At the Early College High School, I am the dual enrollment instructor for American History. Its a fancy title, but it simply means that my students get both high school and college credits for the same class time. In practical terms, this means my students must meet both sets of curriculum standards, take all te mandated high school exams, and that we follow the college schedule. The last part gets a bit awkward at times since my students and I only meet twice a week for 90 minutes and every other Friday (if their are no field trips, pep rallies, or holidays). Its not really an instructional issue but I have trouble learning names and, since I am introverted, really work hard to develop relationships. Sometimes, through the shear randomness of the district schedule, some classes will not meet for a week. This year my first week long gap occurred after the first week of school. For my Monday/Wednesday students this meant I had 2 class meetings and didn’t see them for a full week.

I made it my mission this year to shake every hand at the door on the first day, to give them their first XP, gold pieces, and storyline introducrions in the first class, and know their names by the end of week the first full week. Succeeded on the first two goals and (I am happy to report) at about 90% on the last. What I am most happy about thought is a throw away joke that a student made to me at on a field trip after we had only 4 class meetings.

On the 3rd Friday, after only 1 full week of school and at most 4 class meetings, we took most of the 99 Junior class to a college fair. Since I only teach Juniors I was scheduled to be a chaperone. While waiting for the bus back to campus I asked students to step back get back onto the sidewalk. One student next to me said to me:

“you’re gonna have to go all APOC on ’em Mr. Powley”

I immediately smiled. I didn’t see him but I know who said it and I’m sure he was smiling too. A few things flew through my mind in an instant. First, APOC stands for the ‘Armed Protectors Of the Constitution’. You’ve probably never hear the acronym. This is the name of the political dictatorship in my distopyian future storyline and its a storyline I have embedded in my recorded flipped lesson. Second, this student portrays himself as the class clown. He knew the storyline and knew his audience well enough to know that the joke would land. It did the students around him laughed. Third, this told me that they all knew the storyline which meant that they had been watching the recordings and paying attention. Fourth, they all felt comfortable enough with me to know that I was in on the joke and that I am good natured enough to laugh with them. I knew they weren’t disrespecting me but were trying to show they were in on it too.

In that one throw away joke I felt affirmed and the students bonded with each other and me. Those moments don’t come often but when they do there is a sudden impact. I went into the weekend riding high and knowing that my storyline, gamification, amd relationship building efforts were all working in concert to make a better community.