Sunday, August 2, 2015

Exploring Austin, Enjoying Summer, and Back to Teacher Mode...

I have been quite the lazy blogger this summer. I love blogging, but I love spending time with my family even more (and leisure reading, I love that, too!), so the blog has taken a backseat. I have been busy lately, enjoying summer, but also preparing for the new school year. This summer feels like the shortest summer I've had (as a teacher). From July 22-25 I was in Austin, TX at the National AP Conference. I teacher AP English Language and Composition, and attended the conference last year. The idea of traveling to Austin was exciting and I loved the conference last year, so I knew I wanted to go back.

To start-- we (my husband, who also teaches AP traveled with me...and we went with a group from our school district) were scheduled to take off at 1:10pm. We pulled out...and pulled right back in. The airplane had a maintenance light turn on and it needed to be checked. That check turned into a hour delay, which meant we were bumped to a later non-stop 9:50pm. This later flight meant we got to really got to know the airport. Southwest did give us food vouchers and flight vouchers for the inconvenience. While the delay was annoying, it did give us the opportunity to get to know our colleagues, and that was very nice.

Austin itself was a beautiful city. It was very warm (ok, hot), but the city was open, uncrowded, walkable, and interesting. We enjoyed two awesome dinners (Stubb's BBQ was amazing!) and walked around the eclectic area of South Congress. We also enjoyed Gourdough's doughnuts, which were delicious (I had the Nutty Valentine-- a hot doughnut with Nutella and strawberries). Austin is definitely a city I would love to travel back to and really have time to explore. We really snuck in time between sessions and after the conference ended for the day. I could really use a few days to fully explore everything.

The conference itself was really good (again!). The keynote speaker, Sir Ken Robinson, was engaging and interesting. His thought provoking keynote about education and creativity really set the tone for the conference. I tried to vary the sessions that I attended, and enjoyed each one for different reasons. My favorite session was on the power of 2. Basically, getting a 2 (out of 5) on the AP exam indicates that the student is possibly qualified for college. The teacher who led the session teaches in the inner city and most of her kids get 2s. She teaches an extremely challenging group of kids and has to fight to get counselors to put kids into AP. Her students get 2s, but almost all go to college and do extremely well. She spoke about the importance of having the opportunity to just take an AP course and how the challenge of the course prepares students for academics beyond high school.

The conference was excellent, yet again, and got me thinking about what I want to accomplish this year with AP. Continuing with my preparations, I went back-to-school classroom shopping with my BFF/work-wife, Sarah. She is going with a chalkboard theme for her room, I chose a paint/rainbow theme for mine. I am really excited to put my room together this year. I am working toward creating a student centered learning space, so I am thinking beyond desks and chairs and traditional, and looking toward stations, beanbags, exercise balls, standing centers...etc...I am really excited to pick up a few more furniture items for my room. I got my class lists, and, right now my classes are definitely manageable (for now...I know this will change). I am really looking forward to the year and the changes it will bring!

I will post tomorrow...I have so many other back-to-school things to share. Lots of changes will be happening this year, but they are all very exciting!

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