The Author

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I am a high school English teacher, and mother of two charming little ones of my own. I teach in a high poverty urban charter school, while I live in a typical American suburb that has frequently been rated one of the safest cities in the country. It is a paradox I struggle with constantly, but it is my life.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I am too exhausted to stick with any of my plans right now...

After 8 hours of work and 3 hours of school, I am just totally fried. I figured since I got out of school early tonight (normally, it is 10pm), I could get done a bunch of the papers I have left to grade. That is so not happening. I just remembered that I still haven't set Accelerated Reader goals or anything yet, and that is going to take me hours.

I have piles and piles of papers to grade. It is going to have to become a weekend task. I just cannot do any more today.

I am exhausted.

Friday, September 23, 2011

My Week in Teaching: A Reflection

This has been an interesting week in teaching. It was the conclusion of our current unit. 

This month, Leslee and I put so much effort into planning this unit, and we felt like it was really well-planned. The focuses were literary analysis and comparison writing, which we taught through a graphic novel called Persepolis. Our secondary goal was to truly begin preparing students for college, as we taught them to annotate and discuss texts like college students.

There were many successes in this unit. Students had fantastic discussions about the literature. They pointed out profound depths to the novel, like the stark choice of only black and white for the artwork, and the fact that God disappears from the pages and somewhat from her life as she gets older. They truly began to understand many things about Iran and the history of the Islamic Revolution. Considering that many adults in America don't know anything about the Islamic Revolution, I feel pretty proud of that. Plus, they actually read and comprehended the literature. This, in and of itself, getting students to actually to read a book, is a major success. On the Accelerated Reader test (it is a comprehension test) at the end of the unit, I believe the average grade was something like 80%. I should take just this for success and be thrilled. And I am. 

The second part of this unit was teaching compare contrast writing skills. We lead them in the direction of this throughout the unit, and this week we explicitly taught them how to organize and structure the essay. It seemed like they really "got" it, and I wasn't worried at all walking in to the test this morning. 

We gave them a college style essay exam; in fact, we even ordered blue books for the students, so they would really get used to even the little things. (I explained that in college, they would have to buy them themselves and suggested they could make some extra coffee money by showing up to class with extra. Hahahaha). Anyhow... so after first period today, I wanted to cry. 

Too many of the essays were atrocious. Although I specifically told them not to use the thesis "Marjane and I have many similarities and many differences too," or anything like that, a lot of them still used essentially that same weak "similarities and differences" thesis, which basically says NOTHING. Then the ones who did understand the stronger thesis almost all just reworded the sample thesis I gave in class. I thought that giving it as an essay test and not allowing them to use the notes they took when I gave that sample thesis would prevent this from happening, but it did not.  I even found one paper was clearly plagiarized. How does one do that on an in-class essay test? Well, clearly, planning ahead, which made it even sadder. Such a good kid too. Plagiarism has such serious consequences, it truly made me want to cry. 

Leslee and I sat there wondering where we had gone wrong. How could the essays be this bad?  As I returned to my room to give the test to 4th and 5th period, I did not have high hopes. I asked myself, "What else could we have possibly done?" I resolved to examine the unit more closely, figure out a way to use this failure as a lesson of some kind (for me and for them), take a deep breath, and move on. 

But then I started to glance over the 5th period tests during 6th period. They weren't bad! In fact, they were actually... dare I say... good?  Yes, they were good! A quick glance at 4th period showed similar results. I heaved a sigh of relief. Perhaps first period was a fluke? A quick text to Leslee produced confirmation that her 6th period students also appeared to have performed well.

On the ride home (and sitting in the doctor's office waiting room for a ridiculously long time today), I pondered the results and reflected on the week. What was the difference between first period and the other classes? Well, Wednesday and Thursday. But did that make a difference? I thought about it further. I realized that Wednesday morning, I felt terrible. My throat hurt and my ears ached, and I was just plain exhausted. As I looked at the lesson plan that morning, I was certain I would barely have time to finish all of the activities, so I somewhat hurried through the lesson on structuring the essay. When I stopped to give them time for independent practice, I assumed the looming test would be enough motivation for them to get quickly to work, but alas, I found them wasting time. I sighed and did my best to recover and move on. 

My Thursday classes had a much different attitude. Perhaps it was the enthusiasm in my voice that morning. Perhaps it was the 10 minute deadline and the warning that they would be sharing their outlines with their neighbors that ignited their work, but they worked hard. They learned hard. In fifth period, we even got through all the required stuff so well so quickly that we were even able to have a light-hearted discussion about Marjane's nickname and the pronunciation of her name. We did a lot of laughing as they shared some gross mispronunciations of their names and I jokingly imitated how many of them had mispronounced Marjane's name at first. I could tell that they felt sophisticated with their new knowledge. I even let them leave 1 minute early to lunch. That never happens in fifth period (I am usually holding them after the bell), so this was amazing.

When they walked in today, they were anxious and clearly serious about performing well. They worked steadily the entire hour, and they even seemed to be following my suggested pacing for a one-hour-timed essay. One student said, "Wow! I can't believe I wrote for an entire hour! It felt like ten minutes!" 

As the bell rang, another student questioned, "Miss... Did you email my mom last night that we had a test today? She ran into my room and insisted I study."  I laughed. "Of course I did," I replied, "I always email all the parents the day before a test or big assignment. Did it help?"  He rolled his eyes, but then smiled as he admitted, "Yeah.... it did. Thanks, Miss!" 

Is there any magic reason why that one class performed so much worse than the other three classes? No, probably not. It is probably a combination of things. How I felt. Better weather.  The revised nuances in my lesson plan. Different attitude. More parents with email. 

But I do look back on it all and realize this: had there been more than one lesson on the actual structure of the essay before the test, they ALL would have performed better. We rushed it a little so that we could give them time to see the movie (and us time to grade) and still start our next unit on time. We pretty much have the rest of the year planned out, and we see the necessity to not keep pushing units back. But one more lesson could have done them a lot of good. They just needed more of a chance to practice the writing before the high-stakes essay test. Oh well. I have learned my lesson for next time.

It is sometimes hard to admit how much I learn through each stumble, but I swear, the more I teach and the more I learn, the more I realize how painfully much more there still is to learn.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Proof that Mommy Differentiates

Vinny is studying the letter M. One of the tasks in his homework packet today was to "Move like a Monkey."

Me:  Vinny, it says you need to "Move like a Monkey."

Vinny: I don't know how.

Me: Yes, you do.

Vinny: Can you show me a video?

      Hahaha. Last week, when it said he needed to "crawl like a snail," he said he didn't think snails crawled (and still asserts that they slither more than crawl... he may be right), so I turned to youtube and we watched videos of snails. So today, he wanted to watch videos of monkeys.

     After the videos, I said, "Okay, now can you move like a monkey?"  He informed me that he wasn't going to do it. I reminded him that mommy has to report on his performance, and he was afraid the teacher would be mad if he refused to do it, but he refused anyway.

     Unwilling to give up, I decided to appeal to my little man's natural desire to be outside. "Hey," I suggested, "Maybe you could do it on the monkey bars outside!" We had a match!!!  We went outside, and Vinny discovered he loved moving like a monkey so much, he did it six times.

     I would like to think that this is evidence that ANY student can complete ANY task, if only the teacher can find the key to engaging that particular student. This is why educators need to heed Henry David Thoreau, who once said,  "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer."

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Wonderfully "Unproductive" Weekend

I essentially got practically nothing "productive" done this weekend. I did not go over our bills, like I usually do on Saturdays. I did not clip coupons or do a full shopping trip. I did not grade papers (which I totally should have). I did not get a single house project done.

But I enjoyed my family and my friends, and overall, I celebrated life.

We celebrated Tiana's birthday with a small family party. If you were not invited, please do not take it personally. For Vinny's first birthday, we had a large party, and I remember it as more stressful than fun. For this party, I wanted to just enjoy my baby girl together with my family, so we invited just family and Tiana's one baby friend, Logan, and his family.


We had a balloon party, because there is nothing Tiana loves more than balloons. Marc borrowed a helium tank from work, and we just filled the house with balloons. I got cheap decorations from the dollar store, and made a fun balloon cake I found on Disney's family fun website. It was a quaint party, but beautiful. Perfect.

After the party, I went out with my mommy friends for a mom's night out. This is something we do once a month, and it is, in many ways, the highlight of my month. These are such awesome girls. They are so easy going and down for, as I figured out last night, well... anything. I am so lucky to have them as friends.

Today, after church, I hit the gym with my friend Barb, who is a great distraction at the gym. We don't see each other often, so there is always plenty to talk about, which is great for keeping my eyes off of the time on the elliptical.
When Tiana woke up from her nap, we decided to go hiking as a family. My initial idea for our first hike as a family of four was to stick to our ever-familiar, shady, flat Corriganville. This probably would have been a good choice. Instead, Marc was feeling the urge for something adventurous, so we ended up on a much more challenging trail, with no shade. When you get to the top of this trail, it does have a beautiful view of the valley, but it is one exhausting trail. We only hiked for about 40 minutes or so altogether, but the kids really enjoyed it. I am thinking next time we should hit Malibu Creek or Wildwood or something like that. Marc thinks we should bring the hiking backpack to Hawaii. We will be going to the Volcano Park, so it might be a good idea.

We finished off the weekend with out traditional family dinner with my parents, and my dad made one of my favorites, Arroz con Pollo. Yum.

So, as you see, it was a completely unproductive weekend, but it was time well spent. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Happy Birthday Tiana (and an update on my busy week)

     A year ago today, my beautiful daughter came into this world at 7:04pm. It was such a wonderful day. Her birth was so peaceful (no, I am not lying). Her entrance to the world was accompanied by Bob Marley. I recall hearing, "Stir it up, little darling," right as she was placed in my arms. We bonded instantly. She took to nursing like a champ and pretty much never let go for the next 9 months. Haha. We snuggled for hours.  That night was much less peaceful, and as I sleep peacefully tonight with blood pulsing through my veins, I will again thank God for the life I am so very grateful to have.   :-)

     I was looking back on my blog about the experience, and you know, not that much has really changed. She is, of course, a beautiful toddler now, who is walking and talking (okay, sort of) and has quite the personality, but she still loves to cuddle (so much more than Vinny ever did). She is still very tolerant of her affectionate big brother, who is also still utterly in love with her. He still showers her with kisses. Well, except for when she makes a mad dash for his room. He has decided as of late that he does not want her in his room, especially while he listens to music. He plays it so loud, it is probably better if she is not in there, but of course she wants to be in there most when he is listening to music.  

     Ah... my kids. Hard to believe I have been a mother of two for a whole year. While I almost cannot even remember what it was like without her, there are still times I am in disbelief of the fact that I have kidS. Not kid- KIDS. Whoa.

     Funny, in my blog on September 26th last year, I talked about how hard it was to slow down enough to recover from a baby, because I am so used to having "a full stovetop of pots all boiling at the same time and 100 deadlines looming in the distance." Sounds about right. I am certainly back to normal now. Lots of pots boiling, lots of deadlines looming in the distance. I ran into a friend tonight and she mentioned that she hadn't read my blog in a while... and I confirmed that I hadn't posted one. Just too busy. Such a busy week. I felt like I was just "go go go" this week.  

    It was a fun week though. Vinny had his first soccer game. They didn't win, but I think he had fun. He must have, since he has been looking forward to this week's practice and game all week. Perhaps he will start to actually get the hang of the game itself soon. :-) 

I actually stood on the desk to take this picture.
Wasn't even thinking about the article when I did it.
Fun lessons this week too. I read this article last week about "Why Every Teacher Needs to Get on the Desk," and a random idea at the end of it gave me an idea. The idea in the article was for math, but I figured it could be applied to a literature discussion. I wrote discussion questions on balloons and decided to combine this idea with a Kagan structure my students are already used to- stand up hand up pair up. Basically, we played "musical balloons."  When the music was on, they tossed the balloons all over the place. When it stopped, they grabbed a balloon and paired up. They discussed the questions with their partners, using the book we are studying, Persepolis. 

I love teaching. Even if it is the most exhausting career I could ever imagine....

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I almost cannot watch any more of the 9/11 remembrance coverage. Like everyone else, I will never, ever, ever forget that day. I will never forget standing in front of the tv for so long, because I could not find it in myself to sit. I will not forget clasping my hands over my mouth, gaping in horror, as I watched the first tower collapse. Words did not need to be spoken. My mom and I sat in silence with the horrible sinking realization that we had just watched thousands of people die. I will never forget the flags that blanketed our country in the weeks to follow.

And I will not forget that life continues. Love continues.

Just a few days later, September 16, 2001, I noticed Marc out of the corner of my eye in the foyer of our church. I whispered to a friend, "Oh my gosh! I had the hugest crush on that guy in high school. I doubt he remembers me."   I was wrong. He remembered.

Marc and I connected on such a deep level so instantly. We had the same dreams. Dreams of making a difference. Dreams of changing the world.

A week later, the two of us knelt on the ground together at a hard core rock concert, along with a bunch of other people you'd never expect to see kneeling and crying. Marc had invited me to see this band we loved at the time, Stavesacre, and they decided to do a tribute song. Gold and Silver. And everyone kneeled with them. And everyone cried.

Helpless for the words, and it tightens up the air
It's not what you deserve, it's not for lack of care
Inside of me is screaming out, I'm praying for my prayers
Distracting and unworthy of each and every burning tear
Seems insincere
Do I see God in all of this, maybe all along
It's just that we're so small, and simply not as strong
Strong like wings of silver, and feathers made of gold
To carry heavy hearts, to cover all our helpless souls
To cover all of us
Under wings of Gold and Silver sometimes we have to hide
For shelter from this bitter winter at least tonight

Bitter winters end. Two years later, we were married. And life went on, and here we are, trying our hardest to live our dreams. We have such an amazing, amazing life. Our country may never be the same, this is true, but life has gone on, and our country is an amazing place. It is full of amazing people that make me so proud to be an American. 

Great people like my husband, who honestly seems to like everyone and hate no one.  Like my colleagues, people I am blessed to work with, who work hard every day to make a difference in the world.  People of all different nationalities and backgrounds, who work tirelessly every day to teach the leaders of tomorrow to be global leaders who will change the world. Because they are building 5 new towers at the World Trade Center. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

To being neighborly...

I very rarely post stuff that other people write, but this felt rather pertinent and personal. The founder of Meetup sent out an email to everyone who belongs to Apparently, 9/11 was the inspiration for Meetup (odd, I know, but read the email below).
Meetup was born in early 2002.  Vinny was born in 2006. So was the Hip Mamas Meetup. I joined in 2007. I have made some great friends in this group. They have babysat my kids, and they have become my friends. In 2011, the group was somewhat re-born with some new leadership, and it has been an equally wonderfully experience.  I am glad that the internet has helped me get off the internet. When I vowed to leave this town as soon as possible upon graduating high school, I never realized how good coming back would feel, and I don't think I ever anticipated the sense of community that groups like this would provide.

We are the people the CEO of Meetup is speaking about in his letter.

Without further ado... the letter:

Fellow Meetuppers,

I don't write to our whole community often, but this week is
special because it's the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and many
people don't know that Meetup is a 9/11 baby.

Let me tell you the Meetup story. I was living a couple miles
from the Twin Towers, and I was the kind of person who thought
local community doesn't matter much if we've got the internet
and tv. The only time I thought about my neighbors was when I
hoped they wouldn't bother me.

When the towers fell, I found myself talking to more neighbors
in the days after 9/11 than ever before. People said hello to
neighbors (next-door and across the city) who they'd normally
ignore. People were looking after each other, helping each
other, and meeting up with each other. You know, being

A lot of people were thinking that maybe 9/11 could bring
people together in a lasting way. So the idea for Meetup was
born: Could we use the internet to get off the internet -- and
grow local communities?

We didn't know if it would work. Most people thought it was a
crazy idea -- especially because terrorism is designed to make
people distrust one another.

A small team came together, and we launched Meetup 9 months
after 9/11.

Today, almost 10 years and 10 million Meetuppers later, it's
working. Every day, thousands of Meetups happen. Moms Meetups,
Small Business Meetups, Fitness Meetups... a wild variety of
100,000 Meetup Groups with not much in common -- except one

Every Meetup starts with people simply saying hello to
neighbors. And what often happens next is still amazing to me.
They grow businesses and bands together, they teach and
motivate each other, they babysit each other's kids and find
other ways to work together. They have fun and find solace
together. They make friends and form powerful community. It's
powerful stuff.

It's a wonderful revolution in local community, and it's thanks
to everyone who shows up.

Meetups aren't about 9/11, but they may not be happening if it
weren't for 9/11.

9/11 didn't make us too scared to go outside or talk to
strangers. 9/11 didn't rip us apart. No, we're building new
community together!!!!

The towers fell, but we rise up. And we're just getting started
with these Meetups.

Scott Heiferman (on behalf of 80 people at Meetup HQ)
Co-Founder & CEO, Meetup
New York City
September 2011

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I have never wanted a week to end so badly...

This week just sucks. I want it to go away.

Yesterday, I broke my phone. The insurance cannot replace it with the same one, and despite paying a $130 deductible, they have basically tried to pawn off a much cheaper phone- not at all "comparable" as they suggest. When I looked at the one they will be sending me, I realized how different it is, so I called to complain and insist on a different phone, since it hadn't shipped yet. Unfortunately, since I initially "accepted" their offer, it will ship, and the only way that I can get a new one is to reject the shipment when it comes, and then I can talk to their restocking department about sending a different one. Geez. I will not be home when it arrives, so I don't think I can reject it. I don't know how they are sending it or whether they will demand a signature or not, so we will see how it goes. If it ends up on my doorstep, I guess I will have to pay to send it back.

This is SO not worth it. After this is over, I am definitely canceling the insurance. It is stupid.

In the meantime, I have an old, old piece of crap phone that at least sort of works, but the buttons are all funky and don't really work. It was ringing tonight and the phone wouldn't let me answer.

Most of all, I really will miss my phone. It has all the features I wanted. Apparently, it is not possible to get a 4G phone with a touch screen AND keyboard anymore.  :-(

Plus, Tiana's day care today said something to Marc about the toddler teacher not "doing" cloth diapers. It was a vague comment, so I don't know if she means that they really will not be doing cloth diapers any more, or if they just would prefer us to switch.  Even if it is just a preference, I don't know if I am happy with this. I chose this day care because it seemed that they would respect choices I had made for our family- like cloth diapers. Apparently not.  This is not the first comment. The director made some comment a while back, that I would "of course be switching to disposables when she starts walking, right?"  Why would I do that? People's ideas about cloth diapers are so ridiculous sometimes. She says, "They are so bulky" and basically suggested that it would make her walk funny or something. Give me a break... People learned to walk before the 1980s when disposables became mainstream. In fact, they learned just fine and potty trained about 15 months earlier than the current average, so why would I switch now, at the most crucial time?

Geez. I really don't want to deal with a switch. She is comfortable. She knows them. It is cheap. I cannot afford any more than what I already pay (which they increased this year any way).

Tomorrow is my 15 hour day. I have not made my photocopies for Friday yet. I have not had time, and I do not see when I will.

Can I just lay in bed and cry now?

Today... Today sucks.

Today was not a good day.

I somehow again want to just lay in bed and cry. I have no good reason. I think maybe because I just had such a wonderful weekend just spending chill time with my friends and family, going back today was all that much less fun.

It was a stressful day. Tuesdays we teach 38 minute period, essentially 7 of them, and then have meetings. Although it is *technically* a shorter day... it doesn't feel like it. It feels longer. And my lesson didn't go as planned. It was nothing that I could predict. I had planned a connotation lesson and then had the idea to have each group pick a team name that reflected the connotation of how they'd like to see themselves as students. I had a math teacher that used to do something similar with us. It was always fun, so I thought they'd enjoy it.

My students are generally more mature than average teenager (which may not be saying a lot, but really they are), but today was not a good reflection of it. Although I was very clear that the names should have a positive connotation and a connotative meaning they can explain, some groups still came up with terrible stuff, and terribly inappropriate too. One group whose initials are A, I, D, and S, thought it would be funny to be A.I.D.S. So, so, so, NOT funny. Then there was the group that thought it would be okay to be "The Fierce Pussies."  No, I am not joking. And this was my honors class.  By 5th period, I had given up and abandoned that part of the lesson. Boo.

I had vowed to put the annoying day behind me, temporarily forget the fact that I had a good 100 or so papers to grade and input before grades are due at midnight, and just enjoy my afternoon. So, I packed up and actually left school at 3:30pm, with the plan of picking up Vinny and going to the gym, while hopefully still making it home relatively early to make parmesan chicken for dinner.

It didn't go that way.

While picking up Vinny, I got out my phone to look at the soccer schedule his coach sent me (because I do not read emails and drive, duh). While putting Vinny in the car, his seat belt was stuck, so he couldn't buckle it himself. It required two hands to wrangle free, so I put the phone down. Where? I didn't remember. Until... I got to the gym and realized I couldn't remember where I had put it. After 10 minutes or so of searching, with a very frustrated Vinny begging to just go into the gym, I gave up and realized it must be back at his afterschool care, so I headed back there.  I feared that I put it on the roof and drove off. By the time I went back, it was not there. I went in to ask, but no one had seen it.

Ugh. At this point, it was definitely too late to go to the gym, so I picked up Tiana and went to the T-Mobile store, where they de-activated the sim in that one and gave me a new sim to stick in an old prepaid phone so I can at least make phone calls. I was so frustrated by the time I got home.

Imagine my relief when Marc walks in the door carrying my phone. Apparently a parent picked it up and then one of his employees went to get it from her. What I am missing in the chronology here is why the parent LEFT with it. Oh well.

Imagine my frustration when I realized that, although the phone appeared unscathed, it would not work. The on and off button works, and the screen looks normal, I can see and hear when someone calls. I receive texts and emails.... but the touch screen doesn't work. I can't press anything. I can't unlock the screen. Not registering. Boo.

At least I have insurance. Except they want $130 for a deductible. Considering that the phone was initially free, it feels like robbery, really.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

What do you say?

Vinny walked in to the living room as I was watching a special about 9/11. He asked a lot of questions. He saw the video of the second plane hitting the tower. I didn't really know what to say. So I told him the truth.
      "It's a plane. It hit that building."
     "Why? The pilot didn't see it?"
     "No, it was a bad guy, he did it on purpose. It happened a long time ago, before you were born. It was very, very sad. We all cried a lot."
     "Why did the bad guy want to hit that building?"
     "Because he didn't like America."
     "Is that bad guy real Mommy?"
     "Yes, he was real. But he died."
     "Are there bad guys in America, Mommy?"

What do you say to that?  I'm a fan of telling the truth, so again, I did.

     "Vinny, there are lots and lots of brave men and women who work hard every day to make sure the bad guys are not here ever again."

      "Are they our neighbors, Mommy?"

      "Well... yes, I guess they are."

Here's to all the brave men and women who risk their lives every day so that I can tell my son the truth that people are looking out for us...

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Life update... welcome to September

I feel like SO much has happened this week. As I wrote about in my last blog, I started graduate school. Certainly a milestone. But so many more milestones this week as well.

Monticello passed away. Monty was my cousins' father, and he had stomach cancer, so it was not unexpected. My parent's house has become home base for the out of town family, and this week has just been so chaotic, I feel bad for being able to provide really no support whatsoever.

PhotobucketTiana started walking this week. She is not going fast, but she is walking. It started out as a "two steps then sit" deal, but today she actually took four before she realized what she was doing and froze. It is funny- she wants to, but it scares her. Kind of cute.  She doesn't have the best balance ever, but it will get there. She is still a good two months ahead of Vinny. She has also starting talking up a storm. She has added the words "Uh oh" and "Oops" to her vocabulary this week.
She must be going through a growth spurt, because she eats more than Vinny. She wants to search through the fridge and cabinets all the time, and the day care is always asking us to send more food. Her tastes are rather strange- she mostly likes beans and olives.

Photobucket She is pretty much obsessed with her brother lately. He turned on music in his room and she just bolted in there, since dancing with him in his room is her absolute favorite pastime. When he plays with her, she laughs non-stop. She follows him around like a loyal puppy. He is overall very tolerant, but when he decides "She's bugging me!" it is never a pretty scene. He locked her in the living room (it is baby-gated off) and went into the kitchen to play with some of his toys, and she stood at the game, smushing her face between the bars, crying for him. Right now, they are listening to the Princess and the Frog soundtrack and dancing around the living room. Perhaps I should add that Vinny is singing along at the top of his lungs into an echo microphone. This is somewhat a rather fitting scene, considering that a year ago, Vinny insisted that we name his new sister after his favorite Disney princess.

PhotobucketMeanwhile, I had so much fun cooking with the CSA box last week that I am trying to figure out if it will fit into our budget to subscribe, and how often exactly it would fit into our budget. I believe that someday the world will decide organic farming is the only way to go and prices will come into perspective, but until then... I try to make it work on our tiny budget.

I had some awesome times with students this week (and some terribly infuriating times, but I am not in a venting mood, so I will save those). Monday was team-buillding day with drama, which is always a blast. I shall leave you with a picture of their "human cake."

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Familiar Territory

I am back in school.

I am officially a graduate student. I suppose I was officially a graduate student during my credential program too, but now I am officially working towards a graduate degree, and it feels good.

Actually... it feels REALLY good. First of all, I am back at CSUN. While I was never terribly involved in student activities or anything like that- in fact, I have only walked into the University Student Union once in all my years there- CSUN is home. It is home in so many ways. I first stepped on campus when I was 15 and my uncle took me with him to his orientation. When I had terrible health insurance, the health center gave me an asthma specialist to see regularly on campus. I found out I was pregnant from a nurse on campus... and then cried to my advisor that I was taking a break (only to be told that I didn't need to and we would get through it together). I dragged two-week-old Vinny with me to my women's lit professor's office to finish an independent study she provided me with to help me finish my degree. I have spent countless dollars on Freudian Sip coffee and countless hours searching for a parking spot. It is home, and it does feel good to be back.

This program is also really exciting to me. It is a program just for English teachers and being in a room full of English teachers, learning theory and strategies that relate specifically to English education, is like a dream come true. It is exciting to think I am going to get to do this once a week for two years. I am not even stressed about the homework. Well.... I am not stressed yet. We will see how the rest of this semester goes.

Maybe it is just because I am getting more experienced as a teacher, or maybe it is just better planning in general, but this year feels much less stressful. I am feeling the energy to try new and exciting things. I am gaining the wisdom to know which things work and which don't. It is going to be a good year.

I read this great article today about teachers "getting on the desk."
In the article, he said that the one trait that students want in a teacher more than anything is just a "happy" teacher, and that doesn't mean a pushover, but someone who is in a good mood. Someone who will act crazy and get on the desk. It made me laugh, but opened my eyes in some ways too. I like to think I am this kind of teacher, but I know that I still have a ways to go. This year, I really truly am trying to just be, well, happy.