Sunday, October 25, 2009

a week left

I feel like I'm facing an expiration date--a week from today is my thirtieth birthday.

I'm a bit freaked out. It's such a big number, a grown-up number, a mature and sensible number. And in my head I've been fighting against it for awhile now, nonono, I can't possibly be thirty. It's an impossibility; I will never be a real 30 year old!

I know a lot of people in their early thirties. God, even that sounds so painfully adult! But they're perfectly lovely, normal people who I consider to be about my age. And everyone raves about being in their 30s--how relaxed and real and enjoyable they are, unlike the more unstable or capricious twenties.

I've had some amazing adventures in the last ten years--I visited three continents and many states. I worked in AmeriCorps, in offices, and in schools. I moved to New York City on my own and successfully lived independently. I somehow found an amazing boyfriend. I've even made a few friends. In this decade I have grown and matured (I think) and kind of established who I am.

So if all these important things have already happened, what is supposed to happen in this next decade? I mean, I know I won't suddenly turn into someone else, but surely I'm supposed to have some kind of goal? Some kind of five-year plan? Some kind of self-concept combining me and adulthood? It all seems so foreign! I don't even own a pair of galoshes!
Yes, I know this is all so silly and ridiculous. It's just a number and nothing will actually change. But it seems like something *should* change. I wanted to do something symbolic for my significant birthday, but I couldn't think of anything. How appropriate. This date has been looming over my head--I kept wanting to make one of those "things to do before I'm 30" lists, but couldn't be arsed to think of anything. I had wanted to get into a workout routine to get in shape...but that hasn't happened. It's been like two or three weeks since I've made it to the gym.

Here are some things I would like to happen in the next few years: continue traveling to new places; moving somewhere I can imagine living long-term; "settling down" (god, how cliche, but I do have that aforementioned great boyfriend...); getting to work on photography; maybe learning some new skill or something.
I feel like a lot hinges on this year, and I also feel like school is continuing to hamper my personal life. I'm feeling anxious about how this new age will begin and if I do something wrong I will spend the next ten years being lazy and a nobody and I'll live in limbo forever.
Sigh. I'm sorry to ramble so selfishly and inarticulately. It's really been weighing on my mind.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Happy Monday

This morning I was brutally struck down with a vicious bug--the cleaning bug! Instead of promptly getting dressed and such, I tidied up the living room. A lot of mornings I feel the urge to wash and put away dishes too. I wonder if it's a subconscious delay tactic, because really, it's a little strange that I would actually *want* to clean up!

I must say that I would really be in favor of a four-day work week every week. Last week, it was so nice to have a whole extra day to relax and then go back to school on a day later than Monday.

That said, it was a pretty nice day today. For writing, I had them read an article about our social studies topic. In their groups they took turns reading aloud to each other and then they answered the questions together. It went pretty well, nearly everyone was on task and there was a good amount of cooperation and accountable talk. I thought about having each group write up some kind of chart or something too--maybe a sentence about one of the questions or something. But as it was we ran out of time, so there was just a whole-group share out. I was pleased with it though.

I started an extra sciencey thing--planting seeds. I found some flowers and beans and wee little plastic pots at Target, and last week each group chose which seeds they wanted and put them in some soil. I also 'planted' a few batches in clear plastic containers, because I remember doing that in middle school and it was neat because you can see everything the seed does. The kids are already really excited about them--during the day they kept going over to exclaim over the growth, and I had to keep ushering them back to their seats. I was very glad to see their excitement, though. :)

So one of my favorite kids said some funny things today. I'll call him Dimples, because, well, you can probably guess. He smiles a lot and pretty good at focusing and working hard, but can get really hyper, especially in the afternoon. Sometimes I go up to him and say, "Do you need a wiggle?" and he says yes, and I grab his shoulders and wiggle them back and forth. Anyway, today during the end of the craziness, he came up to me and goes, "You know, a piece of bacon looks like Long Island." And then later he was bouncing around at his table (literally), I said severely, "Take a. chill. pill." He goes, "I need one!" I replied, "I know." Another kid piped up, "Take two." Ha!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Difference a Kid Makes!

I had such a nice day today. I'm sure you can guess why--no Loud Leo!

Chatty Chad is no longer an issue (because the issue went over my head, and rightly so) and so now Loud Leo is the primary issue in the class. I cannot control or manage him--he often chooses not to control or manage himself. He's loud, overtly opinionated, and a bully. He seems to like 'starting' things. It's such a constant that a lot of it doesn't even bother me anymore, because really, it could be so much worse. He only rarely throws things, he's not violent, and he isn't usually disrespectful to me.

Anyway, without him we had a lovely day! Our writing period was heavenly, I tell you--hard work and good work from every single student! The classroom was quiet as all the kids busily wrote clear paragraphs using specific details. I was so proud! Kick ass!

I did a bit of science at the end of the day and it was kind of a mess and chaotic. It was annoying for me (I hate chaos!), but the kids were having a good time, even though not much was really happening. Give kids a bit of dirt and some seeds and there you go!

I've been trying to work on my patience and voice level. For the first few weeks I was even-keeled and everything, but for the past few weeks I have definitely regained an edge to my tone at times. Not like that's necessarily a bad thing; I think a good teacher needs to have That Tone sometimes. I was probably relying on it more lately instead of occasionally. So this week I'm trying to find a better balance and remind myself to say encouraging things to students, as a group and as individuals.

They do seem to love me back a little bit. Occasionally they like to do something stupid and notice that I'm smiling or laughing, and they point at me, "Miss, you're smiling!" And I hide behind a hand and deny it and they giggle and say, "Yes you are!"

All this to say that this week has actually been pretty decent so far, and, AND I left school at six o' clock today! I could have left sooner had I not dallied chatting with my teacher neighbor, but also it kind of felt wrong. Surely there's some more I should be working on! Surely I'm just getting started on my to-do list!

But, and I fully realize this gives the Universe license to kick my ass back to last Tuesday, I'm kind of, sort of, actually....getting ahead. That four hours on the weekend was definitely a good idea. I've got this week done, and next week (complete with copies ready!), and have started on the week after that. God forbid, I may really and truly *actually* get to get home at a decent hour for the rest of the week!

Monday, October 05, 2009

I'm fine

I just went on an iTunes shopping spree! I now own a bunch of cheesy pop songs that I'm ashamed make me happy, just a little. :)

The weekend was nice--busy, but in a pretty good way. I went bowling and to a street fair (not at the same time), and had two little photo jobs. After some school work (I find that I start investigating one topic and get carried away but in a good way, then realize that there's so much more to work on!), I gave myself a few hours to laze about on the couch. Wonderful!

Monday is over now, thank god. Two more boys in my class now! I don't blame myself for being cranky about it, because now there are more bodies and more voices to manage, and the little management I've had continues to slip away. Last week I told myself I need to work on transitions more, and today with more kids, I saw that I definitely need to have better routines for moving out of the room.

My lesson planning, for the record, stinks. At least one lesson per day is made up mostly on the go. Not interesting, interactive, or using multiple intelligences. Not even doing an effective beginning or ending.

I have a sketch for the week now, though. Maybe I can find it in myself to actually plan out the sketches so that I can feel like a better teacher again. I've got a writing thing that's limping along, math kind of bombed today, I have so much social studies to cover it's ridiculous, and there's that other one, science, what's that? Haha. I need to get some graded work so that the kids and the parents know where things stand. I need to start a project, but feel completely clueless about how to or what about. Isn't that stupid? How many projects have I assigned in the last five years--several dozen at least? It's weird how the simple things take on an unknown face in a new school. It's a month in and I still feel at a loss about how everything works and what is expected of me and the kids.

So: transitions; projects; grade stuff. That's my focus for my ideal self this week. Want to take bets on how quickly all that leaves my brain? Hint: Probably the next twelve hour day at school, ie tomorrow. Gah.

Oh, but really, I'm fine. Don't get me wrong, Thursday night was pretty bad. And then I was at school FOREVER on Friday. And I'm pretty sure that I don't have time for the gym during the week for a bit until I get things under control. Things are stressful and annoying, sure. I'm not the only one feeling overworked and underplanned, and oddly that relieves me a little. I'm surviving and I'm not crying (except for that one time)!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

oh, dear.

This afternoon might have broken me just a bit. I was trembly for like three hours after dismissal, and I wonder if I didn't have a teeny little panic attack--weird fluttery feeling, couldn't catch my breath, weak, and of course, some tears. Now, maybe I was just tired and/or hungry; once again I hadn't eaten a real dinner in like three days. But whatever it was, it was my first breakdown of the year. And it's a Thursday, and it's only the first day of October.

They say God/The Universe/The Great Sparkle in the Sky doesn't give you more than you can handle. But why does my administration keep packing my class list with difficult boys? I already can't handle the ones I've got. The entire staff already knows Chatty Chad and Loud Leo. I've become That Teacher a month into the school year!

Thinking on my days, the actual instructional pieces are pretty decent. It's the breaks and transitions and OH GOD the dismissals that have me ready to jump out one of my windows.

So far next week might even be worse! Great.

I'm off to bury my head in the sand for awhile.