26 October, 2008

what if you couldn't see the bridge out the window?

I have now had 4 flights in a row be on time in and out of jfk. It's amazing and I can only imagine that I will be stuck there for at least 5 hours on the way home for Christmas as payback for all of these easy trips. 
This weekend I went back to Pittsburgh for homecoming. I stayed in my old apartment and went to all of these familiar places and took a break from being a person with a full time job and retirement account. I was kind of nervous about what it would be like to go back. It is always weird going back to places, which I do every once in a while since I have so much trouble staying in one place. It's weird because you forget that things happen while you aren't there. Different people live in my old apartment, even though some of my old things are still there. I've missed things that have happened and things that have happened to me didn't affect people there.  But this weekend was fun and totally relaxing and I am already sad to not be there and want to go back for a longer weekend sometime, like mid-winter break. Sometimes I really miss it and wish I were still there, and sometimes I am really happy that I'm not in college anymore.  

I think that is also how I feel about my job. I love it a lot, and I talk about it all the time (my college friends are probably happy I couldn't stay longer because I would have never run out of stories about teaching). But I'm not sure that I'm good at it and it's really hard. But I know that next year will be a lot easier since I'm teaching every level of Spanish this year, so I'll have a lot of things already planned for next year. It just seems especially hard because I work all day and then come home and work for at least another hour or two(, or seven on the weekends). I worked pretty hard in college, too, but I didn't have to get up at 6:20 and I never had discipline issues at my old job. 

02 October, 2008

The on the way to school playlist

The instructions for this game are to pick one line from the 1st 30 songs that come up on your iTunes. So I'm doing that with my "on the way to school" playlist. The other part is that whoever reads is supposed to guess what songs they are from. That is because I took the game from myspace. They are the songs that make me feel like I know what I'm doing and have the energy to get through a whole day of school. 
1. I'm so glad that I know more than I knew then
2. draped and displayed would you still love me anyway?
3. please don't slow me down if i'm goin too fast (this by the way is a cover of one of my favorite bands, and it is good)
4. let's get together and feel alright
5. she was bruised like a cherry, ripe as a peach
6. oh that's what you get, oh don't get upset
7. mucho miedo y muchas ganas de poder vivir
8. don't reach too far you will fall over
9. je suis pas les secours, je suis qu'une petite qui se débrouille moi
10. not while walking is still honest
11. maybe because I made her cry when I told her I was down
12.fatter than my wicked wallet
13. hand me your stella and fly
14. way down inside woman
15. who could shimmer and rot at the same time through
16.I run so fast a shotgun blast can't hurt me not one bit
17. but I'm doin pretty good far as geniuses go (every line of this song is genius)
18.I'm so glad to be here tonight and I'm so glad to be home
19.step by step come what may
20.love is strong hearing as loud as gunfire away
21. don't lie, you love 'em
22. or the mountain should crumble to the sea
23. and I'll find a soapbox where I can shout
24. quiero que yo quiero y lo quiero ahora
25. te gusta cuando yo te azoto
26. when you're great it's not murder it's assassinate
27. soap opera says you've got one life to live
28. I've never been this far away from home
29. let's stick up the world and split it 50/50
30.bass for your face, highs for your eyes

01 October, 2008

Why teaching is like being a Cincinnati Bengals fan

As my students' and possibly my own favorite rapper says,  "somet things have just been terrible. Like the Bengals." And this being my first year teaching, I feel that way about my classes at least once a week. 
The first similarity- the preconceptions. Anybody who knows anything, or thinks they know anything, about sports, has an opinion about what Cincinnati will or won't do this year. Because they study the statistics? Maybe, but very often it's just because the name Cincinnati Bengals just makes people think "terrible."  A few weeks working in a high school and anyone will tell you stereotypes are alive and well. The number one phrase I hear every day: "Miss, I'm black, I don't speak Spanish." Despite my protests that anyone can learn Spanish, including the Russian-French Spanish teacher and all of the students in Spanish 5 and the ones who have passed the Regents and are not native Spanish speakers, there is a general feeling of defeat before I even start the lesson. 

Next is the disparity between the end of one season and the beginning of the next. Or the end of one lesson and the beginning of the next, as the case may be. At the end of every (maybe almost every) season, the Bengals win a few games and everyone thinks they'll start out playing equally well the next season. Something happens in the off season, and they lose their first 6 games. My students do the same thing. At the end of one lesson they understand what I've been teaching, not perfectly, but enough to use it on their own. Then they go home, have a school day without Spanish class because of the scheduling at my school, and can't remember a thing when they walk into my classroom again. I can assign extra homework to help them practice on the in-between days. But I can't fine them when they don't do it and I can't create mandatory extra practices or team meetings. I heard on the radio today Marvin Lewis might lose his job because of the team's slow start this year, so I hope I figure out a way to combat this quickly. 

Finally, like the Cincinnati Bengals front office, we consistently give students more chances than they may deserve. I might kick a student out of class for a day, give them a 0 on an activity, or call their parents to inform them that their child doesn't do his or her classwork, but the next day I let them back in, call on them to answer questions, and sometimes accept late work for no reason. The alternative doesn't really seem fair, and I believe in the right to a free and public education as much as the right to play a game and earn millions of dollars for it. Certainly there are students who earn their suspensions or placements in alternative schools, and no, Chris Henry shouldn't still be in the NFL, but my students give me another chance when I assign work that is too hard or don't explain something clearly and everyone "wants to win," we just aren't sure exactly how to do that yet. 

Now if only I could find the big orange Cincinnati flag that I remember from when I was young to put up next to the flags from Spanish speaking countries I got today.