Friday, December 14, 2007

The Gift of Entertainment

Often my blogs are inspired by class reflection work or emails, and this is no different. This email was sent today from me to a select few. But why limit it? 'Tis the season for giving, after all...

I very rarely push my TV show preferences onto others, but I truly feel that I would be doing you all a disservice if I didn't tell you about this new reality show on CW (Channel 11 for you New Yorkers) called "Crowned: The Mother of all Pageants."

This show features mother/daughter teams competing to win a lot of money, looking for the modern beauty which is not just a pretty face, yada yada yada.

Whatever. It's 10 teams of mostly pageant-y plastic mothers and daughters (some are not evil and conniving, though plenty are) living together and competing. After watching the first episode I can only say that it will be the entertainment high point of MY new year, and I'm sure yours, as well, if you watch. It's catty, it's bitchy, it's sweet, it's pageants, people! (AND great for mothers and daughters to watch together!)

(The show premiered this past Wednesday, but they are repeating the premiere this coming Tuesday (I think) and then the regular episodes are on Wednesdays at 8pm.)

Happy Holidays (and happy cat-fighting),

Friday, December 7, 2007

Friday Friday Friday!


Our homeroom hosted the 8th grade breakfast today. There's one every month. We eat, we announce the Student of the Month. We miss first period. It's fun. Lots of cutting bagels and smearing on cream cheese. Also lots of explaining the concept of "whipped" cream cheese to skeptical students. It was a successful breakfast.
(Personal note - when I'm cutting bagels and laying out donut holes I can't feel more like I'm being prepped for having my own children by simply being a teacher and doing things that are not what you would consider "teaching.")

Thought my ELA class, which was the 90 minutes following the breakfast, would be a disaster since students were riding the donut sugar high, but it was great. We did test prep (gotta love those Kaplan books!) and began our class novel for Response to Literature, Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff. I'm not a huge fan of the book, but it's realistic fiction about a 14 year old girl who babysits for two young children of a 17 year old mother, and the kids love it. It's written in verse (for some reason - if anyone knows please pass on your info!) and there's a ton of figurative language, and the kids love to identify personification, metaphors and similes, so it's a lot of fun.

Everything else went quite smoothly. One of my favorite students to love AND hate has made it her life's work to be crowned December's Student of the Month at next month's breakfast (where one is named each month). So, she's officially on her best behavior, and ROCKED our ELA class today. Hardly talked out of turn or chatted with friends, and did a beautiful and dynamic read aloud with lots of expression.
Oh, and she feels similar love/hate feelings about me, as well. She loves to ask me about my personal life, why don't we have children yet, what's my natural hair color, and what female products I prefer (it was actually relevant - it was a time when all boys were taken downstairs and I declared it "just us girls" and distributed feminine hygiene products).

She also loves to use our personal writing homework assignments as a way to express her anger with me. She has done this on several occasions, some more obvious than others. A letter to her grandmother was a thinly veiled shot at me, where she states her love for her classes except ELA because "I don't like the class or the teacher." The most obvious lashing out being a response to the prompt "What makes you really mad? Use examples to support your anger" where she states that I, Ms. S., make her mad and one reason is that I insist on "saying hello to me every morning even though she knows I hate her!"

Hey, whatever, she's writing, right? And doing a pretty good job of supporting her hatred. I'd kinda hate me, too!

So, as I'm walking the students down the stairs to lunch today, this student says, "You know, Ms. S.," (yes, she's talking to me, because despite her "hatred" of me, she walks next to me all the time) "This has been a good day. Normally by this time on a Friday I'd be hating you by now!"
"Yes, you know what?" I asked. "This has been a good day for me, too! Do you think those things are connected?"
"Hm. May-be."

Um, yeah. I think they are.

Here's to a good day!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Holidays Already?!

Well, well, it has certainly been a while. Sorry about that! In case I hadn't said this before, this teaching gig's a total burn out sometimes. Meaning, me. I'm burned out. Or perhaps it's just fatigue. Whatever, time is fllllyyyyyyying and it's nearly Christmas. However, the calendar in my mind is already at the end of January, since that's the end of my current unit (not to mention a couple weeks after the ELA State Exam, which is the big fish on the radar right now). Isn't it remarkable how that works! It's strange, how planning actually makes these days I'm going through now seem quite unreal. In fact, I've felt very dreamlike since September. This dreamlike state exists now more than ever, especially because I've gotten past my phase of coming home on Mondays crying and feeling hopeless about the week of teaching ahead of me, and now that I've finally gotten it through my head that Wednesdays are great days for quiet independent reading and any other quiet work, since that's the after-lunch class that would otherwise lose their minds, be rude and make me just want to never return. These are obstacles I've worked my way through, and have only made me smarter (about lesson plans) and stronger (no more crying!!).

This past Thursday our school had a big celebration because we got a good grade on our report card from the city. We held an assembly where a documentary about our school was shown, and then a big potluck for all our students and their families. It was great. The auditorium was packed, there was so much happiness and support, it was really cool. The COOLEST and BEST thing, though, was the documentary. Our literacy coach spent several weeks interviewing students and getting their views of the school, as well as them thanking teachers and saying what is so great about the teacher they thanked. A student thanked me! And the student himself was a surprise - a very talkative but popular boy who I really like, but have given a lot of trouble (for the trouble he causes by talking). But there he was, in front of everyone, saying "I want to thank Ms. Spacek" and though the sound made it pretty hard to hear, it sounded like he said I helped push him to read more and learn how to explain what he was reading better (Literary Letters!!). Anyway, it was awesome - I'm pretty tough and I was surprised any student would thank me, but it happened and I nearly cried. It was great!!!

More soon, I promise!!