Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Well, the children are gone. Away they go on to high school. I wish them luck.

And now summer begins. I will be busy this summer. I am going on a trip home next weekend and then on to a conference in the mountains for a week. When I get back from there, I am moving all my belongings into storage and then I am going to New Hampshire to work at a summer camp.

My blogging may become spotty and unpredictable. It may or may not pertain to teaching at all. It is a mystery.

If you lose touch with me over the summer, make sure to tune back in August 17th when First Year Teacher officially becomes a Third Year Teacher.
Monday, May 23, 2005

Wow. It is almost all over for the second time. I can't believe that First Year Teacher is finishing up her second and is all set to start a third.

For years and years I worried that I would never find anything that I wanted to do for any length of time. I am so antsy all the time-- always looking towards the next thing, feeling panicky and trapped if things stay the same for too long. I thought that I might end up one of those drifter types who have really cool stories but not very many close friends.

But, man, teaching really fits. Education, anyway. I may branch out eventually. But I love the schedule of being a teacher-- it allows for me to always be looking towards the next thing. The next lesson, unit, semester, class.

My job as a teacher is my happiest thing right now. And I have never been the type to focus much on my jobs. But when I go in to work I feel competent. And now that the kids have really bonded with me, I feel loved.

At Field Day I allowed myself to relax a little. In doing that, I had more fun than I expected. My team teacher and I couldn't get the kids to leave us alone and go play. They buzzed around us like flies, asking us to sign their yearbooks and shirts, telling us stories, asking us to watch them do this or that. It was really endearing and it showed me how much they liked us. I think it is sweet how many inside jokes I have with my kids. I am really going to miss them.

This is the pain of the 8th grade teacher. I only have one year and then they go away. Some will visit next year, but mostly they will move on. But I also get to be all proud when they go to their big dances and their graduation celebration.

Four more days...

Why is it that fun for the students usually means nightmare for teachers?

Today is the 8th grade Field Day where all of the kids get to go out on the field and play games like tug of war and one-legged races. They are so excited.

What that means to me is 3 hours in the full sun screaming at boys to stop touching girls and screaming at girls to stop going behind the bleachers with boys. Screaming, of course, because the field is huge.

Heaven help me.
I have had a hard time, lately, thinking of things to write. I have had a lot of people emailing and calling me, lately, and asking me what's going on in my life. I haven't been able to think of what to say. I did recently write a little story. I thought I would branch out a little (I don't usually mention personal-- non-school- stuff) and put my little story here. Welcome to my life.

“I know you.” She tells me over beer and conversation at the local lesbian haunt. “You and me, we’re the same.”

She tells me this sadly. It is no compliment, I know. She doesn’t like herself very much. What does that say about how she feels about me?

“No.” I shake my head. “We are totally different.”

I want to tell her how. I want to tell her that I would never ask my waitress for my check so brusquely. I would never worry so much about getting lost in my car. I don’t have the courage to go to bars alone. My own passion embarrasses me. But she is passionate about small things: sea turtles, bottle-caps, real or imagined slights against her.

I have been here before. It is familiar, though I haven’t visited in a while. This comes naturally to me—the confusion, the worry, the messy leaking out of my heart towards someone. I hate the messiness the most.

I keep my life tidy since J left years ago. She made such a mess of our home, our friends, me. So I tidied up. I swept our floors. I packed my boxes. I created a new home as far away as I could. I made a new house where everything has its place. My car is vacuumed and sweet smelling. My home is organized and well run. My glass has no streaks. I keep my life simple.

I don’t pretend to be original. This is an old story. Many women do this. Eventually they get cats. They smile at work. They are good friends. They are always available to go on weekend trips. Their coworkers say to them, “You are so lucky. You can do whatever you please! Imagine, nothing to hold you down!”

I, myself, have a difficult time imagining. I try to imagine having a pet. I think: tabby, toy terrier, bulldog, fish, Venus fly-trap. I imagine the messiness of it. They could pee on the rug, create muck in their tanks, die.

I tremble at the thought of the massive obligation.

And now, her. Why her? I try to remember what made me reach out. I seldom do. She was just sitting in the corner, alone, smoking cigarette after cigarette. She was not unlike Garbo-- I suppose that could be it. She seemed charmingly disengaged, in control, mysterious. The music was terrible. The people in the bar were strange. Her boots were similar to mine.

“Are you here by yourself?” I asked her. She smiled. That was it.

Now I am in a damage control situation. After two and a half years of polite dates, uninspired sexual experiences, and inability to connect, I have attached myself to her like a starfish. She would enjoy the sea-creature reference, I know.

“Tell me what is so great about this chick.” M demands, her frustration with me growing. She is far away. She can’t understand what is happening to me. She is used to the way I have become. She has, more than once, been comforted by my stability. I am scaring her with my recklessness.

“She collects things.” I want to say. “She stays up late with me trying to remember the Greek and Roman Goddesses. She scratches her cat’s belly when he hurls himself at her. She has this smell. She is nervous. She worries. She writes. She is so open with her fear. She shakes her head when I make her laugh, like she can’t believe it.”

“I don’t know.” Is what I tell M. I know what I like about her. But who says such things?
Saturday, May 14, 2005

Well, the testing is over and done with. I even got my scores yesterday.

They were sort of a let-down. Last year my students improved an average of 6 points. This year they improved less than three. I was trying to focus on the two or three that made huge surprising leaps, but I couldn't help but notice that most of them jumped only a little or stayed exactly the same. I guess I did no harm, but I would have liked the scores to have been a little higher. I wanted to be more impressive, I guess...The sin of vanity.

But they were not bad scores. And most of the kids were pretty happy. Tonight is their 8th grade dance-- a really big deal for them-- and I am going to be there to pry them apart when they get too close. I'm pretty stoked. I love to see them all dressed up and proud of themselves.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Just so's ya know...

My pep rally was a great success. My team teacher did this amazing free-style about the test that had the kids jumping and screaming. Then the step team did their awesome step routine and they had made these lyrics about doing well on the test that were amazing. The kids had a blast. My principal came up to me after and said, "I have never seen the kids so happy to be taking a test!" I consider that a success.

Also. I had my first dodgeball game tonight in my tournament. I wore a sweatband that had the word "dodgeball" written on it. My sweatband was highly coveted. My skills as a player, however, were not.

I got hit. A lot. And generally speaking, quite quickly. The balls were really spongy and didn't hurt, but they were hard to throw. And the girls we were playing against knew how to play. And we didn't. And they were strong. And we weren't. But it was fun and I met some cool people. Again, a success.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005

I have learned that as a teacher I may not ever really know the effect that I am having on my kids. Not academically (though I can get some gauge of that) and not mentally or emotionally. Students just don't come out and say what you have done for them.

Except sometimes they do! I got the following letter for Mother's Day from a student. With the letter were a bunch of drawings he had done of ninjas. (By the way, I am not a mother):

"I present this card to you from my heart wishing you a happy Mother's Day. Also one day I heard you say that language is like art so I present these arts to you, because when I went to look at these pictures I drew I thought language is art and first came to mind was to give you these.

Thank you for encouraging me so many times. For sometimes when I am down and you probably don't notice you say words to boost me back up, like for example I was sad one day and you were talking to another student who was stuck on something and they did not know how to do and you said 'don't pout keep on going and don't give up'. I then took note of that and here that same thing going in my head everyday. Love, G"

There are so many wonderful components of this letter. The general sweetness of it is awesome. Also, I know that the only time I have ever said that language is art was on the first day of school-- so he remembers it all the way from then. Also, I spent forever teaching them how to use the phrase "For example" in their essays and he used it correctly in this one. Plus, I always think I am mean when I tell them to quit pouting, so I am glad he took heart from it.

So even if your students (if you have some) don't write you a letter like this, some of them are thinking it.

Today is my reading state test with my kids. Wish us luck.
Thursday, May 05, 2005

Lesson for today: Never suggest anything.

I suggested that we hold an End-of-Grade test pep rally. I thought it might be funny to have little songs and stuff and I thought it would be a good opportunity for my EOG Bootcamp kids to be able to do their chant in front of the school.

Then my principal said, "I have approved your pep rally. It should last about a half-an-hour. I am looking forward to it!" Then she slapped me on the back and walked away.

Mind you, I am more of an "idea" person than an actual "do things" person. I didn't want to create or hold the pep rally. I wanted someone else to. But now I am in charge of entertaining the ENTIRE student body for a half-an-hour.

I'm gonna need a pretty good costume for this.

Also, try this test: It tells you what dialect you speak. I found it interesting because I speak some "Dixie", apparently. I wish I had taken this test when I first got here so I could compare results.