Friday, December 31, 2004

The last day of 2004

Wow, this year is coming to an end. That is weird, as always. I wonder what 2005 will bring? I know that whatever it is, I will be surprised. Look at 2004!

*In January, I went to Paris, Brussels and Bruges. Yay!
*In February, I decided to quit my job. That was scary.
*In March, I went to NYC and interviewed for this whimsical teaching fellowship. I also moved back home.
*In April, I was accepted to the fellowship. I tried to find a temp job.
*In May, I got two temp jobs.
*In June, I packed up all my shit and moved across the country. I began the summer intensive training for the teaching fellowship.
*In July, I worked my ass off in the outer boroughs. Studying, observing, riding trains and buses all day long.
*In August, I finished the summer intensive training, then got to rest and play.
*In September, I visited home for a week before starting A Real Job In An Actual School. I worked in a primary school with a kindergarten teacher, in a junior high teaching Spanish, and then finally to my permanent job teaching 6th grade English. Good lord, talk about scary.
*In October, November, and December, I worked my ass off. I got sick twice, but kept going to school. I got through the first report cards, then the first parent-teacher conferences, then the first holiday season.

God, last January, I had no idea that any of this would happen. At first, I figured I would try to stick it out at the mortgage job until the summer, then quit and then try to do some kind of "adventure" before finding another job. I guess I kind of did that anyway, except a lot sooner than expected.

I am glad that I had the chance to travel abroad. I am proud of myself for taking a chance on me and the city by moving out here all alone. I have not really dealt very well with it, but I get through, I suppose. I feel fairly comfortable in my daily routines, even if they do get lonely.

I am very grateful for the time I got to spend at home in September, and also for the time my mom came out in August and December. I'm hoping my dad and them will make it out here sometime next year. With these super cheap airfares that my favorite Jetblue is offering, I'm thinking of going home for a few days of winter break (in late February).

Some job observations:
Teaching has been very eye-opening. To say it's the hardest thing I've ever done certainly qualifies as the understatement of the year.

I have learned a lot about myself, and about education. And about Spanish, too. :) I have learned the power of thank you, the power of asking for help, the power of stubbornness. Most of all, I have learned that I still have a lot of learning to do!

I have found kindred spirits in my colleagues, and hopefully we're on the road to becoming friends. I have had the excellent fortune of an unofficial mentor who helps me, listens to me, and offers me tips and most of all, support.

I have learned that I actually am passionate about education. The day-to-day stuff is beyond tough, but I find that what drives me is the desire to instill in the children a love for learning. I know that mostly I do a pretty crap job of it, but I can work on that. I try to point out things that I know or love, and hope that my enthusiasm is exciting for them. If not, well, then we can all laugh together about my weirdness.

I do enjoy most of the students, and I am thrilled that some of them choose to spend their lunch breaks in my room helping out. Whether it's avoidance of the lunchroom chaos or actually liking me, I take it as a compliment that they find it a safe place. And so many of the kids are good-hearted. Even the tough ones, I've seen most of them try to get better. Some days they let the devil take over, but some days, they really make an effort. I do my best to make a point of noticing and encouraging that. I can only hope that they see that.

This is a landmark year. By the end of June, I will be talking about this stuff even more than I have so far since September. I hope to god that the second half goes a little smoother than the first half. Mostly, I hope to keep learning things that will make next year better. That's really what gets me through; knowing that I WILL get through til June, if only in anticipation of next September, when, basically, I get to start all over again, only knowing infinitely more.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Archives done!

Hurrah, I have finished uploading the archives from my old site to this one. Now everything is all together! How cozy. The last thing I might do is redo my first big Paris trip that got lost.

Anyway, so today was fairly productive. I only slept about ten hours, which is surprising because the night before was about six. Anyway, I went to the library, got a whole pile of books-yay!--then on the way home, stopped at the grocery store.

I ate some lunch and worked on my part of the shared lesson plans for the proposal report. There are twenty-one writing lesson plans in the America's Choice book, and we divided up the first twelve to do accompanying reading workshop plans. For the first one, I wrote up what I did on Tuesday, and it looks pretty good. For the next one, I came up with a pretty brilliant thing, I think. It covers the standard of familiarity with public documents and teaches internet research. I need to get overhead copies made; I'll probably do that at Staples on the weekend.

After that, I finished up my poster and made it allsparkly. Since then, I've watched tv and updated my site and otherwise wasted the evening.

Nothing doing for tomorrow. I didn't want to call anyone and try to invite myself somewhere. I was hoping that one of the three I spoke with about it would call sometime. If I get a call tomorrow, cool. If not, well, that's more time to get some work done and watch movies. I keep forgetting that I still have a bunch of Popular DVDs to watch.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Dave Barry is Comedic Genius

Read the best compilation of "Review of 2004" out there. Check out 2003 if you still haven't done so.

Dave Barry's 2004 column.


In three short (?) hours, I have completed two of the three tasks from my day's list! Yay for me!

I corrected all the homework; that took an hour and a half. I have gotten pretty good at quick-grading assignments. They are graded with points based on specific criteria like 5 paragraphs and connecting words. Thus, it is not necessary to actually read all the work. I just glance at it, look for the elements I'm grading on, and write a grade at the top. BAM!
Phew! It feels so good to have that done. It was a big pile and it intimidated me.

For the second hour and a half, I cut out letters for a new poster chart, about Mom's "Magic Words." I think everything will fit on one poster, so I just need to glue it and then glitter it. That's on the list for tomorrow.

I'm okay with not completing the last task (updating my grading program), because it's not as mandatory/important as the other two.

If I am really ambitious, I could shower and go to the library. I need books to read! I love vacation!

Back to the boring life

We got up at 4am and went to the airport. Hung out in the cafe by the security checkpoint for a bit. Mom left. Very sad. :(

Got home, it was still dark. I actually did the reverse of my normal workday routine: walked down 71st at the same time I regularly walk up it. Anyway, I had thought I'd go back to bed, but I decided to just stay up.

I made a list of the things to do today and tomorrow, in order to get my work done and also have time to just chill. For Wednesday: 1. Correct all homework. 2. Update gradekeeper. 3. Cut out letters for poster. For Thursday: 1. Make new seating charts. 2. Lesson plans: a. Reading workshops, 7 and 8. b. First week back. 3. Finish posters.

So you would think that a dedicated, determined person would have gotten a good jump on that right away, right? Of course. Me? No way. I sat around all morning and read all the Desperate Housewives recaps on TWoP instead. Then, once I finished with that, uploaded pictures and updated the blog. Hm, procrastinating much?

Okay. Deep breath. Here goes, I am off to pull out that four days of homework that needs marking. I CAN DO IT. Clap your hands if you believe!

Hi, everyone. I'm Julie, and I am a Messy Person! Look at my shelves! Piles of stuff every which way! Please, I need an intervention! Posted by Hello

Hey look, even more mess!  Posted by Hello

So I dumped everything onto the floor and did my best to sort it all. God, it took forever.  Posted by Hello

And...after! Lovely, organized, wonderful. Hurrah!  Posted by Hello

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Mom's last day :(

Not a very exciting day, but it was productive. The late morning and early afternoon were all taken by organization and cleaning. Rearranged the clothes that had been in boxes into the cubes. Organized the mini-closet. Then I took all the crap off the shelves, threw it into a pile on the floor, and went through it and organized that too. Now everything looks neat and pretty.

We went into the city with the intent of seeing a show. TKTS only had shows we didn't really care about, so we left and went over to Fifth Avenue. We went to the eighth floor of Saks Fifth Avenue and ate dinner there, then looked at a few pretty coats on the floor. One of them had this fur collar that was the softest thing I've ever felt. It was so light and fluffy that I almost couldn't feel it, if that makes sense. It was made of nutria fur; I didn't know that was, but I want some of it on a pillow and never stop nuzzling it. It was so soft!

We took the train home, played a little Cranium, and watched Scrubs. I looked up a nutria, and it's a nasty-looking swamp rat that lives in the Southeastern US. Ugly thing that somehow has the softest fur imaginable.

Monday, December 27, 2004

I bought some of those metal cube things that you fashion into storage. Mom and I wrangled them together into these four pieces. Hurrah! Also note my new pj's and pink slippers. Cozy! Posted by Hello

So ignore the weird gnome face I'm making, and instead look at my getup. I bought this lovely Italian coat and colorful knit scarf at Benetton last night, and this knit cap at Macy's this afternoon. I also have a spiffy new haircut, which you can't really see but I promise, it's there.  Posted by Hello

Mom and I went ice skating! It was my first time, and I must say it was successful. And lots of fun. However, my abs are very sore now.  Posted by Hello

What a unique Monday

I slept about eleven hours, which was wonderful. Except the dreaming about not doing my math homework, that part was not so wonderful.

Oh wait, I better talk about yesterday. We left the house about 12.30 and went to Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Looked around the Queens Museum of Art; the Panorama was pretty impressive. Bigger than I thought. It was fun trying to pick out places I knew; pretty easy in Manhattan, pretty tough in Queens. On display in another part of the museum, there was a display of a 'stained glass window' that used Jolly Ranchers instead of colored class. Fun.

There is an ice rink in the same building at the museum. We did that for about an hour. It was my first time ice skating, but I took to it pretty easily. It is indeed very similar to roller-blading, and I also just have good balance. Mom and I did some laps and also practiced turning and jump-turning. I only fell twice, when my feet got confused. Today I have a bruise on one knee and am sore in muscles like my abs and back. But it was a lot of fun and we felt pretty good about ourselves. It was funny to watch all the little kids; you would see their skates get out in front of them, they would flail for a second and then fall down. Aw.

We had taken the Q23 up to the park, and decided to take the Q58 back. We missed the stop for the G, and got out on Main Street in Flushing. Ducked into a Benetton outlet store, and bought a long wool coat. It's Italian-made, and a sort of brown-green. It's fairly fitted with exaggerated stitching on the collar and lapels. I also bought a new scarf; it's long and different blocks of autumn-type colors.

Back on Austin Street, we had a filling dinner at Sgt. Garcia's. It was a bit expensive, but tasty. I had a frozen peach drink (schnapps, cognac, juice), some American food for dinner, and then for dessert, a yummy fried tortilla covered in honey, chocolate ice cream, and whipped cream. Mmm. And, while we were there, it started to snow outside. Lovely!

This morning I slept in, we did a Bodyflow workout (I am out of shape!), and then watched television. Bianca finally woke up to her missing daughter today on All My Children! God, soap operas are so cheesy. Anyway. All we did today was shop, really.

We browsed in some shops on Austin, and then braved Queens Center. Got soft, pink slippers at JC Penney, and some gloves and a hat at Macy's.

Then we got the train to 63rd and hit Bed, Bath and Beyond. Mom helped me pick out some clothing storage things, and I bought some other little things (like Cranium Turbo for twenty bucks!). I spent a hundred bucks and we each had to carry two heavy and awkward shopping bags.

At home, we assembled the storage cubes. It took awhile to get the hang of it, but it got easier. Ate a simple dinner here, then played the new game. It was good fun, as all Cranium games are. (If you have never played Cranium before, go buy it right now. It is the best game ever invented; it's all the best games rolled into one--Charades, Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit, and more. Guaranteed laughs.) There are new activities in this one, like "Sideshow" where you use a team member as a puppet to act out charades. I had to do "Florist" with Mom, and it was too funny, it made no sense. I did some awesome Sensosketches (drawing with eyes closed) of pedicure and police car, among others, that she did not get. Harrumph. But we had a very nice game with lots of laughing hysterically.

Enjoy the pictures. I'll keep adding them this week, there's a lot going on since I have someone to do things with and talk to. Otherwise, I would have been sitting alone at home all this time.

These are the gifts I received from students this year: The angels, perfume, and two picture frames.  Posted by Hello

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Christmas morning, cocoa in hand.  Posted by Hello

Christmas Eve in the city.  Posted by Hello

Mom and me! Posted by Hello

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas

On Christmas Eve day, Mom and I went grocery shopping and did some browsing of Austin Street. Later in the afternoon, we went into the city for fun and hijinks.

Our first destination was the Magnolia Bakery, home of delicious cupcakes. We got turned around a few times on the way, darn those Greenwich Village streets. Before we turned the corner to the right street, I turned to Mom and said, "Want to bet a cupcake that it's closed right now?" She agreed. It was about 3pm. Across the street, a horde of about 30 people came along, eating cupcakes or muffins or something. Spurred on by a shred of hope, we arrived to the storefront. It was not only locked up right then, it WILL be closed until Jan 3. Argh. Anyway.

We found a nearby bus and went up to Rockefeller Center. We spent awhile walking around there and taking pictures through the throngs of people. It was very pretty and very crowded. Mom wanted to go ice skating there, but I checked the prices: $17!! Plus, wait out in the cold for who knows how long? No way. So we ate some grocery-bakery items in the concourse instead.

We also caught the mini light show at Saks; the front of the building (facing the Rockefeller tree) was decorated in big lighted snowflakes. Every fifteen minutes, speakers blared a slightly rock-and-roll version of Carol of the Bells and the snowflakes danced on and off. It was neat.

From there, we walked down Fifth Avenue, then cut over to Times Square, then walked down to Herald Square to look at the Macy's lights. Everything was closed by then, but the lights were pretty and lots of people were about.

We had a buffet/deli dinner around the corner, then headed home.

Christmas Day we got up and opened presents. My students gave me two picture frames, a bottle of perfume, and a set of three porcelain angels. Cute! Stacey gave me this hilarious pretend travel book. I got fleece jackets from Grandma and Mom, and a fleece bathrobe from Dad and co. Mom got me a few more things too, like pajamas, Harry Potter goof glasses, a set of Paris Walks cards, and some Paris-themed kitchen things. Merry Christmas!

Mom was eager to walk around my posh neighborhood, and it was a sunny day. So she wore her fur coat (shut up, you can do that here), and I wore her long white quilted coat, and we gawked at the huge houses in Forest Hills Gardens. Wow. I want to find out some history about this neighborhood; are these houses fifty years old? A hundred? More than that?

The street ended in a T with Union Turnpike, which took me by surprise. We walked north and finally came upon Austin Street. A few stores here and there were open, and we had a tea in Modus Vivendi. The family next to us were parents (slightly foreign mother and fast-talking, wired father) and a high-school daughter. The dad was trying to convince the girl that she should not only study abroad, but do her whole university career in Europe. She was all, stop, Dad, I'm not going to do that, so just stop talking about it. Later, Mom struck up a conversation and we talked travel for a bit. It was funny.

From there, we kept going on Austin Street and saw Phantom of the Opera, the movie version. It was okay. It followed the show quite well. The music was great, but parts were pretty cheesy. Some of the dubbing was off a split second, and all the costumes were cleavage-heavy. Minnie Driver was the lone, welcome comic relief.

At long last, we got home and ate dinner. My cousin visited from Manhattan, we all caught up on life and stuff. It was nice.

And now it's Sunday. Mom cut my hair, it feels very nice. Got rid of all the rough ends, yuck. Today we're thinking of perhaps shopping the after-Christmas sales, and/or visiting Central Park.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 24, 2004

A terribly shitty picture of the holiday-themed Empire State Building.  Posted by Hello

Girls at school modeling festive holiday hats Posted by Hello

Thursday, December 23, 2004



So, I forgot to mention how much yesterday sucked. My throat really hurt, I could not raise my voice, I felt a bit woozy at times, and I cried two times talking to colleagues and almost cried in front of Class C. Eighth period with them, I just sat on a desk and talked in a steady, low voice. Because if I was talking loudly or walking around, I'm pretty sure I might have fallen over/ passed out.

Anyway, back to today. Mom and I got the train and bus right on time, and got to school. Introduced her to my two APs and I got the room ready.

Class B started out the day. Mom was great with them, she had them ask questions about her so they could figure out who she was. When she cleverly revealed who she was, they all gasped and were all, "ooh, really?" They were respectful and responsive and great.

Mom shared stories about her travels, and did a "show and tell" with a piece of slate and a boomerang. She read bits of the Polar Express and gave out some mini bells to the kids. She told them that her gift to them was words, magic phrases: "How can I help?" and "I can do that." I got to quickly share my big travel photos too. She brought some pictures of me when I was a baby and when I was about ten, so I showed them those too. I laughed at me and my funny teeth, but they seemed to enjoy seeing them anyway.

Class C were sort of jerks. Only one period, and they talked a lot, so Mom hardly got to share anything. Little C and Tall T and another student stayed to help clean up. They worked on the floors and library, while Mom organizing my pig-sty of a desk, and I did random tasks.

Two more preps to hang out downstairs with Ms F, Ms J, Ms C, and others. Ate some, too.

Class C was very nice, except for that one jackass kid and the talky kid. She dealt very nicely, and effectively, with them.

After school, those ladies and me and Mom went out for eats and drinks. We weren't even out for two hours, but it felt longer and it was a lot of fun. We probably talked way too much about school stuff, but geez, it's hard to avoid with a table full of teachers. The ladies seemed to really like Mom, and I'm assuming she liked them.

We finally got back, and then had to organize my little room with too much stuff in it. Too much of my stuff, and now my mom's stuff is here too. I really need to get more hangers and figure out some new clothing storage solutions. It's not pretty. Anyway, we wrapped gifts and checked email, listened to non-holiday music, and it's already 9.30.

So four kids gave me gifts! Yay, I am so touched, and it is so cute! I can't wait to see what they gave me. I have all my gifts in a pile, and it's kind of big. I thought I was not going to have any kind of presenty Christmas, but it looks like I've got a (relative!) bunch. One from Grandma, one from my awesome friend Stacey, a box from my dad, four from kids, plus assorted things from Mom. Neat!

Wow, tomorrow is Friday and I don't have to go to work. I don't have to get up early. I don't have to do anything related to school. I don't even have to THINK about school or work! That is just too cool.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004


Ugh, I am definitely getting sick. This morning my throat hurt even more and I was stuffy. Blegh, I SO wanted to call in sick. But I felt guilty, and there's so much I had to do today...and I figured that just one day wouldn't kill me...but it really sucked. Lots.

Class A actually ended up being really good, amazingly enough. Class B was not so good; I made them put their heads down for a bit. Class C was pretty good too.

Little K and Little C wanted to come help me out again this afternoon, so they tidied my room and helped me finish the holiday packet.

I ran a whole bunch of errands right after school. Ran home, ate a pizza, and went back out. Got the train out to JFK and picked up Mom! Yay!

Okay, it's really late and we still have to move my bed.


Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Boo hoo

Man, I did not want to come into work today. I did not sleep well, partly because I slept all night in a sweatshirt and sweatpants. No heat! Ridiculous. Anyway, when I woke up, my throat was a bit sore. I would have loved to call in sick.

Today went fine. I got through it. That's what matters, at this point. I did an off-the-cuff lesson on determining audience for Class C's Reading Workshop. It worked, I think. The kids seemed to get it.

At lunch, some of us teachers did our gift exchange. From Ms F, I got this really cute little pink corduroy jacket. Ms J seemed to like the little things I got for her, so that's good. I have some cute picture to upload, but right now my eyelids are physically drooping. Pictures later.

After school, we went to this catering hall nearby for the staff holiday party. The food was pretty good, the alcohol was decent (I had three or four amaretto sours), and the music was okay. That's pretty much all there was to it. Everyone sat at tables like a restaurant, so there wasn't really any mingling. It was fun to see some faculty members boogie the night away, though. Especially my gruff AP. Heh.

My throat is still bothering me, and I lost my lip balm. OW, my lips are all chappy and hurty. Is it break yet?

Mom arrives tomorrow night! I'm realizing that my room needs a lot of cleaning, that I have no groceries, and I need to run to Target asap. I don't even have anything to eat tomorrow except some cereal. Geez louise, I'm not very well-prepared. Shocker.

Alright, it is time for me to retire. G'night.

Monday, December 20, 2004


I just checked the Weather Channel website just now, and it really is 14 degrees outside. (It also says, "Feels like: -2".) FOURTEEN DEGREES. That is beyond cold, beyond freezing; it's just ridiculous! Seriously, two minutes outside and I can't feel my hands. Even though I'm wearing gloves. Good lord. I wore trouser socks and regular socks, a long-sleeve t-shirt under a cashmere turtleneck sweater, my coat and hood, plus a hat and gloves. And still really freaking cold.

Now I know what long underwear is for! Anyone know where to buy some? Although tomorrow is supposed to be in the 30s, and 40s/50s the rest of the week. That's just regular cold. Maybe I can deal with that?

This week sucks. Today did, that's for sure. I'm bored and antsy, and so are the kids. A whole bunch of my students were absent today. It may be the weather or the vacations. I'm kinda hoping for the latter, because fewer students is always better.

Class A only had 18 students in it, but was still out of my control. The boys, the boys! So loud and rambunctious.

Really, the day was kind of a waste. Only two more left. Thank god.

Let's see, there was a quickie staff meeting and then it was time for the semester's last class at QC. Wheee! I am excited that there are no classes for a month! However, tonight was rather torturous. I literally wanted to cry. People just summarized the chapters they had outlined, and some of the letters about a basketball dream team. SO BORING.

I know; I'm not much better than my students, right?

Next semester I'm in Wednesday night classes. The rest of my class buddies are in Thursday classes. I am going to miss them! There are a lot of fun, intelligent people in my program group.
Two of them are boys Well, I won't get to see either of them all next semester. I'm hoping we'll all do some group outings and I can flirt with them then. I miss boys.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Looks like it could be a White Christmas!

It has snowed! Eeeee, I'm excited. It has been so long since I've seen any snow. Hurrah!

I finally started transferring archives from my other site to this one. That way everything will be all together. God, three years of stupid whining from me, aren't you excited? I'm upset that I can't seem to find the pages from my 2000 Paris trip. Maybe I erased it? Why would I do that? That would just be dumb.

This week is going to be tough. I hope I get through it, and I hope it goes quickly and without too much trouble. God, if I feel like this, what do you want to bet that the kids are going to off the fucking wall?

So close, and yet so far

Ugh, I don't want to work anymore!

Yesterday was a pretty good day. Once I got up, I did an hour's worth of work on my last math assignment. It was kind of fun, actually, we had to put together a dream team using statistics and stuff.

Right after that, I went into the city. (I was proud of myself for remembering to go to the right platform this time, not just automatically go to the one like I do every morning for work; that goes the wrong direction!) I strolled down towards Times Square. It was a lovely day, clear and chilly. When I came out of the subway, I was right at the Sheraton New York. Tourists and taxis swarming all over the place. It felt very strange to think that I "belong" here, I'm not a tourist and I know where I'm going. For the most part, anyway.
I stopped into a New York gift shop and got most of my shopping done. It was expensive to do it all at once like that! Yikes. Then I wandered around the next block and decided to have a snack at the Seattle Cafe, right next to the theatre showing Mamma Mia (just one of the MANY shows on my list to see).

Then I called my cousin who lives near the WTC site, who I hadn't spoken to since August, when my mom was out before. He was free, so I went to his place and we caught up on life. He was lucky enough to take a trip to Paris earlier this fall! He went there because a friend of his was studying there. Turns out it was a UW student on the same trip I'd gone on, and Helene was their teacher! Helene was my French professor my junior year, as well as the leader for the study abroad group. She is seriously the nicest and smartest woman I have ever met. So generous and kind, and she knows EVERYTHING! Anyway, so I was excited to look at all the pictures my cousin and his friend had taken. There was some fantastic ones of the skyline, the Eiffel Tower, and the skyline from the Eiffel Tower. I love Paris so much. I wonder when I'll get back there again? I really should go someplace new the next time I can travel. But I always feel the pull of Paris...

Anyway, we grabbed the old train (see one of the pics below) and went to Union Square for a yummy dinner at Chat n Chew. I just had nachos and fries; terribly unhealthy, but so delicious and filling. It seems like I'm always hungry lately; there is no time to eat during the day, and what little food I bring with me never seems to quench much hunger. Anyway.
Did some more gift shopping briefly, before returning home. I don't know what I did all night. I watched some tv, I think, and puttered around. Certainly did no work.

Now it's Sunday evening. I slept pretty well, and really did not want to get up. Dragged myself up at around 10.30. I worked for another hour on lesson plan stuff and math stuff. Then I gave myself a break and watched an entire disc of Felicity. Have I said lately how much I love that show? I just hate it when each episode ends. The thrill of instantly watching the next one has not gotten old, though. I Heart Netflix!

I whined out loud to myself that I didn't wanna work! I didn't want to make those phone calls, or finish the math thing, or finish my lesson plans. So I called my mom instead. We talked for an hour about her visit to my school on Thursday. I'm excited. I so hope these next three days go by like lightning, quick like a bunny!

After her encouragement to just do it, I made the phone calls to parents, the ones I'd threatened my students with on Friday. I think I only reached one actual person, the rest I left messages. Whew. I love being able to just leave messages. Sort of takes the pressure off of me; I did my part, now it's up to the parent to reciprocate.

Then I finished my math thing and found some more example editorials/proposals for my reading workshops. The week will not be especially exciting for my students, but god, who cares. We've got to get this stuff out of the way, so that they know what to research over the break. Then after that, we'll just talk about actually writing the report letter and doing the presentation.

It's only seven. Time for more Felicity!

And of course, my Nike! Posted by Hello

A sketch I made of a statue that really caught my eye in the Louvre.  Posted by Hello

My favorite picture of my January trip. I love the light and the varied colors and rooflines. Also note the Pont Neuf along the midway line. Posted by Hello

In celebration of Paris! After looking through my cousin's 1300 Paris photos, I of course was reminded of how much I love that city, and how gorgeous it is. So now I will share some of the prettiest pictures of Paris.  Posted by Hello

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Look! It's one of the old trains; I had no idea they were still running them for the MTA anniversary. My cousin and I caught this one uptown. It was really fun. Posted by Hello

How gorgeous is this? It's the setting sun from the bus stop near my school. See that dark yellow haze, how the sun is shining into/through those dark clouds? I love that.  Posted by Hello

Here is my street, now that it's winter time. Brown trees. But as you can see, there are many bushes and plants in people's yards that are still green, so it's not a brown, dead world. Thank goodness.  Posted by Hello

Friday, December 17, 2004

Lazy me

So yesterday, when I was supposed to go diligently correct papers, I totally didn't. I finished the previous recap of the Apprentice, grabbed a shower, and started to watch the Apprentice finale. It was really stupid, boring and irritating. So I finally did get started on the homework, and actually, got fully caught up. Three days' worth! Hurrah for me.

Tonight I have not done any work. In fact, at 7.30, I lay down in bed and finished the last hundred or so pages of A Prayer for Owen Meany. God. Heh, literally. But I love that book so much, and I can't recommend it enough.

Now it is 10pm on a Friday. I can't decide whether to watch more Felicity or just go to sleep.

I have many things to do this weekend. Here they are, not in order of importance:

1. Complete the math portfolio. This should not take too terribly long, plus it is the last thing to do for this semester to be over! I must celebrate that!!!!!

2. Shop for me. I need a trip to Target for shower gel and lip balm.

3. Shop for other people. Oh crap, there's a gift exchange for next Tuesday. I have to get something for Ms J, the lit coach. Also, I would like to get into the city so that I can get some cheesy NYC stuff for the family back home. Not like it will reach them in time for Christmas or anything.

4. Do some kind of Christmas mailing; I'm thinking of a newsletter instead of regular cards. That means I have to sit down and write something out, perhaps include a photo or two, and compile mailing addresses.

5. Have some kind of social interaction with at least one other person. I am terribly lonely and it's extremely easy for me to stay that way.

6. Begin arranging thoughts and ideas for Mom's visit. I have successfully kept my room tidy all week--hurrah! But I really need to vacuum and get the pile of plastic bags out of one corner, and the pile of boxes out of another.

7. Think about other cleaning projects, namely my bookshelves. Total mess.

8. Um. I totally forgot that I have to plan next week's lessons, if not the beginning of January's. Nice. Do I need a vacation or what?

All of this is two mere days!

Next week will be very eventful. Monday there will be a 6th grade lunch with the AP. Monday night is the last night at school. Tuesday afternoon/evening is the holiday staff party. Wednesday night I'm picking up Mom at the airport. Thursday we will both go to school, teach, have fun, and be stern. There may be some social drinking on Wednesday afternoon or Thursday, depending on the other girls and Mom's physical state after school Thursday. Friday is OFF!! Saturday is CHRISTMAS!

Goodness me, it is the end of the year already. It has now been six months that I have lived in New York, and about four living in Queens. It's not what I pictured, except the loneliness.

Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence

You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.
An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.
You are also good at remembering information and convicing someone of your point of view.
A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.

You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.

We are so close

Friday! Less than a week left of school! Mom arrives in a few days!

Today was Friday, test prep day. It was a pain in the ass, like all test prep Fridays are, but I got through it alright.

Class A was talkative. Well, that's not true. I keep generalizing the entire class, but really what I should say is, "Many boys in Class A were talkative." The Asshole kid was not bad. He was chatty, but quiet. I think we both want to avoid getting in each other's faces again; at least that's how I feel. So I'm doing my best not to come down on him if possible. Really, I try to ignore when he's not following the rules, because I know it's so pointless to get him to shape up. And he did okay today. Phew.

At lunch, with the help of Little C (who did a great job of actually focusing and helping out), Tall T and a couple classmates, the homework sorting is nearly done. Now I need a place to put it all. Great.

Those five rowdy boys of Class B were on fire today too. But I have to hand it to the rest of the class, the girls and a few boys who just did their thing, ignoring the noise coming from those obnoxious students.

On my sixth-period prep, I decided to actually take a period for myself. I took a book (Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure Club--a big ol' giggle-fest) and sprawled on a couch in the teacher's lounge. That's the first time I've ever completely blown off work at any time during the day. Hurrah for me. I should do that more. Problem is, of course, that when the bell rang, I was disappointed and tired.

Class C was chatty, but even though I yelled at them, I still did some "word study" for eighth period. Mainly because I didn't really want to do anything else. They seemed to enjoy it so much that they had a hard time shutting up. Not like that's new. Anyway, we played Boggle. I shook up the game and then copied the letters onto an overhead for everyone to see. There was only time for two real rounds.

I was out of there before 3 today. The student/parent/faculty potluck started at 5, but I did not want to hang around, I was already really hungry, and I was anxious to get home and chill out.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

One more week of school! Whee!!

Oh lord, I cannot wait.

Today was actually a decent day. The lessons I did went well, and I think they were good lessons. Perhaps not the most interesting or anything, but solid, worthwhile lessons.

For reading workshop, I handed out a short sample proposal letter. The students read it in pairs and then extracted the three elements--problem, solution, expected outcome. When pairs finished that one, I gave them a newspaper editorial that also had those elements. They all got stuck on the first paragraph because it said something about sex, drugs and rock and roll. I hope I don't get in trouble for that. Anyway, the problem and outcome were buried in the second half of the article, which most of them found after I gave them that tip.

So that ended up taking most of the period, and we did not have time for independent reading. But since they did sharing reading, perhaps that's okay. I let them know that the proposal will be the project they are doing in groups, but it will be longer.

Then for writing, we revisited the persuasive essay (because the proposal is one type of persuasive essay). Ms F read them an example yesterday, and today I had them begin their own. I showed them the four square but used "thesis" and "arguments" instead of "topic sentence" and "supporting ideas." My sample that I did for them was "Alias is the best show on TV and you should watch it." Many of them reacted to that, "That's a lie!" "Huh?" and so on.

I went through my arguments and details, threw in connecting words, and voila, persuasive four square. Then it was their turn. Many students wrote about SpongeBob SquarePants being the best show. Some girls wrote about movies like "You Got Served" and "Honey." They seemed to understand the thesis thing alright.

Class B did excellently. One table of troublesome boys did no work, but other than that, the whole class worked fairly diligently on the reading thing. Yay! And the four square was pretty decent too.

Class A went well, considering. I did my best to ignore/leave alone the asshole kid from yesterday. It worked, I guess, he didn't try anything today. Except when I went to that table, asking the kids what their thesis was going to be, the asshole kid goes "Can I write about the worst teacher in the world." I replied evenly, "If you have the arguments to back it up, go for it." and then went to the next student.

Near the end of class, a fight broke out at that table and the whole class was in an uproar. Kids cheer for fights. What the fuck? Anyway, I tried to follow the two boys and see if I could do anything, but quickly scooted over to the phone. Called the answer. Called the answer. Called the main office....ten rings...I was frustrated and furious. Are you fucking kidding me? I have kids trying to brawl in the classroom and no one answers a goddamn phone?

Anyway, a bunch of them stayed to keep helping with the homework/paperwork sorting. Really, it is getting to be too many, because there's all this talking and noise, and ugh. Little C doesn't really do anything except walk around and dance. I got irritated and told him, "You know what? You can leave. If you want to help out, then do. Otherwise, you're just not doing anything. This is my free time, and if you're not going to do anything, then leave." Not too meanly, but honestly and straight. He retorted, "If it's your free period, then why are you working at all?" I said, "Ha! Like I can just sit and twiddle my thumbs! There's always work to be done."

Later on, while helping out with the piles and stuff, another kid was like, "See, why aren't you nice like this in class, Ms C?" I replied, "Because I started nice and you guys already walk all over me." He tried to deny it, but I wasn't hearing it. It was a bit of a relief to at least hear he seemed to come around to me personally. The funny thing is that I'm not terribly different during the lunch time. I'm not happy bubbly regular girl, but I do act like a normal person. The more kids in there, the more "teacher" I have to be, though, directing and delegating, and keeping the hyper ones in check.

So I kind of wish I could take tomorrow off. My 'lessons' (testing stuff) are sitting right on my desk...I would so love three days to catch up on all this work...but I'll never do it. Call in, I mean. Just one day. Fridays have come to really suck. None of my classes deal well with the testing stuff. Always whining and bitching. Instead of having an interesting last day of the week, it's always a pain in the ass. Fucking testing.

Okay, so I'm going to go and check homework. Like, three days' worth. Ugh.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

I went to sleep at 8.15 last night! It felt great to just lay down. I think I almost woke up at 11, thinking it was morning. But no, I got to close my eyes again, some more.

Despite the ten hours of sleep, I did not feel bright-eyed and bushy-tailed this morning; I also didn't feel quite as zombie-like as most other mornings.

So today was an interesting day.

There is this kid in Class A, I don't think I gave him a name, who is a constant, continuous problem. I know what you're thinking, "Another one?!" Yep, another one. Four have already been transferred out, but there were a whole bunch to begin with, and all boys, too. Anyway, this one talks, eats, throws things, is always out of his seat, LIES to my face about eating and throwing things.

I have talked to his guardian multiple times, sent notes home, talked to the dean, given notes to the dean. To no avail.

Today he felt the need to get out of his seat during independent reading. I decided to ignore him, because I'd already told him no talking during reading. So he comes up and stands RIGHT next to me, totally in my personal space, and says "Ms C. Ms C. Ms C." over and over. He said it over and over because I completely ignored him. I kept watching the rest of the students, writing down those who were talking and/or not reading. He announced it to them, because he was peering over my arm. Then I walked over to my desk, and he followed, literally right on my heels. He followed me back to in front of the board. Then, when I tried to turn around and erase something, he blocked my way.

I called the dean, who asked me to put him on the line. This child refused. I told another student to take the note I'd written to the dean, and escort this boy down there too. Big surprise, he refused to budge. I tried to erase the board again, and he moved in front of me. When I said, you will move out of the way, he replied, No, I'm not.

Fed up, irritated, pissed off, etc, I said, "Okay, you know what? Since I can't leave the class, we will ALL escort you to the dean. Everyone stand up and line up outside." The class was all excited and noisy. We got to the doorway of the stairs, when the AP and assistant discipline guys appeared. They took the student and then the class returned to the room.

Thank god Ms F was coming in anyway to teach an writing lesson. She quieted them but quick, and they straightened up. For the rest of the period, they all were attentive and participated and, lo and behold, quiet.

At the end of the period, while packing up, one kid had the gall to say, "She's better than you, Ms C." In a slightly taunting way, not matter of fact. I just gave him a teacher look, but I was thinking, arrogant little fuck, shut up.

Before class, I had asked a few students if they were going to stay and help me with something. They said yes. And they still wanted to stay after class was over. In fact, since more kids heard them ask/ confirm, they wanted to stay and help too. Of course I let them, but the "regulars" from last week were all put out. They were like, "Why are they staying? We're the ones that stay." Heh. I had them sort the huge piles of homework I've accumulated. They got a big chunk of it done, too. There really were too many people in the room, though, there was some talking and goofing off. I figure, if they really want to stay so much, they will not be goofing off. Go down to lunch and goof off with your friends, not in my room.

On a prep, I ran into the dean in the hallway. We talked for a few minutes about that child and that class, and I told him that I'm really concerned because most of the class is just sitting there, bored and not learning anything. That even though four of the bad ones are already gone, "There are still more!" he chimed in. He got the note I wrote, and agreed to make copies for the AP and principal.

Class B was okay. A little chatty for reading workshop. Ms F came in for that writing workshop too. They did well for her.

Class C had just one period, and they were okay. A little spacey, but not too bad. I find that I can actually be a hardass with them. Interesting. I challenged them to be out if the room five minutes after the bell. We made it in about seven. Not too shabby.

Tonight I called some parents who wrote notes on the progress report. Then I set my jaw and called that one bully mother. Because once again, the AP called me in to talk about this kid's grades, because his mother called the AP with her "concern." Fucking bullshit. I really don't like this thing, where she just insists on whatever she wants, and because she's a pain in the ass, she goes above my head, and the AP wants to satisfy her so she won't go to his boss, and it's just bullying. Plain and simple. She did not sign either progress report, both of which were homework assignments. I told her that her son got a zero for it, because he didn't bring it back signed. Which was the assignment. And she fought me! She was all, "I don't care about the assignment, that is unacceptable!"

Then I called my mom. She is coming out here in a week! Yay! I told her about that asshole kid in Class A and she got all riled up for me, agreeing that he needs something I can't provide. I told her that I don't want him in my class anymore; I don't care if they transfer him or suspend him or what, just don't let him in my room for ELA. Make him go somewhere else. She agreed, and told me that I should tell them that, that clearly he needs to be with a more experienced teacher, and that since he "won" this confrontation, that puts me at a huge disadvantage with the rest of the class and I should refuse to teach that class until he's out. I would so love to do that. But I don't have the balls. I haven't found a firm voice with the administration; I'm intimidated.

Ms F was pushing me today, that I need to not be afraid to take a day off, to give myself a break. I know that my colleagues give themselves "mental health days," but I'm frugal and paranoid. It's only another week until break, that's nothing, right? Plus, I only have three days accumulated so far (we earn one per month); what if, later on, I actually get really sick and need those days? (Not like they would let me take them all in a row.) Mostly I just would feel guilty calling in sick when I'm not sick. I feel guilty calling in sick when I actually am sick. I've only done that all of twice. Ever. In my entire working career, part-time and full-time.

You know what I need? A hug. I hate being lonely and single. Lately I have really been lamenting my singledom because I get no physical contact. I yearn for a nice set of shoulders to lean on, hands to rub my back, just someone to comfort me, who will listen to me talk or complain or whatever, and who will try to make me feel better. I don't even have girlfriends that I can go hang out with.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Is the week over yet?

Seriously, I kept forgetting all day that it was only Tuesday. On the one hand, it means there's plenty of time for planning and getting test prep ready. On the other hand, that means three more days til Friday, not to mention that tomorrow is Wednesday. I rarely have nice Wednesdays; my schedule is weird and it feels busier than other days.

Today was better than yesterday, in that I did not cry. I shared a personal story about falling on my face in the London Underground with Class B, and they seemed to pay rapt attention. When the story was over and I went back to attempting to teach, though, there went the buzz of chatter.

Oh, and the testing thing was all just a ruse! Well, not really. It was very poorly worded in the memo. Sixth and seventh grades had normal classes at the normal times, but since the eighth graders were testing, they did not let any classes move around. So the teachers went to the students instead of vice versa. Thank god I was going to do a lesson with at least two classes, so I was prepared to instruct Class B this morning.

Class A was alright. The students whose parents I spoke to had better conduct today. But their classwork was still nada. Baby steps, right?

I am so fucking fatigued right now that I'm actually going to try going to bed. Before 8.00pm. On a weekday. Lately I've been yawning in class. Like, not while I'm talking or whatever, but in the front of the room, with kids watching and/or replying to a question, there I go and yawn. Hm, I think that is a bad sign. I would love to watch the Amazing Race tonight, but staying up til 10? I just don't think I can do it right now. Oh man, my arms feel like they have lead in them.


Monday, December 13, 2004

Bye bye, Drill Sargeant Barbie

Ding dong, the bitch is dead. Well, trampled and killed by the munchkins, more like.

I was a hardass to Class A this morning. They seemed to take it (or I put it out there) as me being a bitch with an attitude, and they met it with even more attitude back at me. I had to physically prevent the eight students who earned a lunch detention from leaving the classroom at the end of 3rd period. They only sat down (but didn't shut up) because I snagged one of the behavior assistant guys in the hallway, and he made them sit. But they were all like, "I didn't do anything!" "I can't wait til you get fired!" etc etc.

It was horrible and so then I cried. After they left the room, of course.

I left notes about the whole thing for the dean and assistant principal, stressing the fact that for three students in particular, it's a pattern and needs to be taken to the next level, whatever that is.

Class B was so-so, but mostly because Ms F was there for a few minutes at the beginning and for some reason, they actually listen to her when she tells them to be quiet.

Class C was okay. They listened very well to my read aloud--it was an editorial about the red-tailed hawk nest that was destroyed recently. This hawk had lived in a nest on a posh Fifth Avenue building and the co-op board voted to make it go away. The gall! Anyway.

My headache from last night kept right on going all through the day. I did not eat breakfast or lunch. We had PD after school, that helped with my thoughts about the group projects. Then I got over to QC for just math class. Hurrah, then I got home by 7.30 instead of 10.00!! It is awesome!

Right after I got in, I gritted my teeth and called all eight parents of the kids I kept in for detention today. I only had to leave two voice mails and the people I spoke with were receptive and 'nice' (As nice as they can be expected to be when told their child is not behaving). Woo!

Wanting to hear a nicer voice, I called mommy. She was very happy with and excited about the crapload of (like, over 20) burned CDs I sent her for a late-ass birthday present. Cool.

And it's only 8.30!!! Whee!!! I feel so free!

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Sittin' up in my room, poppin' bubble wrap

Once you pop, you can't stop!

Happy birthday, baby shrimp girl!

Last night I stayed up and watched most of SNL. Yum, Colin Farrell is hot even when he's got stringy hair. Funny stuff. Popcorn, popcorn!

I got up at about 9.30 and set to work on that stupid math thing. It probably is not long enough and I did not have the kids write anything about the lesson, so I'm sure I won't get a top score. And I still don't know if they'll accept it. But at least I will have it to turn in. That's the most important thing.

When I finished with that, I got dressed and ran some errands. Can I tell you something that I just don't get about New York? The library book drops are closed after hours and on Sunday. Doesn't that defeat the entire fucking purpose of a book drop? Gah!

Let's see. Then I came home, indulged in some internet crack, and then got back to work. I graded the tests from a week ago Friday, the ones I told the students I was actually counting as a test, plus grades for behavior. It didn't take too long, actually, thank goodness, and so then I added the scores to the computer grade program and printed out progress reports. I'd wanted to do the big, line-by-line one, but it turns out that now there's enough stuff to make two pages of report. So I just printed the synopsis page for each student. Printing ninety pages is bad enough; there's no way I'm printing 180, not on my own dime. Please.

By the way, I think even more students are failing now then first quarter. Great. They still don't seem to get it. DO YOUR HOMEWORK!!

After all that was done, I did a crazy thing: I tidied up my room. Woo! It has been awhile and the floor was pretty obscured. But it looks much nicer now. There are still some strategic piles, but thank god for those big bookcases on one wall, they are crammed with crap. Piles of crap. I still have two boxes serving as makeshift dressers or drawers or whatever, but they get the job done, if it looks pretty lame. I'm no snob.

I must say that, even if it makes me sound like a spoiled brat, I detest tepid showers in the winter. I depend on those eight minutes for cozy warmth, and it's just so disappointing to not feel hot water.

So let's see, this will be an interesting week. I have a mission to be a hard-ass drill sargeant. We have to do those simulation tests. I need to get my classes started on the projects, like for real. I have to come up with something for test prep Friday. I should shop for some presents for friends and family. Someday I need to work on those piles in the bookshelves. I would also like to see friends and have a pretense of a social life.

Who am I kidding? This week is may very well suck a whole lot. Grr. Please make it go quickly.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Letters to the President from sixth-graders

Watch out, there is a little more vitriol along with the innocence in some of these. I had no idea that kids these days got so politicized.

***From Class C:

Dear President Bush,
Hi!!! I am a student from [my school]. I like one thing that is happening in U.S.A they have alot of freedom and our parents get to live in this country whether they are from America or not. There is somethings that are going wrong. Students are getting kidnapped while they are going to school or coming home and our schools need more money to give us educational activities. I know a way to cure this problem. you could give schools more money everymonth. You should give them 5,000 per 10 weeks and kidnapping you could kill the kidnapper. Thank you very much!!!

Dear ,
President Bush
In the USA one thing is going well is that we have jobs and money and cars in the USA. The biggest problem is that people in the USA are getting killed by gangs and bulies. I think we can make a better place by getting them out the USA.

Dear Bush,
I think you are doing a good job with america. I think you should try and prevent less fights at the local schools. We should have enough books. I think we should try and end the war in Iraq.

Dear Presiden Mr. Bush,
Listen Mr. Bush I don't like the way you handled the situation of the terrorist attack on the twins.
I know that I'm also supose to write you something that I like but to let you know I don't like anything about you.

Dear Mr Bush,
There are good things you are doing for this city. Finding places for the homeless, finding more cures for sickness and more. The biggest thing I don't like is our troops in Iraq. Let them come hom. I don't want nobody else dying. I'm sick of it.

Dear, President bush
Even though i think your the worst President ever. But back to the issus i think you should get all the troops back to there familys. I think if you want to find binladin take you troops back and he would see that when his country falls apart he come to his knees. I think you just want all the oil.

Dear, President Bush
One thing that I think that is going wrong is that why do you have to send more people to Irak because a lot of people are dieing and people are getting really mad at you.
P.S, Don't send people to Irak.

***From Class B:

Dear Gerage Bush
I think the worest part in the word that people have to go into war and I think that not right because people are geting killed because of that mess. I would like you to stop the war so people wont die. Even if it not my prents that are not in the war I sell thick that not right for people prents to die in the war. I hope you stop the war

Dear Mr President,
Im writing because I want to tell you one fact that I dislike about the world since you became President. What I dislike is the fact that you started this war. I don't like this because 1, every time I go to sleep, or be alone, or walk alone I'm scared that something might just happen. 2 I think this war has gotten out of control. And I know you want to get revenge, but being President is about the peoples happiness and I don't belive the people are happy. That's all I have to say about what I dislike. Thank you for taking the time out to read my letter

***From Class A:

Dear Bush,
No effence but I don't like you that much. You need to stop the war. Your worrying about everything other than the war. Because of you my uncle was shot and killed. I think you need some improvement.

Dear President George Bush,
How are you? As for me I am fine. I am writing this letter to tell you about one thing that is going well in the usa or the world, and the biggest problem facing the usa or the world.
One thing that is going well in the usa is that the children are doing good in school. But the bad part is they behave bad and give the teachers problems. So I want you to fix that.
The biggest problem facing the USA is cancer. Many peolpe are dying from cancer. So you have to get ride of it and you also can get it so tell the doctors to help people with cancer.
This is all for now until I hear from you.

Dear Mr bush
I think this contrie is great. but the only problem is Terrorism!!! We must stop terrorism plots. And I know just how. I will we got to do is blow up the mountains were osoma bin ladin is hidding.

Dear Mr. Bush,
I think there are a lot of problems in the U.S.A. For one you are the president. You make everything bad for everyone. I HATE YOU!! So the only problem is you. Because you make them (problems) happen.
P.P.S. I Really Hate You!!

Dear Bush,
There is no polition that is good in the world
The biggest problem iswar and your lies. Stop lying and stop the war.

Dear President bush,
the worst thing in this country is the war. Some people think that you started it and so do I. I think you should fight your own war not other people. It's not fair when people ask you they want to be citizens and you wait until they die to make them citizen.
The next worst thing is sorry to say this, but we have to have you as our president for the next four years. Some people like Kerry so do I because he make people get through with their whatever you call it fast, but you take a very long time. I am a little girl and I have alot to say. I know the reason why they won't let little kids vote because they the runners would persaude the kids to vote for them. Other children have a lot to say even more than me and people should listen to what we have to say. Were very smart kids and we need the world to hear us not just our friends and family but the world.

Letters to the Mayor from sixth-graders

These are priceless and heartbreaking, either for their innocence or vitriol, or both. Enjoy them in all their original glory.

***From Class A:

Dear Mayor Michael Bloomberg,
I am writing this letter because I want to tell you the things that I like about NYC. Also what I think the city's biggest problem is. Also if I have any ideas or suggestions to make it better.
first, what I like about NC is that it's pretty. The view and the buldings. For example, in Manhattan at night it looks amazing. It's like your in heaven. You see all kinds of lights, the buildings, and the water.
Secondly, is what I think the biggest problem here is that the city is polluted. It is polluted decause there are a lot of cars, trucks, and factories.
Third, Is the suggestions for this problem is that to make the factorys more better by my all the some to go to this tank then it going to the air. Also to make car solar power cars. So that what I wanted to write about Thank you for reading this letter.

Dear Mayor,
I think you're doing a good job. But can you reduce taxes. And could you fire bush. Just jocking.

Dear Mayor Blomberg,
"Hi" my name is RM I am 11 years old. I want to tell you about one thing that I like NYC. I like the cloths the sneaker the cars. There's other thing I want to tell you the biggest promblem that before we need to find Abasabenlaten because he destroy the twin towers and he kill people on the airplane. could you just make a speech that to make the world a better place. "oh" yeh could you also lower the house price.

***From Class B:

Dear Mayor,
I want to discuss some thing with you. Our biggest problem is homeland security. I suggest that security guard have warrants at all times so they have the right to chekc anyone has metal detected on them.

Dear Bloomberg,
I love New York City. I was raised here. But thier is one thing that troubles me, it's the securaty. It really sucks. I think that 9/11 crap was rediculos. Do you know what trouble you caused us, no you don't. But on the othe hand, it was great how you put the soldier's in the subway. That was only a little while. You could make the city a better place by having more of them around all the time.

Dear Michael Bloomberg,
I like New York City because there are a lot of different places that are nice. Also they have more sotires, mall, move theater, and other places. New York City is the busies city that never sleep. but what I don't like about N.Y.C is everytime I look at the news there is alway something bad happening. For exaple, kids are getting hurt or snash by someone. Made be you help N.Y.C by having more cops everywhere or around the neighborhood.

Dr. bloom berg I think you should make ground zero into a graveyard of al lthe people that died and everyon could havea ceramony for them. To honor the people that die in the terable insadent.
P.S. If you want more information come to [our school].

Dear Michael Bloomberg,
What I like about NYC is that everyone is in custedy to to have freedom.
The biggest problem in NYC is that when people have jobs their money on their check should be raised to higher amount of money and also another big problem in the NYC is that to many people is getting layed off from their so I am gonig to do something to help I going to try to find you and help you out

Dear Mr. Bloomberg,
How are you? As for me I am fine. I am writing the letter to tell you the city's biggest problem. The problem is that you need to tell the people that they aren't suppose to litter the city. I suggest that you do something. Because it smells and and look at Manhattan, a lot of people littler all over the place and it smells terable and it lookes disgraceful. So I suggest that you put up a sign saying NO Littering.

***From Class C:

Dear, mayor bloomberg
Brooklyn and the bronx are not good cities because people always get hurt Queens is a good place because not alot of things happen here. But brooklyn and the bronx need to go.

Dear Mayor Bloom berg,
I think you are doing a good job. But I think you could do better. I think you should shut down nuclear power plants because If terrorist attack that millions of people would die. I think you should also make more parks for the kids to play in.

Dear Mayor,
what I don't like about NYC is that nobody is doing nothing about the domestic violence that's going on, and also I don't like the fact that cops are just going around killing people everytime somebody resist arrest because that's what happend to my father, brother, friend and uncle.

Dear Mayor Bloomberg,
I think one of the biggest issue in America is black on black crime. Nowadays people are harassing children and adults both violently and sexualy. Sometimes I'm afraid to walk alone in the dark to anyplace. People are killing people to get high on drugs. They also drink and drive. Who made up weed and alcohol because if I were you, I would've been put them in jail for the harm of them peoples who drink and smokes health. I'm not trying to say anything or trying to offend you on not being a good mayor because you are. In fact you're the only mayor I know you're the best. But people just at least consider helping out our population because whether you like it or not people are dieing and other people are the cause for that.

Is it time to party yet?

I have worked nonstop for the past four hours. Finally caught up on grading homework, updated the grades in the computer, and made a bunch of parent phone calls. There are still some tests that need to be graded, but ugh. Maybe those can wait. There's a good month left in the quarter.

I did not go to the library, so I will have a few fines. Yikes. But I didn't feel like interrupting the flow of work I was doing, plus I am too lazy to actually get dressed and go outside in the dreary weather. Blah.

That stupid math thing is hanging over my head, I'm not enjoying the idea of having to still do that. But I'm tired and hungry and don't want to work anymore today. I guess that means I'll have to suck it up and do it tomorrow.

I have been listening to Dar Williams' "The Green World" nonstop all week. It is so great. Go give it a listen.

Blurgh and deja vu

So by 10.30 I was ready to drop. So I did. I went back to bed and only woke up at the sound of my phone at 2pm!

It's only been a few minutes and I still feel blurry. And getting up before, showering and stuff, seems like a dream or something. But I know I posted here, so it must not be.

Now I need to muster my strength and patience and make a bunch of parent phone calls. Once I get started, it's never so bad. Just working up the nerve to get started sucks. Wish me luck.

Once I get those out of the way, I should return my library books and get started on my big math thing that was due last Monday. BORING.


I stayed up late to finish a book, and went to bed around 12.30.

So, imagine my utter consternation to find myself not really sleeping at 6.30 this morning. Fucking hell! I reluctantly got up at 7 after realizing that I was already awake, and just laying there with closed eyes wasn't doing anything.

So I figured I would get up and be productive or whatever, since I have so much to do this weekend. First I got in the shower, then put green goo on my face and sat around catching up on Fametracker. It's like internet crack, you just keep going back for more.

It's now 10.00. I typed out lesson plans for most of next week. I hashed them out with Ms F the other day, and with the test simulation happening Tuesday and Wednesday, it will mess with things. I guess that's good? That means one lesson will get me through two days of school, which I guess is pretty cool. But I've got to get started on this stupid project! This week was all group prep work, and next week will sort of introduce the concept of the project. Then for a few days the next week, we can try to talk about research and stuff. If the kids are even listening to anything at all, which I don't imagine they will.

I talked to my mom last night, and she encouraged me to embrace not my inner bitch, but my inner drill sargeant. And to bark out everything, no getting soft, no taking of excuses or anything at all. Hover right over people disobeying, writing notes, whatever. But to be careful not to actually BE angry, just acting. I have a hard time with that, because you can read my face like a book and I have a temper. Wish me luck and hardassedness.

I *will* be holding lunch detention, hopefully Monday, for all the disruptive kids yesterday. I am going to call a bunch of parents this weekend, and type out a new "bad note". Not like I ever get any notes back, but that's what the calls home will hopefully be useful for.

Friday, December 10, 2004


Man, I didn't really like today. Escept for the fact that it is FRIDAY!

Class A were jerky and noisy. I tried to do a lesson and three or four students were listening and paying attention. The rest were talking. This one sweet little boy was in tears for awhile, apparently another, bigger boy gave him a wedgie.

I got a coverage slip when I came in, for a seventh-grade class 3rd period. I went up there and then was told by another teacher that the coverage must have been for 4th period. But then they called me on the PA to come back, about halfway through. Frankly, I really really dread coverages. Because actually, I guess I do have some classroom management with my own classes. I hate going to seventh grade classes because they are rude, some disrespectful, and many are lazy when a sub is in the room. It sucks. So before I picked up my homeroom class, I asked Ms F if she was free during 3rd. She has said before that she can do demo lessons/help for coverages. She did come with me and the class, for the 20 minutes we were there, was fairly contained. I have no doubt that if it had been just me, it would have been bad.

When I got back to my room a few minutes after 4th (lunch for the 6th graders) started, two kids were actually there waiting for me. Let's see, I better give them names. One was Little C, who's one of the boys I had to lecture (the other one I can call Little K, and he was in my room at lunch Weds and Thurs), and who has been in my room at lunch for what, three days? The other is Tall T, who has the pushy parents I saw last week. I found myself quite a bit relieved that she's willingly hanging out in my room; maybe if she likes me, her parents won't get so many reasons to come talk at me.

Coming down the hall, I saw Tall T poke her head out and then say to the boys in the room, "Oh good, she's here."

"Trouble" was there too! With powdered donettes! And he willingly shared them! He whined that he wanted to come back to my class. I'm quite sure that's because my friend Ms C and her class don't put up with the shit he pulled in my class, and so my class was fun for him; he got to play and goof off and do no work. Anyway, he was quite content there. I made sure to be normal (as in person, not in teacher--my 'normal teacher' has become STERN) and he responded to it. When I corrected his "brang" to "brought," he caught on and later corrected himself on it when I gave him a teacher look.

Tall T and Trouble got me to write a pass so they could bring lunches back up to the room. They brought me some too, and I said I just wanted fries. They let me have all their fries. I made them sit down and play Boggle with me. I warned them that I was going to kick their butts, and I did. Heh. But they did pretty well.

Good lord.

Class B irritated me, as always. Well, just a few of them. The same few that are always a problem. God, why can't I exert enough control over these little kids?

All of the students, in all three classes, whined and tried to beg and plead about the grouping today. Since it's test prep day, and we're supposed to have differientiated learning groups, I put papers on the tables with names. They were to come in, find their seat, and get ready. But they whined and were annoying. Shut up! I did not take any of that crap. All I said was a tough, "Sit down."

Class C was okay. Still chatty and not really paying attention, even some of the "good" kids. Ay yi, it was a true Friday!

Oh, and guess what we got today. Memos about simulation testing next Tuesday and Wednesday. The big 8th grade test is coming up in January, and the 8th grade teachers are cramming in everything they can until then. So they're going to have a practice day, two of them. And, the 6th and 7th graders will be doing them too. No idea what kind of test or anything, but all of us are "proctoring" those days. The regular classes during what appears to be the regular periods for those days. Ugh, I'm not looking forward to it.

That will throw off my plans for the week, for getting a start on the group report project. Shit. I'll just do one lesson, once for each class. Class C will get a free period on Wednesday, because they are the only class I'll see twice. Lucky bastards.

Hey yeah, I wanted to mention this. In the PD on Monday, our ELA AP (ha, that means English/Language Arts Assistant Principal) talked about...something about implementing things into our classes. And she mentioned me! To say that she really liked what I did! I feel like I got away with something, because I think she just came in at the right time and maybe overestimating my skill. But still, to be called out like that for doing well, I really didn't expect it. Pretty sure I don't deserve it, either. But of course, it's pretty cool.

Hurrah, it's Friday! I am not going to work at all tonight. I can't wait to sleep for a long time. Or at least more than seven hours. Woohoo!

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Another long-ass day

It wasn't supposed to be; I'd planned on going home and crashing nice and early. Ha.

I left school at 7pm. Just under twelve hours in that building! Had a big ol' headache for at least the last hour.

After school, I talked to Ms F for a bit about lesson plotting/planning for next week. Then I made a shitload of copies (I did them double sided to save paper, though!) and finished sorting my groups for differentiated testing tomorrow.

I ended up spending my entire lunch period with students. Even invited in "Trouble" who I hadn't seen lately. He finally transferred out, but into my friend Ms C's class. She rocks though; even though she's also a first year teacher, she has awesome classroom management. I'm sure she and her class will handle him just fine. Anyway, I had them help me put up the multi-colored lights I bought last night, and organize the reading notebook bags, and unfasten the magnetic poetry words, and tidy the room. They ate it up, man. They were all, "This is so much better than lunch," and talked about how loud it is, how there's not enough time to eat, etc. It was kind of cool. I was relaxed, and very much my normal, non-teacher self. I slipped again and said "y'all" or something, actually twice. The first time, the same little boy from all week choked and said, "Don't ever say that again." And when I said something about "y'all are talking! Close your mouths!" this girl looked at me reproachfully and scolded, "That's not real English." And from classes where children say things like "Ovader" instead of "over there" and other funny accenteries. (Yes, I just made up that word. Doesn't it look nice?)

So let's see. I messed with my classes's heads when it was time for them to get into their project groups. I said, "Boys and girls, Mr Principal is in the corner, taking a nap." Hoo boy, did they all freeze like deer in headlights, then whip around to look. I said, "What, you don't see him? I do." And went on, "He is tired and does not want to be woken. So when I begin counting and you move into your groups, you must be quiet enough that he doesn't wake up." They all failed the first two or three times. Class C actually did well the third time. Class A still was a bit loud the third time, but oh well.

I don't think much got accomplished today in any of my classes. I suppose that's not new.

Anyway, so I stayed at school until 6pm, working and tidying, so that I could go to the awards assembly. I read my book until it actually started around 6.35. I left at 7pm because I hadn't eaten dinner and felt ready to puke and/or pass out.

My head still hurts. I am lonely and wish I had someone to talk to.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Sort of a crap day

I can't tell if the students are getting rowdier, if I'm losing effectiveness, or some combination of both. I'm pretty sure it's me.

I finished up doing the interim assessment that we got on Monday. Class B was a disaster; a good half the class did not have numer 2 pencils. That's ridiculous, first of all. And then it took forever to rummage around my collection, sharpen and distribute my pencils. Stupid. Took a few minutes to get them to quiet down. Read the first part of the instructions and then passed out the test booklets. We were two booklets short. I was like, are. you. fucking. kidding. me?! Called down to the office, told them I needed two more. Told the class to get out their reading books and read. Some did, but quite a few talked and goofed around. Sent down two kids to get the booklets; they came back a few minutes later empty-handed. They didn't find the office. Sent another pair down. When they brought back the booklets, they said that whoever was in the office insisted I'd been given 40. I said flatly, "no, I wasn't." I got a big envelope containing three bags of answer sheets and one sealed package of (I thought) 30 booklets.

Anyway, so it took the entire 90 minutes to take one stupid 25 minute assessment.

In happier news, in Class A, a kid that does so-so produced a fantastic comic strip today in class. I talked to them about accountable talk, and then they were supposed to make either a poem, short story, comic strip, or Venn diagram, explaining or giving examples of accountable talk. Most of them started writing any old poem or short story. But this one kid made a picture comic about kids floating in the ocean. It rocks. I will try to scan and upload it. I am so proud of him, and that at least one student understood the assignment and made an exemplary product.

After class, I asked one of the little troublemakers from yesterday if he wanted to stay and help clean up. He likes to do that, and I guess I want to encourage that. So he agreed to, and four other kids nearby immediately wanted to stay, too. Hey, cool. So they picked up the notebooks, most of the trash on the floor, and even wiped down the desks. Sweet.

Class C pissed me off today, because they kept being chatty. I really tried to be patient and not take it personally. But combined with feeling like none of them listened to the assignment about fucking accountable talk, having to repeat myself eighty times about "write a [poem, short story, Venn diagram, or comic strip] about accountable talk," and then after school, it took twenty minutes to get them out of the goddamn classroom. I went back and forth between irritation at them for being so chatty, and angry at myself for not being able to prevent and control the chattiness. Again, I'm sure it's both, but really, it's me. I kind of suck.

There was other stuff that happened today, but really, I can't process everything at once. Ranting is healthy.

And with that, I am tired and will go to bed.

Wednesdays are my most tiring day. Tomorrow is Thursday, which means it's almost test prep, but also that it's almost Friday! And that means the weekend, time to sleep in, time to map out my project lesson plans, and time to just chill out. I hope I can see a friend or do something mildly fun. That has to be an improvement over mildly melancholy, right? At least let's hope I'm not majorly melancholy this weekend. Or right now. Harrumph.

TWO WEEKS TIL BREAK. Oh god, just let me get through it. That's really my main goal every day; just get through it. Grit my teeth and deal with it. Isn't that terrible? But see, look, some of them like me. Maybe that's progress? Maybe they'll start listening to me in January or even March? I don't know. I could go on like this for a really long time, and right now, it's just getting me riled up and I really should have been in bed forty minutes ago. GRR.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Hi, my name is Julie, and I'm a Procrastinator. Enjoy the show!

"Hi, Julie!"

I have three days of homework to grade, materials to prepare, lesson plans to tweak, a bedroom to tidy, and more. So what do I do when I get home? Spend an hour and a half scanning and uploading pictures, of course!

This week I am starting the classes on group projects. We haven't begun any of the actual work; this is going to be all preparation stuff. So yesterday was chaotic as they picked out their groups. They were supposed to answer some questions for group work guidelines after they formed groups. Today their task was to decide on a name and logo for their group.

Some anecdotes:

Yesterday, one of the girls in Class C said to me, "Ms. C, your outfit is phat." I pretended to be shocked, "You think I'm fat?!" Heh. Another one said, "No, phat, you know, banging." I said, "Let's keep the slang for outside of school, yeah?"
And today, those girls, as well as some girls in Class A, gave me another slangy compliment that I can't remember right now.

Also yesterday, when I was walking around writing down the groups that Class A was forming, this one boy goes, "Write down our group as R, Z, K, and Ms. C." Aw, cool, they want me in their group!

Later on, this kid, who is popular, but a pain, even though he can be sweet, came up to the front of the room> With an exaggerated pout, he crossed his arms and said plaintively, "Ms C, can you put me in a group? No one likes me." I had to seriously contort my face in order not to grin, and the class was watching and started laughing.

I kept that boy and another one into lunch for a few minutes, and said sternly, "Wait a minute. Before you go, I'm giving you a lecture." They looked at each other, sighed, and sat down. I began talking. One tried to pipe up with a question, and the other one shushed him, "She's lecturing us. You're not supposed to talk. Don't make it longer." "Oh right, this is a lecture." I looked at them for a second, and then totally lost it. I actually had to turn around so I could laugh quietly. I turned back to them, tried to get a straight face, then just laughed out loud for a few seconds. Finally, I said, "Okay. I am very stern." and proceeded with my lecture. "I expect that your group will be all A students tomorrow!" and so on. They nodded. (Their group did absolutely nothing today, of course.)

Class A, today:

And today, both of those kids, as well as a couple other boys, popped into my room while I was ushering in another class, to say hi. One tries to give me a high five handshake thing that guys do. I just look at him and at his hand waiting in the air. He goes, all incredulous, "You're gonna leave me hangin like that?" I say, "Yep." That boy got something spilled on him during lunch. So when they came in right after lunch, he had to tell me about it like it was some emergency. I was all, "Yeah, that sucks, what do you want me to do about it?" And so later, his pants are around his ankles. (He had on black basketball shorts underneath, so it wasn't obscene or anything.) Not only while sitting at a desk, but also while standing up and walking around the room. What a weirdo. Sometimes I tell him that.

At another point, a girl came up to me and asked if she could be my friend, kind of pouty-like. I said, "what, you don't have any friends?" She gestured toward her group and was like, "no, they don't like me." I said something like, "Of course they do, go back to work." Then another girl right next to her goes, "Can I be your friend too? I have other friends but I like you too."

As I was walking around checking in with the groups, this boy randomly goes, "Ms C, you're really smart." Out of the blue. I said something like, "You will be too," and he goes, all hopeful, "Really?" I nodded and said, "if you listen to everything I have to teach you." He's a very sweet, if not extremely bright or attentive, student. He's in a group with three very good, smart girls, so I hope that the project helps him learn more.


Class A is really out of control so far this week. Well, about two groups are, the rest are doing fine. But good lord, I think they like me! Or at least they like to play with me. I have fun with that, acting all aloof and like, "what are you doing?"


Okay, so now I've effectively wasted another half-hour. Here I go, off to do some work! Wish me luck and much productivity!

This second note I found today. The scan copy is hard to read. But it says:

"Im not talking to you because you told my girl frind that we were going out lier

to: K
From: the one you like or dont like
write me Back"

Talk about drama! Posted by Hello

The other side of the note. It's kind of hard to follow, but oh goodness, it's still so familiar. You know?  Posted by Hello

A note found in my classroom. Ah, the drama! The misspellings!  Posted by Hello