Saturday, July 18, 2015

A Whole Lotta Crazy

I know a few people who will read that title and cringe, but that's the feeling that I'm emerging from this week and last week with!

Last week we were introduced to something called Kid Talk, which is our way to track a student's progress.  We don't grade homework, but we grade exit tickets to numerically keep track of mastery.  Kid Talk is a way to numerically keep track of behavior and attitudes with our kids so that we can best help each of our students while they are with us this summer and throughout their six year commitment with Breakthrough.  Kid Talk is not something that has been done in the past, but it's supposed to make conferences easier to prepare for.  There were a few snags to work out and it was yet another thing to ask of us as Teaching Fellows.

This past week brought normal classes, but also our first Visitor's Day, Conferences, and a school-wide game of Predator and Prey.  All things that I've never experienced before and had to take in stride.

Visitor's Day was actually pretty fun.  I only teach one core class on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I was a tour guide that day.  Our group was made up of parents, current teaching fellows, future and current board members, past teaching fellows... you name it.  It was really cool, I think, to walk into the classrooms of my fellow teachers and see the really neat things that they are doing in their classes and see them in their element.  It was a little weird just to walk in and stand there and listen to a lesson that we weren't privy to.  It was even stranger for me to see the people on the tour and ask their students what they're learning in class.  I thought it was going to be a "look but don't touch" approach, so to speak, like visiting a museum.  Show them what Breakthrough does and share why it works, but not much else.  It was kind of cool to see our visitors be that interested in Breakthrough though.

Conferences was something that I've never had to do before, so I was a little nervous.  But I have three advisees, so it's not like it was going to be a long and arduous night.  In fact, I only got to talk to two of my advisees and their families on conference night.  The longest one lasted about twenty minutes and I felt good about that.  The shortest was about five minutes.  I didn't feel so good about that.  I learned really quickly that conferences ought to be a conversation between the teacher (myself) and the family.  I shouldn't just talk about what I want to see from my students, it should also be what goals the student themselves and the family have for personal and academic success.

And then Friday came.  I made sure my classes were pretty chill until finally, right after lunch, the games began (that game being Predator and Prey).  I got to tell the kids in my college that they were going to be prey (they had been theorizing and predicting for days.  They were convinced that we were going to be omnivores because of the number of people in our college, which proved to be nonsensical).  I think my college was pretty excited to be prey.  Our job was simple: find food and shelter cards on the ground and try our best to not get eaten.  The whole game was about two hours long.  Silver college (my college) was incredible.  They had excellent teamwork.  Even though I was the instinct that they had to stick by, they were good about offering up their own ideas and making decisions together.

Right away, as soon as we got out into the field and started picking up cards, we picked up a disease card.  We had told the kids before that the disease card didn't exist this year, so they were very surprised and mildly outraged.  But it proved to be fine.  Getting the disease card doesn't mean that you automatically lose the game.  You can keep playing, but getting the disease card means that in the event that you are attacked, you may not run, you can only walk quickly.  We used the disease card to our advantage when it became necessary.  We were pretty good about evading those who wanted to "eat" us, but in the event that someone did try to attack, we shouted, "We have the disease card!!!"  If our whole group got eaten, the omnivore or the predator would get that disease card and when they wanted to attack, they would have had to fast walk to take the reflexes of the prey they were attacking.  We managed to get all of the food and shelter cards we needed plus the three necessary water breaks.  After two hours and after losing half of silver college to an attack, we managed to make it through Predator and Prey and survived!  Woohoo!  Predator and Prey is an awesome game that requires a lot of strategy and teamwork.  I think it helped to really bring our college together as well as other colleges.

Thus ends a really crazy week three at Breakthrough.  It was hectic, but really great, despite being sick for most of the time.

Thanks for Reading!


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