Professionally developed

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Not counting the end-of-year AP U.S. History readings, I’ve been to more off-campus professional development workshops and conferences in the last five weeks than I was able to attend in my last three years at Robinson.

And how many workshops have I attended in the past few weeks?  Two.

Robinson – and Cabarrus County Schools at large, I imagine – was infested by what my friend and former colleague Laura Huffman once called a “culture of no.”  Requests for workshop registration fees, maps and books to supplement instruction, and substitutes that would allow for workshop attendance or collaborative planning were almost always rejected.  And while I was allowed to attend the AP Reading, I would be made to take personal or unpaid leave for the days I missed.  But hey, that annual “Teacher Appreciation Day” luncheon of catered Carrabba’s sure was good!

Deb and me at NCCAT in January.  It was pretty cold.

Deb and me at NCCAT in January. It was pretty cold.

So when RTHS English teacher and fellow Rebel Rebel Alliance member Deb Brown came to me in the fall with a plan to apply for a week-long residency at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching for us to work on humanities-related flipped videos, I was skeptical.  Surely they wouldn’t let both of us leave for an entire week, right?

Not only did he approve our trip to Cullowhee for the week once we were accepted, but we didn’t have to pay for our substitutes either.  Since there’s very little supplemental video material already in existence for the humanities, Deb and I spent the entire week working on flipped videos for our classes as well as sketching out 10th grade curricula for English and social studies.

And then, this past week, I was able to get away for two days with Mamie Hall, the other half of the history department, for the annual North Carolina Council for the Social Studies conference in Greensboro.  We spent a couple of days going to seminars mostly about implementing technology in the classroom, although I did spend some time in one very unproductive session on the new Measures of Student Learning exams, which just devolved into teachers bitching almost immediately.

Sometimes, teachers just need to get out of the classroom for a few days – not only to recharge and rest up, but also to chew the fat with colleagues and learn new and/or better ways of teaching.  I’m glad I teach at a place that recognizes the importance of that.

And they’re letting me go to the AP Reading in June too.


The year ahead

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My initial intent when I sat down to write this was to reflect on the craziness that was my 2012.  But you can read my blog and take all that in.  For those of you who haven’t been reading it and are too time-strapped or lazy to go catch up, though, here’s a Readers Digest version of it: I started the year working for a college athletic department in Alabama, decided I hated it, got hired by my longtime friend for a second go-round as a history teacher, moved back to North Carolina, and built a World History curriculum and high school athletic department from scratch at a brand-new charter school.  And somewhere in there, I turned 30.

Got all that?  Good.  Let’s move forward.

As interesting and exciting as 2012 was, 2013 holds so much to be excited about, so I’ve decided to use this space to look forward to all the awesome things that will happen in the next year.

January 22-25: Teacher Scholars.  It’s my first business trip as an RTHS faculty member!  Lead English teacher Deb Brown and I will be heading to Cullowhee for four days for the Teacher Scholars in Residence program at the N.C. Center for the Advancement of Teaching.  We’ll be given the space and resources to work on our flipped videos and get a head start on the 2013-14 English and social studies curricula.  We’ll also be given top-flight food and accommodations.  Maybe I’ll even try skiing out while I’m up there – I’ll just make sure I get a Raptor green cast on whatever limb I shatter.

Spring 2013, date TBD: Bachelor party.  What do tigers dream of…

June 1-7: AP Reading.  I haven’t been officially invited back to Louisville yet, so this may be putting the cart before the horse, but the College Board sent me a sort of “save-the-date” notification in the fall, so I guess I’ll be going back to the AP U.S. History reading.  Chemistry and U.S. History are both in Louisville at the same time, so I’m hoping that my boss Eric gets invited back for Chemistry.  That’d be a pretty fun way to end our first school year.


Aren’t we cute?!

June 22: Wedding bells.  As of June 22, my fiancee Jess and I will have been engaged for three years and three days.  We went to grad school and became way too poor to have the wedding we both wanted, so we stuck it out and finished our degrees – I think going through the difficult graduate-level work and grinding poverty together made us a stronger team.  Now we both have jobs in the Triangle and can afford to have a lovely wedding and a heck of a party.

June? July?  Honeymoon.  If anyone has any suggestions, we’d love to hear them.

July, date TBD: RTHS Camp 2.0.  Last year’s inaugural freshman orientation went a long way toward bringing such a diverse student body together, and gave the teachers an opportunity to meet our future charges.  This year, we’ll get to meet in the actual school building and have the full technological resources of the school, so it should be a lot more fun and a lot less stressful.

Soccer Shield Rays 1

Every soccer program needs a shield.

July 29: Fall sports practice opens.  The Research Triangle Raptors will be in the N.C. High School Athletic Association as an independent 1A member next year, and our first-ever boys’ soccer and girls’ volleyball teams will begin tryouts.  Our cross country team will also start its second season with high hopes after such a successful inaugural year.

August 12: Year two!  RTHS will welcome back 140 sophomores, enroll 105 new freshmen, break in a brand new wing of the building (including the new athletic directors’ office), and see numerous new teachers and staff members joining us in providing a top-notch education to our students.

August 31: Kickoff!  Being at Auburn for two years only heightened my excitement over the Charlotte 49ers FINALLY adding a football program.  I don’t know if I’ll get tickets to the Niners’ inaugural game against Campbell, but at the very least I plan to be on campus, tailgating and taking it all in, just so that years later I can tell my kids that I was there.

December 31: The second annual look ahead.  Hopefully I’ll get to spend 2013 writing about all the amazing experiences mentioned above – well, maybe not the bachelor party – and look ahead to all that 2014 will bring.

I’ve loved spending the last seven months creating this record of the experiences of me and my school, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it.  I hope all of you have a healthy, productive, and rewarding 2013.