Sometimes, I Eat Cake For Lunch

…and other advice you probably never asked for

Month: October, 2013

Weekend Aquisitions

It’s not fair to categorize this as a “Garage Sale Haul” post (because none of this stuff came from garage sales) but I did have a fantastic weekend in which I got a huge haul of awesome things.

First things first, I found the perfect gold clutch at American Way (our go-to thrift store) for $3.50. The picture doesn’t do it justice, but it’s the clutch I’ve been looking for my whole clutch-collecting life.

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Then today, my mom and I ventured downtown to The Last Bookstore, a used bookstore that was amazing and I was so grateful to have a disposable income because everything inside was so tempting. I came home with a bunch of stuff for me and my classroom.

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IMG_0752We also went to a magical school supply place in Pasadena, where I stocked up on oversized construction paper (i.e. poster paper for my purposes), a bunch of stickers, and a whole lotta activity books (photocopyable!)

But most importantly, I acquired a new Dear America (Royal Diaries) book for my collection, yippeee!

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IMG_0760Honestly, it was just so nice to get out of the house and visit somewhere new (the used bookstore). I forced myself not to think about work yesterday, so when I went to a cafe to work today, it was a much more enjoyable experience after having a mental break.

Curious about what my students are up to? Here are some sample of some Mesoamerican-themed student work 🙂

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Mesoamerican Menu Project.

IMG_07403D model for some students’ Aztec Religion presentation.

IMG_0741Pile o’ crowns for some other students’ Mayan Social Structures presentation (crowns = kings, no matter what culture you’re talking about if you’re in 7th grade).

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Productive Day

Today we didn’t go to school because there was an all-day Professional Development day for every single teacher at my charter school network. It was good and I am now excited and also confused about the newish Common Core.

God home earlier than usual (because I wasn’t at school to make the normal copies that I’m usually making until 6) so I came home, dropped off a skirt that needed an alteration at the dry cleaners, COOKED for the first time in a month (baked rigatoni with two kinds of mozzarella and broccoli) and “ran” (I downloaded this app that is helpful for jogging). Good day! 

Nice Weekend

It started out on Friday night. Ryan and I went to Indian food (mmm, duh), and then a pie place called The Pie Hole in the Downtown LA Arts district. Oh man, was it good. I mean, The Republic of Pie in NoHo is good, as far as pie-only places go, but this definitely topped it.

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The Early Gray pie, topped with pistachios. I keep daydreaming about this one.

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Ryan with the double-crust apple pie. And FREE whipped cream because it was The Pie Hole’s 2nd birthday! 

 

Then on Saturday night Stephen and I saw Captain Phillips, which was really good and I recommend it. Today I went into work to get some copying out of the way. It was well worth it — if I had tried to do all of that copying at school with all of my colleagues around also copying, it would never happen. I’m pretty sure I made copies of *almost* everything I might need for this upcoming week! (until I realize what I’m missing). 

I had various meetings on Friday about my progress – normal meetings, not meetings of the we-need-to-talk variety. I had had an awful week this week for various reasons, but my discussions with the Principal and my coach really turned things around for me. Some tidbits:

*The principal told me that “I must be doing something right” in terms of IEP students (learning disabilities), because she had been at a meeting with one of them and apparently he was able to recount in detail everything we were doing in my class (yessssss). 

*She also told me that when she observed my lesson (crappy as it was, I’ll admit it), she could tell that literally no time was wasted — the students were always doing something.

*She said that she thinks it was well-worth hiring me (even late in the year) and that she thinks I have the potential to be a terrific teacher with the coaching they can give me.

*She appreciates my reflectiveness — everything that she was going to tell me about my lesson, I said first, which she appreciated it.

*My coach walked in to the last 5 minutes of my last class of the day on Friday (imagine 30 monkeys simultaneously shrieking and hanging off of anything they can grab on to) and I was kind of mortified that that was what she saw, but she told me later that I was handling things so well and that I was “a different teacher from last week”.

*My coach is pretty cool and extremely helpful (she used to be the principal of one of the other middle schools) and she told me that she wishes she were where I am now when she was in her first month of teaching.

*Also, my hardest class finally started taking the positive reinforcement system seriously (this week was the first time I tried to implement it, and even though it’s all about positivity, it was excruciatingly painful while we were getting used to it, including me thinking about quitting), but on Friday something clicked and they behaved like angels. The best part is they were trying hard to reach their goal AND I DIDN’T EVEN SAY THERE WAS A PRIZE WAITING FOR THEM ON THE OTHER END. They’ll probably forget that they know how to behave by Monday, but this gives me great hope.

Friday

Ups and Downs this week, back on the Ups!

 

Oh God, if I hadn’t had a one-day independent Mesoamerica lesson tucked away by chance (the one Curtis developed that I used for my interview) I would still be crying right now. Maybe this is (sort of) what being a second year teacher looks like. “Oh, you mean I don’t need to create every single element of a lesson from scratch every day? HMMMM”. Also, I spent last night putting together a seating chart based on school tests. I used to have heterogeneous groups — enough of that. If these kids are low, I’m sticking them with the other low kids.

Tuesday

It’s funny — in class, it’s hard to get my students to do anything, but out of class they are sooo helpful. Yesterday a bunch of girls stopped by my room after school and actually asked if they could help out — and it was awesome, they did the grunt work that I hate doing in my own classroom. Then today I ran into a group of otherwise apathetic students across the street at McDo, casually asked how long they would be around because I had some stuff that needed to get done, and they all JUMPED at the chance to help out with some pretty boring stuff. Yippeeeeee!

Also, I’ve been at work for 4 hours after the “end” of the school day these last two days. My goal is to make everything in this unit student driven (I *hate* direct instruction because it literally takes 5 whole minutes to get them to stop talking over me — for every  minute that I’m up there talking), and as “easy” as it is during the school day, it takes about twice the time to plan for.

Let’s Go, Week 6

I can already tell that this week is going to be rough. I spent the majority of this weekend working on stuff and I still have infinite amounts of things left to do. But one highlight of this past week was that I ran into one of my students at the gas station next door (where students/teachers/parents/staff all go get hot chocolate and coffee with which to drown their sorrows before school in the morning). He stopped me to enthusiastically tell me how how much he liked History and how cool he thought it was that July was named after Julius Caesar because he didn’t know that before. So obviously that was a very very nice thing to hear (it was even nicer to hear because my car hadn’t started that morning and I was already stressed).

 

Today I met up with my friends from my credential program for this first time in a while, and it was great to see them. We were talking about our experiences teaching this year, and I think my friend Curtis perfectly captured the difference between high school and middle school: “In high school, apathetic students just say, ‘I don’t want to be here, this is lame, whatever’. But in middle school, apathetic students are more like, ‘I don’t want to be here, this is lame, AND I’M TAKING YOU ALL DOWN WITH ME!!!’ “. Which has definitely been my experience thus far.

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Let’s Go, Week 5

The end of last week improved. On Friday, I appointed two students from each class (one especially antsy student and one especially responsible student) and named them my official assistants for the day. It was amazing. They did all of the stapling and passing out papers, and it was their responsibility to make sure that the day’s activity went according to plan. That’s the funny thing about middle schoolers — last year, I couldn’t get the seniors to do anything. But if you ask a middle schooler to do some mundane task for you that will allow them to get out of their seat, their eyes light up and it makes their day and they instantly forget any ill will they have towards you.

Also, I think I have a fairy teaching godmother. I knew that on Friday, I was definitely going to need TWO staplers to make the day’s activity go well (I only have one in my classroom). On Thursday, even though I hadn’t told anyone I needed to borrow a stapler, another one magically appeared in my classroom. Amazing.

Mixed Feelings

I’ve been changing my mind about how I feel at least once a week. And a lot of things are still positive: I really feel like everything I do/am required to do serves a bigger purpose. But the rest is currently wearing me down. I’m ready for next week to get here, perhaps I can repair the rapidly crumbling relationship I have with 3/4 of my cohorts. 

Sometimes I Eat Cake For Breakfast

This weekend, I threw caution to the wind and let myself forget about stress for slightly longer than usual (the result is that I am particularly stressed right now). But I had some particularly fun breakfasts this weekend, so it was probably worth it.

On Saturday I met my friends Andrea and Sarah at Bea Bea’s, a very happening breakfast place in Burbank. I had a breakfast burrito, it was good.

ImageThen on Sunday my friend Ryan and I went to Sweet Salt, a restaurant in Toluca Lake for breakfast. I knew right away I had to have their Blueberry Lemon cake, which was good. Also, I tried their vanilla lavender latte on a whim, which was really good, but which I probably shouldn’t have been drinking with such a ridiculously sweet cake. And it probably didn’t help that I was alternating bites of my super sweet cake with bites of Ryan’s potatoes-in-truffle oil. But no regrets.

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