Sunday, May 31, 2009

Got Cards?

I do! The kids have had some birthday parties to go to, so I've been making some cards. It amuses me and produces an item I would otherwise have to go out and buy, so a win win! Unfortunately, it's one of those crafts that once you start, you begin realizing all the other things you need which would look really nice on a card. Glitter! Colored ink! Fancy paper! It goes on and on, and sadly, any of your local craft stores will be happy to oblige with aisles and aisles of tons of stuff. A rather harmless addiction, I suppose, and one that ends up with lots of sparkly cards!

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Good News and the Bad

First the good news:
The phone rang yesterday, and The Professor informed me that it was a school district calling. Is it wrong that my first assumption was that they wanted to sell me raffle tickets? I imagine the shock in my voice was palpable (do you think they write that down in notes somewhere -"Seemed like she couldn't understand why we would have called her...") when they asked me to come in for an interview. It's for a 4th grade leave replacement for one year, and is in a really swanky district about 1/2 hour drive away. Now I have to do something about my scary hair and dig through my closet for something to wear that doesn't cut off my circulation.

Now the bad news:
Big Trouble's kindergarten class got t-shirts with "Class of 2021" printed on the back - awfully cute. We asked him if he knew what that meant, and when he didn't we explained that would be the year he graduated from high school. Unfortunately, when we asked him how old we would be then, he answered, "Dead?"

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Long Time, No Blog

I know, I know - it's been a while. And a few interesting things have happened. Miss Serious made her first Communion, for which she was very excited. I think she was worried about doing the procedure wrong, so for the beginning of the service she was pretty tightly wound (MissSerious? No...). After she went up, she was her old self, and was able to crack a smile or two. We had a nice morning, rounded out by breakfast at the diner with the grandparents. I told her she could choose anywhere she wanted to go, and the diner was the unequivocal choice. I suppose I should just be grateful it wasn't Costco....

I continue my job hunt, such as it is. I hate this part - when you just keep sending out applications and not hearing a word. I know it's very early, but I am not one who likes the lack of control over the whole process. And even though I spent about 6 zillion hours and a whole lotta brain cells filling out the NYC application, I received a charming email last week informing me that due to budget cuts, city schools were only going to be able to hire from within, except for schools opened in the last couple of years. Great. Previously, the thought in my head ran, "Well, if I don't find anything around here, at least I could teach in the Bronx." Alas, it is not to be. Oh well, onward and upward.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Well, They've Done It Again!

Infomercials, that is. As I've mentioned before, I am fascinated by infomercials. Everything always works so well, tastes so delicious, and makes everyone so happy. I've seen the one for the Cricut paper cutter a few times now, and every time I do, it catches my attention. I've never been interested in the whole scrapbooking thing (don't even have printed pictures about - everything is on the computer), but making cards is appealing to me. So, after spending about 90 jillion hours on the internet seeing what people had to say about the thing, I felt the need to order this:

I must tell you, it is most awesome. I'm always impressed when something is well designed, and this really is. Part of the reason I bought it is that it will come in handy for teaching - I can't tell you how many things I have had to cut out over the years, and with one push of a button, this will do that for me. (That's the rationalization part of the purchase - had to justify it somehow, but it is actually true).

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Day, I made these - some of the kids' teachers did a really neat project this year with the Kindergarten about Dr. Wangari Maathai. She is an extraordinary environmentalist and women's rights activist from Kenya. She founded the Green Belt Movement, which has many goals, one of which is planting trees. She won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize, and the kids in the kindergarten class have been learning about her and her work as part of their study of peace this year. We made a donation in honor of the teachers, so I made cards that had to do with trees and nature. It's amazing what 5 and 6 year olds can accomplish - Big Trouble's class has regular "peace talks" with another Kindergarten, and have really come to such an amazing understanding of the importance of peace and caring for the environment.

If only Kindergartners were in charge of the world......well, that probably wouldn't actually go so well, but in theory it's a nice idea.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Teacher Appreciation Week

That's right - this is the week to remember to say thank you to the teachers (and principals, teacher aides, librarians, etc.) who take such good care of our kids every day. Part of the reason we live in the appallingly expensive area we do is because the schools can't be beat. I used to teach in a little town up in the Catskills where money was really tight. So tight that I had to buy a rug for my classroom because it wasn't in our budget (which then promptly got vomited on by a sick child, and had to be discarded). I think we used to get something like $125 every year to buy/replenish teaching supplies, classroom books, etc. Obviously, this doesn't go very far, and lots of my own money went towards things my classroom needed.

They don't seem to have that problem here; the classrooms are stocked with more books than you could imagine, dozens of different kinds of manipulatives, games, computers, you name it. It's like Disneyland. However, go to an area which is a little less affluent, sometimes just the difference of one or two towns, and the contrast is stark. The lack of supplies is startling, especially as these schools are often in areas where children need them the most.

Even in the best of circumstances teaching is a daunting task. In the beginning of the year you are given 25 or so children, none of whom is the same as the other. Some are way above grade level, some way below, some don't speak English, some come from homes with more problems than you can imagine, and you need to teach all of them. Not just the required curriculum, but how to be good people - how to co-exist, how to be kind, how to share.

When I was a teacher, I would constantly hear jokes from people about how teachers hardly worked - "Summers off! Only working 9-3!" Yeah, summers off are nice, but I always worked a good part of the summer getting ready for the next year. Working 9-3? Hmmm.... come over to my house some evening or weekend and see all the papers, tests, journals, and projects that I will be grading, not to mention planning for upcoming lessons. There really is no good response to this; the only way for the loudmouth spouting these witty remarks to possibly understand is to place them in a classroom and hand over the reins. As this will never happen, teachers can only continue about their business, teaching, caring for their students, and helping to shape them into the people we know they can be.

So, a big thank you to all the teachers out there - both those that taught me, and those that take such wonderful care of my children. You are doing an important job, and are greatly appreciated for it.