Wednesday, November 30, 2005
We reviewed similes a little bit, and did some metaphors too. I used material from one of our skills books to help them "build" metaphors, but it was tricky and tough. I have trouble with them, and so they did too. But they did make a good effort: "His eyes were chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven." "The big elephant was a mountain surrounded by smaller hills." That's about it. On Friday, there will be a quiz for them to identify a simile or metaphor. And I'm pushing them to know the names of all the figlang, as I call it, along with definitions and examples. That way they have the basic information as a foundation, so that they can then create, apply and evaluate that same stuff. See? Look at that Bloom's taxonomy in my planning. Yeah.
Tomorrow we're going back to the book for short response writing, and Friday will be about writing engaging introductions. And I'll finally get to do my fun lesson with the mix CD! Can't wait. Hope they do well.
We had class tonight, but I was sleepy enough beforehand that I lay down for about forty minutes. Ooh, and earlier, for the last 12 minutes of my second prep, I put my head down at the table in the teacher's lounge. Dang, I'm tired a lot lately.
I got my paper all finished and printed out, and it was good. I mean, that it was done, not like the quality or anything. Cause most of the time I don't care about that, just as long as it's done. Anyway, I also had to do a "presentation" of half of a chapter.
Well, I got there to class, and found out the assignment got pushed back to next week. Sweet! I got it done early! Gotta love that. Also, I got three assignments back, all with A or A+. Excellent!
I think I shall get meself to bed now. Adieu!
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Mondays are my lightest-teaching days, but somehow yesterday was insane. Perhaps because I worked like crazy on all my free time. I made charts, wrote overheads, corrected papers, and transferred data into my teacher's notebook. PD was pointless as usual. Oh, get this. This one teacher, new to the school but not to teaching, brought up how one class's scores are abysmal, and she's done everything she can but is still not seeing results. The AP starts off by saying, "Well, if it were me, I'd start by holding up the mirror...." completely implying that it's the teacher's fault. The teacher was apparently oblivious to the insult and said cheerfully that however the kids do, "it's not [her] fault." I thought that was a cool comeback, and it certainly stopped the AP from being totally rude and unprofessional.
I mean, seriously. Can you believe this? The level of unprofessionalism (is that a word?) is absolutely RIDICULOUS. We had a bunch of "Important Visitors" at the school today. Did we hear about it last week? Ha, please. Did we hear about it yesterday afternoon as a department? Come on, now. No, the AP forgot and told a few of us AFTER PD. I was in my room, trying to get some damn work done after the relentless droning of the "meeting," when the AP came in and chatted with me. The visitor thing was a nearly-forgotten afterword.
So then, this morning, you would think teachers would see a schedule, to see when the VIPs would be visiting, and whom. You would be wrong, of course. Two of my colleagues and I did end up seeing the schedule at the near end of 1st period, only because it was common planning and we were on the same floor as where the VIPs were for their intro stuff. And we stole looks to see who was on the schedule. For second and third period.
Yeah, lots of professional notice. Mm-hmm.
When I finally got home yesterday, it wasx nearly five and I busily fixed "dinner" and checked email. During the lull of 7.30-8.30, I half-watched tv and transcribed the tape from Sunday morning (a follow-up observation; the write-up is due Weds night). I was very proud of myself for getting that done, since I'd already procrastinated for one night.
Today was only marginally less crazy than yesterday. I still did stuff on my breaks, but I did take one prep to go downstairs to hang out. I intended to eat something and grade homework, but that didn't happen. As a result, I was hit by a wave of fatigue. See: sleep, not getting much of.
Today I introduced similes (we didn't get to metaphors yet). My last class came up with some really great ones after we did shared and guided practice. "When I'm happy my eyes light up like the lights on a Christmas tree." "My blanket is as soft as sleeping kittens." "It's as warm as Barbados in the winter." "When I'm angry, I bubble like pot of water on the stove." "When I'm tired, my eyelids are heavy like thick batter being poured into a pan."
I was really excited and proud. Is that sad?
It's gonna take a couple more days to finish similes and do metaphors. Not sure if I'll do hyperbole this week or save it til later. I know we really need to work on engaging intros, so that's the end of this week.
Anyway, when I got home this afternoon, nice and early, the connection wasn't really working. So after a snack and catching up on TV from last night--omg, Prison Break is awesome and I can't believe we have to wait three months to see what happens!--I watched an episode of Popular (hurrah, Netflix). But, I decided that when it was over, I would spend an hour working on my paper.
And you know what? I totally did. Except for the hour part. I worked for a solid half-hour and got most of it done. Since I'm lazy and hate doing homework, I will polish it up tomorrow before class and all will be good. Phew! Yay, me.
Look at this, it's only 6.00 and I've been all productive already. Time for more tv!
I am really looking forward to Friday's Teacher-Blogger Happy Hour! I am sad that Friday still seems like three weeks away, instead of three days. (See that hyperbole there? I gotta teach that to my kids. Think of all the "Yo' Mama" jokes!)
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Man, I'm tired.
I was out late on both Friday and Saturday night. Fun times, but now tired ones. Can't seem to get through a single hour without yawning.
For over two weeks, I was unable to sleep through the night, like some colicky baby. Last Saturday, I slept a full eight hours, which was fantastic. On Wednesay afternoon, I got a little migraine. Nothing completely debilitating, but consistent ache and nausea. So I went to bed at 8.30pm. Ah, that was really nice. The migraine wasn't gone until Friday morning, however.
I was beginning to feel well-rested, for the first time in weeks. And now being social and having fun is making me regress....that sucks.
I took a two-hour nap this afternoon, instead of getting to work on the assignments I have due this week. Oh well.
The month of December is a full one: all regular days at school. Four weeks straight without a break. All test prep, too. Whee!
This week I need to cover a lot of stuff. I think tomorrow, my slowest day, I will do words in context. Tuesday and Wednesday, we need to cover figurative language--similes, metaphors, hyperbole and personification. Thursday perhaps we can do short response and use some of the prompts written by the students. Friday, we'll work on writing introductions for essays.
And of course, there's the extra Saturday thing: one fewer day to have to myself to rest and recuperate.
Friday, November 25, 2005
I left around ten a.m., first gathering CDs, snacks, and maps, then getting cash and filling up my gas tank.
What a perfect day to travel: not many cars on the road, no sun glare, good music on the stereo.
I was shocked when I got the Stratford, Connecticut area, because there was snow on the ground. It was very pretty, for sure, but it felt weird. Like, it's not snow season yet, is it? I suppose it is, now.
I was cheerfully driving along I-95, lalala, hit Bridgeport, thought about seeing if I could find anything familiar, but thought better and continued on. A few minutes later, I checked my directions and saw that I had missed the exit. Whoops. Only by a few miles though; it was an easy fix.
Once on 15 North, I took a small detour into New Haven, thinking it would be fun to find Yale, walk around a bit, and call people, saying, "Happy Thanksgiving from Yale!"
But, um, I couldn't find it. I figured there would be signs and stuff, pointing hapless visitors like myself in the right direction. And there were two signs, but none after that. I drove around a bit, and found the Yale hospital. But it was raining and sleeting, and I was frustrated and my bum was getting numb.
So I looped my way back to 15 and continued onward to Wallingford. I got all excited when I saw the first signs.
Even though it had been over three years since I was even in the vicinity of this place, I actually remembered exactly where to go. I knew it wasn't the first Wallingford exit, and I knew it was right off of the next one. I exited, saw the sign for Quinnipiac River Linear Trail, and pulled into the parking lot.
Where I immediately choked up.
I couldn't believe it was still there, and I was now there again too, and that my team was nowhere to be found.
I gathered my things together, as well as myself, and walked into the park, down the paved path toward our labyrinth.
Before losing it completely, I politely asked the man behind me, walking his dog, to take a picture of me with the labyrinth. I couldn't help telling him, "I helped build this, three years ago!" He politely replied, "Oh, really?"
After he took the picture and moved on, I turned to look at the labyrinth and cried in earnest. It was still there! There because of our own hands and feet: shoveling and raking the dirt and gravel dust, placing and measuring the bricks just so. The very things we carefully put into place, it's all still there.
But we are not. I was, but the rest of the team wasn't. It felt like seeing a ghost, or reading a letter written by a loved one passed on.
In my mind's eye, I saw the whole team. I saw someone digging for the silt fence and discovering four baby turtles, only an inch in diamater. I saw Jess, Jep and Brodie sitting on the bench, drinking juice boxes and taking a quick break. I saw Seth transferring gravel dust from the pile to the wheelbarrow. I saw Ashley and Dez arranging the bricks, and I saw Shannon and Geo raking the dust in between the rows. I saw Mandi playing the Tibetan musical bowls over on the side.
I tearfully walking the labyrinth as best I could, it being under a few inches of snow. Though, as you can see, the bricks left a pattern that was pretty easy to follow.
Like I said, in New Haven half an hour earlier, it was rainy and gloomy. But here in Wallingford, the sun came out, the sky completely cleared up, and it warmed my hands and heart. It felt like it was just for me, like I was meant to be there, and though it was horribly sad, it was also beautiful.
I dug into the snow in the center of the labyrinth. And of course, there were those bricks, and the tears began anew.
I had to call a few of my teammates and say, "Guess where I am right now!"
After what must have been over an hour, I tore myself away from the labyrinth and all of the memories, and went in search of more memories.
To my surprise, I found the shelter immediately. It was just as close as I remembered; less than a five-minute drive. We used to pile into the van at noon, sweaty and tired, go to the shelter for lunch, then pile back in and return to work on the labyrinth.
Everything was just as we had left it three years ago. The shelter on the corner, where we ate only organic food (stored in the basement), and slept, all in one room like the big family we were. The Old Dublin, not half a block away, where the under-agers were able to slip in with the rest of us, and we'd hang out, relaxing on the plush couches. The other tavern across the street, where I conferenced with Ashley about being assistant team leader (but it never happened because I got called to disaster in Mississippi). The pizza restaurant where Mandi, Geo and I would go to eat and play Boggle. The shops along the rest of the main drag, one of which was a "front" for the local cable access show, on which we were guests one night. The bar up the road where a few of us went one night and sat by the window next to the door.
It was all so surreal. We worked so hard, bonded or fought so much, given so much of ourselves during the few weeks we were in this place, that our spirits are still there, just waiting to be rediscovered.
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
And, AND, I went to UPS straight after school and shipped them.
I just called and left a message to let my contact person know that two boxes are on their way. .
I feel so much better about this. Plus, a bunch of kids were like, "uh...can I bring it on Monday?" So there should be easily one more box ready by the end of Monday, maybe even two. Hurrah again!
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
This is not a revelation, to me or anyone who knows me. However, it's starting to get to me.
From the beginning:
Last year, as you may know, loyal readers (all ten of you), I often put off homework grading, because it was long and tedious and I just didn't want to do it. On my preps, I would sit and chat with friends and colleagues, to decompress and relax. Also, for one whole semester's class of grad school, nearly half of my own assignments were turned in late. Because I just didn't care and I was tired of everything, beginning in March or April.
Anyway, this summer, I was determined to lick this laziness thing. So I was a nearly model student for my summer classes, going to class every day and doing my homework on time and paying attention, all that good stuff. Not only that, I worked actively to prepare for this year, starting back in July.
In late August, the real rush was on. I shopped, in stores and online, for school supplies. I typed out ideas for and samples of lessons, letters, and homework. All kinds of stuff.
I know that when school started in September, I really worked my ass off, at school and at home. I marked the homework on my preps. I found resources and planned things at home. I continued to do well with grad school classes, staying on top of the assignments and classes.
About three weeks ago, I got hit. Hit by what some fans of The Amazing Race call 'the Killer Fatigue.' I just lost my motivation to do anything--outside of school. I still worked like a crazed bunny during school hours, but some of the homework started to pile up a bit. My rationale was/is that after school, I need the detox and relaxation time, for me. After a full-to-the-brim day, who wants to come home and work some more, when you could just sit and do nothing?
Also, remember all my hats? Or all the things on my plate? Yeah, that's what's really getting me down. To somehow be a full-time teacher, and 'be responsible' for five other things during school hours, is just beyond the scope of my abilities at this time.
For instance: the donations that I was supposed to be responsible for...about three weeks ago, I talked to my contact in Mississippi, promising I would get a couple boxes out in a few days. Cut to last Thursday, when I enter the room where the many donations had already been sitting for a good month: all of it was gone.
Now, my concern is not really for the donations themselves. I'm kind of scared to ask anyone what happened to it all, but I will assume that someone either arranged to have it all picked up and brought to one of the hotels housing the displaced families, or that some of the families came and got it all.
My concern is the woman in Mississippi, and the people in her community who have been expecting the fruits of strangers' goodwill. There was plenty of goodwill, there just wasn't enough of me or time, or even boxes, so that I could get down to the room and sort it and pack it.
I just feel awful, because my procrastination and laziness is now going to affect other people, strangers even, and people who've already been robbed of their possessions or dignity. We were supposed to help. The students and some faculty did their job and donated items; I just couldn't figure out how to deal with all of it. (And really, there was a whole lot. It was far too overwhelming to contemplate sorting/packing it all on my own. That's why I always brought a group of my students during their/my lunch hour. They were more than happy to help me out and it was mostly productive. Anyway.)
So, in the spirit of fighting back against the aforementioned laziness, I have done several things to combat it.
First, I finally, just ten minutes ago, emailed the homework assignment that was due a week and a half ago. I also read the first few pages of the next chapter, which is now late as well. I plan to finish that by the weekend, and then get back on track with the next one, due at the end of next weekend.
Next, I worked out again on Sunday. In the week prior to that, I had not worked out at all. It felt good to try to work those muscles again.
Third, and most importantly, I gave an unusual homework to my own classes tonight: bring in one item to donate. Just one. A piece of clothing, a kitchen tool (no food though), anything as long as it's clean and in good condition. I told them that they will not be penalized for not donating, but that the point was to help them see that even though they are kids, they can still help make the world a better place. And also, if each person gives only one thing, which is so easy, and 100 people participate, that will add up very quickly and make a large difference.
The Mississippi lady also wants to start a penpal exchange with her students and ours, so I included that in tonight's "homework."
The kids responded very well. Shouldn't be too surprising, because they're great about regular homework; they're probably just excited to not have to write a damn four square essay. But they asked about what to bring or not, and a few agreed to bring in boxes. I told them I will just have them drop their donations into a box, and I'll tape them up and bring them to UPS at the end of the day.
And then, if that actually happens, I can call the lady tomorrow evening, with a clear conscience and relief, and tell her that some things are on the way.
Hi, I'm Julie, and I'm a fighter of laziness!
Monday, November 21, 2005
A check to pay off my car loan!
It's less than $600, and only about eight months early, but I am very excited and proud that I actually own a car. A car that needs the brakes checked, but whee! nonetheless. I have the money in my savings account, so it's not going to hurt anything. And the rest of the money in the account should totally cover the cost of my Christmas trip.
We are getting some extra money in a few weeks. Our salaries are going up and we should be getting back pay. My take-home will increase by $100 per paycheck, and I am hoping the back pay will be about $1000. Along with the money for the Saturday program, plus coverages and NOT having to make a car payment, my financial life should get much easier.
The AmeriCorps money should be coming anytime too. And that's a ton of money. Too much to know what to do with, honestly.
I have put the Prague ticket on one credit card, the one that I will just have paid off. The other card is nearly empty too. I should easily be able to make payments to get the trip paid off before I even go. Which means more money to play with!
I dream of getting a new computer, but I'm not going to. The computer I have is just fine; it's the connection that sucks ass. I've got an entire year of digital photos on here, plus 1300 songs. (Don't worry, all the pics are saved on CD and/or in Snapfish; they're not going anywhere. As for the music, much of it is from my own CDs and I could always download stuff again, should something happen.) Someday prices will drop some more and I won't be quite so strapped, and I might even get a laptop. Someday.
If I were rich, I would buy an iPod. But my three-year-old Discman and ten rechargeable batteries are working just fine for me right now. No need to go all fancy for little old me.
I know that I have to remember to budget money for the car, which is tough to do. I tend to ignore problems and hope they go away, which is absolutely the worst thing with a vehicle, so I'll have to work on that. Again, must get brakes checked this weekend. Prevention, yay!
This sounds so silly and mundane, but it's kind of exciting to me: I can go to Costco more often. You know that it's nearly impossible to walk out of there without spending more than $100, which is quite a lot for a struggling NYC teacher, especially in the first half of the month. But now, I'll have a little more discretionary income, and I've also toned down on all the impulse, extravagant buys. Like, I don't need to get the four-pound bag of pistachios. I love them and they're tasty, but I've got half of the last bag left and am slowing down on the need. So that saves me thirteen bucks on my next trip. Each time I go, I get better at resisting other treats like frozen pizza and cake and stuff.
Now that I have all the bodyflow tapes at home, I'm actually working out on my own, and for free. No need for the $80-a-month fancy-ass gym-that-I-never-go-to.
Ooh, and you know what? I could actually go to movies. I resubscribed to Netflix, so I can still watch stuff at home, but I haven't been to a movie theater in months, and now I can! Talk about whee!
Only one and a half semesters left in my Master's, and I'm going to only buy used or discounted books for them, because I'm tired of paying off credit cards just in time to load up on expensive-as-all-hell textbooks from the campus bookstore. This semester I saved over a hundred dollars by shopping online and buying a previous edition. Score!
I will obviously save some money, adding to my Roth IRA and to my savings/travel account.
But I will also try to save some and earmark it for my own apartment next year. Assuming I stay in New York to teach a third year, I will reward myself with my very own place to live. Out here in Queens, it won't be too crazy expensive, I hope. It will be bigger than my tiny room and it will all be mine, to be messy or to workout in or just do nothing. Mm, exciting!
Saturday, November 19, 2005
Thursday, November 21, 2002:
Well, today was the big day! It's all just about over now, it's way late and I'm sorta out of it.
Last night Geo and I walked to the Rendez-Vous (for the last time!). The bar was almost empty and all locals. [The team etc] sat around talking, it was pleasant. The group moved into the bar because Seth got up to jam with the band. He was great, as usual. God, the last night! Then the shuffleboard challenge--Joe and Shannon teamed up with, then against, their moms. It was fun.
Got a ride home, took a shower and went to Mandi's to sleep on the couch. Jen's team was at our house having a sleepover, so. Got to bed around 12. Mini Mort came downstairs and slept on the couch with me! Yay, that made me happy.
Saturday, November 23, 2002:
Back to Thursday: At 5, woke up, played with baby Frankie, went back to my house, in the cold, gray, predawn light, and got ready. Got all my shit put together and swept my room. Joe Cook did our inspection and hardly checked anything, it was way easy and a relief.
Soon got in the shuttle van to the gym for breakfast/outprocessing. We sat around for two hours and did nothing. We took a few team pictures. Sat around. Some people played around or said goodbye. I did neither.
Finally it was 9am and we all drove to the community center. Waited around for awhile, taped some teammates, then the ceremony was starting before we knew it. Jen S welcomed everyone and introduced the Bix. He spoke, introducing people and addressing us a little too. We all served over 300,000 hours, an average of 1907 hours per person. Just about everyone got the President Service award with over 1800 hours (remember, 1700 are required to complete the program). The next speaker was the acting national director of NCCC. He talked about the three C's, and then introduced the guest speaker, the new inspector general at CNCS. Then we all walked across the stage by team. That took awhile, and there were awards given out. Dez was nominated our Team Motivator. Ty from Ice was the Corps Member Speaker, he talked about the pledge and how our year fulfilled its tenets.
Finally, we were presented--Northeast Region Class 8 Graduates! and recessional. That's what really made me tear up--"graduates"--it hit me that it was really all over, the year was finished and my world was about to be uprooted and tossed in the wind. I was sobbing as quietly and controlled as I could. Once outside, some of us cried in earnest and hugged. A last team picture--Fire 4 Schmire 4.
Four of our team were leaving on shuttles at 11.45 and we had like half an hour to grab some hors d'oevres, see the quilt, pick up programs and corps directories, and of course say our farewells. I found a few non-team friends, and then it was time. Had to say goodbye to my team! It was really hard. I cried because I couldn't imagine not seeing them again. I mean, I'm sure parts of the group will be in touch and visit others, but the "team" is gone, we'll never be Fire 4 again, we won't be living together or doing any work together or hanging out at Perry Point or those lame houses (who knew we'd come to love them so much?). We're just regular people, another group of has-beens who don't have much in common except for the most intense ten months any of us will ever experience--together.
A quiet, introspective journey to BWI. Dez and I stuck together. There were 13 of us in the shuttle. Brodie was there too. We said bye to Ashley, that was just surreal. Thankfully boarding began relatively soon, we didn't have to sit around waiting forever. The flight was long and there was no video. I read a little but my eyes burned and I dozed when I could.
In Denver, Dez and I got a bite to eat and talked about the year. Then the three hour flight to Seattle. Finally arrived. Mom was there to meet me. Had to say goodbye to the remaining members of Fire 4.
Wednesday, November 27, 2002:
Have I mentioned that I feel like I've lost a limb, like sometime vital was ripped from my person when I left my team? Lots of members have sent out messages, mass emails of hey, I miss you guys, how're you doing. Mandi mentioned in one email that AmeriCorps feels like a dream. And it so does! Life at home is exactly the same even as it is utterly different, you know? It is so lonely here without my team nearby.
When I was looking at these newest pictures, everything felt current, not in the past already. Like I would still be seeing these people again every day. How can the year be over already? I don't understand. Though January 24 seems eight million years ago, it seems like it should be just last week. It can't be over already. I can't believe it's over, that we survived it, that we all had such an indescribable year. I should feel lucky that I have wonderful people who remember it with me. I know I could have never done it without them.
Man, I remember those times when if I could have, I woulda been outta there so fast. But I had no choice--well, I allowed myself no choice--none of us did--I had to stay there and stick it out, grit my teeth til the tough times faded. Wow, talk about challenges! Holy cow. We got through some amazingly unbelievable things, our little team. Wow.
My heart is numb yet, but I can feel how it will ache when I fully grasp the permanence of the past and our new separate lives. But we will forever be connected, even if no one ever spoke to each other again. And that's what counts, I think.
Back to the present: Saturday, November 20, 2005:
I miss you, Fire 4.
I continue to treasure the time we spent together, good and bad, and look forward to keeping in touch, continuing on our own paths, growing as individuals, but also as friends. I can't believe it's been three years since we've been all together. And I can't wait until either the five-year reunion we talked about, or someone's wedding. Who will be first??
Love, bunches of love, to all of you.
For the newest graduates of NCCC Class XI, best of luck assimilating back into the "real world," and may the lessons learned in AmeriCorps leave a lasting impression on your hearts.
We will GET THINGS DONE!
All of Class 1 turned in their homework yesterday! Hurrah!
Gas is way cheap now: less than $2.50!
The radiator works, sort of, sometimes!
My old mouse was like walking the Mayan pyramids: dangerous and impossible to go directly up or down, so you have to carefully veer sideways.
And today I finally installed an optic mouse. It's like buttah!
I leave Saturday, February 18 and return on Friday, February 24, flying Northwest/KLM.
My total ticket price was a measly $454.
First, when I went back to BA, their price had gone up nearly a hundred dollars to $660. That is a lot of money...so I went to Travelocity and found this price. What a steal! And it stops in Amsterdam, where I've never been. Another place to get a keychain!
I had already looked up hostels, and they'll be less than $20 a night. A very inexpensive yet impressive trip, indeed!
I am very, very excited. Also in disbelief. It is four months away, which is a long-ass time. Though that will give me plenty of time to pick the brains of all my friends who have been to Prague.
In the meantime, FIVE WEEKS until our Christmas European vacation. Yay!
Friday, November 18, 2005
Skipped class on Weds night because I am lazy. Thursday night were conferences. They went very well, more of the same good things. After 7.05, I only had about three parents, and an hour and a half to do some grading of those durned short stories. Sweet! I finished up the second class of those. I just may get them done by the end of the year yet.
I didn't change out of my school clothes (a new pale/mint green sweater and gray slacks) for the conferences, but I did put my glasses on and have my hair down. TWO people--one of my students and a teacher on my floor--didn't recognize me at first. I love that! Also, I got several compliments during the conferences; one girl's mom said, "You're so pretty, I don't know why you're a teacher instead of a model." I just giggled, because really.
Today, we did some gr@phic org@nizer practice. The students are doing well with staying on task, and hell, staying awake, working out of books like we are. So I do my part, by modulating my voice, occasionally yelling an important word like so: "Remember, you should always follow the DIRECTIONS" just to shake them up a little bit. I have fun where I can, people.
Again, I feel all exhausted and stuff. Haven't been eating anything during the day except a big granola bar and some junk food. Not even any water. That's porbably why, huh.
So this afternoon, I had to drag myself to the UFT workshop about teaching writing. I motivate myself for these by saying, "fifty bucks a night!" In this particular series, a bunch of teachers at my school are signed up. So I got to hang out and chat with two teachers I already know, plus a friendly first year teacher too. They even give us dinner and resource books. Being like I am, all I ate was bread, cookies and soda, but hey, free food. Don't look a gift snack in the mouth!
When we were talking about ana!yzing ch@racter in class, I had an outloud idea that had been percolating in my brain lately. I remembered that my FA last summer mentioned she did an unofficial field trip: having her students meet up for a movie on the weekend. I suggested to Class 1 at the end of the day to do that with the Harry Potter weekend. Well, you'd think I suggested I give them each a hundred dollars. They were all atwitter. So perhaps I can work it out, with a day and time. They'd come with ticket money and perhaps I'd pay for a few popcorns or something. Could be fun!
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
On Monday, I was out of the building all day long, with two other teacher friends, at a seminar in the city (related to one of the things I agreed to do, extracurricular-like). It was an absolutely gorgeous day, and we got to be out and about, between the sunny blue sky and the...dirty sidewalks. Heh. I really love when the day has something different, like a meeting and especially like a field trip! Whee! What a way to spend a Monday, eh?
Sadly, that made for an awkward Tuesday. It felt like Monday to me, and only one of my classes had actually done the lesson that I plastered all over the damn place (the other two classes went to different places, so I guess I can't get mad at a lazy sub this time; nevertheless, it's frustrating). Plus, it was a half day because of afternoon conferences.
I had a double period with Class 3, who were behind anyway. We spent the entire time going over the book's practice t*est, reviewing the steps to answering questions, identifying skills in questions, and even summarizing paragraphs. It was not exciting, but I was really proud and happy with the students: they hung in there, lots of participation, and they were actually into it. They showed a lot of comprehension and it really seems like it will help them and change their strategies. What a relief! What a great class!
I spent the two hours off quickly setting up my room and then working on grading papers. I didn't go out to lunch or hang out with my teacher friends; I got some work done. Hurrah, me!
The conferences went very smoothly. I saw perhaps 25 parents, and there was no rushing or chaos or backups. And, since this quarter all the students passed, most with 3s and 4s, the conferences were pleasant and quick. I tell you, what a difference a year and two honors classes make!
I left school at 2.30, and went home to do...nothing, as usual. I really don't know how I waste seven hours a day at home and have nothing to show for it. But the television and computer are nearly totally responsible. Tee hee. Obviously I don't really care, because I *still* have not caught up on homework for one of my classes.
In fact, since I was so lazy yesterday, I told myself that I would come home today and get to work. .... Yeah, right. Not so much. See the post below for the main distraction.
Today was a confusing day for me. I can't remember what day it is. Other than that, I proceeded with the lesson I'd planned for Monday. Of course we didn't finish it, so we'll continue tomorrow. It involves further question skill identification, then reading stories and passages (a random shipment of H!ghlights magazines came in a few weeks ago, and they had some good stuff in there), and then creating mult!ple-cho!ce AND short-response questions, using the skills. Bwa-ha!
When we finish that tomorrow, the groups will trade questions and answer them, and we will discuss good and bad things in short-response answers.
On Friday, I will hand back one of the recent assignments that I graded as an long-answer, we will discuss how to do things, and I'll probably have them compare/contrast or otherwise analyze some stories from the magazines.
And then it will be the weekend, hallelujah. Then we have yet another unusual week and an extra-long weekend. My teacher friends and I are hoping to have a game night! I'm excited because I love games and my teacher friends are a lot of fun.
Lately, I've been getting a little antsy (uh, see the post below?) and I have been missing my little one-day mini-road trip adventures. I think I only did them a few times, but I would pick a direction and a possible destination and then start driving. Only a few hours, but I got to see some new places.
The first time, I wanted to drive to Leavenworth, because it's a cute town and I hadn't been there since a brief stop in freshman year of college (1997-1998; damn!). However, I drove for what felt like forever and wasn't even in Index yet, and I saw a turnoff for some park. I stopped there and took a wee hike to a lovely stream in the middle of the forest. I had lunch at a picnic bench and it was pretty and relaxing and I wished I could have stayed longer. But I drove home.
Another time I drove to Mt Rainier, or somewhere near there...and it was closed. Oops. But still, an adventure. I walked a couple paths near the closed-off gates at least.
My last day jaunt, at least that I remember, was when I decided to drive south. I think I was going to head for Portland or something, but I saw the exit for Aberdeen and Ocean Shores. I thought, "hey, I haven't been there before! Ooh, let's go there!" So I did.
When I finally got there, the sky was gray and stormy (it was March or some other unflattering, off-season month) and I had no idea what to do. First I went to the beach, since that's the big thing out there. It was pleasantly windy and kind of yucky, but I found a spot to sit and just hang out a bit. Watched the other beachgoers dig for clams and ride fourwheelers, and I remember watching a tiny bird running along the sand, fascinated by its roadrunner legs going a million miles an hour, yet leaving perfectly patterned tracks behind it.
I uncertainly drove around a little bit and decided that I was quite hungry. So I went to this old-school pretend-fifties diner and had a lovely plate of french fries and a chocolate milkshake.
After that, I was bored and I went home. Because I'm unimaginative like that. Though honestly, there's not much to do in a tiny beach town in the middle of nowhere, in the winter.
But just taking an afternoon for myself and telling myself that I get to go on a little adventure, was freeing, and it was exciting, in a silly, small way.
I miss that little excitement.
So Thanksgiving weekend I hope to find it again. I'll probably visit Wallingford and Fire 4's labyrinth, and I'm not sure what else. Staying overnight somewhere would be a new and exciting twist. We'll see.
Oh my god! I'm watching ANTM (because I'm silly like that) and my dream came back to me! I was at work (my old office job again, but like I'd left and come back again), and everyone hated me. They talked and complained about me when I wasn't there. In fact, someone forwarded me an email of these people bitching about me and my horrible personality! It was just awful and humiliating and I had no idea what to do. However, since I'd already left before, I didn't really care too much. Hmm.
Here are two that are making me drool, AND that end very quickly.
The best one:
Six nights, air and hotel and rail to: Budapest, Prague, and Vienna=only $749 per person, double occuapancy, from NYC/JFK. For a single person, like me, it's $949. Which is still a good deal, but come on: less than $800 for a full six-night Central European vacation! I have never been to any of these cities and I have heard only wonderful things about them and oh lord is this a fantastic deal. Here's the site.
And you have to book by TOMORROW.
Total price with taxes etc is roughly $1050. But again, six nights. Hotel, airfare, railtickets, and continental breakfasts. If it's just me, then it costs $1250.
Please, friends, somebody come with me. Things like this are what credit cards were invented for. Plus, by the time this happens, us teachers should have gotten a little backpay.
A pretty damn good one:
London is massively cheap at the moment. They are doing free/discounted hotel nights, which, if there is more than one person, would make it still extremely cheap. Since I don't need to be in London for five or six days, I think it would be superfun to drive around and visit other places. Or take a train up to Scotland and hang around there, see Edinburgh and Glasgow and whatever else.
Airfare is about $450, including taxes, from JFK. ba.com
Email or comment IMMEDIATELY!! Come on, let's go have fun in Europe!!
Okay, now I'm feeling like the 3-city thing is a little much for a single American gal. So I went back to British Airways (they are the best airline in the world, I must say), and looked at Prague for five or six nights=$576 including taxes. Looked up hostels and found an apparently good one for $13-17 a night (no lockout, internet access, continental breakfast). So that means the entire thing would cost less than $700! And I could meet people in the hostel. And go see other places around Prague, by train, if I felt like it.
Hm, this one is sounding better and better.
This booking doesn't end until Monday.
Still, let me know if someone wants to come along!
Sunday, November 13, 2005
We met in the fall of 1999, when I moved into an apartment in the U district of Seattle. The building was a little run-down, with appliances with the look and performance of the 1970s. Each apartment had six rooms, and being a half block from the university, they rented out the rooms individually, to mostly students. My rent was $450 or so, I think, which included utilities. Anyway. Kristin moved in soon after I did, though she wasn't a student, she was just a young person who worked in an office downtown.
We hit it off pretty well right away, and hung out at home, watching tv and eating junk food. We played Boggle nearly every night and cried when Doyle died on Angel. We complained about Nora, our Hungarian roommate who said that Americans are stupid. We complained about her boyfriend Scott, a frat boy who crashed at our apartment all the time. Poor Kristin had to share a wall with their room. Glad it wasn't me!
We had a view of the frat house next door. Since we were on the fourth and top floor of our building, we could see down into a bedroom on the second floor of the frat house. We watched the boys hang out and play on the computer. Kristin used to throw candy and cookies from our window to see if it would attract their attention. It never did! They had no idea we were always spying on them. Ha.
A couple times, we snuck into the house; the front door was open and we took some cereal from their living room.
One night, the frat boys finally noticed us. We were throwing things at their window again, and for once I gave it a try. Our latest weapons were a stockpile of Chupa Chups lollipops. I lobbed one at the window...and it hit the window and broke it. Oops. We ended up chatting from our respective windows, the frat boys and us. They mooned us and we flashed them. Awhile later, we went over there and toured the house and got to know the boys we'd been spying on.
There were also some cute boys in the apartment below us. I don't remember how we met them, but there were two Irish boys and a French guy, and a few Americans too. Oh, those Irish boys were so adorable! We both had crushes on them. Later we found out the French guy had a thing for Kristin, and they had a little pretend fling.
One of our favorite things to do was go to Wizards of the Coast, order nacho fries, as we called them, and "iced spiced chider", and play Boggle. We were total nerds and it was awesome.
We also used to go hang out at the QFC in the University Village shopping center. It was open all night, and had a cafe area with tables and a fireplace. There were always interesting people hanging out there. I remember three girls one night, all wearing the same outfit. Another night these two high school boys insisted that we were lesbian librarians, of all the random things. The store had a good day-old bakery shelf, and we could amuse ourselves with the store directory signs. "I see you have some baby supplies; where do you supply the babies?" and other such giggly, twenty-year-old humor.
After I moved out, back home with my mom, and she moved into another apartment in the U District, and I was 21, we frequented Dante's, a bar in the district. We played foosball with boys, flirted, and drank fruity cocktails. When we didn't need to have alcohol, we would go to the Ram in the Village, always ending with the Mile-High Mud Pie. We always fought over the cookie crust on the bottom.
I'd drop her off at her building, but we'd sit in the car for sometimes an hour or more, still talking and giggling. We would tape record our stupid conversations and take weird pictures.
I'd visit her at her office in the Smith Tower, right downtown, and we'd hang out at her reception desk and then go out to lunch or out to dinner.
One February, we went to Las Vegas together. We played some video slot machines and visited other casinos and flirted with cute boys.
When I went away to AmeriCorps in early 2002, we talked on the phone once or twice a week, catching up on things. When she moved to New York in mid 2002, we kept in touch and I visited her a handful of times. We played Boggle at her place, and went out to bars in Brooklyn or Manhattan.
I moved to New York last June. We talked sometimes, and hung out a few times, not as much as we used to, but that's okay.
In February, she moved to Boston, which she'd been talking about for a few years. The week before she left, we met up at an Irish pub in Woodside. We had some food and drinks and took a few silly pictures and it was fun, like the old days.
I haven't heard from her since then.
I've left voicemails and sent a couple emails, but no response.
Six years of friendship, and apparently it was worth nothing.
Happy Birthday, Kristin.
|You Passed 8th Grade Science|
Congratulations, you got 7/8 correct!
Ms Frizzle, you better get 100% on this one! :)
|You Passed the US Citizenship Test|
Congratulations - you got 9 out of 10 correct!
|You Passed 8th Grade Math|
Congratulations, you got 10/10 correct!
|You Are 50% Weird|
Normal enough to know that you're weird...
But too damn weird to do anything about it!
I disagree with the percentage, but the tidbit is eerily spot on! Heh.
|You Are Midtown|
You love so many things, you don't fit into any one label.
Your city girl persona goes to a fancy restaurant one night and a dive bar the next.
|You Are Somewhat Machiavellian|
You're not going to mow over everyone to get ahead...
But you're also powerful enough to make things happen for yourself.
You understand how the world works, even when it's an ugly place.
You just don't get ugly yourself - unless you have to!
One of the questions was: You assume that most people have a viscous streak that could come out at any time. Ha! "Viscous" instead of "vicious!" Tee hee! Rather changes the question, doesn't it?
Friday, November 11, 2005
A post/excerpt from an alleged Ameri-Novel! It's like she was in my head. Or anyone's head who was in NCCC.
At lunch, with kids supposedly working on library stuff in my room, I went wandering down to the te*cher center to chill out. All the admin were there, about to have a meeting. They do this often, use the room set aside FOR US, for their meetings. When they have a perfectly good conference room behind the office. Grr. Anyway, the principal was near the door and I briefly told him about the multiple interruptions and how frustrating and bothersome they are. He seemed to be thoughtful as he listened, for which I was grateful and a bit surprised (since I'm now used to my AP jumping at anyone who dares question anything). I don't know if it made a difference, or will make a difference, but I hope that I put a bug in his ear about the level of this problem.
Partly because of not being able to sleep all through the night, but also in large part to the communist regime/administration as well as all the stupid interruptions during the day, but I have begun to get that defeated feeling. You know, where you sigh, shoulders slumped, and mutter, "Whatever, ok? I give up. Just leave me alone. You win. Whatever." And not just after PDs or staff "developments," like usual; it now happens during the day, and several days a week.
For pete's sake. Can I just do my job?
For the record, Ms Frizzle, I totally agree with you about taking time away from all the teachers for these stupid tests. It upsets us EL@ teachers, too, not just all the other subjects. We also lose a day, or three days, of instruction and quality teaching. I'm feeling more and more like a robot babysitting test preparer each and every day.
So in an up twist, I found out/was reminded yesterday that I will be at an all-day meeting in the city on Monday. Whoops. So I made sure to tell two of my classes that whoever was with them, to make sure that everything gets done like usual. And I'm going to plaster the lesson and reminders all over the place, even on the outside of the door. Cross your fingers.
In class, nothing exciting happened. We used the book's pr*ctice test to do the six steps, and also did some summarizing of paragraphs. It was kind of dull, but I will continue to remind the students that class will just have to be like that for the next couple months. I told them that all the fun activities we did as motivations are out the window until February. I think they were bummed and bewildered, but I'm not gonna pull any punches with them. They need to know. I'll do my best, but holy cow, there's only so much you can do with test prep, especially now that we will have to follow a day-by-day schedule. That's right, we are now scripted teachers. I get to teach out of a thick spiral-bound teacher's edition. What a rush.
When I got home, I had my near-daily snack of pepper-jack nachos, and then caught the train into the city to act like a person instead of a teacher.
I attended and volunteered for the Trailblazers benefit, at a swanky Midtown bar called Branch. I helped man (I know, I know) the registration table. It was busy and fun for awhile. All the money, both in the aspect of the patrons, and on the donation cards and checks, kind of made me uncomfortable. But hell, it's a truly wonderful cause, and they really deserve lots of money to support the programs they do.
The host was one of my favorite people to watch in the VH-1 "I Love the [Blank]s" and on the daily show, the hilarious Mr Mo Rocca. Karen Duffy was also there as an honoree. Eli Wallach (sp?) was supposed to be there as another, but he was sick. Some of the current and past participants of camp spoke, and the director, and of course the very funny host.
There was an open bar, hors d'oevres, a video slideshow, a silent auction, and a live auction. Oh, and s'mores stations at some of the tables. How freaking cool is that, s'mores at a fancy benefit do? Nancy came to hang out at the benefit, and we found the s'mores and made a few rounds.
The silent auction items varied in coolness, but some stuff was pretty awesome. Larry King autographed suspenders, for one. Duran Duran tour jacket, for another. Fancy salon haircut, expensive dentist stuff, portraits, even some boxing gloves. Another volunteer, a former staff member, got these two guys into a bidding war for a helicopter tour, ending at $500! It was exciting.
Oh, and Nancy won a couple things. One was a bunch of books, and I forget the other one. A membership to somewhere. That was exciting, too.
Nancy had to really persuade me and practically pull me over, but she went over to Mr Rocca to ask if I could take a picture with him. I felt so silly, but he was extremely nice and gracious.
At the end, everyone got gift bags. I figured that the volunteers wouldn't get one, either because we weren't posh enough or there'd be none left. On the cotnrary, there were many left over, and we could take more than one if desired. All the bags had a magazine, t-shirt, glass mug, and a complete season of Curb Your Enthusiasm on DVD. Some of the bags didn't have a mug, and had Sex and the City DVDs. So I got both. Plus some leftover marshmallows and chocolate!
Around 11, I headed out to go home, fully exhausted after a very full day indeed.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
In the first sixty-three minutes of my day, I was interrupted nine times. NINE TIMES. NINE!!
First, a girl walked in five minutes late. Then I had to get the correct attendance sheet, because they gave me the right folder but the wrong roster. Then the phone rang. It was the office, who said never mind because they couldn't figure out how to pronounce the student's name who they needed. So of course the phone rang ten minutes later, for the same thing. Then a new student came to the door with his mother, because he's new to the school altogether. Oh, and three minutes later she knocked because she forgot to give him his bag of gym clothes or something. Then it was the period break, where four of my students go to another room and miss out on everything I do. Then a special ed teacher came in wanting me to sign an IEP form for a student AND class that I DON'T HAVE.
And, of course, the daily announcements were in there too, somewhere.
I seriously wanted to hit somebody.
During the announcements, while standing for the pledge, I said to my students, in an exasperated and sarcastic voice, "Gee, I'm glad I had a viable lesson to fill the time between all the interruptions."
Seriously, what the fuck? Remember how I said they don't want us to actually teach? This is yet another example.
And, they were really bothersome interruptions. We were practicing conclusions and inferencing as well as listening skills. I was reading short passages and then they were making conclusions or inferences, and then proving them. We even got a debate going about whether certain statements were facts or inferences! It was cool, because there was extra chatter around the room, but it was all discussion about why it was a fact or inference. The kids were getting all frustrated and debateful (huh?), but they seemed to be engaged and learning. I enjoyed it.
...Except for the NINE FUCKING INTERRUPTIONS.
At lunch, as usual, I was doing five things at once. And for part of the time, my AP was right there, and seeming to accuse me of something, or look down at me for something...and again, I was really irritated. My plate is freaking overflowing, people, cut me some slack!
I confiscated two notes today. One of them read as follows:
She broke up with him on friday Because He called her a bitch. And there was a big thing. [The dean] got into it. D--- and B--- are just friends. It was a Big thing Because M--- like D--- and she is a lessbeing.
Luckily I read this while students were entering my room and getting settled, so that I could turn away behind my desk and try to stifle my laughter behind my hands. A less being. Oh, lord. And it's not like you can put something like that on the word wall! Ha!
We had a communist edict handed down to us this afternoon. First, it said, The pressure is on because we have only this many days until the test. THEN it said, Ensure you are following the thing given AS A SUGGESTION in last week's PD. And using such and such plan for your content.
So now it's not just helpful advice from our colleagues, given in a friendly but professional manner, it's required! AND our homework as well as everything else has to reflect t*est pr*ep! And the AP is very...hm, direct in her intimating that we will GET IN TROUBLE for not following these edicts.
I tell you, by next year they'll only need robots. Or Communist soldiers. This is absolutely ridiculous and quite, *quite* insulting.
On my mom's perhaps-in-jest suggestion, I made a sign for my door. It says:
Learning in Progress! Class IS in session; PLEASE do not interrupt us! Thank you! :)
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
Sunday, November 06, 2005
I had two long islands and a free kamikaze and hoo boy, that was too much alcohol for little old me, especially since I hadn't eaten in a few hours. So I got a little cross-eyed and queasy, but thank goodness there was no real sick.
We hung out at the bar for about four hours, which is insane; it flew by in lots of fun chatting, mostly about teaching and stuff.
Ooh, and Ms Frizzle got me a CD: Nada Surf. I gave it a listen earlier and liked what I heard. Hurrah for new music! Thanks! :)
I got home around 4am and slept til 10.30. Soon I put on my 'good girl' face and got started on the stupid "paper" that's a week late. I did it on evolution vs creationism/intelligent design. Honestly, it was kind of sickening to read about some of the arguments. But...I finished it and sent it off a couple hours ago.
Let's see...once again it is Sunday. Which means I'm just gearing up for the whole "time off" thing, just in time for the last evening of freedom. Although this week will be pretty easy; Tuesday is the "inservice" day and Friday we're off. I do have another midterm on Wednesday night that I am not interested in studying for just yet. Maybe later.
I "learned" to "knit" from a book kit. Trying to start the thing, it was all I could do not to wail and throw the stupid needles down. Apparently my learning style is not exclusively visual. Knitting for Dummies, indeed.
Anyway, it sort of worked for awhile, and I made a square! But then I wasn't really able to figure out the binding off stitch, and I didn't care so much, so I just pulled it off the needle. That's why it's got the open row of loops.
Friday, November 04, 2005
Some girls decorating one of the cakes brought in for me. Mm, cake.
Food carnage and gifts taking over my desk. (The blue milk crate is supposed to be there; that's my stock of test pr@p materials.)
A handknit, huge squooshy scarf and matching hat from my birthmom. Jules won't be cold this winter!
An acrostic poem about me, from a student:
M--makes EL@ a time to remember
S--super in teaching
C--cares about education
A letter in a card, from a student:
"Dear Ms. C,
Over the past two months, you have taught the class and myself a lot of things. Sometimes you do it in a fun way so it doesn't seem boring to other kids. Within the box contains a prize for being the best teacher ever. It also contains a gift for your special B-day. I hope you enjoy them!
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Actually, it is. That is Application on Bloom's Taxonomy. (Shut up, Inner EL@ Te@cher!)
I knocked out my late paper this evening. It sucks but once again, who cares. One more I figure I'll get in on Saturday, a week late too. Plus midterm tomorrow evening at home and one next week in class. Bah!
Thank you to all who wished me happy birthday! Thanks for the blog love. :)
Speaking of, I got to see the paramour (the hot old guy I mentioned last week) tonight, except there wasn't time to chat. And I wore some extra-showy cleavage, too. I didn't even get my birthday kiss. :( Very disappointing.
I wish I had something interesting or insightful to share with you all. The week at school is really nothing, and right now we're between birthday celebrations. Oh, I will be posting pics of my gifts and my cute outfit, tomorrow I suppose.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
And truly, I have had a special day. I wore a cute, non-schoolish dress, and my hair half-down. I got a lot of compliments on both (especially on my hair from my girl students). Lots of people wished me a happy birthday, and my students brought lots of treats for our class parties. AND a few of them brought cards and/or gifts. Plus my friend S got me a cake and NI and another teacher gave me presents. I feel so loved. Yay!
The weather has even been gorgeous the last two days. The fall chill has been absent and the sky is spotlessly blue.
Tomorrow I have to be extra-strict so as to keep my kids in line for the rest of the year. Although, ooh, I was so excited today; one of the science teachers told me that one of my kids told him I was crazy. And I agree with the teacher that that's the best compliment a teacher gets. Because that means they're either scared of me, or wary of me, and either way respect me. Sweet! Me Crazy!