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Monthly Archives: November 2014

Happy Thanksgiving! I’m starting the day doing lesson plans before the big meal….what the hell! I’m going with the muse. I’d like to not have to think about them again for the rest of the holiday weekend.

I’ve decided to go back to using five random words as the writing prompt for my class “do now” (a writing warm up) if for no other reason that the students enjoy it. It’s a good showcase/workshop for the more talented students, and for the less literary ones, they feel less pressure and relax with the writing. It’s kind of a fun moment during class and the students really listen to each other.

Using a quote and asking them to make connections is good, but for the more intense work we’re doing now (involving analyzing quotes and connecting it to plot events in Fahrenheit 451), 5 random words seem lighter, and more fun….it just feels like less pressure and more comfortable.

I want these kids to trust that writing can be fun. They are smart and can smell agendas (be they teacher, school, or common-core driven ones) and I feel like they liked the 5 random words better. It was more about them, and what they brought to the table. Later on, we can hit them with drills, skills, and toss around some analysis.

Keeping what works and tweaking it, then backtracking. It is what it is.

Anyway, Fahrenheit 451 is a mindblower and, having finally read and finished it for the first time ever, the book and these kids are making me realize how far technology has advanced as well as how far-reaching the implications for privacy (the fourth amendment comes into play, etc.).

Having a Global Studies/History teacher with special education qualifications is fantastic, we were given great students this year, and I’m so thankful for both of these things so I’m stepping up my game. It’s true that when professional support is provided, teachers want to rise to the challenge, and the students benefit. It’s really the best environment. It varies wildly year by year (last year was nothing like this for me), but if it could be like this every year, I might want to stay in teaching.

Alright, well Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. Enjoy the day and have a beautiful weekend.

This was a long week. Tuesday we were off for Veterans Day. Wednesday I went to union HQ to file an appeal for last year’s ineffective rating. Did I have any questions? Did I want any therapy from a union representative? No on both counts. I just appealed it based on a timeline issue: a few of my informals last year happened after the proscribed deadline. We’ll see what happens. On Friday, I got a relatively positive informal observation report from October. I can’t put my heart and soul into the process (and wouldn’t want to) but it’s just a matter of course. The majority of my attention now needs to be focused on Ray Bradbury, book burning, and government censorship.

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Carrie is losing her mind again, a state that I thought was triggered by PTSD over losing Brody combined with missing her medication – a perfect storm – but it looks like sabotage, maybe the medication’s been replaced by other psychotropic drugs? I’d thought it was a bipolar mixed state, played perfectly, but our heroine could quite literally be tripping – the same as any other pedestrian, non-bipolar person might. Either way, she’s definitely out of her mind, senses heightened, and mistakes an ISI agent for Brody. Events have obviously taken a toll on Carrie and now she’s ended up literally in the enemy’s hands – current circumstances paralleled by Saul’s situation as well. I predict that the parallel will play well together for both characters in the falling action of the season’s arc. She’s clearly not over Brody’s death yet, and they could get a few more seasons out of that, and maybe have her try to patch up her family relationships as well.

Obviously, Damien Lewis is going to be back for these types of mindf*ck scenes.

After Aayan’s abrupt death in the last episode, it definitely seems like she’s ripe to snap. She’s about to spill major secrets to the ISI agent. We’ll see if she gets out of it.

One of my mom’s closest friends, Dolly, died this week. I loved Dolly; she was a hoot. She drank and swore, had three or four husbands, but was a sincere, practicing Catholic. She was powerful and influential in her field, and had a very feisty personality. I remember going away with her and my mother once and she told us incredibly interesting stories, including one about a woman who tried to seduce a priest.

She sent drinks back to the bar for not having enough alcohol in them. She made it to her 80s – not sure of exactly how old she was – but she looked and acted like a woman in her 60s. She was quite beautiful in her time and remained so to the end through both the grace of Nature and effort, at least that’s what it seemed like to me. She’d fallen in love recently too, but was disappointed. I was hoping she’d find someone else.

I knew she had recently fallen ill but it seemed kind of unexpected and sudden nonetheless. She went hard until the end, I guess. I never saw her slow down.

Rest in peace, Dolly.

Taking a sick day at work can be unnerving because I feel like people are in your business about it. Some teachers are constantly bragging about how much sick and personal time they’ve saved, and I need to remind myself that not only do I have a lot going on, but also that the job can be stressful and that everyone’s life situation is different, mine included. At the end of the day, you really just have to listen to yourself, keep your priorities intact, do your best, and let the chips fall where they may.

Yesterday I got a warning letter for leaving work last Tuesday at 3:31 instead of 3:35. I accepted it for what it was but was a little mad at myself, because I really could have refrained from leaving for four more minutes that day. (That would have been easy to control, unlike coming in on time with added variables like traffic and alternate side parking.) Lesson learned. Behavior to be avoided in the future.

Things have been busy. Grades are averaged, recorded, and submitted. Meetings have been attended. Papers have been collected and filed. Documents have been noted and signed. College recommendation letters have been drafted and printed. Tomorrow is another late night for parent conferences. I got only four hours of sleep last night, woke up feeling sick this morning, printed out the directions I’d need to navigate forty-one miles to the school site I was to report to today, and walked my dog (who then ate something off the street and nearly choked on it, necessitating me to manually dislodge whatever she’d ingested. It was a critical moment and totally unexpected. Thank God it worked out.) But yeah, I called in sick. And I definitely don’t have a lot of days in my bank and have a few latenesses chalked up this year due to the longer commute. But it is what it is.

Sometimes teachers deliberately miss professional development days because a lot figure that the students aren’t in anyway, and they can be a pain, but lately I’ve actually enjoyed them. At the last one we had a Tai Chi workshop and I discovered that I like it. Today we were supposed to be working with another school’s staff and get breakfast. It could have been a really fun day. Overall, I am disappointed about missing it, but I’m realizing that I really don’t want to be burned out for parent conferences tomorrow. I have a really amazing group of sophomores this year, and today I need to rest.

In positive news, my smart board is again working and hooked up to my classroom computer. It took a couple of months, but it’s been fixed and is functional now.

The union is blowing up my phone and my email, trying to get me to appeal last year’s ineffective rating. I know the consequences of getting two in a row can be bad, but the last time this happened to me it wasn’t all too helpful, and filing the requisite documentation proved a lot more aggravating than just sucking it up. Some battles aren’t worth it but you don’t always see that going into them. So it’s a crapshoot, but I won’t be initiating filing on it this time. I’ve got too much else going on. Ironically a large part of it involves my investment of time into planning and assessment. Getting started on a bureaucratic boondoggle is not going to be a productive endeavor, especially since I’ve tried it before. At the end of the day, I need to just listen to myself, keep my priorities intact, do my best, and let the chips fall where they may. Any support I find along the way is gravy. Sometimes it comes from unexpected places.

On Halloween and on the day before, lots of students came to school in costumes. It was great and entertaining to see their alter egos this year. It’s endearing to see a student, who was once a pain in an elective class, come into school outfitted in a giant squirrel costume.) Some others: A wolf in Little Red Riding Hood’s clothing (classic, creative, & literary), a couple of military men (their uniforms juxtaposed by lackadaisical adolescent postures), a couple of superheroes, several cats and princesses, in addition to two “schoolgirls”. They were days rich with irony. I kept telling everyone how creative they all were, and it was the truth.

Not everyone embraced the idea of dressing up, which is fine. People aren’t mandated to “celebrate” a holiday that’s been constructed and co-opted by secular and darker forces. I understand the desire to limit time spent meditating on darker things. However, it’s just a holiday! An American opportunity to embrace self-expression and artistic vision.

Then there were those who seemed to be unnerved by the boldness of certain students, particularly with regard to makeup and dress. I attribute this observation to cultural background and teachings on what’s appropriate for women in this regard. (Some of the more risqué costumes, particularly the ones involving a bold makeup look, elicited a few judgy looks, particularly from other young women in one class.)

Halloween is full of lots of risk, bad judgement, and creative genius in adolescence. I absolutely loved working on Halloween this year. Plus it was a Friday, which made it even more fun.