Showing posts with label summer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label summer. Show all posts

Thursday, May 24, 2012

2nd grader, at last.

Soooo....Remember way back in September when I was all: But I don't know if I can do this! Third graders seem weird and psychologically puzzling. And then I was all: No, wait. I got this. Third graders are really weird and psychologically puzzling. But all I have to do is give them my nastiest teacher stink eye and make them skittish about what I'll do next.

Yes, well, I'm done with that. I'm headed back into the classroom next year (which is exactly what I was trying to avoid when I gave up my ESOL position in the first place months ago, because I thought ESOL was headed for the big, giant Toilet in the Sky) (note: I no longer think ESOL is headed for the big, giant Toilet in the Sky; I now believe ESOL is simply headed toward a really sketchy Title & Pawn shop on that one corner by the police station all the ladies of the night traipse down at all hours in clothing of questionable taste).

Anyhoo. Due to budget cuts (shaking my fists and casting ginormous stink eyes on YOU, you scurvy, greedy Wall Street tycoons responsible for the world financial mess), we have lost 8 teacher points. Eight whole teachers! That's like one whole grade level, peeps. Which means no more Science/Social Studies model (unless 3rd-5th grade classroom teachers want 30 kids in their homerooms next year...which might put the Science/Social Studies classes up to some crazy number like 35, 40 kids in some groups depending on how they split up their classes when they do ability level) (I know that only makes sense to me and the people who taught the model, so just know: what matters most right now to you are the mind boggling phrases "30 kids in a class"!!!  and "crazy number.")

Long story short: I will be a 2nd grade classroom teacher next year. Frickin' Universe--always playing me like that. Just when I think I've outsmarted It, It throws me a wide, speedy curve ball.

I'm excited and nervous. Excited because I've missed having that ownership of a class of kids--being their mom-away-from-mom. Also, it'll be nice because I'll only have to plan for 24, not 90...there were so many cool things I chose not to do this year simply because the number of students I had made these cool things logistically (and often financially) impossible.

But nervous because I simply do not do well with aggressive, confrontational parents. And, man, I witnessed some aggressive, confrontational parent behavior this year in 3rd grade. Professionally, I can't go into fine details here on a public blog. Just know: for some individuals in the world, I'm wondering if there is just not enough Xanax or mental health professionals. (I actually don't think they're crazy. I think they're just looking out for their child...in a really scream-y, being-part-of-the-problem-not-the-solution kind of a way. And I think they're acting from a place of love. Dysfunctional, confining, knee jerk-reactive love. But we all need to start somewhere, I suppose.)

True confession: difficult parents are why I left the classroom ten years ago. I got some doozies, three years right in a row. And it was really bumming and burning me out...I just needed a parent-on-a-warpath break for awhile. Hello, ESOL teaching for 9.2 years. Which I loved, because I love language. And hello Science/Social Studies teaching for 8 months.Which I loved, because I've decided Neil Degrasse Tyson is really hot, in a nerdy, very professional and astute kind of way.

But I was very different person back then, when I was a classroom teacher. For one thing, I had bad hair. No, seriously. I had this biscuit bang flip thing going on that was a total holdover from the late 80's and I wore tacky holiday sweaters starting the day after Thanksgiving all the way to New Year's Eve. And I thought I was swank, people. Really, really swank. I'm still really upset with people in my life who let me leave the house looking like that from 1992-2002.

Secondly, I wasn't married to C, and C hadn't worked his C magic on me yet. Honestly. If you need help setting yourself straight in some area(s), C knows how to do it. Right now, for example, I'm on something called the "30 Day C Plan," which is supposed to whip my sorry self back into shape professionally, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. I think I'm at Day 15. I've done two out of ten directives. It is not going well, not going well at all. (fyi: I did the same thing with the Atkins Diet.)

Thirdly, I hadn't met/worked with some of the most awesomest teachers on Planet Teacherdom. All decent teachers will tell you they didn't become proficient because of Dr. So and So's class at Teacher University. No, no. They'll tell you they lucked out and got put on a team with Ms. Amazing Teacher, Ms. Creative Teacher, Ms. Gutsy Teacher, and Mr. Reality-Based Teacher...who all taught them everything they know today. (Guess how many college textbooks and lesson plans I still use/own today? Zero. Big, fat zero. But I have exactly 3.5 billion files, lessons, and other artifacts I do still pull from that were given to me by coworkers along the way over the last 15+ years.)***

And last, I wasn't a mother. You don't have to be a mom to be a proficient teacher. But because I've become a mother, I can see my child in other people's children. (I mean, honestly...my 3rd graders this year responded to the exact same Pavlovian techniques that work brilliantly on 3 1/2 year old Melissa.) And I'm hoping that makes me far more compassionate than I was ten years ago...as a parent, I will go to my death fighting for what's right for my child and my hope is that, should I get some boxing champ-wannabes in students' parents next year, that will translate over in parent-teacher conferences and we'll reach magnanimous understandings of great and helpful proportions.


Oh, and! I did NOT have the droll, smarmy humor about life I possess today. A sense of humor about the pure awesomeness of bizarre, dysfunctionality that exists all around us possibly could have extended my classroom teacher shelf life at least another 5 years.

So yes. I'll be a classroom teacher again next year. I'm pinning away furiously on pinterest right now, stealing ideas from teaching blogs left and right, blatantly and without regard. My 2nd grade colleagues will be bandit-ized as well, come August.

But my favorite, FAVORITE part of this whole, crazy school year was this past Wednesday.

Remember my Promethean board, the one I lovingly nicknamed %%$#@&$#@!%&$? I was lucky enough not to have to pack up my million boxes of stuff and move elsewhere, and the trailer I'm currently in (despite the fact I must continue to share it with %%$#@&$#@!%&$) is really a very nice trailer as far as classroom trailers go--a tad bit longer or wider, I can't decide which, than other classroom trailers--and it's in a prime location (practically on top of school, and some restrooms). So that is all good, and I am glad. But %%$#@&$#@!%&$ continues to take up way too much space on my white board, rendering it practically useless for classroom teaching.

And then, then! I discovered THIS while watching DIY network late one insomniac night: dry erase wall paint! You prime your wall! You paint it with 3 coats of dry erase paint! You now have a new dry erase wall, any shape, size you want! This, friendly friends, is when the craziness of 21st century living finally pays off.

So, Wednesday, last day of school for children, I primed each end wall on either side of my real dry erase board. I did not ask if I could do this because (a) I knew a teacher who'd taught in this trailer before me had painted the whole thing a few years ago...sadly, just regular paint not dry erase--which would have been so ridiculously awesome had Lowe's carried dry erase paint back then and she'd turned the whole place into one big dry erase room--I'm practically salivating right now just thinking of it, and (b) one of my life affirming, important mottoes is: Asking forgiveness is always better than asking permission. Another nugget of wisdom from a good teacher/coworker along my path years ago.

So 3rd graders were playing board games, and I was priming while insisting to several overly helpful girls that, seriously, I only had ONE paint brush roller. There would be NO fun wall painting the last day--I let them know I also knew they would probably get into some type of primer paint fight and that was NOT going to sit well with me that day. Go play Uno for the love of god.

And also I had to keep fending off K, who kept watching me prime my end walls suspiciously while asking in an accusing tone, "But did you ask first? I bet you're supposed to ask first." I taught her my important motto about forgiveness vs. permission, but I could tell: she's a total third grader version of 2002 Amy--if I'd had a couple more weeks with her, I bet I'd have had to put her on the 30 Day C Plan.

Anyway. Who should show up? My old principal. (Did you know? The principal we started this school year with, who's been our principal for the last 4 years and is quite frankly one of the kindest, best, most wonderful principals I've ever worked for, was tapped to be one of our district's new, big shot area superintendents.) (Of course you didn't know, if you don't work with me--I've neglected this blog for months.)

So she stopped by our school for a visit, saw me in the doorway, and stepped inside my room to say hello to me and all the kids. And when she saw my walls, she said, "Amy, are you painting?" And I said, all guilty refusing to look at K who I was positive was certainly gloating, "Uhh, yes? Kind of?" And she just shrugged and said, "Oh. Okay."

Man! That was a beautiful moment. I shot suspicious, accusing K a triumphant look so fast! A glorious finish to a long year: the fricking area superintendent says it's cool, K! No need to even ask for forgiveness at this point, playa! Watch and learn, grasshopper, watch and learn.

The other glorious, beautiful finish to a long, long school year? Every year as the buses pull out for the last time to take all the kids home, all the teachers line the sidewalks and wave good-bye and the buses honk and honk and pull away. So soul-satisfying. This year, the bus at the head of the line, the one that was supposed to honk and honk start the Grande Finale pull away broke down immediately when it tried to leave. All the other buses had to back up and pull out...starting with Bus 20 waaaay in the back. Took forever. So all the buses, except for Bus 1, have long gone and all these kids on Bus 1 are stuck and don't get the teacher wave...I mean, we DO wave. But only as we're leaving to head to our cars. Gotta go, Flo. Have a great summer, kids. Stay cool!

And then? Then, I saw my two worst offenders of the whole year were on that stuck bus. And that's when I knew: the Universe really loves to throw me curve balls, but occasionally it throws me a big bone, too, just to let me know it still has my back. Awesome.

*** Side note: if Michelle Rhee and her Waiting for Superman friends are really serious about fixing public education, they should lose their lame, unhelpful anti-teacher attitudes and start with our teacher education programs...but that's another rant, for another day.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

From Sweet Little Crosspatch (version #1, posted 5.29.2011)

Right now, I'm watching my daughter nap on the couch. Though there are two loads of laundry in process and our dishwasher is working, the house is a mess: clearly, the Toys R Us fairy has been by and vomited, everywhere. Again.


Her back is to me as she sleeps, and I'm most fascinated by her fee
t. These seem so humongous for a 2 1/2 year old's small body. But then I look at the rest of her and realize, no. It's just that SHE has grown so humongous over the last 2 1/2 years.

Two years ago toda
y, she just learned to crawl. We dropped her dad off at the airport for his annual up-North fishing trip just as we do every year around this time, and that night she decided: Guess now is a good night to start crawling. And she did, right across a room, which made me say out loud, to no one in particular, "Holy crap. Did that baby just crawl across this whole room? I think that baby just crawled right across this whole dang room!" (Time to get out the baby gates, for REALS.)

Then, last year, she was much bigger than the Summer of Crawling. Last summer was Summer of Full-time Toddler World. Full-time toddlers walk, talk, and touch (touching and touching and touching and, oh my god, touching) every. thing. But still, she was so, so small compared to who and what she is now. This summer will be Summer of the Diva. Next summer may be Summer of the Hellcat-Diva, but I can tell. This summer will be so very diva-licious at our house. (I submit the photo at right as evidence.)

(back story: we were headed to the grocery store, and I needed to text her dad some financial info
and also a "hey, we really miss you already!" note, and I asked Miss M if she'd like to say cheese and send a happy picture to her daddy. Clearly, we can see what mood she was in yesterday afternoon) (I like to send a picture of Melissa with these texts...just so's he knows what he's missing.)

Then, last night we went to McDonald's for dinner. I had a terrific headache and was in no mood for cooking, and they have those Playlands, those both wonderful and hideous Playlands (those self-contained, air-conditioned, even-if-they-are-rife-with-god-only-knows-what-types-of-antibiotic-resistant-baceteria Playlands).


Yet I hate McDonald's. Let me reiterate this again: I.
Hate. McDonald's.

Every time I visit, all I can think about is the mass production of food this company has helped to scourge upon our society (which has its own issues with food in and
of itself, with its demands for massive amounts of food and instantaneous gratifications). And then my dilemma when going to this scourge-upon-Earth place for dinner: do I feed Melissa their chicken nuggets (chemically processed, full of nitrates and everything but chicken which I think is actually the 99th ingredient they casually list at the end in a kind of "oh yeah...and we guess there's some "chicken" in this too" way)...or a hamburger (which has been killed under horror-movie-like circumstances at a factory slaughterhouse that employs desperate people willing to work for slave labor wages that is then chopped up and processed/cleaned with ammonia...ammonia, people).

Really, I know she's just there for the fries anyway (more chemically processed, genetically modified food) and the ice cream (most likely produced by dairy farm factory cows under the most dire of living circumstances). And how do I reconcile a dinner of chemically processed junk? This is how: I mean, if I'm going to feed her GMO fried "foods" and foods derived from factory-abused animals, why not j
ust go out and get it all: ammonia hamburger, GMO fries, and hormone-produced ice cream. With a sugar-laden soda or box of juice or hormone-filled junk milk on the side.

I draw the line at their Happy Meals though. She can have a junk cheeseburger and small fries minus the junk toy. She already has plenty of toys. Plus, I think it just encourages Ronald & Co.

I hate this company. And yet I give them my time, my energy, and my money. Why? Because of their frickin' indoor Playlands. They ru
n a racket, and I'm their helpless stooge. But she's so happy to watch at these things, running around on all the bacteria-laden indoor playground equipment. There's 80% less diva behavior. She's screaming in other kids' faces and they're screaming in hers, and everyone's running and jumping, and she's so...so...BIG compared to last year. I can feel time slipping away from me. I can feel how it will feel in ten more years: even these McDonald's dinner dates, the ones in which I sit stewing about the vast corporate evilness of the takeover of our food and our food systems and angry at myself for giving in to them simply for the ease of it all...and to see the joy that even evil can sometimes bring a kid. Even these moments will be hazy, sweet memories of a tempermental, diva-like little girl in ten more years.


I really think it's what summertime is all about.


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