In the last unit of 12th grade English, our students write “100-word stories,” modeled after the New York Times column “Modern Love Stories.” At the end of the unit, each student submits their best story to the New York Times.
To be honest, I never took the assignment that seriously. I never thought I’d be the one to get published.
It all started with my class’s science fair. We were outside in the field for one of the science experiments. My friend and I were hungry and we wanted to eat burek, an Albanian food you can get at the pizzeria. We asked our teacher and of course she said no. I knew we shouldn’t leave in the middle of the science fair, and I had never cut class, but it seemed like such an adventurous thing to do. We were outside, there were lots of kids, no one would notice, and it was the end of our senior year.
So we still snuck out and ate burek. I felt a little guilty, but we didn’t get caught and I ended up winning the science fair.
A few days later in English class, I thought, why not write about that experience? I finished the story in 5 minutes.
We’re in our fourth week of remote learning after schools were closed for COVID-19. Thinking back to last month, I am still amazed by what we accomplished in three days: all teachers learned how to create Google Classrooms, film themselves teaching, and run videoconferencing “office hours” with students. We created a plan for a reasonable student workload. We distributed over 260 Chromebooks to students in one day, and created a “Student Connectivity Team” to help any families that struggled with internet access.
On our first day of remote learning, I was completely immersed in setting up our systems. So when I got this email, it took me by surprise:
One of the students’ illustrations for a mascot: a panther.
I’m always fascinated by what gets kids excited about school.
Take a 12th grade student in my school, Rebecca.* Rebecca is known for a sweet smile and enthusiastic participation. However, at some point this year, everything got cloudy for her: nothing in school was fun or exciting. A few teachers told me that she might have had a falling out with some friends, hence the blue outlook, but Rebecca wouldn’t tell us what was bothering her.
A few weeks later, I got an email from Rebecca and some of her classmates: Continue reading →