31 August, 2009

lifelong learning?

Feeling stressed about preparing for school has me thinking about how my school is going to prepare me. I strongly hope they follow the rules on this list, thinking about how much time I spent in PDs last year that weren't relevant or practical makes me cringe.


For a few days, I was on a teacher roll, writing unit maps for all 4 (that's right, 4- 3 levels of Spanish and a health class) of my classes. Then I took my computer to the apple store to get the disk drive replaced.

They broke the entire top case during the hour that they were repairing the disk drive and I spent the next 6 days not doing work. It was hands down the worst customer service I've ever experienced. I drove a 10 year old car for 4 years and had less trouble getting it repaired. And now all of a sudden it's crunch time.

The beginning of the year is so much paperwork- rules handouts, interest surveys, mind maps, and I have to create them all. This is when I really appreciate my group of Teaching Fellows, we already have plans to get together and share what worked from last year.

24 August, 2009

"You can call me a hipster as long as you're a listener"

This summer I have the incredible luxury of knowing which classes I'm teaching (every level of Spanish and a health class, NBD). So I've been able to work an hour or 2 a day at the handful of coffee shops in my neighborhood, which may or may not be part of williamsburg, depending on who you ask.
Mostly I've been writing skeleton unit maps, without writing all of the activities, which is going to mean more work later, but after last year I know I can handle it. I'm also working on catching up on movies in Spanish so I can put some themes in my units as part of my quest to convince everyone that Spanish is a real subject, with real academic consequences and benefits.

In between all of that hard work, I visited 2 of the cities with public education systems that have similar problems to New York.

In DC, everyone asked about my thoughts on tenure, which are exactly the same as many new teachers who got certified in non-traditional paths and have no families to support. Sadly I missed the release of the 200 page guide to effective teaching. Luckily I have no doubt I'll run into it during my thesis class this year. Maybe I can compare it to whoever decided that a good aim is all you need to have a good lesson and therefore consistently excellent instructional capabilities.

In Philadelphia, I watched at least 3 people yell at AMTRAK or SEPTA employees because they can only sell tickets for the transportation system they work for, not the other. It gave me all kinds of new ideas for tying English literacy in with Spanish literacy.

Probably the most valuable lesson from my summer adventures was that I shouldn't spend the whole school year saying "how are things? I'm coming to visit in the summer." I don't expect this year to be any less work (I actually expect it to be more), but since I couldn't stop being a teacher during the summer (thanks grad school!) hopefully I'll continue to be a human during the school year.

12 August, 2009

back to work, sort of

Tomorrow I'm proctoring Regents, it should be a thoroughly boring experience as usual, but I'll survive, although I will miss the Today Show.

Last weekend I went to D.C. to visit a friend from high school (our appalachian high school which had the exact same graduation rate as the Brooklyn school where I now teach).
We discovered that if you watch only the deleted scenes and alternate ending of Titanic, the movie becomes infinitely better.

Then we went to the White House because my friend works for a government agency, and employees are allowed to take guests on tours on weekends. I was jealous until I remembered that I have 2 months of summer vacation while my friend has a government issue blackberry that must be carried around at all times. The West Wing was as impressive as I imagined, because I am a history dork and think such things are impressive. Security, of course, was also impressive, and apparently took 4 times longer than usual to agree to put my name on the visitor list. I wonder why?

Afterward we sat in the 98 degree weather talking about our jobs. When people ask about my job I usually tell the funny stories but I mentioned some of the problems my school, and the NYC public schools in general, are facing. So my friend challenged me: Make a list of the 10 biggest problems facing New York City Public schools today.

Her job is not in education and I've yet to solve any problem bigger than the time a member of the Crips was walking around the school tearing down posters for the Blood drive because of the word "blood," but I agreed, because who can say no to a challenge. And I have realized that this is quite a challenge. So, suggestions? thoughts?

03 August, 2009

What I Forgot on my summer vacation

Since I happen to have 2 months off, I've been spending a little time watching tv. While I'm in Ohio I've seen quite a bit of the Today Show and it never fails to impress me. Not only do they not present the actual news, but they somehow manage to make even human interest stories as boring as possible. Highlights:
- A decorating segment using $12 beach backgrounds from Target to make fake family vacation photos, because "the nature thing is so big right now."

- The reenactment of the wedding party dance, which goes on for the full length of the song

-And, from this morning, this visit to a hospital to investigate a drug Michael Jackson may have been taking. In the interest of a position paper on grammar I have to write, I won't list all of the things that are wrong with this video.