Week 6 of Awesome

I like to take selfies in my classroom. But not just any selfies, I like to take celebration selfies. It is basically like the ultimate no cost reward system for teachers. And teachers like things at no cost. So when something AWESOME happens in my class, BOOM a selfie occurs. I keep a selfie stick handy at all times. I have one in my classroom, car, and for home use, because you never know when one may come in handy. I used to take them on all plane trips too. Until I was always, “that passenger” getting flagged for having mysterious objects in my bookbag. Turns out, TSA doesn’t love travelers with this device, and neither does Disney World. But in my classroom it is an essential. This selfie happened because all students had turned in their work completed, done well, and one time. Pretty much the perfect trio in the eyes of educators. I printed this amazing photo in color, sent a student down to the library to retireve it from the color printer, and as he came in, I excitedly asked, “How did it turn out?” His response was priceless and very raw, “Well Ms. G” he said casually, “It looks like you need to poop.” And with that, I proudly displayed it on the board.
Faculty meetings can be, well, like lots of other meetings. Obligatory. You sign in for proof of attendance, appear to listen intently as you really are scrolling through the list of things you need to be doing, and every once and a while you share something that is meaningful. Now call me crazy, but I actually like meetings. Sometimes I feel like little lightening bolts are hitting my brain because I get a lot of great ideas during these sessions. Recently at a professional development meeting paired with an advisory committee meeting, fireworks were going off in people’s brains and it was decided that the next faculty meeting was going to be different. Much different. It was going to be this perfect hybrid of team building and social time. It started with delicious treats from Crave. Because staff always does better with snacks.  Then, for the first time ever, our after school teacher meeting was actually designed like an escape room. Using Breakout Edu staff worked together in large teams of two to escape the faculty meeting. The team dynamics that existed and the fun that was had was AWESOME. I highly recommend this for all staffs and schools, in fact their is a game that is specifically designed for staff meetings. Check it out! And if that doesn’t sound up your alley, maybe check out an alternative to this game by watching this video.
This entry is different. It’s hard, but a relief. It’s shocking, but supportive. It still doesn’t seem real, but it is totally is a reality. On Wednesday, Sept. 20th my hometown and the district I teach in was faced with something no school, student, or teacher should ever have to face. An active shooter entered the halls of our high school and open fired. For the full story click here. But what I care to focus on is the reliance, compassion, and community that took part after. It brings me to tears just thinking about how a small town can overcome even the most horrific events. That students can walk back into our schools the next day with smiles on their faces. That officers have spent countless hours in our buildings all week for just that extra boost of feeling safe. That pastors and counselors have been on call 24/7 for all the needs of our kids. That nearly all of central Illinois came together to wear green in support of us. That is community at it’s finest and I am proud, beyond proud, to be part of that AWESOME.
I don’t collect papers in a traditional fashion. In fact, I don’t do much in a traditional fashion. I like to try new things and see how students respond. I like to try new things to make improvements. I like to try new things just to make education fun. One of those things is racing around the room to grab completed assignments from students. Check out the full description of this in my book Game Changers. With proper time and training, I have perfected the art of the paper collection race and on some days, after a good stretch as to not pull a hammy, I can do this in under 8 seconds. This week the race looked a little different. I had to have a little outpatient surgery on my back and under doctors orders I was told to “not do anything stupid.” Ha. I love when docs just spit the truth out. So with that said, I gave a student the opportunity to run around the room and do this AWESOME work for me. I did give the disclaimer that I make it look much easier than it actually is. This kiddo took it like a champ and got around 30 seconds. He then handed me a very organized(ish) pile of papers. Thanks, buddy! Great work!

Nothing ends a crazy week quite like the 1st school dance of the year. I love school dances for so many reasons. One of the top reasons is because I actually double as the DJ. Teacher by day, DJ by night. Students can’t even handle the epicness of having an educator who also knows something about sick beats and controls the strobe light for 2 hours. One thing I love to do is train kids how to actually be a DJ. Today my advisory got their first lesson in the art of getting all the gear ready. With some basic training on the equipment, I set it all out, gave them 20 minutes, and watched as logic, teamwork, and creativity unfolded. With absolutely no prior knowledge on how how to use sound activated light bars, wireless microphones, and a 5 channel mixer, the students nailed the task! The best part is testing the equipment on the stage to see if they were actually successful. We had a 3 minute dance party as the lights and sounds blasted from the gym stage. It was both heartwarming and so hilarious to watch them celebrate their work as the road crew.