March has been a bust for me so far. I started off on Monday leaving school early to head to the doctor's office. Diagnosis? Severe sinus infection AND conjunctivitis. I had to stay home for 2 days in a row. Aside from totally throwing off my scheduled lesson plans (starting a new science unit, a new writing unit) I had to figure out 2 days of back-to-back sub plans. Any teacher who reads this understands that difficulty. In my district, we never know who will get as our sub, so we have to make sure that our plans can be handled and understood by anyone from an experienced sub familiar with the school and students and subjects, to a college student on spring break, or to a warm body. The first day is bad enough, but then to figure out what to do for the 2nd day when you can't come in and see how far they got the first day . . . well, it was not exactly the easiest thing to plan for. I returned to school Thursday. I had had the same sub for both days, and it appeared that things went well, although I did discover that several students earned after school detentions for misbehavior.
We had an awesome presenter on Thursday - Scary Guy. He is a dynamic presenter and the kids were very impressed. I don't think I've ever been a gym full of 6th, 7th, and 8th graders (450ish) who sat in shocked, even horrified silence as they viewed the opening powerpoint. When Scary Guy actually entered the gym you could have heard a pin drop. Scary Guy is tattooed over 85% of his body, was dressed in what looked like biker leather and sported a bleached blonde short mohawk and beard, and numerous facial piercings. His message? If you want world peace, it starts with you! We need to love each other and understand each other. You control your mind and actions. He challenged the kids (and us) to go 7 days and 7 nights without calling someone a name other than their own. If you slip up (and you will), go face to face to that person and apologize. He preached a terrific sermon - as close to church as you can go in a public school-- from a truly universal point of view. It's the golden rule - treat others as you would wish to be treated. It takes a lot to impress me when it comes to assembly presentations. This was terrific! I'm glad I made it back to school for this. It didn't hurt that his whole school presentation lasted an hour and a half, and then our 6th graders got another 90 minutes with him in a training session. He told the kids that if you receive negative energy (someone calls you a bad name, verbally assaults you, etc.) you have a choice. You can accept that negative energy which gets stored inside you, creating stress, and when your "stress tank" is full, you will pass on that negative energy) OR you can reject the negative energy, refuse to "own" the bad name, and walk away, realizing that the bad energy belongs to the sender, and not to you. The kids were told that when you accept the negative energy somebody else controls you. The other big piece that impressed the kids was that he asked the audience to raise their hands if they had ever called somebody a rotten name. Every hand went up. Then he asked how many people had been called a bad name. Every hand went up. Finally he asked if they had every hit somebody, (including a brother or sister, "cause they're human too") Again, everyone raised their hand. Scary Guy then told us that we were all bullies, all victims, and therefore all participants in the vicious cycle of violence.
I didn't expect this to turn into a Scary Guy posting, but he was amazing.
In another vein, I'm also struggling with the idea that I will probably have to change grade levels next year. It looks like I will be moved to 7th grade to teach social studies and language arts. I love the idea of getting back to those 2 subjects, but I'm not at all happy with having to move up. I have been in 6th grade for 15 years and I love it. I love the age level and I'm good at reaching these kids. I have been unhappy this past year and a half because I got "stuck" teaching science instead of social studies. For reasons I won't go into here, I got switched from social studies to science against my will. I've officially complained about the switch since I'm not HQT for science and I guess this is the official answer. I guess you have to be careful what you wish for!
I have a ton of work today -- one result of being sick is a lot of extra work to look at, even if you don't grade it all! Tomorrow I hope to get to church -- although that's another problematic area in my life right now. I need to figure out what to do about that soon, but that's another whole post in itself on another day!