Friday, July 9, 2010


So I'm at VIP (a different location than the one where I evidently knew more about cars than the employee I spoke with). I'm getting new tires, and I'm kind of excited that there's free WiFi here. Still, it's kind of tiresome having to do stuff like this. It's kind of like waiting in a ridiculously long line at the Dunkin' Donuts drive-thru when you're desperate for coffee, or buying toilet paper en masse so you don't run out without realizing it. Kind of a pain in the ass, but a necessary evil.

Anyway ...

I had to go to work today. I've had to work virtually every day of my, ahem, summer vacation. Part of me would rather be reading a book on the beach or sailing or going mini-golfing with Addie and Belle, but I've actually really enjoyed the work I've done this summer.

First, there's summer school. Even if I wasn't enjoying it, I really can't complain about teaching summer school since I agreed to it and have a contract and am actually very well-compensated. The kids are all going-to-be-seniors, so they're pretty invested in doing well. They're also really nice kids, which is a treat. As always, I am amazed at the depth of the conversations we've had--kids are so much more astute than we give them credit for, and I seem to realize this even more during summer school. Kind of weird.

Then, there's professional development stuff. The first week was a three-day workshop on Project-Based Learning (we call it PBL in the education world), which is basically using a large long-term project to assess students instead of the more traditional paper and pencil test. I came up with a really cool project on connecting Romeo and Juliet to contemporary films. Kids would have to put together a five minute movie created via the lovely advanced technology opportunities, and I have a SmartBoard in my classroom now, so it will be really fantastic ... assuming I have my act together enough to actually do it.

Ideas are never my problem, nor is the actual instruction of students. I have never felt like my students get short-changed in their education. What does bother me, though, is following the great plans I come up with. Ultimately, they always end up being too much and too big, so I revert back to what I usually do because the prospect of having to be ... gasp ... organized is just so far beyond me. Maybe this year I'll be better about it. Haha, maybe pigs will fly out of my computer case, too.

The other workshop is actually a college course done in conjunction with Plymouth State University on Intentional Teaching and Differentiated Instruction, which is basically teaching in a way that is effective for every single student. It's a lot harder than it sounds, and the course has been a really great learning experience. We had the choice of receiving either four graduate credits or financial compensation and, since I already have my Master's Degree, I said, "Show me the money". It's very cool to focus on the idea of designing curriculum with a bottom line of student understanding. Instead of planning in terms of content, we're being taught to plan in terms of anticipated (and expected) student understanding of the content. It's kind of a dicey distinction, but it's really changed a lot of my educational philosophies.

Between my real job, my amazing experience writing for Zelda Lily (we have a new layout that is just so cool!), hanging out with Addie and Belle, helping my mother get ready for her trip to Italy (she's in the air right now), trying to find a spare minute to work on the novel, rediscovering pleasure reading, and trying to keep things as calm as possible with Pythagorus (and thank you so much for all the support people have given me ... especially MTM and Kathy P), I'm very busy.

It's not tiresome, though. And my tires are just about done, so this evening will no longer be tiresome, either :-)

Are Minorities Discouraged from Taking Upper-Level Classes?: The Elephant in the Room

As a public school teacher for sixteen years, I sometimes feel like I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen Standards come and go (and despite the brou...