Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week...

Hello again!

It's teacher appreciation week. Always a weird week. A week of people everywhere thanking teachers for what they do. But not giving them the money or funds to do the stuff that might actually matter.

That's just me being shitty.

My favorite part of the week are the letters I get from students. Some encouraged by a specific teacher on campus, or the pta or counselors, some on their own initiative. They always make me smile.

But I'm always curious why other public service jobs don't have a week. Or maybe they do and I simply do not know and/or celebrate it. Like fire fighters, or nurses, or police officers.

Though for my community, I'm unsure how that last one would go. Half the cards may contain N.W.A. quotations.


Today a colleague, my vice principal, and one of my school counselors went to meet with a vice principal, a counselor and an English teacher at a local high school that we feed into. We were trying to figure out if a program they run their would be applicable to our school. Really, we want to do an ethnic studies program at our middle school. It was a good conversation with some positive contacts made and possible ideas and discussions planned for the near future. We'll see how it goes.

As preparation for the program we are thinking of starting, I've been brainstorming thematic driving questions for my history curriculum. I'll be teaching two 7th grade cohorts and two 8th grade cohorts (at least) next year, and a possible study skills class.

Here is what I've created so far, based on our 2 semester, 6 term year (3 terms in each semester):

8th grade:

  1. Why do people immigrate?
  2. Should people change for society or should society change for them?
  3. Why do people revolt?
  4. How do you build a community/nation?
  5. How does race and class affect our lives? What is race?
  6. What is worth fighting for? How do you fight to win?

7th grade

  1. How does our environment affect our society? Our views of others? Our views of ourselves?
  2. How do new technological advances change our society? Our interactions with others? Our views of ourselves?
  3. How do our religious or intellectual beliefs (from our families) affect how we view ourselves? Others? Society? The world?
  4. How do we affect our environment? How does our society affect our views of the environment and of the world?
  5. Why do people explore the universe around them? How does their society affect how they interact with that world? How do they deal with the new information their exploration gives them?
(There was a 6th one, but I can't remember it)

For study skills, this year was rough. Terrible. Atrocious. It's essentially a glorified study hall/homework class (blech). Next year trying to aim it at actual life skills. Trying to think of how I want to approach it. So it should be interesting. Looking at teaching the following ideas:

- Cash/loans/debt/taxes/dmv
- How does a record affect your choices in school/life?
- Restoring old furniture
- Gardening (personal gardening, not like gardening peoples lawns and crap)
- Basic technology issues like web design, basic graphic design, professional email, etc.
- community service jobs- exploration of and the purpose.

And a colleague and I are going to start an after school hip-hop club. Try to educate kids on the history and roots of hip-hop AND have them share their hip-hop cultures with us.

So we'll see. Still trying to figure out what the hell that will look like. But should be good times.

Give me feedback if you have any (gotta tighten that shit up).

- Tony

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