Sketching my way through school!

The other day I went on a 10 minute tirade in my Just Words class discussing the beauty of Art, and how everything we do in life is in fact, Art. In the previous class my students groaned in unison when I asked them to make a drawing for some of the key words we were learning. As a result I brought in the notebook I used for my summer grad school classes. Over the course of the summer I made quite a few sketches in class to help me pay attention to the discussion going on. I figured this would be a perfect way for me to share a bit of myself, and teach them something outside of literacy.

In my head – building my students’ confidence in their art is a sure-fire way to help them grow into confident learners, explorers, and thinkers. Its also a tool I want them to use to deliberately hieghten their ability to focus in important settings. Oddly enough, I remember the idea of doodling coming up quite a few times at my old job. The idea that there were studies produced that supported the fact that doodling during meetings helped people retain more information eventually helped me become better at recalling details in our team meetings. Plus it was just a fun way to express what I had going on in my head at the time.

Here are a few of the sketches I’ve snapped pictures of. I hope to add more this semester, so stay tuned. Oh, and I’ve actually been trying to encourage many of my students to continue to doodle during class, as long as they can prove to me that they’re able to pay attention while doing it. I try to use it as an in to learn more about them and engage them in something they clearly like doing.

Google Survey Tool

Click image to enlarge

Here is a tool I found explaining how to make a Google Survey. I’m personally more used to using SurveyMonkey. But my co-teacher suggested Google Survey. So I figured it would be cool to learn another online tool for my own personal toolbox.. Here is a quick little site I found that describes how to create a Google Survey.


I’m using the survey to get feedback from our technology class on the content, speed, and their time with teachers in our class. Check the screencap to get a peek at the questions I decided to use. I’ll see how the students do with this. Depending on the feedback we get I may try to incorporate these on a regular basis.

It physically hurts to come back from a 4-day weekend.

One of the things I know is that I have a very specific frame at which I engage the world. This includes my work as a teacher, student, friend, brother, son, etc… Basically the way I view life, and in particular my life, and the standards and rules I ethics I choose to live my life by. I worry that sometimes I’m so tuned in to my own frequency that I’m missing something out there that other people see, feel, or think.  Because of that, I find myself feeling uneasy a lot of times – like this time, right here. Wondering, if there is something that perhaps I’m not seeing that really needs my attention.

I’m more so thinking about at my high school. There just always seems to be so many questions that I don’t have the faintest clue to ask. Its actually pretty annoying and it pisses me off when I don’t automatically know something.

I think I’m going to ask my co-teachers if there is anything else they feel I can be doing to support and lead in the classroom.

Wait, I actually just thought of something. I’m going to make a deal with my Just Words class this cycle. (I don’t know if I’ve explained this yet. But my school is run on trimesters. Each trimester is referred to as a cycle.) Something like, the more they engage, and show involvement in the curriculum, the faster we can go – The faster we can go, the more time we’ll have for games, and activities. Maybe eventually a project or field trip. I don’t think I could handle the stress of that this first try though.

I think my class really rocks with me. They’re behavior is on point… Like… literally no disruptions ever LoL. But lets face it half of them are tuned out. Or at least don’t participate in the vocal parts of the curriculum. I’m going to cut off that back row, no more sitting back there. And I’m gonna scoop Jenga in a few days so they can have something fun (hopefully) while I catch the others up on their assessments. I HAVE TO figure out how to work better with that curriculum. Its seems like 90 different materials, half of which the students don’t have. So I have to make copies. Which is crazy because sometimes they want you to copy like 10 page chunks just so the kids can review. That curriculum is ridiculous. And you have me delivering it so you know its a complete fool.

That poor class. I feel so bad for them. They have to put up with me, a looney 1st-year teacher, destroying this reading curriculum that may well be their last chance to learn how to read. I think they rock with me because they know I care about helping them read, and I’m there to do as good of a job I can for them and for me!


Today, I had to apologize to my Just Words class. Somehow I had forgotten to take their heavy ass manual home with me over the weekend. I was really upset with myself when it hit me. I told them that I fully meant to prepare for class this weekend, and was upset with myself when I realized I had forgotten their manual. I would do my best to get through todays lesson, and give them free time. We ended class with me doing a Plus/Delta session. Plus, whats going well. Delta, what’s not going well. Needless to say I wasn’t shocked that I put all the positives and they put all the negatives. Besides the candy I brought, they put that as their only positive.

Survival Tip # 1


I made one about two years ago and forgot about it because I was too lazy to fully activate it. Lets just say it completely saved my life and came through in the clutch right when I needed it. I used ING Direct. Its not hard to make at all. I went from just researching to having an account set up to withdraw $25/every 2 weeks in a matter of minutes. You can compare and contrast between the two accounts I’ve posted below. Truth be told I don’t know much about interest rates and stuff like that so I chose ING Direct because the site looked easier to manage. I also tried to choose a bi-weekly withdrawal amount that I wouldn’t miss being deducted every few weeks. But also something that would also eventually add up nicely over time.

In the two years time the account accumulated to roughly $1,000. That may not sound like much, but it was key in getting me over the last 3 weeks of the summer, before our first Department of Education paycheck came in. Do yourself a favor, if you have a steady income right now, do a little math – figure out how much you can stash away from yourself – put everything else on hold and go make yourself an account right now!

You’ll thank yourself later!

ING Direct

American Express Personal Savings

Why can’t every weekend be a 4-day weekend?

Today marks the last day of a four day weekend. Public schools here were closed in observation of Rosh Hashanah. I feel like I’ve said this a million times before, but everything has been a blur for me this summer. I feel like I’ve been living in a daydream for the past 6 months of my life. I don’t really know what that means… But thats how it feels. I’m present, and calculated, but at the same time I feel very tuned into one frequency here. And the rest of the world is operating around me without my presence.

We’ve been teaching for about 3 weeks now. Its been fun, challenging, and annoying at times. But overall I’m enjoying it. I felt really rattled and out of the loop in regards to how the school was operating the first couple of weeks. Payroll slips written in DOE-ese, weekend emails and meetings without my knowledge, and even just feeling lost in terms to where I should be each period. Its draws stark comparisons to how things started off for me in NYC actually. But just the same, I’ve picked up how things flow here and I feel I’ve quickly learned about my students and colleagues.

Some takeaways I’ve had so far:

  • Express genuine concern for a student’s well being. Don’t just say we missed you in class yesterday. Mean it! When one of my students isn’t in class it makes me wonder where they are. I really enjoy the contributions each of them make on a daily basis. Plus I feel like everyday is an opportunity for me to get closer to figuring out the key to light this student’s ignition switch. Don’t show fake emotions. I don’t just say we missed you in class, I really make a point to show my students that I mean it. And I’m going to ask every time they’re not there.
  • If you feel like you’re under planning you probably are. I felt very under utilized at my school the first couple of weeks. I have two very experienced Co-teachers, and I think I let them take more leadership than I felt comfortable with from the beginning of our meetings. This resulted in me feeling less than an equal asset in both classrooms. To change this I’ve started implementing more activities, and classroom management techniques in my technology class. I’m also beginning to deliver content this week in my English classes.
  • Go out with coworkers/get to know them. I’ve hung out with coworkers after work twice this week. Wednesday there was an early showing for the Spy Exhibit in Times Square for educators. And of course Friday after work drinks. Sometimes things can seem so busy with work and grad school I may not allow myself to be social. Building relationships with my staff has already helped me feel more comfortable as a new teacher. Its making me less nervous about making a mistake, which helps me push myself to keep trying new things.
  • GET ORGANIZED. I thought I had to be organized this summer. But working at a school is a completely different level of organization. There is no way I can really explain the amount of file organization you have to do manually, and in your head. Just get a book. I’m actually using a small journal that a friend gave me as a going away present at my last job. Its about 5″*3″ and I write (almost) everything in it. This includes blog ideas, notes from a mentor meeting, grading procedures, Lots of to do lists, journals to myself, account log in information, questions, lesson plans, doodles. Everything!
  • ASSORTMENT OF COLORED PENS. All the crap you write in your journal would be ridiculously mundane to look at if you didn’t spice it up with colors. These also come in handy when grading papers, marking attendance, and note taking on the subway. Let your inner artist come out. (Don’t say you’re not artistic! I get really upset when my students use that as an excuse. And have actually gone off on a tirade about how the beauty of art lies in its diversity. Everyone creates art and they should stop letting other people tell them what good art looks like. LoL)
  • Pay equal attention to all students. I’ve noticed that I’ve become very good at helping specific students in my classrooms. They’re the ones who I’m normally engaged with whether its for good or bad classroom behaviors. As a result I want to make a sheet that can hold my weekly attendance, and also serve as a way for me to see who I’ve spent time checking in with throughout the week. A simple checkbox system should work. Check in the box means I’ve seen you this week. No check means I need to get to you soon.
  • Clipboard. Buy something light. This will come in handy with your attendance, writing notes, holding lesson plans, and will serve as your mini desk throughout the day. (You won’t be sitting down much)
  • Post Its. Write post it notes to students. Sometimes you may want to praise on a student, or check in on a student, but the classroom temperature isn’t right for the exchange to happen. I’ve done this a couple times and gotten really good responses from the students.