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Oh wait, I’m a second year teacher now

Oh wait, I’m a second year teacher now

SkoolHaze Classroom Purge

Ok, so my goal is to actually get this post out. I’ve tried to write this two times before this and I just ended up trailing off in a blur.

Life is so different for me now than it was for two full years ago. You see, I’ve realized that the time I spent in Boston is a memory now for me. For so long Boston was my life, it’s finally dawned on me that I’ve been in NYC long enough to have created new memories. And in order to do so I often pull back to my time and experiences in Boston. The Bean really was a starter city to prep me for East coast living. Now, being a near two year resident. I can even begin to pull on early experiences living in the city to help push me through to bigger and better with my future. I know that sounds weird – but I want to create history. I’ll say it, even though I feel like its one of those things they don’t like to hear black people say. Of course, my boy Kanye agrees.

kanye genius skoolhaze

We read Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass in my Sophomore English class this cycle. I love reading about Black/African history. It enriches my soul. Imagine that we’re all sitting around making our own history, stories that people will read and learn from and engage with and write about…etc… LoL. I mean, I definitely want this blog to be a part of that history. Y’all can think I’m crazy. I don’t even care anymore. #Kanyeshrug

I read it (The Narrative) for a second time this summer during my reading marathon. That was really dope by the way, and I can’t wait to do it again this summer. One of the books I’m really excited to get into is Introduction to African Civilizations by John G. Jackson. I got to steal some time and read the first two chapters a few weeks ago during winter break. I was a HUGE Discovery/History Channel/Documentary person growing up. I’ve heard stories about the evolution of humans, but conveniently I’ve never heard much about how this evolution took place on the African Continent. The early chapters of the book discuss this evolution and actually use really engaging language that is easy to understand and follow.  In a nutshell it talked about how pre-humans evolved into barbaric humans. Then how barbaric humans turned into civilized humans living in ever growing groups that turned into actual civilizations. It also talks about how humankind went from being a matriarchal society to patriarchal society.

Introduction to African Civilizations John G Jackson Skoolhaze

Speaking of making history…. I mean making historically wise decisions for myself. I’m facing a tough situation at work – again (see Schoolhouse Blues). Long story short I feel like admin has taken aim on me over some bullshit. She wasn’t happy with my peroformance, and as a result gave me some very low marks on my evaluation. The difference between this time and last time is I was actually prepared to talk about it and call her evidence into question. Our last few meetings have looked like this –

Skoolhaze Grapple

I feel like I’ve stepped into a battlefield over the past two weeks, and most folks are recklessly aiming somewhere in my vicinity. Work is a mess man. Classes are ending, Classes are starting, teams are changing to frame a bit of it. The amazing difference is that I actually know my value now and have been far less hesitant giving my opinion on why things that affect my work are the way they are.

I made a conscious effort to wake up and have an amazing and jam-packed Friday. And I was pretty successful. Outside of all of the other trimester ending activities listed about, I had an early morning IEP meeting that almost didn’t happen do to scheduling and communication challenges. IEP’s were one of the most daunting things to figure out 2 years ago. The paperwork behind the scenes is still a nightmare – and to be honest one of the few areas where the powers that be try to act as though I’m incompetent. None the less, the meeting went very well and was probably one of my strongest to date. I made a quick smartboard presentation that helped the fluency of the meeting. I may try to upload the pres once I wipe all the personal information.

Most importantly… and the only thing I’ve really been trying to share over the past few weeks is that I’ve FINALLY made my first curriculum. My post graduate prep course has finally finished its first iteration. I remember back in Boston there used to be all this talk about making a curriculum or finding curriculums that spoke specifically to the students were dealing with back then. Talk about being lost! I’ve finally made my first real curriculum and it feels great. The curriculum as is is far from perfect and there’s plenty of room for growth. But having the skeleton feels amazing! Some of the things I’m looking forward to incorporating this time around is more creative writing, more critical thinking, more activities, more take home resources, more technology skill development, and… better resources in general. If you know any 😉 def send them my way.

I cant think of much more to say. And of course, this was sooo much better in my head. But oh well. Just like the gym sometimes you just gotta get in there to get the kinks out so that next time things turn out even better.

Holding up the celestial heavens like Atlas

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Written
March 5, 2013, 2: 43am

So I’m up, about to write a draft email to some staff members about a coverage tomorrow, and it dawns on me that I should probably be sleeping right now. One of the things that resonates from our summer training was hearing fellows talk about the importance of sleep. And how there would be times when you would push yourself harder than perhaps you need to be. Its easier to make these difficult and often times split second decisions of teaching and grad school on a rested mind.

I take a few seconds to think about which is more important. Sleep, or getting a leg up on tomorrow. Which is really just me being able to scrape by the day without any major setbacks, but still being swamped, behind, and at times unaware of all of the mini projects I have to complete. It’s at this moment that I actually think about some of the totality that I’m up against this month. Adding a list right now would really just be cruel to myself. Up until this point I don’t think I ever thought I was really going to break. And by break I mean, actually drop the ball on something. Fail. I want to make a clear distinction between break and quit. These are two completely different ideas in my head right now. I’m not thinking of quitting, period. I will be kicked out of this program first. Period. BUT, its right now that I finally become aware of the fact that I may fail.

Fail at making something happen. They say failure is the best way to success. But, I don’t fail. I rarely ever do. I think the only thing I could say I’ve failed at is track. I went to school on a track scholarship. I was alright. In hindsight I feel like I didn’t push myself as hard as I could. I relied on talent. Which was there, but I didn’t exercise that talent. So while all my comptetion was doing everything they could to succeed, I relied on talent to get me through. Now I can see that that wasn’t enough then. Therefore I know it’s not enough now either.

Its amazing to me that throughout this whole process I’ve never had this feeling of desperation before. This very real feeling of doubt in myself. Can I REALLY make all of the things happen in the next 40 days happen that I need to. To add to the seemingly normal list of 4 IEP’s, finishing the 2nd trimester, starting a new trimester. (Which means grading for the last, and planning for the new classes of the next similtanesouly.) Finding a new apartment, getting rid of a lot of my collected stuff, which I actually happen to love. Grad school, plus the phantom 856 class from last semester which I still haven’t completed. (I know… a mess. And no, I don’t consider myself having failed that, yet. I do think end of March is like the absolute end of the grace period I was given) Keeping up with the blog – because its a must. Hitting the gym. Creating a scholarship for my alma mater, and planning a fundraising event. And all the freakin other crap that I have to do.

Now is the absolute first time I’ve ever even thought I could fail in NYC. It made me sad for a second because  its almost devastating to think about how much I have to get done just to keep things afloat. I actually think I’m only able to rest right now because there’s so much to do that I actually can’t instantly recall it all to my head, which is making me falsely at ease… purposely.

Find Pt. 2 here: Countdown to Springbreak

Oh wait…

I forgot being a fellow wasn’t fun.

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(This is how I felt when I woke up with 2:50 seconds left in the first half of the Superbowl Game.)

I was up until 4 am yesterday being crazy productive. I event went to the gym and got it in from 1 to 3. LoL. I knocked out around 4. Woke up around…. 12 for about an hour maybe, knocked out again. Woke up with 2 minutes left in the first half of the Superbowl… Watched enough via the CBS live stream to see the Ravens score another 14 points before I saw what  was going on there. Then finally sat down to do meaningful work… And notice I’m starting with this. Life is crazy right now! Traditional sleep patterns aren’t really necessary here. So I get it when I can and work around when I can’t. At this point its almost as though I have to do work today or else today really will be a complete waste.

Gargantuan Wipe-Board

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I absolutely should not be laying down right now. I have a million things to get done this weekend. And I convinced myself for the 4th weekend in a row that this was going to be the time I get my shit together and catch up to life.

Picture it, I’m in a sprint for my life. Life has pushed a solid 20 meters ahead of me. I’m holding on to a steady pace, but graining absolutely zero ground. I’m at the pivotal point in the race where I see I’m giving maximum effort and it’s just not catching up to this kat out in front of me. No matter how much I open up my stride, switch my breathing technique, pump my arms, flex my ankles, play the curves, or copy his stride pattern in the hopes of slowly eating up ground until I can get in close enough contact to kick for the end of the race.

So little energy, yet so much to do/accomplish. I’m hoping I can get all of these stuff done this weekend. I’ll check back in later to ive you an update.

Obviously I’m the American Women, and life is the genetically engineered Soviet Cyborg.

The To Do List Reads:

  1. NYC Clothes Donation

  2. Chicago Volunteering

  3. Floor (Clean that shit, its been dirty forever)

  4. 856 Cognitive Strategy (Grad School assignment I agreed to revise to get a better grade. I was light weight furious at receiving an 8 out of 10 early in the semester)

  5. Off and Running (Documentary Review and Worksheet creation)

  6. IEP’s (1 and 2 months late)

  7. Conventions (English Assignment to test students knowledge and understanding fo correct apostrophe usage)

  8. iZone (School Development Committee) Response Questions and Reflect Assignment for classrooms

  9. Create Character Map Activity (Grad School Assignment, and hopeful grading opportunity to test students understanding of House on Mango Street stories)

  10. Take out the trash in my room that’s been growing for about 3 weeks

  11. BLOG (If I didn’t write it on there I knew I wouldn’t even think about making time for it)

  12. 885C Reflection Activity (mysterious course reflection involving review, analysis, and critique of my semester in graduate school, and progress as a teacher.)

  13. Student Raffle Ticket Christmas presents (We were supposed to have a raffle in my Just Words class, little did anyone know we all would be broken up come the second trimester. We decided that 3 gift cards for 15 each would be the prizes. I’ve decide to get the whole class 10$ gift cards)

  14. 856 Performance Based Assessment (another grad school assignment that I need to think about, begin, and complete)

  15. 856 Curriculum Unit (ditto)

  16. DIG/IT Grading Chart (Classwide, and Student Specific assignment completion charts)

  17. Respond to a million (Emails)

  18. 8 Student’s names that I feel I should check in with next week. 

*All of this, give or take the grad assignments, should be done by the beginning of the school day on Monday. Let’s see how far I get.*

Financial Crisis Averted

It’s been a long time since I’ve been on here. Somewhere along the line I started making it too hard on myself to create posts. I would come up with all these great ideas, and tools, and pics and stuff to share which felt dope. But, that made me feel like each time I came I had to have something tangible to bring or else it wasn’t worth anyone’s time. I can’t think like that anymore. It was only stopping me from being able to share my experience which is the reason why I started this to begin with. I’ve actually had a few conversations with friends and family about self-created barriers this week. So, I decided to just place those aside and get back to what I was doing. Sharing…

I’ve been in NYC for 5 months now.I’m in my second semester of grad school at LIU – Brooklyn, and have been teaching at my high school for 2 months as a Special Education Teacher for our freshman and sophomore class. I co-teach 2 English classes, and a Technology class. I also teach an intervention-Level Reading course by myself for a group of 11 students. The grading period is about half way through and there’s been talk of giving me a lot more of the intervention level courses. An intervention course is basically a class designed for students who have extremely low levels in the subject area. Think remedial. There’s intervention courses in Reading, Writing, Spelling, and Math. I like working with the Intervention classes, because it gives me a chance to try out a lot of my own ideas and make my own decisions without having to compromise with another educator. Its kind of like my own science lab.

Looking back over the past 5 months. I’m not exactly sure how I’ve made it through. I say this because it is just now that I’m starting to feel settled into the city. Check it, I finally moved my stuff out of storage in Boston and brought it to the city 2 weeks ago. Until then I had still been pretty much living out of 3 briefcases and little funds. I also am just now feeling like I’m getting steady income, but even that is a little shaky. Which actually leads me to a tip! MAKE SURE YOU UPDATE YOU MAILING ADDRESS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE!

Unbeknownst to me, teacher salary is broken up into 3 different payment classifications. I won’t bore you with the details on how its broken up. Just know that in NYC we receive, at minimum, two different types of checks. Your normal salary (8:20am – 3:10pm, M – F) and additional teaching or training you do after school (tutoring after school, pd opportunities, etc…) It wasn’t until the first week in October that I was informed that I had only been receiving about half of my checks. The address on file for my normal teaching salary was correct, but my training checks were being sent to my Boston address. Imagine my surprise when I found out there was $1600 out there with my name on it! Since then its taking me a while to get the situation fully rectified, but I have started receiving all new checks at my current address and have received $500 of the $1600 out there and its completely changed how comfortable I’ve felt in the past week or so.

STAY ON TOP OF YOUR PERSONAL THINGS. I also had to go through a bit of checking and pushing to make sure my insurance documentation went through at the beginning of the school year. Also call to make sure something is correct if you haven’t heard back. Also, I know I mentioned how important it is to set up an online bank account in a previous post. However, it kind of came to bite me in the butt. I’ve overdraft my account twice in the past month because I forgot I set up bi-weekly $25.77 withdrawals for my ING account. Its actually the first time I think I’ve over drafted in over 5 years or so. Anywho, everything is all set with that now that I’m feeling more liquid with my assets. Just note to self, when funds get bottom of the barrel low be sure to keep track of all automatic withdrawals.

A few people have told me they follow the blog. Hadas, Peter, Vince, Eric, Tiffany, and Justin, thanks for the support!

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.

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.