Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The trains were conspiring against me!

I so wanted to make yoga today before the long Thanksgiving weekend.

I taught Extended Day today which ends at 5:15. Just enough time to rush to my yoga class on St. Marks, change, and have a few minutes to spare. Today I had to make a quick phone call after dismissing my class to pay off my student loan (I'd been missing business hours for so long and the interest has been racking up daily. It had to get done today). The call went quickly but as I left the building I saw that I had somehow lost thirteen minutes in the process.

I raced to the train and just missed the J train. Then I got to the F and as the minutes passed and no train came I realized there was no way I could make it to class.

Dramatic, I know, but I was so looking forward to going.

Speaking of "Where did you learn that?"

Today one of my first graders was writing about her mom in the family books that we are making. She wanted to know how to write that her mom was playing and demonstrated sitting cross-legged with her hands on her knees and thumbs and index fingers pressed together.

"Oh, your mom does yoga?"


It was so funny that she mentioned that because I remember catching her playing around on the rug last year in what looked suspiciously like downward facing dog and side plank. I wasn't sure if I was just imagining that it looked like yoga though because many poses I do in yoga are ones that I did as a kid playing around or in gymnastics class. I tried to ask her where she learned that but she wasn't really able to explain it to me. Now, a year later, she can verbalize that she watches her mom do yoga at home.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

How I Spent My Halloween

On October 31st when others were dressed up and gallivanting around the city, I was at a panel discussion about Jane Jacobs and the Future of New York. I wrote about visiting the exhibit at the Municipal Arts Society and this event was related to that exhibit.

Here are eight minutes edited from the two hour panel discussion. You can catch a glimpse of me in the audience (in the red v-neck) right at the beginning of the clip. You'll notice that many people were wearing Harry Potter-esque, round, black-rimmed glasses. They were handing them out for audience members to wear as a sort-of tribute to Jane Jacobs who was known for wearing similar glasses. I did actually wear the glasses for most of the discussion (and was so proud for actually "dressing up" for Halloween after all), but alas, they filmed me at the one moment that I wasn't wearing the glasses.

Three Day Week!

It's Sunday night but we have just a three day week to look forward to so I'm feeling OK about that. On Tuesday I have a PD about preparing ELLs for Day 2 of the EL*A. So really I have the easiest week ever. I'm actually worried that I don't have ENOUGH time to finish everything that I wanted to get done by the break.

Today I went shopping for Thanksgiving dinner. I'm so excited. Thanksgiving at my apartment has become a tradition since I moved to NYC. This year Jules and "Boyfriend" are coming again and I am so excited. My sister is coming on Wednesday. It's going to be a good break. I just have to get in two more yoga classes by Wednesday because I know that I won't be going while my sister is here. (Four whole days without yoga!!)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

This Year I'm Doing it All . . .

. . . Saturday Academy for three hours each week, Extended Day twice a week for an hour and a half, and a "study group" every Wednesday for two hours (not to mention this week was parent-teacher conferences!). I'm exhausted! But I'm making it through. And after three whole days, I finally made it to yoga so I'm feeling good.

Now that it gets dark so early it's hard to do anything but go straight home after school. As I'm walking out of the building at 5:15 it feels like I should have been home hours ago and already in my sweats and making dinner. It takes everything I have to remember that 5:15 really isn't late at all. If it were May, it would be afternoon and I'd be feeling thankful that I'm a teacher and have a chance to be free and out of work so early. But for now, it's dark and cold for another few months.


Extended Day went sooo much better today than last Thursday (which was our first session). Coming into the class not knowing the kids (they are fourth graders that I don't normally work with), not knowing the materials I'd be working with (the AP gave me the books 15 minutes after the session started), not having any snack provided by the school, and--seemingly insignificant, but--not having working clocks that day, really spelled disaster for the end of a long day.

Today however, I came in prepared: I put the desks in a new seating arrangement (one long table with all the kids), brought pretzels (to be handed out to on-task students), and came armed with some better teaching strategies. It made all the difference and today the class a pleasure. The time flew by and before I knew it we had just 20 minutes to complete our last section and go over it. I don't know if the timing felt better to the kids too but at least with the clocks working they didn't have to ask me the time every two minutes.

There is one girl that is driving me crazy though. She always wants to read, answer the question, or add to what someone else said. If she doesn't get to talk every time she starts getting really frustrated. The first day I finally snapped and yelled at her about there being nine other kids in the room and she can't speak all the time; she has to wait her turn. Today I was a little more patient. I also tried to make the turns predictable by having them read and answer round robin-style so she knew when her turn was. I had wanted to write names on popsicle sticks to draw randomly but I didn't have time to prepare that for today. At one point I was really trying to get the kids to understand that getting the wrong answer isn't something to be embarrassed about; now is the time to talk about our answers so that we can figure out why we got the wrong answer and be able to get it right the next time. Well, she really took that to heart and (I swear) when I asked "did anyone get an answer other than C" (which we had just determined to be the right answer), she said that she first chose D but then changed her mind and put C (and then she went on and on as to why). I was sitting right next to her and she picked C the first time. So she wants to share out so badly that she is willing to lie and say she got the wrong answer because she knew I was only calling on kids with the wrong answer at that point. Seriously, I don't know how to deal with her. Somehow I have to tame her a little bit if I am not going to go batty every week. Ideas?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Saturday Morning Yoga at the Y

I'd been looking forward to this class for a while now (I hadn't been able to make it because I was teaching Saturday school). The pace is much slower than the classes that I usually take at Yoga to the People and perfect for a Saturday morning. The change of pace and the change of routine made all the difference in my practice. Today every pose felt right. Each transition flowed smoothly into the next.

Sometimes slowing down is just what we need.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

"Where did you hear that?"

Whenever one of my students says something in class that I am surprised that he/she knows, I can't help but ask "Where did you learn that?" or "How do you know that?" Just this week I found myself questioning two students.

*In my kindergarten class we are making family books and on the cover the students drew pictures of their families. J drew her sister. She explained that she is sixteen, lives in Mexico, and has a baby. "Wow. Does she go to school?" I asked. "Yes. My grandma keeps an eye on the baby." Just in case you didn't catch that, my five year old English Language Learner said her grandma "keeps an eye on the baby." I wonder where she could have learned such an idiomatic expression because I know that she speaks Spanish with her family so she didn't overhear it in a conversation about the baby. Did she talk about her baby-sitting grandma to her teacher and then the teacher rephrased it and she just remembered? I did try to ask "Where did you hear that?" But being five she really didn't get what I was asking her and just explained again that her grandma keeps an eye on the baby.

*There was another story that I did get to the bottom of this week. One of my second graders read an independent book about a grandpa who was bored because he didn't work and had nothing to do. Then found a new hobby and was happy again. On the graphic organizer E wrote that the problem in the story was that the "grandpa was fire." I understood that he meant "fired." I asked him to show me where in the book he saw that the grandpa was fired. He showed me the line that said "Grandpa Martin did not work." Smart thinking, I thought. He inferred that the Grandpa was fired because the story said he did not work. But why would he think he was fired? How did he even know that word? Was someone in his family fired? I asked "How do you know that word 'fired.' Where did you hear it?" He explained that in his class they have jobs such as librarian, pencil monitor, etc. and if they don't do a good job the teacher fired them. I praised him for the inference and the connection . . . and then explained what it meant to be retired.

I don't know if it's odd for a teacher to ask "How do you know that?" but if you don't ask you'll never know. I usually find their answers to be quite interesting.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Oh, PD, how I do not love you!

School is kind of a quiet, sad place with no kids--especially on a cold rainy day like today. The building was eerily quiet. The two times I had to walk to the other end of the hall to get something from my room, I rushed to get back to the library where the noise and energy of the teachers spilled out into the hall.

The day, as expected, dragged on and on. The topic of the day: DATA. Specifically, the school progress reports that were released today. We took the entire day to "delve into" the report to figure out what it was saying. And it certainly took a lot of explaining: we got a D.

The best part of the day was the hour and a half lunch break and trip to Dumont Burger.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

I Don't Know What Got Into Me Today . . .

. . . but for some reason I felt the need to cook all day.

First, I started a French beef stew. It's a three day process so I'm making it to eat on Monday. Here's what it looks like so far marinating in my fridge.

Then I made a Tuscan white bean stew. It took almost four hours to make but at least it was ready for dinner tonight.

Finally, I made this apple pie. I'd been having the urge to make an apple pie for a week now so I figured while the second stew was cooking I may as well bake a pie. The lattice top isn't the most beautiful but it was my first try.