This Week

1. This week was my last week of jury duty.
You guys, I totally love jury duty! I know that everybody always complains about it, and says it's boring and stuff, but not me! I am down with my civic duty. Even though my first week was during Spring Break, I was still in the courtroom with my chin on my hands, all wide-eyed and little girly.
I sat for two trials, one on the first day and one on the last. The first was a criminal trial, and not only did I get to do one of my favorite things ever--judge other people--but I was also Madame Foreman. I read the verdict like I was the freaking Queen of England! The second trial was civil, and it ran until 8pm. EIGHT PEE EMM!! I was not Madame Foreman this time, which: boo. But even so, during deliberations, I said my piece and everyone agreed with me, and we wound up making a decision based on my brilliant argument. So it's kind of like I puppet-mastered the jury, which is probably illegal, but I didn't pull any literal strings, so I plead not guilty.
Bonus: I missed three days of school, including one professional development day and one day of standardized testing.

2. This week I taught World War II in my world history classes.
I love the fact that we're moving into a period of history that is recent enough that I can show actual footage of battles, etc. I think they really enhance my lessons.
I have really enjoyed teaching world history this year. I have poured my heart and soul into it, let me tell you. It pains me to think that a) I did all this work for a one-year assignment, and 2) the coaches some teachers handed their students some worksheets and called that a lesson. I wish history was recognized as a more valuable class, but since it's not a tested subject, nobody cares.

3. This week I got a part in a play.
I will be appearing in The Mousetrap, by Agatha Christie. I'm Mollie, the person with the most lines to memorize proprieter of a boarding house. Our version is set in Montana in the 1980s, which, on the one hand, is sad, because I was totally looking forward to being British, and on the other hand, is good, because we get to use David Bowie for the soundtrack.
My dad asked me why, since I just got done with the school play, I would want to commit myself to another. The truth is that directing a play and acting in a play are two entirely different things. Right now, I only have to worry about myself; I don't have to consider budget, gather materials, or make major decisions. It's AWESOME.

4. This week my bad challenging class did something right.
After Spring Break, I didn't want to start a major unit in my speech classes, since my students were preparing persuasive speeches for presentation. I created a mini-lesson for mock trial, and the kids really got into it. They were very excited to argue their cases in front of their classmates.
However, several students lost their mock trial privileges in my third period class when they did not have their persuasive speeches on the due date. And by "several," I mean "two-thirds of the class." (That was the first of two days I cried at an assistant principal.) I reassigned the cases, which meant that I had 16 kids serving on a jury, but whatever: taking them out of the trials was a worse punishment than detention, I think.
When the attorneys had made their closing statements, I instructed the jury and allowed them to deliberate. Both of my other classes had returned with a verdict in a matter of minutes, but this jury argued amongst themselves for a full forty minutes, and they would have gone longer if the bell hadn't rung. They were asking great questions, making amazing observations, and speaking as eloquently as any lawyer I've ever heard. It was so cool to watch them! I was absolutely astounded at their professionalism and their intense reactions.
Since the group was so large, I stayed with them to make sure they kept on-task, and they asked me questions to clarify their duties and some definitions. At one point, things became a little heated, and the jury foreman said, "Hey, hey, hey, nobody's getting angry here." And one kid replied, "Well, I'M getting a little angry, actually," which made me laugh out loud. After about twenty minutes, someone asked, "Ms. Flower, is this what jury duty is really like?" and I said, "YUP," which is 100% true. Later, a jury member said, "This isn't even a REAL CASE," and the foreman told her, "But we have to ACT like it is," which was the best thing I'd heard in weeks. I loved that they were so invested in the case.
That class period served as a reminder that I shouldn't have expectations of disappointment; I don't know why, after ten years, I haven't figured out that kids are capable of surprising even the crabbiest of Crabby Appletons, like me. One day I will look back at those seven days as both a low point AND a high point in my teaching career.

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