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A Good Week

This was a good week, but it didn't start out that way.

Monday afternoon I was teaching a class when I got a call from the principal.  She had gotten a phone call from a parent about the grades her son was getting in my class.  It seems as though this parent had poured over the online grade book with a calculator and had a few things to say about my grade book.  This wasn't the first time I had heard from this parent.  And I was really bummed that she had not talked to me about it but had gone right over my head to the principal.  This incident sparked in me one of those teaching crises of faith that I go through every now and again.  I love what I do but is it worth it? Why didn't I do something with my life that depended on my output alone rather than what I can get 150 13-year-olds to do in 40 minutes a day? I'll never get promoted. I 'll never get a bonus.  And on and on and on in my head.....

On Tuesday I came into school and I was still feeling the teaching blues.  So, I decided I needed to do something about it.  Complaining wasn't helping.  It was time to Just Be Nice.

(A note about Just Be Nice: One day, many years ago, my mom called me up and said she was starting a new religion.  She was going to call it the Church of Just Be Nice.  All you had to do to become a member was to be nice.  Brilliant! A little over 5 years ago my mom passed away.  Since then I have named the day she passed and her birthday as Just Be Nice Day and I share this with my students.)

So, back to being nice.  Being nice and doing nice things always makes my mood a little better.  So, to help combat the teaching blues I decided to send home some positive emails to parents.  It's always nice to hear that your kids are doing well.  It felt good to send the emails and the parents and kids that got the emails were over the moon about it.  One parent told me that her son was "beaming with pride" about the email.  Another sent me an email in response that was so fantastic it actually brought tears to my eyes. Teaching crisis of faith averted and all I had to do was Be Nice.

Then, to make the week even better I had an awesome teacher moment.  Part of my curriculum this year is physics.  But, here is everything I have to cover:

  • Opposite poles of magnets attract and same poles repel. Magnetic field lines show the magnetic force.
  • Sound travels through the vibration of molecules.  Sound can't travel through a vacuum. 
  • Conservation of energy means that energy cannot be created or destroyed, only changed and transferred.
  • One type of energy is called electromagnetic radiation.  The types of Em radiation differ in their wavelength. Light is a type of electromagnetic energy.
And that's about it. This is 2 weeks of lessons, max.  Much to my chagrin, there are no astronomy standards for me to cover this year.  So, I decided to create a space study to make the physics standards more interesting and to incorporate some space science (because everyone loves talking about space). And thus, the Journey to Mars unit was born.  I created stations to cover the physics standards and threw in a few things about Mars and how NASA plans to get astronauts to Mars safely and bring them home again. The final project was for the students to write a letter to NASA sharing their ideas to get astronauts safely to and from Mars based on the physics standards they had learned. I Tweeted NASA to find out where to send the letters.  They Tweeted back and I mailed the letters.

On Thursday, this happened:


AWESOME! My students were so excited to learn that NASA was reading their letters and that their ideas were being heard. Teaching victory!! 

All I want is for my students to learn and enjoy science, be their best selves and just be nice.  This week, mission accomplished.  This was a good week.

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