Hitting Teacher Milestones

Bam – Bam- and BAM!  Do you hear that? That’s the sound of milestones being hit!

The 2015-2016 school year…

  • starting my 5th year!
  • I have SIBLINGS of PAST students in my class
  • Aapparently, quite a few of my 8th graders from last year came to school to visit *me* today. (Desafortunadamente, I was at the other site).

Other Thoughts:
So, last night, I was up til about 12 prepping some things. Then, when I went to bed, I kept giggling because I was genuinely excited to go to school and see all my kids.

I slept restlessly (it was really hot last night?).

This morning, I overslept so I missed the bus and biked to school instead.

Began to get ready and ran into students – and it’s absolutely delightful hearing changed voices, admiring height differences, hairstyles, etc.

As we rolled out our first day of TTO, I saw kids just really trying *hard* to keep it together. Kids that I warned the other teachers about didn’t stick out!

The second school site was a bit more difficult because it was unfamiliar to me and it’s going through changes.

Working at 2 sites is really teaching me about the importance of school expectations and culture AND the necessity for *consistency* in the teachers. It’s totally different teaching middle school to kids who didn’t have that and kids who did.

Ode to 6th Graders

Still feeling *glow-y* about the starry-eyedness of the 6th graders at my first school.  *happy sigh*.  I’VE NEVER TAUGHT 6TH GRADE BEFORE.. and they are just SO stanking adorable. (7th/8th grade have their charms too).

Some 6th graders are HUGE and some 6th graders are tiny, that I have to resist the urge to crouch on my knees and talk to them.

Kidbit Tidbits:

Boy 1: “Did she do that to you too?”

Boy 2: “Yeah!” 

(I didn’t turn around to see who said this, but this was right after I vigorously shook a 6th grader’s hand and accidentally cracked his finger. I apologized, but didn’t realize I did this to others! After that, I limply shook the tiny soft hands of the girls behind these two boys).

There was a 6th grade girl showing LOTS of stankfaced attitude. They weren’t even in the classroom yet and she was already making “MmHmm, OKay” remarks after I gave directions.

Right then, my math coach (who is in charge of the transition bells) asked her, “Hey, do you want to help me out with a job?”

The change was immediate.  The girl’s body language got all bashful and she nodded shyly.  After that, in class, she was amazing.  I almost laughed because sometimes, kids are so easy.  It’s really just about making them feel safe and wanted.  Easier said than done. Of course.

When kids were filling out their “Who I Am” Mosaic assignment, there’s a box for “a favorite childhood memory.”  One girl asked me, “What if I don’t have a favorite childhood memory?”  As I prodded a bit, she said, “most of my past is full of sad and bad things.”  I noticed that she wrote that she had siblings.  “Do you like your brother?” I asked.  She said yes.  I then gave a funny memory I had of my little brother and asked her if she had any.  She then wrote, “spending time with my mom.”

I’m excited to be a part of this team because my team is excellent.  We are super aligned in teaching philosophy.  They work hard.  AND, I get to see 300 students everyday. And that is most exciting for me.

Some drawbacks today though:

  • Our lunch transition time (1 hour) was chock full of clean up and set up so.. lunch on the run sort of didn’t happen. :-/  *Must make time to eat!*
  • The parking lot was locked (we were promised our own spaces)
  • The art teacher was slated to teach while I was teaching math… I hate to be the person to kick out art … but… it had to be done.
  • Got home at 6p.  How did *that* happen?!

Only 4 drawbacks? I’ll take that!

It’s my birthday, I can alienate folks if I want to…

This week’s hot topics (in no particular order): 

  1. Never-ending race-based police brutality (and denial of it)
  2. Call for extraditing the dentist that killed Cecil the lion
  3. Planned Parenthood funding
  4. Meek Mill v. Drake

I’m gonna talk about #3.

Amidst the histrionics on both sides, I’m having a hard time finding numbers.

Plus, their site is down right now (8/2/15)

Plus, their site is down right now (8/2/15)

This is my.. rudimentary start…
Planned Parenthood received $360 million in federal funding. That’s $360,000,000.

If only 1% of that went towards abortions, that means, it would be $3,600,000 … which is still $3.6 million. (Although I believe it’s 3% so.. let’s round to $10 million).

About 50% of federal revenues come from income tax. (nationalpriorities.org)

so $5 million of federal revenue goes towards abortions.

I know that seems really tiny. I know PP’s services are more than just abortions. I’m pretty sure no one’s going to shut them down.

But, my $0.02 is this.

I’m working at a school that focuses on our community. I don’t think we could do so much within our community if we were a huge federal organization (like TFA). I don’t know if “scale” is always the best when human well-being is in question. If we truly care about family planning, early pregnancies, relationship abuse.. I really do think it should be more localized. When organizations get huge, that’s when you get the callousness and depersonalization (which might be why we saw people sipping wine and discussing baby parts — let’s not decry the footage, the WHOLE thing is available online if you think it’s doctored). So, if PP were defunded, I wouldn’t mind. I’d keep working where I’m working, go down the pipeline, and figure out how best to PREVENT these things in the first place and how best to SUPPORT with long-term well-being in mind.

This year, an estimated 640,000 babies were aborted (less than 1% due to rape). Eeks. Since PP began, almost 7 million (7,000,000) babies have been aborted. (http://www.numberofabortions.com)

Sure, to some a fetus is a “cluster of cells”, but let’s be real. Anybody who took high school biology knows we’re ALL a cluster of cells. Cell > Tissue > Organ > Systems > Body #amirite? haha.

So again, it comes to the question of personhood and when that begins. The line is getting grayer and grayer as people are now able to abort late-term pregnancies.

I get that we all have a right to our own body… but I’d like to quote a friend here (who’s currently pregnant):

I have a right to my own body. I DO NOT understand why I have a right to HERS. I support and am thankful for a woman’s rights to health, safety, and happiness. It kills me that those rights are not extended to the little one inside of me, and that I, her mother, am granted the right to take that away.

For me, the main mind-boggling part is it really just SEEMS like it has to do with *want*. If the baby is *wanted* the baby is a boy/girl. If the baby isn’t wanted, it is a fetus/parasite. That just seems so contradictory and unfair… that someone’s future could be determined by whether or not he/she is wanted. Especially since data  shows that there are many reasons for abortions – but only about 1/8 have to do with health risks.

Couple that with data that seems to show that abortion locales are predominately located in low-income, minority neighborhoods, and that females are more likely to aborted than males……. To me, this is where human rights truly come in and where I think I could give a voice to the voiceless.

This is why – even though I know many of my friends/contacts on social media would disagree with me – I’ll still pipe up when I can. At the end of the day, I can’t just go with what others tell me and what the Bay Area would deem popular (I used to support PP too). There is too much at stake for that.

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” – Deitrich Bonhoeffer

PS. Things that bug me

  • Reading invectives hurled at people who want their federal tax dollars to not go towards abortion.  Or just the fact that right now, people are using clever and humorous ad hominem, slippery slope, and strawman arguments…
  • Planned Parenthood’s power and political clout
  • This article reflects a majority of my views but speaks with so much vitriol, I wasn’t able to share it on Facebook for fear that people would focus on the bones and miss the meat  (aka throw the baby out with the bath water).

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Before I Forget: Restorative Practices Anecdote

[Warning: this post contains profanity]

So some time in early May, a girl created a Kik account for me. Kik is basically an instant messaging app that kids have on their phones.  Many kids don’t have text so they use kik.  News spread but lots of kids were reluctant to add a teacher. Totally uncool, I understand.

Also, I’m a bit apprehensive about getting too accessible and friendly online because I don’t want to ever get caught up in some scandal AND I don’t want kids to think that it’s okay for their teachers to be all up in their social media biz (because there’s always that one creepy teacher that we all read about in the news…).

So, my rule of thumb was kids could add me, but if it wasn’t related to homework, I wouldn’t answer.

The other night I was invited into a group chat and well, you can look below.

The group is called “FBGM”, and being unfamiliar with how Kik works, I just assumed it was someone’s username.


And wow, that sucked because this was a group of boys that I think highly about. I quickly took a screenshot and removed myself from the group mainly because I didn’t want them to incriminate themselves further (although in retrospect, I should’ve stayed on just in case they denied this happened).

I then emailed some leadership about what to do.  As I emailed, I felt embarrassed because I’d been told offhandedly by someone in that email group that “Kik causes drama”, and I’d breezily responded with, “Oh, it’s just for homework.”  I mentally berated myself for opening myself up to this because the kids probably say these kinds of things all the time but I just had to have witnessed it.

I know the blame is misplaced, but I just wished I hadn’t seen him make a bad decision.  I called his home right away and said that I’d like a conversation the next day with a parent.

Well, the end of the year is happening and there aren’t many times for breaks.  He showed up for class, and I was surprised because I thought he was going to be pulled until we have a conversation. I tried to keep things normal because honestly, I didn’t actually care that much.   I’m pretty sure kids say things like this to look cool and if the kid actually thought it was me, he wouldn’t have said it.

Finally at lunch, he, an administrator, and I had a conversation.  This is what I love.  Because the kid is used to this sort of protocol, he was able to open up right away.  He expressed his guilt, his sorriness, and how he just “didn’t know it was me.”  I and the principal sort of pressed upon him the fact that the hurt comes from the words themselves too and the principal asked him “How do you think it makes Ms. Kim feel?”

He responded with, “She probably lost respect for me and doesn’t trust me anymore.  She’s probably hurt because it was a bad thing to say, and I feel bad too. I know I messed up and I don’t know if she can respect me anymore.”

The principal then said, “Why don’t you ask her?”

and he said, “I don’t want to ask her. I don’t want to know.”  Then there was some silence, and she discussed ways to restore our relationship.  She then left us to continue to talk it out.

“Ms. Kim, I just knew I messed up. I woke up at like 2, and I couldn’t sleep, because I was sorry, and I knew I messed up.”

I stopped myself from quickly saying, “Oh don’t worry, it was a mistake.” and instead I allowed myself to say that I had been hurt.  I don’t actually know how hurt I was, because I think as a middle school teacher, you just have to grow thicker skin.  You can’t let things like this hurt you because not every kid will respond like this kid was.  So, it wasn’t until I said, “You know, I try really hard with you guys, and I felt like you and I had a good relationship,” that I sniffled a bit.  I bet I could’ve held that back.. but ya know, sometimes a kid has to see that he can inflict pain.

We agreed that he would help me pack after school, and today I was a little irked because I had to go remind him rather than he coming up to my room right away.

But I think things are okay because some kids later came into ask why he was here, “For service” and one guy began laughing saying, “dude, he was all..” and was about to share the story, but my kid hushed him quietly and kept doing his piece.

And that helped pull things together for me.

Does that make sense?

Anyway, things suck, but things always pull up. I want to keep loving them as much as I can.  I’m going to be a mess tomorrow.

It was only one year with my ASCEND kids versus the two with the kids from OCA.  Yet I feel like we just had more … heartstring action. I’m thankful for an environment that lets me connect in healthy, whole relationships.  If you don’t have this at your school, I don’t know how you can continue to teach (unless kids are docile and there’s a lot of moolah!).

End of the Year Junk Awards

So, one thing I’ve *always* wanted to do but never had the chance to do (until now and our lovely end of the year schedule where I have a week of half-days), were end-of-the-year gag gifts.

I love puns, and as a Humanities teacher, I feel that it’s only appropriate to have fun with these.

Last night I scoured the internet for ideas but maybe due to a lack of the right search terms, I found a few usables, but then kept finding funny certificates but no actual item-gifts.

I made sure to keep them gentle and lighthearted, and to save you the grief of looking them up on your own, here’s my list I compiled (guffawing to myself).  Most of these I’m using. Some of them I’m not.

  • highlighter – for the highlight of my day
  • lemon – turning lemons into lemonade (always cheerful)
  • egg – eggstreme (could be anything from eggcellence to just any other extreme)
  • teddy grahams – warm nature
  • donut – “I donut know what I’d do without you.”
  • spatula – always flipping out
  • rubber band – always bouncing back
  • ruler – boss / rules the class
  • Extra gum – does extra!
  • band aid – always helping
  • nuts – drives me crazy
  • glove – lending a hand
  • kit kat – for the kid that works super hard but maybe never gets the BREAK s/he deserves
  • sock – puts best foot forward
  • cinnamon – putting spice into life
  • candle – a deLight to teach
  • chips – always willing to CHIP into discussions
  • plant/flower – lots of growth!
  • fan – I am a fan!
  • mint – a breath of fresh air (ideas)
  • banana – drives me bananas
  • chili pepper – being so calm and chill
  • mushroom – an all around “fun guy”
  • box – thinks outside of it
  • cheese/corn – corny/cheesy
  • mustache – always “mustache” a question
  • star or orbit gum – spacey space cadet kid
  • puzzle piece – still cannot figure this person out
  • rose – always rising to the occasion
  • raisin – Raising the roof!
  • lid – For the kid who could never stop talking

Then, as I went shopping, a few more popped into my head.  These, I could never use, but they exist just the same. HAHA.

  • Squirt Soda – for the kid who takes incessant bathroom breaks
  • Turnip – kid that’s always turnt up
  • sock – for never putting a sock in it
  • lid – to help put a lid on it
  • splinter – splinter in my side
  • Ketchup – always behind
  • Hanger – always hanging around
  • Leaf – will never leave!
  • Sunglasses – always in the dark.

IMG_20150610_241013326 IMG_20150610_240916500 IMG_20150610_240937039  IMG_20150610_240955019

A speech I want to give tomorrow..

Well, maybe not a speech, but just a…

Hey guys, I just want to ask the class for forgiveness for losing my temper yesterday.  It was wrong. It’s just that you guys are doing really great, advanced work but instead of seeing it through, you prefer to stop and play. These reflection parts are also important because this is how you SHOW what you know and did!  It’s just really hard for me to see that, but I know that doesn’t excuse my outburst yesterday.

You know what though? I get sarcastic quickly.  I raise my voice quickly. And it’s something that I really think I learned at my first US charter school. I don’t remember yelling or being angry in my tone when I began.  It makes me sad that I didn’t notice the bite in my words until I lashed out today at a few kids and didn’t realize that my assistant principal (who is the most sunshiney, kind, understanding soul in the world!) was in the room.  I blushed right away but blustered on acting as if it was fine.

It stinks that it wasn’t until someone else truly saw my colors that I felt remorse. I wish that my conscience had kicked in sooner and that this wasn’t so normal for me.

Something to sit in for a while..

CSET Series: Math III and OpenCourseWare

I have a personal problem where when something difficult peers over my life’s horizon, I go into denial and procrastination mode.

Leetle by leetle, I’m doing better… mainly because honestly? It makes my God happy when I try my best.

Last month, I spent one week feverishly cramming for the first of three math CSET exams (In CA, you need to take 3 subtests to earn a math teaching credential… although I don’t know why I have to get one since my multiple subject cred technically covers up through 8th grade and I doubt any 8th grader will be learning calculus no matter what’s in Common Core…).

I felt pretty despondent about it because I honestly knew very little.  No, I’m not being modest. At one point I wrote in the free response section, “Hello, I plan to teach in urban Oakland where there are very little qualified math teachers.  As you can see, I’m a creative problem solver and I am great at explaining my thinking. Please be gentle.”  Or something along those lines – basically appealing to their pathos.

Now in two weeks, I have the third subtest (CSET III for trig and calc).  Two days after, I’ll have the second subtest.  I just don’t have time to do them any time else.. although now that I think about it, if I don’t pass, I might as well have just scheduled these for later.  (20/20 hindsight).

To add to all this unmotivation is the fact that trigonometry kicked my BUTT in high school and although I loved calc, I can’t say I really remember any of it.  (Truly, a 5 on an AP Calc exam doesn’t really work 10 years later..).

BuuUUuuUUuuut…just now, I figured out the cosine of 5pi/4 by drawing a picture .. so now I feel a leeeetle better about my prospects.

I’m using Khan Academy, Barron’s AP Calc book and UCI’s Open Courseware to prep math teachers for the CSETs.  I’ll let you know which worked out the best for me later.

If you know of any other resources, let me know!

Example diagnostic problem from UCI's OCW CSET Test prep!

Example diagnostic problem from UCI’s OCW CSET Test prep!