Sunday, May 14, 2017

Honor Flight Homecoming

Pal-Mac Students Make a Difference


Dear Readers,

I had an amazing experience today accompanying two of my colleagues and approximately twenty-six 7th and 8th graders to the Rochester International Airport for an Honor Flight Homecoming.

Words cannot express the emotions and magic of the event. Colleen Sousa, an Individuals and Societies teacher, asked our students to write letters to veterans who would be coming home on this flight. I am in awe of her planning......she had white boards for the students to write their veterans' names and beautiful signs to hold up as they came through.

As I stood there, waiting with the students for these men and women who fought for our country, it really made me step back in my mind for a moment. We can teach academics, but there is absolutely nothing like an authentic, meaningful experience for our young people to be a part of.

A scene that sticks with me was a gentleman being pushed by in a wheelchair with tears in his eyes and carrying a tissue. He was so overcome with emotion that he just kept mouthing, "Thank you. Thank you."

Another moment when one of my students was nervous to hold her sign so a peer did it for her. When her veteran approached, the peer said I did not write the letter, she did, but she's nervous. He put his hand on her shoulder and said, there is nothing to be nervous about. She returned that comment with a big smile and later tears as he walked away.

Seeing our students overcome with emotions as they met their veterans was so extremely powerful. Some people describe teens as immature, selfish, emotional, etc. The reality is they are empathetic and amazing young people who can make incredible differences in all our lives.

I will let the pictures speak for themselves. 

To our students, I am so very proud of you! You made a positive difference in someone else's life. You will never know how much that means to them. I am proud to be your teacher!







Warmly,
Teresa



Sunday, May 7, 2017

"I Got Your Back!"

You Can Do It!


Dear Readers,

It was Friday afternoon and I had my 7th period Language and Literature Class (7th grade). They are currently completing a writing task for Individuals and Socities that complements our present unit perfectly so I gave them some time to work on it after finishing the work for our class.

I was sitting at my table and all of a sudden I just looked around the room and this is what I noticed:

  • 2 students were sitting at the table with me
  • 1 student was behind me sitting at the lab table on a stool
  • 1 student had asked to sit at my desk
  • 3 students were lounging in the book corner in bean bags
  • 5 students were at tables

It was so relaxing and every student was engaged and working. I loved literally being surrounded by my students. I love those days when I am not the lead teacher, when we are scattered about the room and everyone is engaged in learning. 

At one point I caught movement out of the corner of my left eye and saw a student "in the air". What on earth? Apparently he was doing some kind of "Parkour" off my radiator as he came to hand in his work, but after I disrrupted the class for several minutes inquiring about what he was doing we went right back to our task.

There was also an instance where a student went back to plug in his Chromebook and all of a sudden we heard some odd noises and I looked at the students across from me and said, "Was that _______?" They laughed and said yes. We chuckled and went back to work.

Building relationships and making connections is everything. When students know they can be themselves, truly be themselves in a learning environment, the rest will come. I love the fact that a student feels comfortable enough to ask me for my phone charger or to sit at my desk or to borrow my Chromebook. 

Tough Conversations

I have also had to have some tough conversations with students regarding their work completion and effort. The 4th quarter is one of my favorites, but also one of the hardest for students. 

I have honest conversations about finishing the year on a positive note. We have to support and encourage so they know we care and are willing to help them succeed. 

I always use the words "action plan". We need to create an action plan. We have made class action plans and individual student action plans over the past few weeks. 

Time for Making Memories

It is also critical we take time to have some fun. As a teacher appreciation gift, the staff were given kites. Of course I pulled it right out of the package and discovered it had to be assemlbed. My lunch students spent two days putting it together and it now hangs on the wall as we wait for a nice day to try it out. 

Additionally, my bean bags had seen better days and were completely flat. I was fortunate enough to get new filling and the students were beyond excited. Even more than getting newly filled seats, they were more interested in the process of filling them. They talked me into going outside with two huge boxes filled with filling, two large beanbags, a paperclip and scissors. Together a small group of us filled them while wind blew the filling around at times, I lifted the bag and spilled white beads all over the place and they worked collaboratively to get as many in the bean bags as we could. 

I hope that in the future my students remember these moments as fondly as I will.

Wishing You a Fantastic End of the Year

We cannot change the past, we cannot predict the future, but we can live in the present. As we near the end of another fabulous school year, take time to live in the here and now. Really be present and make those memories with your staff and students. So often we let life slip by and regret it later.

Warmly,
Teresa