Sunday, October 23, 2011

Inconceivable!

School this week was one of those busy times.  It's halfway through the semester, and not only are we giving pressure to kids to get their grades up, but we're getting it from the top as well, for more of our kids to be passing.  Sometimes it feels like a catch-22, but I'm in the system, so I'm doing my best to make it work.

Just a brief update today.  The one moment this week that stands out was Friday morning.  Since we had an assembly that was going to keep me from even seeing my 2nd period, I chose a "lighter" assignment for the kids to accomplish.  I had each students choose a character from "The Crucible" and they had to create an imaginary Facebook page for them.  Simple, fun, creative, and a good place to be on homecoming Friday

The best part though, was when my 1st period asked if I could show them a Facebook page so they could model it.  I felt such was acceptable and so using the projector, I posted my Facebook profile for the class to see.  And of course I expected jeers and praise, especially for the awesome picture of T and I together.  In cast you've not seen it, it's the one on the left.

What I was NOT expecting was for Taelyn to be on Facebook that morning and in the middle of my trying to instruct my class, I get a message that begins: Hey Monkeybutt!"

Needless to say it was a fun day with a few awkward revelations.  Among them were the following: I'm teaching juniors.  Kayla is their age.  Taea is only FOUR years younger!  I cannot imagine how Eron must feel being her FATHER, when I want to scream when I hear these boys asking questions about My Squeaker!

Our vocabulary word Friday was Inconceivable.  More then fitting.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Rent?

It was my goal when I first started this blog to always have a picture to post with my weekly update.  The thing is, this week the biggest events were all church related, and there just aren't a lot of church pictures to include.  So here's my latest update, without pics.

Just a few weeks ago I was called as the second counselor in out Elder's Quorum.  I'm working with some great guys and I can testify with boldness of how my life has been blessed and improved due to this service.  Tuesday of this week we had a meeting scheduled, one that we had been told was a leadership training, and we expected it would be a brief meeting with a member of the Stake Presidency.  Rather, the meeting was in the chapel with a large group of people I was unfamiliar with.  Long explanation short, 5th ward had been asked to help in a project for Stake Conference, and since those numbers were short and my Elder's Quorum President is the son of our Stake Presidency's 1st counselor, we were asked to assist, although we're in the 2nd ward.

So Tuesday night was 2.5 hours of walking through a scripted role-play of what "should" happen in a highly effective Ward Council.  I was given the role of Sunday School President, which as you can imagine meant I had very few lines, and we moved from our council, to presidency meetings, to meeting with members and then back for another ward council meeting a week later.  The emphasis here was all on the aspect of, "Return and Report."

Our Stake President was confident in what we had here, and encouraged that with the Spirit to help us, this would be effective.  I did my best to participate, offered only a few suggestions (if THAT's not progress in growing up, nothing is!) and when we came back to rehearse Thursday night, I brought essays to grade while I waited.

Yesterday was the afternoon of the big event.  I arrived at 2:30 for things to start at 3, and believe it or not, it went really well.  Our Stake President himself took a more active role than I had foreseen, starting with encouraging members that if they stayed awake, didn't play with their phones, and really sought for the Spirit, this would be effective.  He also became narrator of sorts, helping us transition from one scene to the next, adding insight and a surprising amount of positive quips; the man's words honestly kept the event fun and entertaining.  It was impressive.

In fact, this was my first time working with the Stake President, as he'd only been called 4-5 months ago.  As he spoke at the Adult Session of Stake Conference last night, I was really impressed with his talk.  He has amazing counselors, and the Spirit was so present.  There were a lot of tears last night as the Spirit confirmed his message, as songs were sung, and even his counselor's gave amazing talks  If every Stake Conference were as engaging as last night was, the entire membership would look as forward to them as they go General Conference.  It was astounding.  I'm honestly looking forward to what the General Session will bring this morning.  I'm even going to get there early.

One last side note.  It was interesting that when our role-playing was done yesterday afternoon, as the Stake President moved back to the front of the room talking through his lapel-mic, he asked me to stand.  I was surprised, but complied.  He then further surprised me.  Now, this comment was either due to the impressiveness of the written character I'd just portrayed, or the impressiveness of my portrayal, but he commented, "Bishops, do you see this man?  He's for rent if any of you need him!"

Is there a future in acting just at Stake Conference?  :)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Positive Influence

When I first moved to Yuma, 5 years ago, originally I was teaching 2 beginning drama classes and 3 Sophomore English classes.  Within a matter of weeks I was asked to take an additional period, a Junior English class.  Shortly thereafter they sorted things out and took 1 of my sophomore classes, so my first year I had 3 classes to prepare for, or 3 preps.

That was the first year I taught Junior English, or American Literature, and I found I really enjoyed it.  We read Huck Finn, studied Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Poe, and Steinbeck’s, Of Mice and Men.  But, of course, the true highlight of that year was being able to delve into one of my all time favorite plays, The Crucible.

This year I’m just Junior English, just one prep, and I love it.  I’m not sure why, but American literature really speaks to me.  Sure I miss not having Shakespeare in the line up this year, but I hold Arthur Miller up just as high as William.  This past week we got through Act I and I chose to delve into the movie.  I expected that if the kids could see the characters and here the dialogue as it was meant to be delivered, it would pull them into the play in a way that our less than enthusiastic reading in class has not yet done.  So Friday we watched Act I, or the first 35 minutes of the movie.  Have you seen this film?  It’s exceptional.  Daniel Day-Lewis is phenomenal as John, and Winona Ryder as Abigail, though not as gorgeous as I believe Arthur intended, is terrific.  I’m optimistic that this play will be one of the highlights of this school year for my students.
  
Sitting in my classroom the other day, I realized that no one in my family has been in my current class.  This is the same English class I taught in during my 1st and 2nd year, and last year as well.  So let me give you a quick tour.

As you walk in my class and look left, this is the view you'll see.  That's my desk a the top left.  Picture #2 is from the opposite corner, the view you'd get if you walked in from the middle office.

Were I sitting at my desk and looking forward, here's my view.  Please note the recycle box in the back.  Everyone should be recycling!

And the last shot here on the right is my view as I turn to my left to my class, the view I most often have just before class gets started.

Believe it or not, my principal once criticized my room because there wasn’t enough “Bruce” in it.  So, as you can see,  I added a bit more of myself.  What do you think?  Is it enough?

Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that the impact of my father is evident in the room as well. When of the many influences I'm proud of.  :)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Not the First.

Saturday morning, as I sat here catching up on what my TiVo recorded for me last week, grounds keepers for my apartment complex were working outside my window.  Hedges were clipped, lawn was mowed, sidewalks were swept, leaves were raked.  My nose was running, my eyes were itching, and I was sneezing like a possessed Ewok.  An hour later, after they were done, everything was fine and back to normal.  While I've not been tested for allergies, I think I can now safely I may have some, and I suspect what I might be allergic to: Lawn care products.  I'm leaning toward Weed Wackers.  Never trusted them.

I love General Conference weekend.  I find it usually comes about at the exact time I need a recharge.  It's funny how I was feeling in a great place earlier in the week, and then like crap for the past few days.  Anyone surprised that I figured out why I was feeling this way as I watched conference?  I love getting answers from God and the leaders of His church.

I spoke to Brien a few days ago, and he sounds happy.  I spoke to mom yesterday morning, and she promised to call me back this afternoon.  A number of key characters returned to Days this past week, so I recorded them for her, burned them to a DVD, and mailed them out yesterday.  I'm hoping she hasn't seen them yet.  Spoke with Eron for a few minutes, just before he and his family were heading out to pick some apples.  Apples rock.  But such made me recall this summer as Kris and I, with the kids and Mark and Monica's family, went to pick Strawberries.   What a great summer.  I miss those comfortable, lazy days, with cool temperatures and clouds in the sky, with my favorite girls.  And T.

One of the highlights of that day was when we went back to the general store and they had a sandbox.  But this was no ordinary sandbox.  Rather than being filled with sand, it was filled with peas!  I'm not sure what they did to the peas to make them hard and not soft and nasty, but it was way cool.  We buried Taea, so all we could see was her face.  Can you find her?

Of course we tried to do the same thing to T after his sister, and as you can see from the look on his face, this was NOT his favorite moment of the day.  If you get a chance, ask him and his sister's about Brownie and Blackie.  I think they were the highlight of that day.

Before we left, the kids mostly buried me, and then I got to pose for a picture with all the gorgeous ladies that were there with me.  It's okay, you can be jealous.  You're not the first.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Revealing the Truth

On September 15th we had our semi-annual improv show entitled, "Whose Crown is it Anyway?" (We're the Kofa Kings, got it?)  Our drama teacher has been gracious enough to put this production in my hands, and so after a few weeks of rehearsing and prep, we were ready to go.  Unfortunately my camera lost power after 20 minutes, so below was not the main highlight of the evening, but still one to enjoy.

video

We were all a bit more nervous this night because we knew our Principal was going to be in the audience.  I encouraged the kids to stayed focused, remember all that we'd rehearsed, and most of all, keep it appropriate!  The entire show was just over an hour, and aside a minute or two of slowness, we entertained like professionals.  For the last game I chose a winner, and G and I did a game of Whose Line.  I wish we'd captured the scene, because by the time we were done, without any foreknowledge or previous rehearsal together, at one point on stage we both became squirrels!  It was hilarious.

I got a note from our principal the next morning, a nice half-page, praising us for what we'd accomplished, admitting she was still laughing.

Last weekend a number of us visited AWC for their "Matadors of Comedy."  It was fun, but being a college, it was rude and crude.  I don't think one has to be dirty to be funny.  Another high school in town had an improv night this past week, and my students who attend really enjoyed it, but agreed we may have a leg up.  I don't write this to boast, but rather to interject that I'm accepting the praise and compliments that have come my way.  Improvisation is one of my strengths, and so is teaching it.

Our improv night was the climax of Theatre in our Schools Week.  The kids played games at lunch including pin the teeth on the zombie, a little Karaoke, and taught the school how to dance and do the Time Warp.  They also dressed up like characters all week, and just promoted the awesomeness that is Theatre.  For the last day our club officers made capes for all of us, including the sponsors.  As such, for the entire school day, my true identity was finally revealed; no longer Mr. Kelly, I became Darth Kellyious.
And yes, I'm aware I look more like Rick Moranis than Darth Vader.