Saturday, May 31, 2008


The sound that life is making as it zooms by.

Most of last week felt slow, actually. Friday was the last day of school and everyone was a bit crazy because of it. It still hasn't really sunk in.

I have my own schoolwork to finish up, plus packing and all that: leaving on Wednesday.

We'll manage, somehow or other, we always do. It doesn't seem quite real, though.

There will be time for more review and reflection later. For now, discernment continues: do I really want to teach high school, when I love being around the little ones so much? Then I remind myself, I love them all. It's true. Just realized today that the child who inspired me to write this post was in my class for the past two months and totally, completely, not a problem. Not at all a problem to the extent that I just realized that this kid drove me to such distraction last year that I swore I could never be full time teacher. What happened between then and now? Experience, probably. I've learned a lot this year.

I have some ideas about teaching, including the theory that in any particular classroom, someone will rise to the occasion of being the Attention Vortex, no matter what. If the autistic boy is absent or having a really good day, someone else will pick up the slack so that, over the course of the day, there is a Conservation of Classroom Chaos. Sure, it ebbs and flows over the periods, but in any given day, you're going to have approximately the same amount of disruptions and disturbances, no matter who is there and who is missing. Even if all the likely-to-act-up kids are gone for a day, you have things like other kids crying because they can't find their favorite pencil or some other such nonsense -- simply because they know, or they intuitively sense, that there are Resources Available, that is, Teacher Time that would normally be spent "handling" the usual disruptors is being used productively! Can't let that happen! Kids are amazing that way.

I have no more energy to develop that idea further. I noticed many years ago that when I'm writing at work, I have very little creative energy left over to journal with, and that same pattern is repeating now. It's not that nothing's happening, it's that I'm too frazzled to write about it all. I don't particularly like it, but personal writing has been shoved rather far down on the priority list, at least for now. It won't always be this way.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

art therapy

I've always loved watercolors.

Today's art lesson, (well) after Winslow Homer. Watching 20 second graders painting boats, seas, and skies, I couldn't resist.

Maybe I feel lighter because I've managed to slog through so much work, but I think the painting helped, a little.

panic averted for the moment

A series of late-night work/study sessions bring me to this moment, where I am happy to cross the following items off my to-do list:

- the practicum report (all 3 parts) for Classroom Management

- lesson 3 of Educational Psychology

- all of the assignments and tests for Learning & the Brain

That means all I have left is 2 assignments in Ed Psych, plus the mid-term, which is totally do-able in the time I have left.

Can't wait to get more than 5 hours of sleep tonight.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

going, going...

Time, that is.

I'm studying for my Learning & the Brain mid-term; I'll probably take it tomorrow or Thursday.

I think my own brain is going to explode.

The heat here is oppressive, like mid-July, 105+ degrees, humidity on top of it all... it makes me want to run away. At least we're doing some inside recesses so I don't have to spend all that much time out in it, and outside PE has been likewise cancelled on account of the heat. Every little bit helps.

After this midterm, lesson 3, 4, and 5 in EdPsych, but I've caught up on my study guide through lesson 3, so it won't be as bad as this has been, since I hadn't done my study guide since lesson 1, and now I'm playing catch-up. These classes are eminently fair, in that they tell you exactly what you need to know in those study guides -- well, they give you the questions, you have to find the answers, but if you do, you'll do well on the tests. The only tricky part of this Learning & the Brain course is the brain physiology and trying to keep straight which part of the brain has what function, especially since there is so much overlap. I'll manage somehow.

Oh, and I have to complete my practicum paperwork before school ends, or I'll really be screwed up! Plus the usual packing and obtaining of difficult items before leaving in TWO WEEKS!

It may, in fact, be time to panic.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

to do list

Things to get done before we leave for vacation -- and this is just the stuff for school:

Learning and the Brain
Lesson 3, which requires me to read an entire (albeit short) book, and view a DVD which I do not yet have, and the accompanying assignment
Lesson 3 quiz, which goes through the (short) book in exquisite detail; it's longer than the midterm I took last night.
Lesson 4, reading from the text book & accompanying assignment
Midterm, due 5/17 - yes, that's this Saturday.

Educational Psychology
Each lesson requires that I read a chapter of the physically-impossible-to-manage text book. Books that big need to be either spiral bound or hard bound, the soft binding makes them completely unwieldy.
Lesson 3 - integrating various education theorists' ideas into a classroom setting
Lesson 4 - e-literacy module; find an article, summarize, tell how I'd use the info
Lesson 5 - God bless us, multiculturism. How will I incorporate multi-culti into a high school science class? Mainly by not being an idiotic, prejudiced jerk. I continue to be appalled at the people who are profiled in the small case studies who admit things like "I thought all Asians looked alike." I still can't believe a teacher said that, and not a teacher 50 years ago, a teacher in the late 1990s.
Midterm, due 5/24.

If I can get the Learning & the Brain DVD in hand by Thursday, and if my instructor grades the lesson I handed in on Sunday, I could do Lessons 3 and 4 on Thursday and Friday and then take the midterm on time on Saturday, but those are very big "ifs."

Then, having cleared the decks of L&tB, I can focus on the EdPsych, knocking out lessons 3, 4, and 5 over the course of the week, so I can take the exam on Saturday the 24th.

However, neither my L&tB nor my EdPsych instructor are noted for their fast turn-around on grading assignments, and I'm only supposed to turn in 2 at time, then wait for them to be graded. I think the thing to do is get the next assignment in for both courses (if I could just get that video...) so as soon as an assignment comes out of the queue, I can submit the next one. These next couple of weeks are going to be rough.

Anyway, I aced my midterm in Classroom Management, so that's a comfort. Which remends me of more things to do:

-- complete my practicum paperwork
-- find somewhere to take my final exams while I'm away (I'm thinking CCCC should work, just have to contact them.)

didn't tell

Every week in my class, one student is selected as the "superstar." The superstar gets to sit in a special chair. Every day after morning meeting, the superstar gets to share some things about him or herself, or read from a favorite book. On Friday, the kids all write letters to their superstar classmate, and read each one aloud.

Last week, we ran out of students, so this week, as the newest member of the class (or at least, presence in the classroom), I got to be "it." It's a comfort to know that both the teacher and the aide who was in this class previously were also superstars over the course of the year.

So, since I'm old, I had to think about what to tell these kids. I printed out some photos of my extended and immediate families, some of the cool cakes I've decorated, and a really nice aerial photo of Cape Cod. I talked to them about Massachusetts and going to the beach and all kinds of things... but I didn't tell them about the cancer.

I just really did not want to get into it with them. They're second graders. There was no reason for them to know. If I had been doing a similarly-themed presentation to high school kids, I would have made different choices: family, obviously, but more focus on where I went to college, and what my jobs have been. And since one of my jobs is facilitating the support group, that would provide a nice segue, I think. But for these kids, right now, I'm not telling.

Monday, May 12, 2008


A productive day always helps.

By way of procrastinating on school work, I got all sorts of house stuff done today. And then after dinner, I buckled down and turned in an assignment in each of my three classes. I was slightly mortified when I got an email from one of my instructors asking me to please not submit a slew of assignments before the midterm. I replied with an apologetic and explanatory note: I've been swamped.

Besides, the rules say you can only submit two assignments at a time, and then you have to wait until they're graded before you can hand in any more. Anyway, I expect to take every single one of my midterms late; I don't think I could possibly hand in all the assignments I need to do before their due dates (5/17 and 5/24, respectively - my first one is already overdue, having been scheduled for 5/3).

If my brain is functioning tomorrow, I'll take my first midterm tomorrow evening. Here's hoping... and I'm off!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

messed up

I was supposed to take a mid-term eight days ago. Oops. I didn't realize it because I went a week without logging into my school homepage. Part of that was because I was just fried from work and other stuff going on, and part of that was because my laptop battery was dead and I couldn't juice it up because I left my power cord at my speech therapist's office, and I didn't have a chance to go and get it until Thursday. Oops, again.

This evening I had Guinness with dinner, and fell asleep before 8PM. I slept for at least an hour and a half, if not two hours... and now I'm still up. Oops.

I hate this feeling of having so much work to do, it induces paralysis. My new goal is to get through all my mid-terms before we leave for MA. I'm not sure that's possible. Obviously, it was a mistake to take the job since I was planning on wrapping up the courses entirely before we left. Ha! I haven't even been keeping up with what I'm supposed to be doing, school-wise, never mind accelerating. And now I definitely have to find somewhere to take my exams while we're away this summer, which is something I had hoped to avoid.


Sunday, May 04, 2008

catching up

I had my talk with the administration, and they said some nice-sounding, even fair-sounding, things, things which may even be true. Still, if you were going to invite someone to a meeting on Thursday, wouldn't you notify them of the meeting some time before Thursday?

My favorite part of the meeting:
Admin: You should talk to me before you get upset.
Me: I am talking to you.

I pushed this a bit, too: has there been any indication, other than the email I sent to you, that I'm upset? Because I would hope that I'm professional in my behavior and would want to know if I haven't been.

"Oh, no, no, nothing like that," they insisted.


At one point this week, I got into it with "my" kid, who told me point blank to go away. "I can't," I stated flatly. "It's my job."

"Why do you want this job, anyway?" he asked.

I think I laughed nearly a full minute then, and had to beg off with "It's too complicated to explain," when he wanted to know why I was laughing.

I'm making the best of it.

DH left on Thursday for CT, he's helping his folks around their house. DD got sick Friday night and thereby threw a spanner into the works for the weekend. Today (Saturday) was a wretched day which I refuse to recount in the hope that I might someday soon forget it.

Some days I feel like everything's going well. Today was not one of them. It was a hanging-by-a-thread day, when everything threatened to come apart. It didn't, though, and that's what I have to keep reminding myself.