Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Back by popular demand

I hate those bloggers who suddenly stop blogging, only to return with abrupt, short, cryptic posts that promise longer posts in the future.  So because I didn't want to write until I actually had time to sit down and write...I just stopped writing altogether. And therefore became one of those bloggers who doesn't know how to play catch up because so much has happened since the last time I blogged.

There was my school's fall festival, at which I applied temporary tattoos (some of them woefully more temporary than others) and watched in awe as my principal painted delicate designs onto the faces of our students.  (My principal face painted, people!)  I gaped at the stacks of school merchandise (sweatshirts! mugs! hats!) being sold by the PTA, and the enormous bake sale, and the long lines in the schoolyard...what an incredible shock coming from P.S. Throwing Chairs, where no one even showed up for PTA meetings.

There was the Great First Grade Debacle, in which my principal made good on his longtime threat to send one of our notorious troublemakers Back to First Grade...a move that appeared to have backfired once he shrugged it off and observed, "It's just like third grade, only easier and I get to be the cool older kid."

There was the phone call from the school secretary notifying us that one of our other notorious troublemakers (we have five, to be exact) is moving out of the state.  (I got the same phone call right around this time last year about Julio, however, and we all know how that turned out.)  "When are you sending up the cake so we can celebrate?" I replied.  (I said it. I admit it.)

There was the uncomfortable grade meeting during which my assistant principal awkwardly noted that students from "non-standard English-speaking families" (i.e., minority students) under-perform on state tests and average three and a half reading levels behind by the time they're in third grade.

There was the day a teacher accosted my fellow third grade teacher in the hallway to tell her that her class and my class were "the worst of the worst" in the school, and the time I had to console my co-teacher by telling her that at least she'd always remember her disastrous first class.  (When I noted I'd had much worse, she responded by saying, "I think that's why you're so calm cool and collected all the time!") 

There was today, when I arrived in the cafeteria after lunch and one of the school aides said to me, "I feel sorry for you, I don't know how you do it!"

I know how: By not letting behavior get to me. By remembering that tomorrow is another day. By savoring moments like when Gabrielle apologized to Shawna by saying, "I didn't know you felt that way, I'm sorry" or when Tara flawlessly explained the intricate plot of her level Q chapter book.  By energizing myself towards productive activities like lesson plans...amazingly, I find that now that I don't have an assistant principal or literacy coach dictating my every lesson, I'm producing better work.  My co-teacher and I have developed some great rubrics and models of the work we want our kids to be able to do in their reading notebooks and in their writing.  I've even gotten a little pumped up about teaching math, because the kids seem to like it so much and I'm determined to make the abstract TERC curriculum clearer to follow.

So where have I been?  I've been reprimanding Kiana to stop rolling her eyes and try African dance, I've been collecting suggestions on how to title my bar graph, I've been developing a grading rubric for reading notebooks, I've been struggling in vain to show Michael how to use quotation marks. ("Look in this book, Michael. Do you see quotation marks around every single word? Do you see quotation marks around the word 'said'?")  I've been arguing with Brian about the best player on the Mets (he's partial to Jason Bay and Jose Reyes -- Mr. Brave's head about exploded when I told him, considering, "Jason Bay doesn't even PLAY!") and introducing my word work group to trigraphs.  I've been reassuring Aliyah that sometimes glasses snap in half...and trying to convince Kiana to wear her glasses.  I've been seething at the potential release of those teacher data reports, and frothing over the closing credits of Waiting for Superman (as if texting the word "possible" to some 5-digit number is all that's need to solve the problems in urban education!). 

I've been adjusting. But in the future, I'll try to do a better job keeping you posted while I do.