This Is Not About Applesauce

Let it be known: I started writing this post a couple of weeks ago and had optimistically titled it “Writing Conferences: Worth the time!” That was back when I had energy for exclamation points.

Anyway, I can’t fully blame the writing conferences (and, if I’m going to be honest, they were worth the time), but it seemed to begin a downward spiral of rapidly building up papers to grade, day-to-day frantic planning, and a plethora of other little tasks and duties that had to be fulfilled, which culminated in a little bit of an emotional breakdown last night (picture me, in the kitchen, sobbing to my husband: “I just wanted to make homemade applesauce, so I didn’t stay at school and–whimper–grade more papers because I….wanted to come home and make applesauce! And I feel so–sobguilty…” Continue reading

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Yay for YA!

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I’m super-excited about truly dedicating myself to independent reading this year, especially the Reading Workshop format that I’ll be using with my sophomores. Over the past week, I’ve taken all four of my classes to the school library for “book talks,” and while I can’t say these book talks universally excited my students, I can say that they reignited my own interest in young adult literature. Not all of the books presented to them were young adult, but a number of them were, and I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of subjects and complexity of themes that some of the most cutting edge YA lit has to offer. In fact, I think I may go on a little YA binge myself (as soon as I finish trudging through the incredibly grown up Death with Interruptions by Jose Saramago. Brilliant, of course, but not very good at keeping me awake after these utterly exhausting September days…). Continue reading

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Five things to be excited about…

Well, I wish I could say with confidence that I survived the first week of classes, but it was a rather wimpy excuse for a week, what with holidays both secular and religious…check back with me at the end of next week!

It was, however, a pretty successful week, all in all. It was great to get back in the game, greet the students, and start making connections. So, riding the wave of back-to-school optimism and enthusiasm, I thought it might be a good time to make a list of five things that I’m looking forward to this year… Continue reading

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Here we go…

I can’t lie. I got consumed by wedding planning last year. Something had to give and, since I couldn’t stop grading papers or planning lessons or teaching said lessons or, well, sleeping, it had to be this blog (sometime, it seems, around March…). Anyway, after an absolutely GLORIOUS summer (and dream-come-true wedding, thank you very much), I’m ready to tackle not only a new school year, but a new attempt at blogging ALL YEAR LONG. I mean, certainly I will have hours upon hours of time that last year were taken up by addressing invitations and ogling wedding blog eye candy, and can now be filled with serious reflection on the craft of teaching. Right? Well, we’ll see…

In the meantime, here I am. I’ve dipped my toes into the vast ocean of the school year by attending eternal faculty meetings/trainings (really, how many times must one learn how to use an epi-pen?! I’m sure that no matter how many times the school nurse oh-so-patiently explains to me what to do if one of my students goes into anaphylatic shock, I’ll still feel completely unprepared and freaked out…), catching up on department gossip (of course, this year, it’s mostly about the antics that two department members got to witness as guests at my wedding), and setting up my classroom (which will be more likely to fill them with the joy of learning on day one: a quote from Socrates or one from Thoreau?…). The big plunge, however, doesn’t happen until Tuesday when the school comes to life with a deluge of students.

The entire faculty at my school returns with such energy and enthusiasm and inspiration that the hallways literally echo with excitement. I love it. Which is why it is SUCH a downer when the district insists on “welcoming” us back with a guest speaker. This year, it was (another) particularly high-profile education expert, most likely particularly well-paid by the district for his presentation/advertisement for his book. Continue reading

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Instant Mayhem

Today, a little story told through email correspondence and dialogue (names have been changed to protect the…guilty? innocent? I dunno.)…

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Still trying to make the connection…

Nothing like a little science to help put my daily frustrations into perspective…

We actually talked about this in the Differentiated Instruction class I took last semester; it’s not just disabilities and cultural backgrounds and learning styles that impact how students access our curriculum, but also the development (or lack thereof) of their brains.

Just one more reminder of just how complicated it is to be a teenager (not to mention to be a teacher of teenagers!)…

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The View is Nice from Here

The most wonderful thing about the new semester is that I went from having three preps to having two. We’re only a few weeks in, but it has been an amazing relief! I actually still have the time–even after the lessons are planned, the copies made, the papers graded (well, most of them, at least…)–to take a step back and take in the view. To do that all-important reflection and take the pulse of my classes. How are my students doing? How am I doing?

So, here’s a brief report on what’s happening in my two courses so far this semester: Continue reading

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