Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bringing back the hot

Post break-up, post first year of teaching. I've cracked the shell of "girlfriend" and "school teacher" and am redefining myself. In novels and movies this always seems to be a pinnacle times for the main character where they engage in all sorts of self discovery.

I hope the same is true for me, too.

more, soon.

I promise.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Cumulative Statements

dun, dun, DUNNNN.

It's the end of the school year, and I am writing Cumulative statements for my students.

I'm so stuck on these comments. These comments go into their permanent folder and represent what the teacher thinks of them for the entire year. I can't believe I have the power to define each student in just a few sentences. I've been working on them this weekend, and I just feel icky about it.

here are a couple examples of Cum statements:

A strong student academically. Strengths lie in mathematics. A voracious reader but still needs help with comprehension strategies. Friendly and well liked by others, but needs help knowing how to be supportive, kind friend. Prefers to work alone.


A friendly student who needs help controlling his behavior and knowing where boundaries are. Does well with one-on-one teacher modeling and instruction. Enjoys working in groups, but needs frequent redirection.

My mentor teacher gave me a list of ways to state negative things in a positive way. I've been practicing that. Some of the things I want to say are: This student is going to drive you crazy!! and don't ever let him near a pair of scissors. Or this student is a bully, and this one has gender identity issues, and this one's parents will never call you back or show up for a parent-teacher conference.

It's impossible to sum a person up in a few sentences, but it's one of the impossible things that I must do as a teacher. I've written all 26 of them, and as strange as I feel about doing them, it's done.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

3 dead pencil sharpeners

The first one was already dead when I got there November 1st. It was a bulky, newer looking, school-issued version. The substitute still had it plugged into the outlet although everyone knew it was dead. One of the first things I did after school on my first day was rip the cord out of the socket and retire it to the storage closet.

I bought a little red electric sharpener to replace it. It worked well for the first couple of months, but it made this loud, shrill noise that made the kids laugh. Most students knew that they shouldn't sharpen their pencil with the electric sharpener while I was teaching, but there are always a few that don't connect that using a loud sharpener while the teacher is talking, is probably not a good choice. Soon, the loud little sharpener stopped sharpening well. It took forever to get a fine point, and the sound that it emitted sounded more and more like a sad plea.

The Gifted teacher knew we sharpener issues, and on a recent trip to Goodwill she picked up a used electric sharpener for my classroom. The kids and I were overjoyed. Old red went into the storage closet, and the kids all lined up to be the first to sharpen their pencils. It sharpened incredibly fast and incredibly well for about an hour. Then it died. I was surprised because it appeared so formidable. It was three times the size of the other sharpeners, the shape of a box, and sported the wood-paneled paint job.

After that I stopped by Artisan to get a bottle of pink spray paint for my yard rejuvination project, and I also bought two simple sharpeners. They are a step above your average manuel sharpener that can be found at Walgreens. I bought them to school and told the students they were special sharpeners, and that I got them at a special art store, and that they were to be treated specially and not lost like the other two manuel sharpeners I bought for them a couple weeks ago. Once again we had a line of students to use the new artsy sharpeners. They sharpen well. I have magnet tape that I'm going to put on them, in the hope that they don't fall behind the bookcase and get lost forever.
Hopefully these two little guys will take care of our sharpening needs for the rest of the school year.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

a cut down tree

Ian broke up with me this past Friday night. He's depressed and wants to be alone to process the loss of his divorce that happened about a year ago. He thought he was ready for a relationship, and that's where I entered the picture 4 months ago. Now it's over, and I feel devastated.

I have the image of a tree in my head. A tree full of green apples, not yet ripe. I feel like he chopped that tree down. All my hopes and efforts are gone. All the plans we had will never be realized. I thankful for the times we had together. I wouldn't take them back.

As Pablo Neruda says, "Es tan corto el amor, es tan largo el olvido." Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

dogs (lost and found)

I am thinking about my dog sleeping on my lap, and how I love animals. I am thinking of how I wrote the backbone for this post in my head a couple of days ago, but have only found the moments of (in between) this and that, to put it down. It feels watery and half-present.

I saw a dog get hit by a car about two weeks ago on my way to work on Bridge Avenue. I don't want to describe it. I turned off the radio when it happened, and drove the rest of way to work with my heart of compassion wrestling with my mind that told it I had to focus on all the things I had to do once I got to school.

For the next week, I had haunted images of the accident every night before bed. I felt truly in the cycle of suffering, what Buddhists call Samara, (which is life itself) and pretty helpless about preventing more incidents like the one I saw.


Jump ahead to two weeks, and I was a bar listening to a live show. When Ian and I were leaving, we said goodbye to his friend/former sister-in-law Laura, and she told us that she had just spent the last hour finding the home for two lost dogs. The dogs had collars and tags and had obviously just fled. She and a friend took the dogs home. The owners were having a party and weren't even aware they were gone. The bar is on busy 2nd street, and if the dogs attempted to cross it, it's likely there would be fatalities/injuries. When Laura told me this, I felt she had saved two dogs lives, and this made up for my feelings of grief for the dog on Bridge Avenue. I was able to let go of the hurt I felt.

I am writing this with Nina the pug on my lap, and I feel fortunate to have had her for 2 years. She turned 5 years old yesterday!

Life is Samara, but also contains moments that affirm goodness, and that is enough for me.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Indulging myself with Nina pics

This is what we do EVERY night.