GP10 rules. And no, that’s not a misprint about my favorite fallen Golden State Warrior Gary Payton the second, it is the final grading period for Creekside High School where we break each semester into 5 periods. Grading Period 10 is the last five weeks of the year and while it contains great days like graduation and the last day of school, my love comes from the curriculum I get to insert before sending my flock out into the world.
This year it’s all about the wake-up shovel mixed with a little truth and a dash of “time to put your big girl pants on”. See, the kids are not all right, just like the rest of us, and the way they will become all right is not to pretend things are back to normal but to acknowledge the problem, listen to the needs then reinvent what will get us all back on track.
The easy answer, get people ready, define the end game then work backwards on how to get there. That’s where GP10 comes in. See, I like all teachers, follow standards all year: State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, I even have standards to follow in PE and ART but for the last five weeks I like to go a little off the board. Actually, I am using the NGSS standard section number HSESS3-1 to HSESS3-6 on Human Sustainability because it checks both the standards box and the wake-up shovel box.
If you’ve read any of these posts you know that I have a love/hate relationship with standards, partially because of the priorities of the population I work with but also because standards really haven’t changed much while society has changed, well, much.
In Science I will also be teaching about the brain and dopamine and screens and the science of sustainability. In Geometry I have 36 pages of blueprints (Thanks Paul Favero) of the pool which is currently being built 30 feet away on the SVHS campus and provides a constant disruptive parade of trucks past my classroom. Students have no idea what goes into planning or designing such a project but they will now. And once they have some design skills, we will move to what to do with the SDC. In Art we have a new mural up which we are going to continue around the school plus a giant PEACE sign painted in the colors of the Ukranian flag displayed at the di Rosa.
Plus, a unit on time management, homeostasis, wealth distribution and how to create routines when you just want to pull the covers over your head and hide from all the ugliness.
Because things are kinda grim, we are living with the nuclear fears of the 1950’s, the abortion conflict of the 60’s, the gas crisis of the 70’s, the inflation of the 80’s and the environmental nightmare of well, today. Not to mention a disease which essentially shut the world down for two years and a society more polarized than ever in history. Now, throw in being a teen with an undeveloped brain, easy access to weed and other vices, an addiction to screens (average daily screen time for teens…7 hours per day!) and you understand why the kids are not all right.
It’s mental health week BTW and we’re talking about “emotional hygiene” as in why do we brush our teeth twice a day but not address mental health until something goes off the rails? I have no answers.
And I’m writing this sitting on my favorite bench in the plaza where people are gathering for the first farmers market of the year, the trees filter the afternoon sunlight, and life is well, pretty fricking amazing. Right? Just focus on the positive and the bad goes away.
But, I’ve seen the same young guy waking up next to the skatepark while I ride to school the last two mornings and an older man sleeping on the same bench by the fountain in the plaza and did you see the guy sitting in front of the Sebastiani with a sign “Anything helps?” The real world is here, the bad will only go away if we make it better.
Which brings me back to GP10 where at least for five weeks students will get a curriculum heavy on real life and how to help improve our situation. Will it change lives? Probably not, teaching is Sisyiphusian and if you go way back to when I began these messy essays 6 years ago you see the same optimism and hope but also a lack of progress. I am a farmer and the seeds I plant sometimes take a while to grow and sometimes don’t grow at all but when they do, the world gets a little bit better and when many people work to make the world better guess what happens?
And yes, I am going to give you a homework assignment for GP10 because we are all in this together. I challenge you to find one real life problem which is getting you down and work to solve it. Here’s a personal example to get you started.
About three weeks ago I had as close to a breakdown as I’ve ever had. I realized through lots of walks around the Rez and talks with friends and my therapist that my self-confidence is not great so I researched how to improve self-confidence and I found some simple solutions like “inaction breeds doubt and fear” and “STOP RUMINATING”. But also, simple things like being grateful and eating healthy and decluttering my life. Seems silly, right? But guess what, it worked, my anxiety is lower, my family says I seem to be having fun again, the tennis team had a great season and soon summer will be here.
So, your homework is to choose one thing that you can improve. Might be with yourself (self-confidence, screen time), with our local community (meet new people at farmers market) or with society (do whatever you can for Ukraine or mother earth). Start small then see how much better you feel and then do a little more because you can.