks (and calls everything bus!)

Grace Blue, our dramatic princess, loves dress-up.

Eli is a big cookie monster fan too.

And Gracie dreams about baking cupcakes! She's the only pre-schooler I know
who will sit - for hours - watching the cake-decorating shows on the food network!

Such vivid little personalities! Is it any wonder we miss them?