Monday, June 30, 2008

The Year in Post Mortem

Wow, I'm still having trouble believing that the school year is over. I'm also having trouble realizing that it actually happened.

The last day was short and sweet, and sweaty too. I had some time to play with the kids (old board games) and take pictures. Most of them gave me hugs when they left. I was surprised that I didn't cry. I think it all happened so fast that I was too overwhelmed to fully process it. I was in shock that it was the end; despite the countdowns and the fervent wishes, it all came so fast. It didn't seem real.

This was a really interesting year. Let us review.

The year started with record low student numbers. I absolutely loved having eighteen to twenty students in the room--it was a quieter, more intimate educational experience.

I came to love (what?) each of my classes for different reasons. The Grey Bunnies were so quiet and easygoing. The Tame Roos were a little wild, but sweet and never dull. The Herd was huge but full of interesting personalities.

For the first year ever, I didn't have a serious discipline/crazy parent problem. There were a couple kids who tried my patience, but they weren't intentionally malicious or cruel. Just run of the mill pain in the ass. :) I really worked the Staredown this year! But on their own, sweet enough kids.

For the first time ever, I realized that I had a good time in the classroom. I enjoyed myself teaching the kiddies. There were plenty of days that I was tired and cranky and irritable, but overall, it was fun. Fun!

Perhaps I can say that because the kids were the only good thing about this year. With the changes in administration, and the lack of organization, communication, and respect for the teachers and our time, no wonder I wanted to sequester myself behind a closed classroom door.

That said, I made a couple new friends this year. September was not a happy time for me, starting a new year with my three closest school friends gone (two out of state, one out of county). I hope that wherever I end up in the fall, I can keep up some communication with these folks that can always make me laugh.

I realized anew how much I love field trips. Even when they don't go well. And to be honest, if they don't go well, it's because someone else organized it. ;) I so enjoy exploring new places alongside my students, watching them have a good time learning. It's also the best time for me to be more Normal Person than Strict Teacher, to build a rapport with the kids.

Apparently, not only have I been a lawyer, I've also been in the military, according to my students. I find both of these to be high compliments.

This year was my best in terms of t#st pr#paration. During our practice in class, the after scores improved for every single student. However, although I haven't analyzed my resulting scores yet, of course there were plenty of 2s. Disappointing.

I have collected a lot of teacher shit in the last four years. And it's all sitting in my hallway right now.

I'm really scared about next year, making a change, deciding on my own future. It makes me nervous to jump out into the unknown. I've done that a couple times in the last decade, but those times I actually wanted to, was ready to. At this point, I'm *mostly* sure that I want to. But the logistics and money have made things too complicated. Stupid adulthood.

This weekend I got a lead that I am really excited about, very hopeful for. I shan't jinx it at this time, but I'm trying to think positive, employable thoughts. :)

Happy First Vacation Monday, all!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

An excellent Friday!

I must have said, "What day is this again?" twenty times this past week. It was long and confusing and irritating.

BUT! Friday was short and fun, a perfect way to end the week, a perfect way to spend the last Friday of the school year.

First, in the morning, I was in the hallway and thought I recognized someone's back. Sure enough, she turned and it was my friend N! She moved to Texas last summer, which was sad because she was the best friend that I had in school. We had a couple minutes to chat and catch up. She's doing really well and loving Texas life. It was so good seeing her again!

And did I mention that my other friend N was in town earlier this week? She moved to NOLA last summer, to work at a charter school that was even more corrupt and messed up than our school. Now she's happily engaged and moving to Florida!

The bulk of the day on Friday was a field trip that Ms Math and I frantically tried to coordinate on Wednesday. We took one class, the 'best' class (the Herd) to a local zoo. Only two thirds of the class actually showed up, so it was a nice small group of the nicest kids. There were a bunch of other kids from our school too, but everyone did quite well in terms of behavior.

The kids had a great time looking at the animals, taking pictures, running around, just being kids. The animals (though they seemed quite lonely to me) were interesting to see (alligator! coyote! sea lions! etc). I took over six hundred pictures, so you know I was happy. :) The weather was perfect--it was nearly hot but there was plenty of shade to keep us cool. The bus ride was easy, quick, and no one got lost.

It was really the ideal trip!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


I bought some brand new books at the local 99cent store! Not crappy generic books either--the two sequels of The City of Ember!

I worked out again today--I'm on a hot streak of working out every other day and I feel great. If I were not so lazy I'd do even more.

I have two interviews this week--think happy employable thoughts for me. :)


Friday, June 13, 2008

The weather was perfect today.

That was mostly the only positive thing with today's field trip. Most of the kids had a good time once the activities began, too.

That's all I'm going to say, because the rest is not so nice. If you've ever spent time in a New York City public school, you can fill in the details. In fact, let's play Name That Mess-Up! Leave a comment with one of the things that always goes wrong on your trips.

But now I have to change direction in this post. So beware.

Like last May and June, I've been having trouble sleeping this spring. Either can't make my brain shut up to fall asleep, or can't make my brain stay shut up to stay asleep. So I've been using some Ambien to help me stay more rested and sane. Because sanity is a big help when faced with preteens all day.

Two nights ago, I felt tired and figured I wouldn't need to take anything. And of course, my brain rattled on about school and all kinds of other stressful things until at least 3.30am. So last night I didn't want to take any chances and swallowed a friendly pill around 10pm.

Well, I stayed up, flickring, and I happened upon a mosaic of pictures. And I swear to god, the pictures were moving. Both when I was looking at them and while I was looking not quite at them. There was a flower picture (I had to check just now to see if this really happened, but look, here it is! I swear to god, the petals were nodding and waving in the wind. I SWEAR IT. I kept staring at it, watching it ripple over and over again. It was the coolest, trippiest thing.

Except now it seems like some kind of dream, like I must have imagined it. But there's the link; I faved it to tell my future self that it was real. Add I swear to you, it was!

This isn't the first time this happened; remember when I took one and watched American Idol, and I could have sworn it was twins auditions, and there were six judges instead of three?

Man, I bet the 60s were fun.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A two-hour mile

After a stupid, stupid afternoon at school (GOD.), I was glad to get home and de-stress.

I grabbed my camera and library books and headed outside. I took a slow, wide loop around my neighborhood to run errands. The sun was out, it was very warm, but not humid; perfect in the shade. Brandi Carlile played on my iPod, and I took pictures of plants, fences, walls and birds. After the post office and drugstore, I dawdled in the library and got stuck behind the slowest four people of all time. My last stop was getting my eyebrows done (that damn rogue white hair reared its ugly head this week). After my two-hour stroll, I felt relaxed and happy to be productive.

It was a truly lovely afternoon.

I had convinced myself a few months ago that I really did not need or deserve a DSLR. My Sony took really nice photos and had an excellent zoom. And I only bought it last May, for a lot of money. It had manual settings and I was practicing using them, finally.
So I felt extra 'bad' that my boyfriend bought me the Nikon. Would it really make a difference? Would I use the things that make a DSLR different than my big point and shoot?

Well, on my walk today, I turned my camera to manual mode AND manual focus. And the things this camera can do are indeed much better and more sophisticated than my Sony. I mean, duh, but my point is that I'm actually *using* those features. I still have to learn and practice with the settings, but they all go much higher/lower than the other one. So I'm trying to feel better about having such an extravagant toy! :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Hey, Guess What?

1. My admin were great today! The dean was more than glad to take out the girl who threw a pencil that hit another girl in the face, and he'd rounded up two students known for cutting. The AP came in to tell me that a parent had come in to see me, and she briefed me on the parent's concern and then asked when I could meet with her (as opposed to trying to pull me out of class right then and/or while teaching). I really appreciated those things--if those kind of helpful and supportive actions happened every day, our building would be a much better, more secure, more productive and enjoyable place to be. (See? I'm more that willing to praise and celebrate administration. I'm not only full of hate and venom. :D)

2. I forgot a bunch more stuff this morning. First, I discovered the potato that I'd begun heating up two nights before. Then I forgot to brush my teeth (gross, I know). And I forgot my breakfast bar.

3. The weather this morning (around 7.30) was absolutely perfect. And last night the humidity became much less oppressive, so it was much more comfortable to be able to sleep. The fans cooled the air a little, although they didn't actually make the air cool.

4. I worked out! For the first time in either two or three weeks!

5. Last night, after that post, I whipped up a random nonteaching cover letter and applied to a completely random job. I felt so rash and daring; it was exhilarating. (Seriously, how lame am I?)

6. Some of my favorite kids from two years ago came around to get yearbooks signed. Love!

7. All afternoon I kept my air-conditioner running and my lights off. The kids didn't seem to mind at all. One kid, who's very sweet, but lacking in self-control, remarked, "Miss, we're much calmer with the lights off!" I agreed. He said, "We should keep them off all the time!" I said, "Good idea."


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Alarm Bells

Ringing everywhere--in the building, in my head, all over the place.



Seriously, y'all. For the last week I have been looking at ads for completely non-teaching jobs. And it is scary and sad. Would I really leave education altogether? Would I get hired in this shit economy? I have one year-ish of office experience, I've volunteered a lot, I'm an expert filer (those two degrees really come in handy, I tell you). I love taking pictures but I don't know PhotoShop or any other alteration program. I make a mean caramel macchiato. Oh, and I can boss around preteens. Does that qualify me for anything?

Monday, June 09, 2008

Holy Heat Wave, Batman

Shit, it's hot.

Since I don't have air-conditioning (well, the unit that came with the apartment only cools about three feet directly in front of it), it was difficult to sleep very well.

Then I forgot both my hot chocolate and my keys. I haven't forgotten my keys since my second year of teaching. And I've forgotten the cocoa (my daily morning drink) only three or four times, but this was the second time this month. Maybe I can blame the humidity for my forgetfulness? After all, I come from stock that is not well adapted to this weather--not only did I grow up in the temperate Northwest, but my ancesters are all Northern Europeans. This weather is just inhumane!

I do have one good thing to share--my classroom has air-conditioning! No, it's not new or anything, but this is the first time we've needed it. And boy, am I grateful. Actually, even the parts of the school (on the lower floors, anyhow) that aren't air-conditioned weren't too bad. Warm and sticky, sure, but not unbearable. (Of course, I haven't ventured to the upper floors; I'm sure it's a windowed Hades up there.) Walking out of the building this afternoon, after being fairly comfortable inside all day, was like walking into a preheated oven. Ack.

Also, my students are behaving pretty well for me, if fairly lazy recently with homework. I'm very happy and relieved about that. Now, I'm the one to thank for this, of course, since I worked so hard to set up the routines and expectations for my class. And just today I got to practice one of my favorite teacher looks. At the beginning of class, when I see a student not on task, I stare at them. Not glare, no raised eyebrows, just stare right at them, unwavering. Very quickly they shriek, "Miss! Don't look at me like that!!" and bury their heads in shame. Meanwhile, I continue to stare and they jump to getting to work. Hee. Sometimes I can't keep a straight face as long as I need to and the corners of my mouth twitch. Usually other kids see this and start to giggle.

Anyway, I don't really have a point here. It's really hot. We still have about three weeks left of school.

Friday, June 06, 2008


1. It's Friday! Always a good thing.

2. It's June! Holy shit!


4. My admin just keeps.getting.worse.

5. The Roos (who I wasn't even scheduled to see today [see above re: STUPID]) and the Herd were great today.

6. I 'quizzed' them about quotation stuff on sentence strips and they had a grand old time (more importantly, they're doing a million times better! now that it's been like two or three weeks of warm-up practice. time to move back to S/V and commas and stuff...). I haven't done anything with them for a long time, but sure enough, the kids love using them. If you don't have them, get them for next year.

7. Ooh! I found the Jeopardy review game I created last year, questions, categories, and all! SWEET!!! Seriously, I'm really excited about that. There was no way I was up to redoing it.

8. Now I just have to figure out how to work in all the play stuff plus review and test time. But truthfully, for me the entire month of June is fidgeting and hoping they don't realize I'm just killing time.

9. Although, the Herd totally went with me on the trait analysis of the play today, and they had some deep commentary--I was very impressed! I guess I should make more of an effort with the teaching. Meh.

10. Sorry this post is lame. I've been doing so well with blogging this week. (OMG! That Chick, one of the funniest bloggers ever, commented!! Squee!) I could write about plenty more things about this week, but it would be too specific I think. Suffice to say, school=stupid.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

good times

I let two classes read Who's On First this afternoon. The students that I chose from the Roos just nailed it. The tone, inflection, understanding, everything. The whole class giggled and guffawed throughout. It was fantastic and I loved it and them. I was very proud and happy. Also, it had been a year since I'd heard or read it, and I laughed the whole time too. Man, that is some of the most brilliant comedy ever.

(In contrast, the Herd readers were decent but didn't seem to get it enough to read it correctly, and nearly half the class didn't get it; I heard several kids say, "Where was Naturally?" Sigh. But some of them did get it and seemed to like it.)

Yesterday I scheduled myself for two interviews, but I wasn't really paying attention, so I ended up driving to one in a neighboring borough so that I could do the other one by phone while in the car. Both seemed to go fairly well; I think I articulated myself well (which hasn't always been the case; after all, don't they just somehow know how awesome I am?!). So please continue thinking happy thoughts for me. :)

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

le sigh.

This sentence is a treasure trove of BAD.


--more craigslist wonder

And The Stupid Just Keeps on Coming

This morning, I was going through the warm up with my students. Learn, teach, blah blah schoolcakes.

*knock knock*

I opened the door to students in another class. "Can I help you?"

They hold some papers and scantrons out. "Here's the test."

I blinked at them, totally perplexed. "Huh? What?"

"It's from Miss So and So."

"Uh....I don't get it."

They just kind of stood there, not sure what to do. So I said, "Have her call me or something."

A minute goes by, and another teacher comes to the door. "The class is taking this final today."

Once again, my witty response: "Huh?"

"The whole grade is taking this final right now."

"What? Since when? Why didn't they tell us?"

blah blah blah no answer, no memo, nothing at all.

And oh wait, it gets better.

Next period I'm off, and I mention it to the coach. hey, what's going on with this, our grade heard nothing about it, etc etc. She didn't really know about it either but recalls something. She finds an old memo on the table. It's dated the 22nd and addressed to only the teachers in that content area.

Wait, there's more!

Later on I find the AP and basically confront her that we were all blindsided. She tried to come back with the fact that the kids knew. I said, "But *we* didn't. I had a lesson plan, I was doing something!"

She had the sense to look a little chagrined and halfheartedly apologized, but THEN says, "Oh, it was up to those content teachers to tell the others."

Next time she or anyone else pulls this shit, I'm just gonna tell them, "Hey, DO YOUR JOB." I'm so done with it all.

I swear to god, I'm gonna lose it one of these days. Start cussing, walk out of the building, I don't know what. I cannot take it!

Some of you deal with bullshit way worse than this. And this is what I say to you, to me, to all of us--It is WRONG. It is not okay for us to be treated like this. Something needs to be done. I don't know what, I don't know how, but we shouldn't take it anymore!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Link love

Tell everyone (again) not to buy bottles of water, for pete's sake! (Passing on the link, thanks Nancy!)


Not that I'm not guilty of tossing food gone bad--especially produce--but this line just grossed me out. That bold statement (emphasis mine) perfectly captures the selfish, small view of this country and the media.

“The fundamental thing that I’m fighting against is, ‘why should I care? I paid for it,’ ” Mr. Bloom said. “The rising prices are really an answer to that.”

And then you see dozens of ads per day about new snack foods, new prepared foods (cut up celery and carrots in a plastic dish! talk about unnecessary waste!), AND miracle diets. When are we finally going to get it already?


What does it mean to be an American?

from a very talented and articulate flickr contact.

I'm sorry to have to say this outright, but principal is officially an idiot.

Last week she ignored or forgot a schedule change that was made months ago, affecting one of our days this month. I thought that was neglectful enough.

But get a load of this!

She wants to put bookshelves on every floor, stocked with books, so the students will have a 'home environment.'

Take a second, think about it.

That is one of the all-time stupidest ideas I have EVER heard.

First of all, has she ever SEEN the freaking hallways in our building? Oh right, she hides herself away in the office (this year's students didn't know who she was for months!). Well, I'll be happy to tell her about the noise, chaos and general unsafe conditions that goes on every.single.passing time. Previously I've actually addressed it in writing to her--and what did she do? Try to pass it off to the AP, who did nothing either. She takes zero responsibility for enforcing any kind of discipline or security.

Secondly, the halls are already littered with trash on a daily basis as well.

Third, that's what the damn classroom libraries are FOR. Duh! No way am I helping supply books for this monumentally absurd, utterly obtuse plan.

Can you imagine if we gave the students fuel for this metaphorical fire? I would wager on a week tops that shelves would be emptied and the hallways covered in torn pages, students covered in bruises from books hurled as bullets.

Jesus criminy, get a clue, lady!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

would you...

...want to apply to work with this group?

If you are seeking a rewarding opprotunity that allows professional growth; dont missing this change and apply now.

Spelling counts, people!

--[seen in a craigslist education ad]