Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer 2011

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Being a Teacher: 2010

My favorite moments from my job this year:
*having a 16 year old say she needed a hug and asking me to give her a hug
*sewing the backpack straps for two 17 year olds
*getting a text from a 17 year old about Buddhism, yoga and meditation and her thoughts about my lecture
*being told by my boss that his daughter was curled up enjoying a book from my class
*getting an email from a former graduate that he missed my class
*getting a facebook message that a doctoral student is still using the research methods I taught her in 7th grade
*learning that my former student was told by his professor that he must have really learned how to write in high school

Take that "the media", Arne Duncan, Barack Obama and Michelle Rhee. I guess not every school is horrible! Please explain to me how to measure those things. Yes, students should pass tests, but HOW DO YOU MEASURE these things?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Summer Vacation

According to Phineas and Ferb:

There's 104 days of summer vacation
And school comes along just to end it
So the annual problem for our generation
Is finding a good way to spend it

Well, if you asked my 6 year old and 3 year old daughters, spending their summer vacation watching Phineas and Ferb or any other Disney sitcom, cartoon, or movie is perfectly fine. If I'd let them, they would mindlessly download every joke, attitudinal eye roll, and plotline from Disney (channel 68 where we live). Today, as I turned off the tv for the hundredth time this summer, I said to my 6 year old, "Isn't it ironic that you'd rather watch Phineas and Ferb enjoy their summer vacation, than actually enjoy your own?" What did I get in response? A blank stare and the ever-so-tiny beginnings of a smirk.

Then I looked around the house. I had forced everyone to clean up last night, so no toys were out. The house was clean, yes, but not one that screamed, "Let's have fun!" So, we took out the crayons and drew pictures of our vacation on Cape Cod a week earlier. We played cars on the floor with my 1 year old son. We played the Hungry Caterpillar game with my 3 year old. We set up the dollhouse, again and again and again. We let the boy take allllll the magnets off the fridge and then went outside, played catch, played a round of croquet, and ran around the yard. As we all tumbled into the hammock, my 6 year old turned to me and said, "Mom, it WAS more fun to enjoy ourselves than watching Disney." Take that Walt!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Pomp and Victim of Circumstance


Watching students graduate can sometimes be the most heartbreaking moment in a teacher's life. Yes, this is the moment we've prepared them for. No, they are not our actual children. Of course, we'll get another batch the next year. Certainly the years all run together. But, in actuality, at our school, you create bonds with these young people. You see them mature from little tadpoles into full-grown adults. You watch them work hard, appreciate each other, learn how to persevere, solve problems and make their way into the world. I know they all move on, and their high school teachers become just a distant memory, a quick "remember when Mrs. So and So said" but to the teachers, those children ARE our children in the most devastating way. Because with my own three children, I can expect them to come back and share their lives with me. While our relationship will indeed change, it won't disappear. But, with my students, I know that the moment we had with them is completely over. They never really come back. This particular class, the class of 2010 had some very special characters who spent much more than 40 minutes in my classroom. They were there in the morning, in the afternoon, during lunch, and always kind, always respectful, always sharing a laugh or sharing their lives. I've had other students like them who are now gone into their own lives, so I know this feeling of loss is real. I know that I'll have more students who mean as much to me. But today I mourn for the friendships that I'm losing today, because I know this really is goodbye. Good luck and Godspeed Class of 2010.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Time for Travel

Time gets away so quickly. With 3 kids and a full-time job and no nearby family, all responsibilites fall on Jefe' and me. But....and I thank them so dearly for this....my parents were the dolls that they are and came to stay with the kiddos for two weeks while Jefe' and I went on a school-sponsored field trip to Europe. Ten days in Italy, France and Spain with 45 students grades 9-12 and 10 adults. I'm sure it sounds like a job, but it was the trip of a lifetime. The students were fabulous, the locales were divine and the 10 days passed so quickly, when I finally caught my breath, I was on the return flight to the US.

Of the three countries, Italy was by far my favorite, with the Vatican and Monaco coming in 2nd and 3rd (okay, 5 countries if you count those two lil' ones). Rome, Florence, Pisa, Orvieto, delightful. Had I time enough and cash, I would go back in a heartbeat. Knowing that I trod where ancient Romans did is hardly fathomable. Seeing the colliseum, walking the Roman forum, leaning with the tower in Pisa....

Looking at the timeline from the Roman Forum, the colliseum, the medieval towns in France, the modern architecture in Barcelona, it is evident how time in the US is different from time in Europe. The kids were a little impatient when the Spaniards took so long to clear the dinner table. Some folks were annoyed when shops were closed early. But seeing how life can be lived on a different time-table is refreshing.

I cannot wait until summer. Spending those 10 days traipsing through sights makes me want to take my own kids out on the land. Whether we visit every zoo in a 300 mile radius or take every boatride on every lake within 100 miles, or window shop in every little village, I want to make sure to take the time to enjoy what little time I have with them.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

HSBC Hold Music

I had to call HSBC last year because I thought that my identity had been stolen. Well, actually, I thought maybe someone had hacked into my computer to get my bank information. It's a long story and I'll leave it for another post. But, to get us back to my topic, the music, you must know that my beau and I are on our way soon to chaperone a trip to Europe with our students, and I had to call my bank to alert them that I would be using my card in Italy, France and Spain. As I called HSBC again I was subjected once again to their divine/disgusting hold music. It's the kind of music that when you begin to hold you can't believe a reputable bank like HSBC could possibly use it as their hold music. But, given it's unique and brain-wormy character, when you call the bank, having used the "internets" to find the phone number, and you are still wary as to whether or not you're actually calling the bank or some "identity-stealer", once you hear this "awesome short bass line and cymbals intro" (thanks "Audio Kio Productions" http://www.audiokio.com/2007/04/13/on-hold/) you know it could only be HSBC. When I called them last year I first heard it and marvelled. Then I called them again this year and now, the tune won't leave my brain. It plays over and over and over. I've called and made my beau listen to it, too. Being a poet, he wrote a poem about it:


Annoyed awake in my three star hotel
By elevator muzak and wild kids,
I am reminded of Sivan Cotel,
Advocate of music for invalids,
The cheesy midi file instrumentals
Banks play to keep you on hold and happy,
Repetitive without incidentals
(A different kind of totally crappy).

Just dial 1-800-9
75-HSBC and press #
To hear cymbals after a short bass line;
Even days later the track will resound
For Sivan, customers, and people who,
Like Roxanne my wife, will dance on cue.

Next stop HSBC, ringtone!