Friday, December 26, 2008

(you) wish you were here

Guatemala is beautiful. The weather is sunny and warm--no ice or snow in sight!

The first day and a half in Guatemala City were pretty great. My host Maria (flickrfriend of a flickrfriend; now my own flickrfriend) picked me up, settled me in at her house, and introduced me to her wonderfully kind and friendly family. Unfortunately we couldn´t walk around to see any sights, because it´s too dangerous. Instead we did a driving tour around and then above the city. I´m on my own again in Antigua right now, which is ridiculously picturesque. Spent the day walking around the town, visiting various churchy ruins and making travel arrangements. Tomorrow morning before dawn, I will depart and head for Tikal! After that I am hoping to visit Panajachel at Lake Atitlan and perhaps camp on a volcano overnight before heading home to wintery New York.

Seriously, it is beautiful here. Many, many photos will be here next week.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Sayonara

I survived the last two INSANE days of school, and I'm off to Guatemala for a week. Happy holidays, everyone.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I hate Sunday nights

This was a pretty decent weekend, though, especially because it was such a shitty week.

I took a photowalk in the sleeting rain after school on Friday (see previous post) to check out the new snow. I came home soaked but stoked and re-energized.

I slept for nine hours on Friday night and then got lots of things done on Saturday. Finally mailed a bunch of Xmas things as well as the official complaint about my previous landlord (battling over the security deposit because he's a jerkoff). My eyebrows have been tamed once again! (Although I have to say that I have yet to be pleased with an eyebrow wax from the number of places I've gone. I miss the reliably good place across the street from my old apartment.) I ran some other errands and the BF and I had a nice dinner at the Mexican place down the block. And then I finished my knitting project! I'm so excited and proud about that. This represents a bunch of successful firsts for me: knitting on circular needles (though not in the round), following a pattern (though a ridiculously easy one), making stripes, picking up dropped stitches (it took several trial-and-errors, and there's still one little hole), and sewing up the seam (which I haven't actually started yet).

I've been trying to eat enough this weekend too. For the last couple weeks, my clothes and my ring have been falling off. I don't think I've been eating very much or drinking enough water.

Saturday night I went to bed sometime after midnight and slept quite well, despite awful, violence- and frustration-filled dreams. Finally I stretched and checked out the time--1pm! Whoa. I've never been one to sleep ridiculously late, but man was it nice. I do love my weekends.
Met the girls for lunch and then a trip to the photo store! One friend bought her first DSLR--so exciting! Another bought a new lens and I bought myself that cheap 50mm lens as well as a camera backpack. It should be perfect for being out and about on my trip, because in addition to space for all my camera and accessories, there's more space for books, maybe some knitting, and a snack or something.

Speaking of my trip, I leave in less than three days, holy crap. I took my suitcase out yesterday, and so far all I've 'packed' is my passport, guidebook, and converter. I have to do laundry sometime before I go--maybe Tuesday afternoon? I should probably start a list of things to take. The weather is much warmer there than here, which should feel wonderful.

Here's a shot with my new lens!



Technically I'm not ready for teaching tomorrow morning, but I really don't care. So there.

Real snowfall on Friday






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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Woohoo!

Just kidding.

I've had a super shitty week. It started last week when my car got towed. Who doesn't want to spend the entire afternoon stuck in the slowest-moving line of all time in a cheap city trailer?

Oh, and a bonus? They broke my bumper! Sweet! It's hanging down on one side and scrapes against the ground. I am officially ghetto.

I got sick again, have had a very sore throat and have used up approximately five bajillion kleenex.

The first two days of this week were truly awful with the Debaters; I could not teach. They would not shut up. They were really frustrated too, but not enough to fix themselves.

I lost my metrocard. It disappeared from a zippered pouch on the front of my purse. I really hope it fell out somewhere and wasn't stolen. There was at least fifteen dollars on the card, and there was also $21 in cash folded in the little thingy I keep the card in.

I haven't slept through the night all week.

My to-do list is growing and nothing is getting accomplished (my eyebrows are a jungle, for example)

I had to stay at school until 8 tonight (yes, had to), AND got zero work done.

I saved the best for last--I'm getting demoted!

Yeah. Told you.
It'll start after the break. Not sure what exactly will happen, but I'm not surprised.

I will say that a couple classes have actually gone really well. The Hedgehogs have been amazing (well, some of them). We had an incredible, thoughtful, articulate discussion for TWO days! The Moles also had one good day of discussion.

Also, someone told me today that I'm someone's favorite teacher, and he talks about me all the time. Wow.

Three more school days, three more school days, three more school days...

Friday, December 12, 2008

A stitch in time

That has nothing to do with anything, except the knitting is infecting the grade like the chickenpox! All kinds of kids are interested, and many of them carry it around with them and work on it in downtime. It's kind of freaking awesome. Even kids that aren't part of the official club are knitting!

Is it strange that these urban preteen girls and boys are LOVING a traditional domestic craft that, at least on flickr, is favored by upper-middle-class white women? I don't know and I don't care, I'm just glad.

Tomorrow I'm going to a knitting gathering, where I hope to work on a new, more complicated project (ie, one that uses more than just the one stitch over and over), and meet some new people. I need to get some needles for me and for the kids who are clamoring to learn.

We ended this week with a field trip with my grade. What a treat! As always, we left the kids with behavior issues behind, and the kids we took were awesome. Other groups of kids were loud, disruptive, and all over the place in people's way. Our kids were calm and good-natured and behaved themselves. Oh, and they were very interested with my fancy camera (you know I took several hundred photos of the activity)--I wish I could start a photography club! I'd have to have a bunch of cameras as well as, you know, knowledge of photographic principles. Hahaha. Anyway, a great trip was definitely a fun way to end this week.

And goodness me, I am glad it's the end of the week, because I feel like a slug.

Off to bed with me!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

catch-up

Can every weekend be a four-day weekend? Please? I could really use the rest and mental recuperation.

I've had plenty of crap happening and rolling around in my head to write, but...I am lame and lazy and also busy and tired. So.

School is meh. During the short week, the Debaters had TWO good classes, where they worked quietly and fairly enthusiastically. It was a little amazing. The next week I let all my classes play a review game of Memory, and the Debaters did the best. They actually followed the directions, most of them cooperated, and they played the game! The other classes goofed around and didn't play.

The Moles are slightly insane as always. We had one good class on Thursday morning, for some reason, but by the afternoon it was back to the usual chaos.

The admin seems to now be looking out for me to err. Our 'meetings' consist of them telling me what I'm doing wrong and how my entire teaching style (which from day one I've been trying to adapt) is wrong and NEEDS to change NOW. And I just sit there and take it, trying to keep a neutral expression on my face and nodding along at my faults. It is possible or likely that I have officially been warned twice.

At this point, I don't even care anymore. If they want to target my bad moments, I can't do anything to stop them. I can't be perfect, I certainly can't be kind every second for ten hours with twelve-year-olds, I can't change overnight, and also, I can't effectively control my worst class without a little force and volume.

So, if they decide that I'm not a good match for the school after all, so be it. I won't be that surprised and then I won't have to make the decision myself.

On the other hand, the knitting club had a great debut. Seven kids showed up, including two boys. None of them are kids that I have a particular bond with, or that I would have said actually liked me. Which makes it all the more unbelievable and positive. Most of them picked it up and got into it, and many of them carry around their needles during the day. Two girls have knitted several good inches! Three or four more kids want to join this coming week. I'll have to go pick up more yarn and needles.

Speaking of positive, I chaperoned a field trip the other day, with kids from a different, younger grade. It was so awesome! My friend, their teacher, is one that I've talked to and bonded with, and she was amazing--she had worked hard on preparing for the trip, setting the expectations, staying patient and yet authoritative. The kids really lived up to the high expectations--silent or very quiet in the subway station and cars, and quite well-behaved in the museum. Much, much better than the other school groups we saw. I really liked being there with them, encouraging them to look at new things and learn interesting facts. They were so enthusiastic! It was a very enjoyable way to end the week.

As you saw in the previous 'post,' I have a new camera! Oh my god, it is beautiful. I upgraded to a Nikon D80. Remember that my wonderful boyfriend surprised me with my first DSLR, a Nikon D40x, back in May. Since then, I have taken approximately sixteen thousand photos....and a great deal of them are of me. Thank you, flickr. Anyway. I've been wanting to get a new, faster lens and keep improving my photography skills. I started looking around ebay and found a used camera body that, with a special Black Friday weekend coupon, was about the same price as the new fancy lens I wanted. This body is more complex and more sophisticated, but I can still use the two lenses I already have. It's heavier, it has different and more controls and menus, and it will autofocus with all the lenses. I wouldn't have known what to do with it if I'd gotten it first. But now, though I definitely need to read up on it, I'm ready for more camera!

And you know what else this means--I still need a new lens! (A cheaper one, though.)

My Christmas trip to Guatemala will be EVEN BETTER with a new camera and lens!

Also, last night I FINALLY beat level 7 of Katamari Damacy. I'd been stuck there for like a week. Victory at last!

I listened to a four-month-old podcast of RadioLab and was totally enthralled with Zoe Keating's layered cello music. It is just gorgeous! Please go listen, it will make your day better!

I went out twice this weekend, which is twice as many times as a normal weekend. Both were fun, but I am compensating by having a hermit day today. And really, I could use one or two more, so can someone get back to me about the four-day weekends? Please?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

In lieu of an actual post

I've been trying to pare down my ginormous favorites links. I had eleventy billion, what with all the blogs and teacher blogs I think I will find the time to read. Some of them don't even exist as a blog anymore, and many others haven't posted for a year or more. Deleted! Even more I haven't looked at even once. Deleted! Now I'm down to a mere kajillion.
Right now I just reworked the links at right, updating and simplifying. Sorry there's so much shit over there.

In the last week or so, I have found these new teacher blogs that I really like! They are funny, honest, and share great stories. Go check them out, since I have nothing to say. (other than NO WORK THIS WEEKEND!!!! WOOO!!!)

The Smallest Twine

A Truth Universally Acknowledged

Molding Young Minds

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

WTF?!

A few days ago, one of my supervisors noticed how annoying the pencil thing is--a handful of kids ask for pencils every single period of the day. (At this school, students expect to get pencils and paper and teachers are expected to give them out as needed. This irritates the hell out of me every single time. No wonder charter school kids have a hard time in high school--they haven't even been 'trained' to come prepared to school every day. Anyway, end rant.)

She suggested I sharpen a bunch and keep them with me. So I did; I wrapped a dozen or so freshly pointy pencils in a rubber band and put them in the bin I use for papers.

The next morning, they had magically transformed into a rubber-banded dozen of *unsharpened* pencils.

What the freaking f*ck?!?!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Things I've Noticed

A young man wearing a cupcake hat. Not decorated with cupcakes, the hat *was* a cupcake. It was actually kind of awesome.

A car with a tiny electronic readerboard underneath the rear license plate. Way too distracting, although it would be a convenient way to tell people, "Get off my ass!"

When I leave a message for parents of my students, apparently they don't take the minute to listen to the damn message and instead call back, saying, "Yes?" when I answer. Gah!

My students don't care much for reading, or even logic. Today I read this on a historical worksheet: in response to who was the leader of the American army? "The English." GAH!!

I loathe a lot of CBS shows and most sitcoms as well. So it's a little begrudging and nerdy of me to admit that The Big Bang Theory is actually really funny. I literally laughed out loud three or four times.

Our landlord is an asshole. Le sigh.

No one noticed my glasses. I've worn the same pair for over three years and a few weeks ago, I noticed that one of the lenses was scratched. So I started wearing my old pair, which have a similar shape but are dark burgundy instead of light, clearish brown. Pretty noticeable, if you ask me. No colleagues, no flickrpeople, no one noticed. Well, ONE student asked me about it. Last Saturday I picked up my newer pair, with freshly replaced lenses. Nobody noticed that change either. Harrumph.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Sudafed is my hero.

I would like to give a bear hug to the person that invented it. It's like a miracle--I can breathe freely again!

I am totally bodily exhausted today. Last night I tried not to fall asleep at 9pm. I was actually so tired that when I went to bed, I had a hard time falling all the way asleep.I already took a sort of nap this morning, it's now 2pm, and I still feel all beat up and weak.

I have errands to run, though, so I hope I can get it together to get on the train.

I've had some emotional meetings at school this week and truly don't know what my future is at this school.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ups and Downs

I woke up with a cold this morning.

Remember the sign that Distractions McGee made me and then carelessly lost, and how it made me sad? It was sitting on my desk this morning, all colored in. I put it right up on the board behind my desk.

Half the Debaters were throwing paper across the room at each other every time I turned away from them.

Homework completion has jumped up this week. I have been giving out worksheets with historical summary passages and questions. I also FINALLY put up a homework star chart. The sad part is that a significant number of students got questions wrong. The passages are at a 4th to 5th grade reading level.

Apparently some of the Moles are sneaky sneaky--insulting me behind my back, calling me racist, threatening me. I alerted my administration and then later on in our second class together, I wrote a sample sentence about "The esteemed Ms. _____" and when asked what esteemed meant, I said lightly, "Well, it pretty much means really awesome. And I am pretty awesome. If you disagree....too bad, sorry."

Also, when asked how they would feel about living in a dictatorship, one student responded, "Well, I'd be afraid of the water."

In the afternoon, I asked the Moles to vote on how to read their example story and they wanted to read in pairs to each other. So they did--and they DID. Even the disruptive ones!

A bunch of kids--boys and girls--want to learn to knit. I want to start a club and told a few kids, and they're asking about when it will start.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Roller Coaster

People talk about peaks and valleys, good days and bad days. But how is it possible to be in so many valleys with nary a peak in sight?

Things were going okay for a little while. And by that, I was getting through the day, though none of them have been good. I was trying to be positive and strong and strict, to reinforce the rules that the school and I have clearly set from the first day of school. Sometimes the students cooperated and I gave plenty of praise and compliments.

The last few school days have been a big fat Rift Valley. Yesterday was a plain old bad day, all told. I was bad and mean, the kids were rude, loud and obnoxious. It was awful.

And! I was surprise-taped and then had a meeting about it. I've been videotaped a couple times this year, and watching them hasn't been as torturous as I'd thought. But god, seeing my class outside of my head did not help me feel any better. I cried--not at the video, but at the feedback, because I'm so very frustrated at the entire situation.

Today was not a bad day. I wouldn't call it a good day, but there were decent bright spots during the day. The Debaters were noisy as ever, but the Moles had one good class. One disruptive kid --Distractions McGee--worked quietly and made me a really cute sign. (I was all warm fuzzy and wanted to laminate it. I gave it back to him later so he could color it for me. And then he lost it and didn't even care.) A second disruptive kid talked and called another kid names all period. I had to cover the Hedgehogs, and they were great. For my class, not so much.

Yesterday I stayed at school until eight. Today I graded nonstop (truly; not even a break to check email or stretch) for two hours, but put down my pen at five on the dot. I haven't slept through the night the last two nights and woke up with a migraine this morning.

Is the ride over yet?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Naming Ceremony

Apparently I haven't named my classes yet, and I wanted to start keeping track of how each was doing. So.

My first class is very low level and very small. They shall be the Hedgehogs, because many of them are rather prickly at times. It's been a huge struggle lately to first control them and then get them paying attention and involved to learn something. Their homework completion, classwork, and test scores are all abysmal. I need to do something different, but at this point, it's all I can do to create one set of materials for all my classes. I don't have the brainpower or creativity to make something special for this one class.

My second class has a couple very difficult students, and as a group can be awful or amazing. They shall be dubbed the Cookie Monsters. The last three days of class, they have been awesome! One kid--hm, I can call him Talky--just refuses to control himself and was making noises, talking, all kinds of disruptions. But get this--the rest of the class worked silently! Yesterday I made sure to begin class with high praise for them.

Another I see two times a day for two different subjects, has a couple very difficult students and a handful of kids that occasionally choose to be difficult. I will call them the Whack-a-Moles. The year started very difficult with them, but at one point they became my favorites, because they were controlling themselves and working hard. The tide has turned all the way back and class with them is a complete disaster. On a good note, one of the worst kids in the grade, who calls out noises, words, weird voices, extremely disruptive, had two amazing days! I showered him with stickers, positive reinforcement, and praise in class, and yesterday started class by complimenting him to the whole class. How times do change, that the usually worst kid was the one working the most in class.

The fourth class thinks they are the s#!# because they're smart. They will be the Debaters because they always have something to say. It's hard to manage them, it's even hard to like them, because many of them are blatantly rude and disruptive. The talking almost never stops, and it's awful. They don't like me either.

This week I'm asking my classes to evaluate themselves and me at the end of each class. The results were mixed in terms of honesty about their own performance and mine as well. But I am willing to take feedback, and I hope that with more opportunity, the kids will start thinking about what they do and *how* they do it (which to me matters a little more) and hopefully preventing some of the nasty, disrespectful and disruptive behaviors.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Guess What

I drive to school, even though it's only a mile. There are nine or ten stoplights in that mile, and this morning, I didn't have to stop for a single one of them. It was a Brooklyn miracle!

Also, last night I bought a plane ticket! I'm going to Guatemala for a week over Christmas! Whee!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

A bunch of interesting things I could write about

...But I'm not gonna.

Instead, I will try to articulate something that's been irritating me for awhile now. I was in my old neighborhood, had a few minutes, and decided to check out Ann Taylor Loft. In the sale section, I picked out some trousers and tops to try on.

And none of them fit! But here's the stupid thing--they were all too big!

No, I'm not complaining, exactly. But the sizing of clothes has really gotten out of hand--I'm beginning to think it's all an outright lie. See, in high school I was a size 7/8, in college a 10. When I moved to New York, within a year I was back to 8, and then a 6. A six! I hadn't fit into one of those since I was maybe in early high school. I figured that even though I hadn't lost weight or inches, I had started walking around more, and maybe that was the reason. But still, two full sizes seemed a little extreme. Anyway, so for the last four years, I've worn 6s in trousers and dresses, and sometimes small tops.

Now, my body hasn't changed that much in the last fifteen years. I'm 5'7" and a half ish, I weigh between 140-150--I'm not a tiny girl. A six sounds like it should be for tiny, tidy girls. My belly is not flat; my inner and outer thighs are not toned; my chest is not small. I've worked out exactly two times in the last three-plus months, and I've not at all been eating healthfully. And today, the size six was TOO BIG! I bought two pairs of size four trousers! What the hell?? Don't lie to me, fashion industry! A person with 38-inch hips should not wear a size FOUR!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I heard the news, first. I was trying to sleep when I thought there was some noise outside--cheering.

I realized something had happened, so I crept out of bed and tiptoed into the other room, crossing my fingers, hoping it would be what I wanted, but not positive...

I turned on the television, and there were the magical words: Barack Obama elected as the 44th President. I was overwhelmed with emotions: disbelief, relief, happiness, excitement. I read the words several times, and each time I had to tell myself, It's real! It finally happened! The worry is over, the decision is in, the country finally came through!

This is the first time I've ever said this, without irony or sarcasm: Go America! I'm proud of you!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Like Christmas in November

We've been watching, waiting for months on end, eagerly anticipating. Will the day ever arrive?

It's the official eve. Votes were cast, numbers are coming in, map colors are filling in. The results go up and down. It's so early yet. I won't be staying up all night to see all the results, which means I will go to bed wondering anxiously what will occur tonight. Tomorrow morning will be the bright and shiny moment, a be-ribboned gift for us to tear into. The wait will FINALLY be over.

When I wake up, will the world be a different place? No. Will my life change? No, not really. I'm in a pretty good place, economically and socially.

But I will possibly feel good about my country, I might feel hope for the direction of my country, maybe I will publicly declare positive feelings about the future of my country.

I don't know what the news will be when I wake up. But at the very least, I'm excited about doing my part to make the future a gift for us and our children. Merry Christmas, America!

Who r u votin' 4?

I got that as an IM last night and as several questions today from students. I did not answer. To one group, I merely that I will be voting for the candidate I believe in. When they continued to pester me, I explained when an adult talks about their beliefs, it's a way of exerting influence, and it's not my (or any teacher's) job to do that.

"McCain? McCain, right? She be votin' for McCain."

"Are you for war? Europeans are for war."

"You votin' for McCain? I would vote for Obama."

I got irritated and snapped at them. Racism AND presuming they had any clue about my politics? Whoa now, hush yourself.

It would have been easier if I'd just let myself say what I wanted to the question:
Student: Who are you voting for?
Me: Your mom.

...

All silly matters aside, please vote! I am Pro Voting! This is the third time I've voted (...because I'm a slacker and don't know enough to vote in the non-presidential elections), and it's still exciting to be a part of democracy. Especially since, a hundred years, neither my students nor I would have been able to vote, I don't take it lightly. I hope every single person finds time to vote, no matter their opinions on who should win.

And how come my voting place never has stickers?!?! I want stickers, dammit!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Now entering Worksheet Land!

Where children do as they're told and don't learn to think for themselves! Where note-taking is ignored! Where the students take on the burden of learning!

Ahem.

This past week I achieved my goal of structuring my classes more, with the help of a trusty timer. Beep beep, time's up! Didn't finish your work? Oh well, too bad, use your time more effectively next time! I have definitely seen an increase of work being done, especially in tandem with my sticker incentives that I've been using.

I have accepted the fact that at my school, it is expected that students fill out worksheets for everything. They will not or can not do notes on their own, so I have to just suck it up and keep creating more materials. The next step--that I'm not sure how to do--is differentiating the worksheets and materials for some of my low-level classes and students. Not sure how to squeeze even more work into all those hours at school; I still feel like I get nothing done in eleven plus hours. Argh.

Quiz scores this week weren't too bad. I hope the students noticed that the questions came from the daily end-of-class assessments. When I return them graded, and tell them to correct any mistakes, maybe they will actually LISTEN and STUDY with it. Durr!

On Friday, I had to tell myself, Oh crap, tomorrow's my birthday! It was a decent day; frankly, quiz day is always pretty calm. Most of this week was decent, actually. Colleagues have told me they really like my sticker incentives and think it's making a difference. I'm not totally sure yet, although I have definitely seen a marked improvement in a few students. In the afternoon, our staff discussed the importance of kindness and compliments toward the students. I definitely do that (I see so-and-so getting right to work! Great job!), but I do a lot of corrections as well. Someone talked about their experiment with counting out a handful of good things before saying anything negative, which was definitely inspirational food for thought.

My birthday was nice; it was pretty quiet. I slept in and had a little time to hang around home in the morning. In the afternoon, BF and I went into the city and took the tram to Roosevelt Island, something neither of us had done before. It was fun! Definitely a new view of the city, seeing the big avenues from above, traversing the East River, seeing the downtown bridges through the Queensboro bridge. We took a bus around the island to get an easy view of the town. Everything was painted red or yellow; it was all so clean and pleasant. I saw a white cat on a leash, drooled over pickles at a street market, and was approached by two very fat, aggressive squirrels.

In the evening, two lovely friends joined us at a nearby bar for drinks and a gorgeously delicious chocolate cake. It was low-key and just what I wanted.

This morning was lazy; I love snuggling under my covers on a chilly morning. Worked on next week's worksheets while catching up on television from last week. I'm looking forward to an even better week at school.

Roosevelt Island day trip




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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Happy Birthday to me!

I am now twenty-nine! Weird.

I've been meaning to post all week, I have plenty to say (I think), but I have pledged not to work or think about work today. Hope everyone had a safe and fun Halloween, and welcome to November!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Posts for Thought

Mei Flower is one of my favorite teacher blogs. Her posts are always entertaining and thoughtful. Recently she articulated why education IS the issue in this election.

"I've watched all the debates, and I've decided that the one thing that will sway me is where the candidates stand on education. That makes sense to me, since everything I have is affected by the American educational system; from my finances to my employment status to my healthcare, nothing I do would be possible if it weren't for public education. So obviously I have a vested interest in the candidates' views on this important issue.
...
"McCain’s statement assumes that the only things standing in the way of growth in the teaching profession are exams or certification, and that is simply not the case. Other obstacles include low pay, high stress, increased duties (with no extra pay), governmental pressure, apathetic and/or combative students, unsupportive parents, and–above all–zero respect or status."

Go read that post for more details and then this post for a response and elaboration.
"It's not enough for me to stand over my students and keep them quiet and tell them to read from their textbooks; that doesn't teach them anything except that school is boring and horrible and teachers are lazy and mean. A teacher--a REAL teacher--does so much more than give lectures and worksheets and grades.

"Until politicians society as a whole realizes this, teachers will not be viewed as career professionals, but as low-achieving, unmotivated failures who have no business complaining about how "easy" they have it. And that is, with apologies to my mother, a load of old bullsh*t."

I left rambling comments on both posts. I don't feel like rehashing them here, so go read her excellent writing and take a look at my incoherent thoughts in the comments. :)

Speaking of teachers and workloads, don't you love when tests, homework, and/or projects pile up? Read this, the funniest thing I've read in a long time.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Pinch Me

Are you sitting down?
Get ready.

This morning was...good.

I'll wait while you recover from your faint.

Now, lest you think you've entered an alternate universe, rest assured that the afternoon was pretty much a mess.

BUT! The first two classes of the day--which have been giving me a lot of trouble--were GOOD.

I'm not attributing it to myself, but I will hold on to it as a tiny spark of hope. A hope-let, if you will.

I did a good job of staying calm and positive-ish, reinforcing the right decisions. For the most part, I felt good.

__

Yesterday I was proud of myself for an odd reason--I went home! My brain was just fried after school, so I made a few copies and then LEFT at like 4.40pm. And it wasn't even a Friday!

Later--brace yourself again--I worked out. For the first time in more than three months. I did one of the yoga-type videos, and it was harder than it should be because I'm so completely not in shape. But I felt good about finally doing something good for myself and using my evening time wisely.

___

Here is a snippet from a conversation at lunch today. A boy from my homeroom was pontificating to the table on why boys are smarter than girls:

"Who is the first smartest person on the earth? The first is Jesus. Right. Second is Albert Einstein, okay. Third is Mark Twain...or something. Fourth is this dude in England right now. He counts sand at the beach."

There was more, but this was so amazingly random and hilarious that I had to ask one of the kids for some paper so I could write it down. Ha!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ramble ramble

Today was genuinely an okay day. And that's an improvement!

Monday was pretty shitty. Too many kids are talking too much and being too disrespectful (guess all the signs about "work hard. be nice." aren't taken at all seriously), and I have too short a temper.

We didn't teach yesterday, and that always means a better day for me. (...I know.) In talking to a friend/colleague and my boss, I clarified some ideas for myself; in that I have them, not that I made any decisions.

Mainly I need to remember that I have choices: about how I react, how I think, how I speak; about working here; about teaching at all. I can take responsibility for what I do, and I can keep (trying to) urge my superiors to help reinforce the bad steps from the kids. So far that's not happening at all, even though it's been promised. I feel like they've given up on me, they don't speak to me, or try to help or anything. I stopped trying to ask because it's just been a waste of time. I'm doing what I'm supposed to do in terms of records and communications, but nothing is happening on their end.

I've been reminded about self-fulfilling prophecies, about my still-young age, about putting myself first.

I started a new incentive system today, with two rewards on the horizon (one a dated event and the other a farther-away privilege). It's my push to get myself and the good kids through the next two weeks.

Ultimately, and I haven't mentioned this here really, this job isn't healthy for me. At least not as it stands right now. For some reason I'm being really stubborn about facing this reality, because I don't want to let people down (the kids, my colleagues who'd have to cover me, my boss who wants me to stay, my boyfriend who worries if I could pay the rent). I know that these things don't matter in the long run and that my mental and physical health need to be a priority...but I'm having trouble accepting and acting on that. Plus I hate making big, important decisions.

So right now I'm giving myself a deadline--my birthday next weekend. Not that I expect things to turn around or drastically change, but since things (my management and their behavior) have been getting worse lately, I'm looking for incremental improvements.

Back to the beginning: today was okay. The behavior wasn't really better, but *I* was better, a little. I was able to stay calmer (...for the most part) and restrain the snaps. I experienced a few brief, shining, fleeting moments of silence and attention. I'm trying to hold on to those and build on them. The kids want better from me; I now have it in writing (they did a reflection this week). My planning has to get better. I'm not totally sure how to do that, or that I can do it effectively, because I'm still essentially creating my own activities for everything. I don't really think that is sustainable, especially since oh GOD there's so much material and we'll never get to it all!

*Breathe!*

Stay calm. Continue to reinforce the right things and reiterate the expectations. FOCUS.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Boredom meme

Pretty sure I've done this before. I've been around too long.

Which American accent do you have?

Neutral

You're not Northern, Southern, or Western, you`re just plain -American-. Your national identity is more important than your local identity, because you don`t really have a local identity. You might be from the region in that map, which is defined by this kind of accent, but you could easily not be. Or maybe you just moved around a lot growing up.

Personality Test Results

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

I Am a Mega Blaster

The week ended fairly well--but I stress that that is only because I didn't have to teach all day. Instead, there was a field trip of sorts (source of the random title), which was way more fun than being in the classroom. We'll see if that improves some relationships next week. The day itself ended in an annoying way, with about 2 1/2 solid hours of grading. Yuck.

A dinner out in the city left me a bit lighter in the soul (and heavier in the stomach) but also a bit discombobulated--what's with all the people? having fun, out with friends, talking to grown ups? What? Always rather a shock to the system to be in crowds of strangers instead of hallways full of adolescents.

Saturday was a full, fun day spent with people from flickr. I didn't know any of them before (not even on flickr), but really enjoyed meeting them and wandering together. It took four hours to get from Madison Square Garden to Central Park, because we kept stopping to sit down, warm up, and take photos. We had a good session of jumping and cartwheeling in the park, with the always-amused passersby. (Got to give the tourists a good story to go home with!) Also, wow, I had a serious case of Camera Envy. Whew. For a bit I was almost envious of myself, because one of the kind folks lent me his 50mm lens to play with! It was freaking hard to focus the darn thing, but a few shots came out really well. I can't wait for the new 50mm lens that's coming out in December. It's f/1.4 and it will auto-focus on my camera!

I didn't get home until after 10pm, and I was totally exhausted. This morning I was sore all over--back and shoulders, abs, hip flexors, everywhere. What a wuss I am! Guess it's not good to be inactive for three months.

It's Sunday night and as per usual, I'm trying not to think about going back to school tomorrow. I have only vague plans but lalala! I won't think of it!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

ha ha...ha? or not

Joke's on me. I am the joke. Ha ha ha. Except, not so much.

I have become That Teacher. You know the one. You might have been that one your first year; I sure was. That Teacher--the one who can't control her classes. Who gripes all the time, full of negativity. Who no one wants to talk to. Whose class the kids dread. Who the kids disrespect. Who you feel bad for, but want to shut up and deal with it and go away already.

Yep, that's me.

Monday, October 13, 2008

tech misc

At the travel expo this spring, I signed up for a free subscription of Plenty Magazine, dedicated to the environment and green living. It includes tips, gifts, and technology updates. In the most recent issue, I read about some free online video games where you learn about endangered species and natural life, by becoming a threatened fish or a wolf in Yellowstone. Also, from one of their 'infographics,' I learned that under the first Bush presidency, 234 animals were added to the Endangered Species list; Clinton's added 512; our 'esteemed' current administration has added a mere 59. In another issue, I was happily surprised to read about CO2 'vacuums' being used by a handful of solid waste facilities.


*


The current Olde Tyme edition of the Onion cracks me the hell up. Some example headlines:
  • "M. Webster's New "Dictionary" Shall Burden Us With A TYRANNY of Words.
  • "...If is, of Corse, Plain to all Rationnel Foulk that need'd we an Ary for our Diction, the LORD GODD HIM SELF would have design'd us One."
  • "Opera Lyrics Blamed In Recent Spate of Regicides."
  • "WILL NEW YORK SOMEDAY BE TOO CROWDED FOR FARMING?"
  • a last-page 'announcement' referencing Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure
  • "The Good-Ship Tea Ship has returned from Great-Britain with MORE TEA, thus completing her 47th voyage across the Atlantic Ocean, each time departing with No Tea and porting with Tea Aplenty, tho' We needn't more Tea and are all ready burdened with an Amount of GOD-forsaken Tea so great it is nigh Undrinkable."
  • [Please don't sue me, Onion. I love you, but you don't have links to these funny bits on your site.]

*

Speaking of "nigh undrinkable," some of the candidates are so ridiculous that I am seriously questioning the sanity of the American public. Somebody smarter than I linked to this New Yorker article that outlines many important facts about the Presidency, although in parts is definitely partial to one candidate. Still a must-read. (Even though, er, I haven't finished it yet. Google is indeed making us Stoopid.)

*

I'm using Google Reader, because who am I to avoid us all further becoming Google's bitch? It was easy to set up. You just click on Reader at the menu across the top of the page (from gmail). On the lower left, you see "Add Subscription." Simply cut and paste a blog link and voila, you are subscribed! Ms. M clued me in to folders, so you can categorize your chosen reading material (I have blogs, teacher blogs, NYC teacher blogs, funny, newsy). The list shows all the blog names and highlights a name with new posts. If you're me, those new posts will pile up faster than cars on any New York freeway at any time of day, and you will be quickly overwhelmed. I naively subscribed to mammoth-posters like gothamist, seattlest and jezebel, which pushed the new posts up to nearly 1,000. So with a moment of guilt, I unsubscribed from each of those, to make my life easier, not because I don't care about the news, cultural happenings, or strange pictures of celebrities.

*

I bought a Photoshop book today. Oh, the overwhelming choices! Oh, the over-inflated cost! I find it just a leeetle ironic that so many books are published about a computer processing program--but it does make sense. Some things really do need more than a soundbite or a five-minute video on youtube. (Don't think I haven't looked at those either, though.) And most of us will always have real books around--turning pages, flipping between chapters, the unique smell, being able to hold the entire thing in your hands--ebooks hold zero appeal for the many (even those as-yet unidentified) bibliophiles out there.

*

I am so, so sad to report that not only did I NOT find any Fiesta Nacho Cheese (spicy cheese in a can!) at Safeway during my blink-and-you'll-miss-it trip home last weekend, there were no Frosted Joe's O's to be found at the Brooklyn Trader Joe's this morning! I will freely admit to being just a little devastated. (Don't tell.)

*

And in other, strange, TMI news, my BF finally 'gave birth' to an Alien Forehead Baby. Aw.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Friday Night Parties

For the young and energetic, anyway.


For old fuddy-duddies like me, Fridays are for peace and quiet.


I left school at four, which was a first, and lo, it was AWESOME. I had so much time left in the day! I ran to the pharmacy, then to do laundry. The laundromat was nearly empty (where I chose to read old trashy magazines instead of the pile of 'smarter' magazines I'd brought with me), talk about big fun on Friday night. The BF and I had dinner at a tiny Mexican place we'd been with teacher blogger friends a couple years ago, before we were together, then watched tv.

---

On another, random note, I have finally joined the twenty-first century, with a blog reader. Ms M was shocked to learn a couple months ago that I actually click on links in my favorites to read blogs. My argument was/is that it's more personal and like a happy surprise when there are new posts. However, she was so right about it being so much easier! All the blogs right there, counted up and tallied, just waiting to be read right there in the window. That window does remove all the color--both literal and personality--from the writing, and some of the fun too. Not like it matters right now anyway, since I have so little time to read blogs (or, clearly, to write clever posts on my own stupid blog).


---


I've never been one to have a lot of friends, and I've not had any everyday friends at all in a really long time. I haven't made any real friends at my new school, and I haven't kept in touch with my old school buddies (the good ones moved away and the other ones, whom I really liked, I never really saw outside of school, so it's not a surprise). I'm pretty sure my colleagues don't like or respect me much...and I totally don't blame them. I don't like or respect myself much either. I am always stuck in my classroom, because there's nowhere else to go where I can comfortably sit and do work without hauling a bunch of stuff, so I just stay at my desk. No one comes in to chat, and I don't go visit people to chat. So it's possibly partly my fault also.


Anyway, I know that people have become worried about me, people that I don't see often or even people I don't know in real life. I appreciate this, which perhaps is strange. But I'm always surprised to know that someone cares, so thank you to those of you that have reached out or asked me how I'm doing. I have also been worried about me, actually. The week ended okay, sort of.


I don't have a social life. I've never been a very social person; I'm actually rather introverted and shy at heart. (I think at times I overcompensate and come off like a jackass, so I apologize to anyone that's been annoyed or offended by me--I might sound like an asshole but I swear I don't mean to or know it! I'm sorry! Be my friend please!) With the increased hours and stress at this new job, I can hardly even think about going out on the town. Like I said, I don't have work friends to hang out with, and my other city friends are much busier (and happier; why bring them down?) than I am and I don't see them much.


I know that work-life balance is important. I'd done a good job of finding that in the last three years (possibly even erred on the side of life--what a terrible thing for a teacher), though my nonwork life wasn't terribly exciting. I don't really have hobbies or activities that take me out of my apartment or even my borough. I haven't worked out in months. Exercise would probably help me feel better or something, but jeez, when am I supposed to do that? I only have two or three hours of time at home in the evenings, and I have to eat, shower, take a (stupid) picture, and try to relax and watch tv.


I would dearly love to force myself to take another photography class. Having time is a problem, not to mention energy. Someday I want to play some kind of intramural sport again, meeting up with people at a local park to play softball or ultimate frisbee or something. That won't be happening any time soon, unfortunately. For pete's sake, I should finish knitting that scarf I started back in January! It's just about done already, but I haven't even touched it in months.

---

Speaking of the park, we went into the city today and found a spot in Sheep Meadow to relax and do the Onion crossword puzzle. The sun felt wondrously warm. There were so many people there! Many just lounging with a friend or loved one, many tossing frisbees, baseballs, footballs, many reading and soaking in the sun. I should really take advantage of this lovely weather while it lasts and while I have this long weekend!

---
blah blah blah...

Thursday, October 09, 2008

hey hey now

I didn't cry today!

The end of last week and beginning of this week were really rough for me. I didn't like myself or my job one bit.

I currently owe my one measly shred of sanity to Ambien, and so far the best part is that tomorrow will be Friday.

I feel way behind on content, but my principal--so far--is totally supportive and would rather focus on real learning than on tests. Which isn't as easy as it sounds, because there are plenty of students who still haven't apparently grasped some basics. And with my management it's hard to keep the classes moving with the learning stuff. The classes themselves need a lot of work, and by that I mean me and my planning and the activities and such. Right now it's all quite boring, so I can't blame the kiddies too much for the troubles they've given me.

However, this is going to be a three day weekend--hallefreakinglujah!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

O Joyous Day

I flew home this weekend to attend a very special wedding of two of my good college friends, Brandon and Stacey.

It was wonderful, beautiful, and fun. They are both such kind, funny, good people in love. I was thrilled to be part of their day (I was a bridesmaid). Stacey looked so, so gorgeous in her gown, the ceremony was unique and lovely, and the reception was a great time. I caught up with old friends I haven't seen in a long time, I took a ton of pictures, I drank some tasty pomegranate mojitos.

I wanted to write a lot more, but it's almost bedtime. For the record, I felt happy yesterday. :)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Ask me about my job:

and I'll cry!

I wanted to post yesterday; it was a decent day. What that means is that I was in a decent mood.

Today was the opposite. I was exhausted and I felt it in my reactions and timing and then I cried for most of my lunch break. I'm pretty sure something's wrong with me when I either cry or almost cry so often. I was never, ever like that my first year, or any other year, or at any other job.

I'm going out of town this weekend. I will leave in less than twenty-four hours and I'm totally unprepared and in denial.

It's not a good time to be me.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Wish it was Sunday

This weekend was great, because I wasn't teaching. I slept very well, because I wasn't teaching.

I rested, I watched tv, I organized some things, I went on a massive shopping trip to Target. I even did some planning. (I'm about a week ahead right now and I NEED to push forward even further!)

We don't get the Jewish holidays off, but I am going out of town on Friday for the wedding of two college friends (yay!). So it's still a short week.

Last week was really up and down. I didn't feel focused. The two weeks before that I gave myself a focus for the week and that seemed to help me a little. (The first focus was timing, and the second was positivity. Actually, I sort of focused on discipline, cracking down with after school detentions. It only sort of worked though.)

I need to push myself to be more positive, a team player, a firm yet caring facilitator of instruction. I'm not even sure if I was those things at my old school, so this is indeed a challenge for pessimistic, introverted me.

So for the next three days, I will be strict with discipline and detention. I need to make sure that the students are doing the majority of the work in class and that I'm not talking very much.

I also need to pack, stay hydrated, and get more than eight hours of sleep a night.

Friday, September 26, 2008

This week:

I've only slept one full night, and that was because I popped a pill.

A girl IMed me and told me I was really cool because I was the only teacher with an AIM.

I had two good writing classes.

The kids made me crack up talking about dog farts; I covered my face and shook with silent laughter.

A kid had an accident in my room (the first time in my career).

I cried.

I was on the verge of tears most days.

I felt hopeless.

I mapped out rough SS plans for two weeks.

We got two days behind our already-way-behind curriculum pacing.

I taught the kids a memory aid poem thingy, and some of them really seemed to like it.

I went home by or before 6.00 most, if not all, days this week.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Saturday, September 20, 2008

You know what I miss?

--My bed (In my studio that was the only place to sit, other than my desk chair. I would spend plenty of time lying in bed watching tv or reading.)

--Reading (No time, no energy, no nothing)

--My blue walls (The kitchen has one rust-colored wall, but I don't like it that much. The bedroom is empty and ugly, and the living room is cluttered)

--Free time (I used to have five to seven hours every day after school. Now I'm lucky to have two, in which I need to eat, shower, take a self-portrait, pretend to keep up with blogs and television)

--My boyfriend (we both work long hours and we barely see each other during the week)

--Feeling rested (see above re: time) (During the week, I'm getting just under eight hours of sleep and don't feel rested. Last weekend, I slept for twelve hours on Friday and nine on Saturday. Last night I slept for nine hours.)

--Feeling creative (Brain is fried all the time. Also, if I'm capable of rational thought, teaching/planning takes up most of the neurons. If I weren't so habituated and narcissistic, I would stop taking self-portraits, as I feel completely useless with a camera nowadays.) (This afternoon I took my film SLR (which hasn't seen the light of day since, like, March) and the DSLR to the park to take photos. I tried to keep the manual settings, but I couldn't make things look how I wanted.)

--Feeling like a good teacher (like I said, this past week was a lot better but I was nowhere near good. Although, several people observed me and gave me compliments.)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Woo!! It's FRIDAY!!

You guys, I made it! Hurrah and hooray!

This week was at least ten times better than last week. Not good or great by any means, but not miserable either. Case in point: NO CRYING!!

Let's celebrate with some alcohol!

Erm, and then more lesson planning, because holy crap, I have SO.MUCH.TO.DO.

Three of my four classes are improving, and the last one is still kicking my ass but good. Next week there should be a removal of one student that will help, but it won't solve the underlying problem of me not managing them well enough. I've reached out to several people for help though, and they've reminded me of some basics that I've been slacking on. One is serious detention.

Last week I paged through our chapter and created outline notes for the students to fill in during class. It definitely helped because there was plenty for the students to do. The good ones actually went ahead of me at their own pace, which I loved! I did some songs-and-dance (uh, no, not literally, though I probably should think about actually doing that) to talk about some of the places in the book, and had a couple student demonstrations of events, which they loved. And they asked me questions like I actually knew something, when really I only knew what was in the text. (I'm a good speaker. :D) Having the text and the notes as backup allowed me to be more energetic and proactive in front of the kids.

Since I had organized myself for the week, I was sure I'd get started on the next weeks and finally feel ahead in planning. Yeah, not so much. I've been checking and inputting homework more regularly, but realized that even one day behind leaves me under a mountain of papers. Still working on the logistics and what I want from them.

Oh, and how's this for a fun fact? My air-conditioning is being installed. Just in time for the cool fall weather! Sigh.

And now it's time to EAT because I'm starving and then crash because I'm exhausted. Happy weekend, everyone!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Humbled

Wow, friends, thank you so much.

Thank you for the kind words, the encouragement, the support. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am giving you all a big friendly hug right now.


The time away from school this weekend helped immensely. I slept for eleven hours on Friday and nine on Saturday, which was divine. I got my week planned, and right now I'm looking ahead to the next chapters so I can finally get ahead. I think we've all been treading water the last two weeks, with extra time demands before school and endless meetings after school every damn day.

Those are mostly over now--I think--and I have promised myself to leave before or by 6pm every night. It's funny; in August, I made what seemed like the lofty goal of staying at least one hour after school three days a week. HA! Now I'm lucky to stay fewer than two every day. Again, I'm pretty sure this will get better with time, as my units build themselves and management improves and my confidence increases.

Y'all's reaction about the homework issue is making me feel better. I've always been a strict proponent of daily homework in the past. It was a pain in the ass to grade, but I got disciplined about getting it all done at school. I could also 'read' a whole page in a few seconds. Now, I have roughly the same number of students, but no organization. I haven't been worrying about it, exactly, but the piles have been on my mind and stress me out every time I notice the bins on the ground. I finally got a couple stacky things for my desk. I hope to throw the assignments with little to no reading of them. So thanks for the reassurance about not doing much with them. :)


On Saturday, I chatted with my good friend Ms Math from last year. She was telling me about all the crap going at my old school. It reminded me that I need to be grateful for the administration's attempts to help and intervene in discipline/student issues. I need to get used to sharing the pain instead of keeping it all inside my classroom and my head. :) I really miss Ms Math and a few other good folks from my old school, but I don't miss the mass craziness and looseness.

Since last week felt so difficult, I am determined to not let that happen again. I am going to feel positive this week, dammit! It will be a good week and I will improve! As you can probably tell, my positivity looks a more like grim determination than sunny smiles. But I can do it!

Today was today. There's one class--that I see twice a day--that I am having trouble managing and motivating. That one is kind of the worst part of my day. However, there is a class--the biggest one--that I'm seeing some improvements in.

And lest you or I believe that I haven't been improving, there are a few students that I've been working with and who aren't quite such disruptive assholes anymore. There are still plenty that are, and there are way too many who aren't working. But I'm making inroads with a few, at least.

I'm sure there was more I wanted to say, but my brain is full now. Thank you, goodbye.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Sigh. I made it.

So yeah, yesterday was bad. I cried *three* times--during the school day.
That has never happened before.

In fact, I've only cried at school two or three times ever, total, over the last four years.

The day itself wasn't disastrous like it might sound--it was more of the same shit, and I guess I reacted badly. I've been feeling stressed about making things in my classroom better, and they keep not getting better.

My lessons are sucking, my management is crap, and my timing is ridiculously awful. And me being late messes up the other classes and people get irritated. I certainly don't blame them. I'm trying, I swear! But since the kids won't shut up or focus or work, it takes forever to do anything. Then I run out of time and get even more stressed out when there are several dozen people just waiting for me to get my shit together.

There's been an issue with mixed signals and authority. Mainly that the new (to the school) teachers tell them something, they don't do it, an old (to the school) teacher steps in, they do it. Supportive, sure, except not, because it just taught the kids they don't have to listen to me until someone else--someone they respect--tells them to.

I can't get ahead with planning, which is strange because I'm also way behind on lessons. I mean that things take way too long to do. Or they go wrong. Or the kids don't get it. Which is bullshit because they're not dumb, they're not new to school, and everything is perfectly reasonable. Still, I'm changing or adapting things every single day.

The second subject is KILLING ME. I have zero plans, zero idea of what the kids know, and with the stupid management problems, no fucking time to do anything in class anyway. We haven't done anything for two solid weeks now.

I am drowning in paper right now too. I see six classes a day, teaching two subjects. I have nowhere to store all these papers, before or after they're graded--right now all of last week's work is still in bins stacked haphazardly on the floor. I'm pretty sure I'll never look at it.

Since I'm not looking at homework, and I don't have time to assess them in class because we can't even get through a lesson, I have very little idea of what they know and what they can do.

My homework assignments themselves also completely suck. I have to figure out what the hell to do, how to decrease the volume, how to miraculously make them actually put some effort into the assignment (instead of dashing off something in five seconds during breakfast). And again, the two subject thing is KILLER and so fucking stressful with the homework.

All week I've gotten between seven and eight hours of sleep, but still feel exhausted every morning. I feel like I can't catch up on rest either. This week I've been trying to eat more, too, so my general health is better than last week, when I wasn't rested or eating.

I'm working twelve hour days and feel I am getting nothing done--hours of teaching plus hours of meetings equals mental dullness.

Overall though, I feel like a generally shitty teacher. I'm totally not doing my job.

I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing that all the other new (to the school) teachers feel this same way.

Shit, I keep coming back to edit and add more stuff...

I can feel a cold coming on--my throat has been tickling the last couple days and this morning I was congested a little.

I have actual holes in my shoes. I need more pants that fit and more work tops that won't make me die from sweating. We need to go grocery shopping and do tons of work cleaning and organizing the apartment.

If you have a blog, I haven't read it in weeks. I can barely manage to remember to look at facebook and change my status. I need to come to grips with the fact that I'll probably have to stop even trying to read blogs. There's just no time anymore. :( So if you're reading this and I haven't commented lately, I'm sorry and I still love you. :) And if you're one of the extra-awesome people who comments, I love you extra! Thank you for reading and thank you for the support!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

DUDE.

It needs to be Friday NOW. Not tomorrow. Mmkay?

Today fucking sucked.

Monday, September 08, 2008

stuff and nonsense

One of my favorite songs (Missy Higgins! Go look her up!) and my day.

Strangely, I'm in a pretty good mood, considering that my morning classes sucked and I was at work until 7pm (I should start a count of my twelve-plus-hour days). The other classes got better because an admin was in the room. Hey, I'm cool with that.

I made a lot of copies and tried to make my plans a little more concrete for tomorrow.

This weekend my car was broken into! Fun stuff!

A small window was shattered and a suitcase full of school things was stolen, along with an old candy bar; I guess thievery requires a lot of calories?

What's funny is that I specifically set aside a pile of things that were important enough that needed to go to school and put them in my car instead of the moving van. It was so important that for the life of me I cannot recall what it was. Haha.

My insurance was great. I called them right away and reported it. A claims rep called back within a couple hours and told me that I had 100% glass coverage and that I wouldn't have to pay anything out of pocket at all. It took awhile to drive there and wait, but it looks as good as new and it didn't cost anything (well, other than the thousands I've paid in premiums over the last couple years! :D). Mostly I'm glad it was pretty easy and painless to deal with. And oddly, I wasn't that upset about it. I suppose because nothing valuable was taken? It kind of scares me that my new neighborhood is not nearly as safe as my old one. Not much I can do about it now though.

We made tons of progress on the apartment, getting nearly through the boxes and the big hurdle of organizing the living room. Internet and cable will be hooked up tomorrow, thank goodness. I got some planning work done while doing laundry. Still need more groceries, although I bought a ton of snacks for school at Target. (I'm going to have to give myself a limit on either the number of trips there or the amount of money I can spend there.)

Ho hum, blahblergh, what else? I'm not sure. My toe hurts. Today I wore a skirt. I need to either cut my hair or make it get a lot longer, I don't like it right now. BF just got Rock Band and I really want to see if I can sing in tune--but NOT in the company of anyone else. I miss watching tv, kind of, only certain shows. Don't really have time for much anymore. I hate getting up during the 5am hour. What shall I eat for dinner?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

I'm here

...sort of. techically.

Mentally, I don't know where I am. I certainly don't know where some of my stuff is. I don't know when I will have time and/or energy to do laundry. I do know what I'm doing in class tomorrow, and that's been my priority all week.

Let's see. The actual move on Monday morning went really well. The movers were fast and thorough--the entire thing, including the drive, took only four hours. I spent several hours unboxing things and attempting to begin organizing the mountain that is my belongings. BF and I had to defrost the mossy freezer--and then chip out the solid ice blocks, mainly with a makeshift chisel consisting of various kitchen knives and a hammer. We did a grocery run, but we still seem to have no real food. Not that either of us have been home at a time to have a normal meal anyway. The earliest I've left school in the last two weeks is 5.30, or maybe 6. At least now my commute is super short.

Tuesday was a rather insane day. My sleeplessness continued and compounded, so I was literally trembling mildly all day from exhaustion and hunger. The alarm has been going at 5.30am, which is painful enough on its own without a real night's sleep. The actual day was pretty decent. The schedule was a little wonky, and without bells, it's going to be even more of a challenge for me to end classes on time.

We have now completed two full days (ONLY TWO DAYS?!?!) of school. My lessons haven't been interesting, (I told you I wasn't a great teacher), but the kids did a good job playing along with rules and practicing talking to one another. I'm going to start some real stuff tomorrow. So far I'm doing okay with the two subjects, but that's just because it's the first week. I have no idea what one of the classes will do starting next week. (Well, not zero idea; I have vague plans but no specifics yet. Also, there is no one to even ask at my school. Everyone's super supportive and involved for every single subject--except this one this grade.

People keep asking me how things are going and how I'm doing, and I'm still not sure how to answer that. I think I haven't really formed opinions yet, because it's the first week and it is what it is. Things are a little good, a little weird, a little bad, it all depends on a lot of things. It's all still in the set-up stage. I don't know.

Again, I haven't been resting or eating enough, and staying at school late. And I STILL don't have a working doorknob OR air conditioning! Most of the rooms do, so it's kind of like torture to spend all day in my classroom. There is a shiny new unit in my window, taunting all of us. It's just not near an appropriate plug. And let me tell you, it fucking SUCKS to be sweating all day long, never cooling off. And then to deal with all the kids fanning themselves and swanning around, oh, it's hot in here. No shit, sherlock! at least you get to be in cooler classrooms in the rest of the day!

To make things more complicated, this afternoon I was told that I need to be warmer. Two hours later, another teacher told me that some of my students said I need to be stricter.

My toe is infected and it hurts more each day, and I can barely walk by noon. I left school at seven tonight.

Then I got home, exhausted, hungry, sweaty, frustrated--and my new keys didn't work and I couldn't get into my apartment.

When I did get in, I saw a giant fucking roach in the kitchen. I ran away shrieking.

I never had a real lunch and I haven't had anything pretending to be dinner. I'm soaking my feet and stealing unsecured wireless to check facebook and pretend to write a coherent post on this silly, silly blog and trying not to cry and also wishing I could just cry and sob and flail and wail and maybe that would make me feel better.

But it's 8.45 and I should really go to sleep at 9. Thank god I have a small stockpile of Ambien.

Edit: It's 9.09. Still awake, tears have started. I'm really hungry but it's too late to eat. I promise, I'm going to bed right now.

Monday, September 01, 2008

In half an hour...

...The movers will be here. I've been up for over an hour, finishing up with the little things. I feel I should at least vacuum once all the boxes are gone. I hope the official move doesn't take all day--I won't want to afford it.

Last few hours in my lovely apartment. Off to officially begin a new life.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Lasts

This has been my last week of living alone

of living in this cute apartment

of residing in this borough

of always sleeping alone

of spending most of my time alone

of taking up the whole bed with my self along with my assorted pillows and stuffed friends (shut up!)

of leaving the bathroom door open

of frittering away evenings on the computer with the tv on nearby

of leaving my stuff wherever I want

of letting the recycling and dishes pile up if I want

of having a long commute



of being part of a long-distance relationship

Friday, August 29, 2008

misfolded proteins

I can feel it in my eyes. In the back of my neck. In my shoulders, down my arms. In the lack of strength in my hands, in the weakness of my legs, in the dullness of my thoughts. In the gentle crossing of my eyes.

I didn't know that exhaustion could build like this. I think I should really cry, it would probably be healthy, catharsis and such, but honestly, I think I'm too tired to make the effort to produce tears.

Fittingly, I listened to RadioLab's sleep episode on the way home. It didn't help, I'll tell you that. Especially the shrieking night-terrors and the fussy toddler. Sheesh.

It's Friday and the tough part of my week is just beginning!

I did get my first hug of the school year today. That will be my happy thought over the next couple days. This I hope to focus more on the students who are sweet and do the right thing consistently.

But before I can do that, I have to move in two days. Oh, and plan for two subjects. Oh, and SLEEP.

It's 9.45. I should have been in bed an hour ago.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

kids these days

I was in my classroom with rounds of students today. With the returning students/hormonal attitudes, I had to revert to my regular teacher self, with a few modifications of course. It has been really interesting to learn about how these schools think disruptions and difficult students should be dealt with (quietly etc to preserve dignity). It's really made me think about what I do and have done, what has and hasn't worked and why. I am doing my best to adhere to their high standards. I like them, have already seen it in action and seen that it's useful and more effective.

That said, there is plenty that is the same. Namely, me. :)

All this charter school stuff has had me questioning myself, my methods, my so-called successes, and of course all my massive teaching failures. It had me thinking that I didn't have effective management, that I wouldn't know how to deal with kids 'correctly' within this framework, that I wouldn't be kind enough, all sorts of things.

In the last week or so, I've been trying to reassure myself that actually, my management is pretty good. I had lots of compliments from admin and colleagues, and best of all, lots of kids mentioned it in their end of year surveys, "Ms don't play!" "You better work in Ms's class" and such. (Which reminds me, I never wrote a summary of this year's. they're great, especially the disparities in response to the question asking their opinion of the music that I played. In fact, I'm not positive where those papers are right now....I suppose I'll come across them this weekend when finishing packing.) Anyway, today I felt like I was right at 'home' again, in a way, being a teacher in front of kids, even though the faces, the names, the ages, the classroom, the school, the borough were different, it was also pretty much the same.

Today is...Thursday? Which means one, two, three, four days left in my apartment. And plenty left to pack. And planning to finish--I haven't worked on it at all this week, my brain is just too fried.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

When Bad Sleep Happens to Good People

Mind wanders

Heart pounds

Arms tingle

Eyes burn

Head aches

Legs are exhausted

Can't get comfortable

Want to cry

So tired

Shoulder goes numb

Start mentally lesson planning

Curse self

Shut up, brain!

Want to cry

....
Rinse, and repeat. For hours on end.

Caution: May result in haggard appearance, sluggish movement, and decreased mental acuity.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

sigh.

I have probably two posts I want to write...but I'm tired and more than a little braindead.

let me see if I can at least find a pretty picture to make this seem only slightly less lame....

Aha, here we go--have a margarita!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mollusks don't oscillate

I've been trying to be a better podcast listener. I can't be a twenty-something New Yorker (ack) without listening to NPR and shit.


Three years ago, I was driving along the dull Midwestern stretch of I-70. I was bored with my CDs (remember Discmen? good times) and mixtapes (better times), so I fiddled with the radio. Tolerated a few minutes of country music. Flipped right past Christian stuff. The only other thing on was some kind of talk show. Something about America. Except just one person talking, and there was music. The speaker kept pausing and I kept thinking the story was over. Except, of course, it wasn't. I think the story was something about the woman's father getting old, or the parents were splitting up, or something along those lines. Eventually it ended and presumably I found something else to help pass the corn-field time.


Months and months later, I told my new boyfriend about it. He said, "Yeah, that's This American Life. It's a podcast and it's really good, you should listen to it." I rolled my eyes. These kids and their iPods and their fancy podcasts. Blah blah blah.


Fast forward a year or so and I got my very own (free, hand-me-down) iPod. It totally changed my life. But I still refused to investigate podcasts. Too complicated or something? No real reason.


Another year or so further on, when I got my bigger, newer, much shinier iPod, with so much empty space, I finally broke down and looked at the whole podcast thing. I subscribed to This American Life, but rarely listened to it, since I almost always prefer music (especially while reading on the subway, when I can't hear a damn thing on a podcast anyway).


The last few weeks I've been driving to school training, each trip lasting between 30-45 minutes. I used the time to start catching up on the last six months' worth of This American Life. I made the unfortunate mistake of listening to The Audacity of Government on the way to school one day, boiling my blood before going in to Save The Children at training. I loathe this administration and everything it stands for. But that's another post, one I don't need to write. Ahem. Shows from this podcast have made me laugh, cry, rage, and think. (The title refers to a great speech by Malcolm Gladwell taken from The Moth, on a show from the spring that I just heard recently.) I've whittled the list of shows down to 'just' eight one-hour episodes.


And so, anticipating way too much time on my hands and despair at no more podcasts, last week I finally took the BF's advice and also subscribed to Radio Lab, The Moth, and Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. I downloaded six or seven of their most recent shows and have been slowly learning new formats and enjoying new things to think and laugh about. The first Radio Lab I listened to was about self and the soul, and it was completely fascinating. Mirrors, monkeys, neurons--good stuff. The first Wait, Wait was a best-of compilation featuring Dave Barry, Craig Ferguson, and a couple others I don't remember. Very funny indeed. Surprisingly, I didn't even mind looking like a total lunatic, standing alone and giggling at nothing in public. I have no shame, but I do have lots of time to kill.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

hey there

Been at school for a third week of preparing to begin the year. Only a few days until students arrive. Ye gods, help me be strong. Help me get some work done for both of my subjects. I've got about two weeks for one subject, and only vagueness for the other. Oy, the anxiety.

Speaking of anxiety, moving sucks. I know. You're welcome for the news flash. I moved in to this lovely studio nearly 2 1/2 years ago with zero furniture and was a total basketcase. Now I've got like fifteen times as much stuff, and I've got to move IN A WEEK (gotta love the New York Asshole Landlord). Shit.

I've got some things packed. Books, coats, fancy dresses, linens. Eight boxes are filled, waiting for the rest of their kin to join their friendly pile in the corner. Not to mention the things that can't be packed that still have to move--bed, desk, tv, shelf, microwave cart. There's no plausible way I can move it myself or even with BF's help. (Possible, sure. With infinite time, strength, and patience. Plausible? The weekend before school really starts? Pshaw. Don't make me laugh. I might hurt you with hysterical flailing.) So I have to hire movers, which will cost hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Worth it, yes. I can actually afford it at the moment, which is a small miracle. But still, how will I get everything ready in time? How will I manage to fork over that scary number of dollars?

Speaking of moving, I've got TEN BOXES of school crap going back to my school. Which I will have to get from my car on the street, into the school, up five looooong flights of stairs. Ugh.

I wish I was funnier, more interesting, more personable for anyone who might hazard a read now and then. Sorry. Here's a very funny link that you teachers out there will probably adore way too much. Thanks to N for the link that I stole. Oh, and here are some incredible Olympics photos.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

it had been too long

since I last took pictures lying in the sunshiney grass




Like, totally.

So yesterday I did something I promised I would never, ever do.

Sigh.

I joined Facebook.

Then I proceeded to spend several hours on it. First I gawked at all the members of my graduating class, shocked at the number of babies on people's profile pics. I know it's been eleven years, but jeez. Naturally, my next serious task was finding a profile photo to look good and impressive and not stupid. I wouldn't want those people I don't know anymore to think I'm a loser from a thumbnail! Considering that I have over one thousand self-portraits on my flickr page and thousands more on my hard drive, I have very few where you can clearly see my face and where I look normal and/or sane.

Then I stalked random people from my past, people that I'm not in contact anymore. (I didn't add them.) I found some fun people that I knew fifteen years ago or more and added them. People from blogs, flickr friends, old friends added.

I hardly even know how the thing works. I feel silly and old. And also a little lame, because it could clearly become another obsession, and together with flickr, how on earth will I ever do anything productive? :)

And of course I want to collect more people. Email me your info--let's be friends!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Things I Love

1. These guys. Drool.

2. Jezebel, now, obviously.

3. When a song comes on my iPod with a strong sassy beat that matches my walking tempo, and I can strut along to it. Recently it was The Way You Make Me Feel by Michael Jackson. I once actually made a mix CD of songs like this. Good times.

4. Receiving basic supplies from my school instead of buying them. SWEET!!!

5. The thought of having a textbook (hello lesson plans, activities, and materials!) and explicit curriculum for one of the subjects I'm teaching. DOUBLE SWEET!

6. My blue walls. I shall miss them. :(

7. Overseas traveling. It's been too long. With the higher salary, and once I'm more sane, I can actually afford to break out the old passport again!