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Archive for August, 2010

Hooray for mentors

August 31, 2010 Leave a comment

As a first year teacher, state law requires that I have a mentor.  Happily, mine appears to be awesome.  Of the people on my team, her philosophy on classroom setup and management is closest to my own, and she’s done a great job this week of being there whenever I need her and disappearing when I don’t.  She seemed to realize quickly that I need solo processing time, so she usually presents me with options and then leaves me to think things through.  She’s also been a very gentle but effective advocate for me, quietly intervening in conversations with well-meaning colleagues who risk overwhelming me with advice.  She just slides a sentence into the conversation that explains how I’m approaching the topic (e.g., size of whole group area, number of tables) or say that I have a lot to take in now and can think about it later.  She’s also been amazing about gathering and prepping the supplies I need – book boxes, word study journals, homework folders magically appear in my room – though today they briefly disappeared while she laminated them for me.  From what I’ve seen so far, I have high hopes for our year together.

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Classroom setup

August 28, 2010 Leave a comment

There are an infinite number of choices to make in setting up my classroom and very little information on which to base these choices. Here’s what I know: 1) my teaching philosophy, 2) my preferences. Here’s a partial list of what I don’t know: 1) what topics I’ll be teaching, 2) how I’ll be teaching them, 3) what my daily schedule will be 4) how many kids I will have 5) what, if anything, the school requires I have in my classroom.

The imbalance between things I know and things I don’t know led me to spend a lot of time standing in the middle of my classroom today, staring at the furniture and boxes surrounding me.  Other teachers would walk by and say hello, then come in to ask if I needed help – I’m not sure whether it was the chaotic surroundings or the motionless new teacher that made them ask.  By the time I left this afternoon I felt like I had a decent furniture arrangement, but all of it could change if the projector doesn’t work in the location I’ve chosen or if it turns out my team leader actually does want to be able to open the folding wall between our rooms.

All of it could also change if I learn more about what we’ll be teaching and how we’ll be teaching it and realize that my setup doesn’t work for what we have to do.  And before I can go any further in my setup, I need to find several dozen shoebox size containers to hold my classroom library books.  The other teachers say they bought theirs at the Dollar Store or the local teacher supply store, but I’m slightly annoyed at having to invest money to fulfill a basic educational function – providing easy access to books.  I know I’ll need to buy the idiosyncratic organizational tools that I use to organize my workspace, but I feel that basic elements that affect the kids shouldn’t be my responsibility.

For this weekeend, my goals are to find bins or boxes for the 500+ books in my room, find or buy carpets to mark the group meeting space and hide the projector wires, and try very hard not to stress about my room until I get back on Monday.

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Nighttime

August 13, 2010 1 comment

I love walking at night. There’s peace and beauty as the familiar daytime scenery is softened by darkness. Walking at night, I feel cocooned, yet part of the infinite space of the night sky. Eight years on, my strongest memories from college are of walking across the campus at night. Whenever I look up at Orion’s belt, I feel transported back to Magill walk, staring up at the night sky, testing my newfound Astronomy 1 knowledge. In college there was always a reason to walk at night – to visit a friend in another dorm, to get a book from the library, to go see the a capella concert – and it was always safe.

I rarely walk outside at night now though. There aren’t many places I need to go at the end of the day, and if I do need to go somewhere, I usually drive. I walked more in Philadelphia, when I didn’t have a car, but nighttime walking there lacked the peace and security of campus; instead of relaxing into the night, I walked efficiently, alert for risks.

One of the things I loved about being in Cambridge last fall was that I got to be a part of the night again. I walked into town, around town, home from town, in the evenings, usually with friends, but sometimes on my own. I felt safe, as though the city was one large campus, and loved reclaiming that experience.

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Categories: Cambridge, Location Tags: , , ,

An interesting life?

August 1, 2010 1 comment

Penelope Trunk, who always makes me think, wrote a post a few weeks ago on the choice people make between being interesting and being content.  She suggested that many people make choices that take them away from valued relationships, jobs, or locations because they’re looking for interestingness rather than contentment.  Her comments struck a chord with me.

As I look back on my life since college I often wonder at the dichotomy of my choices.  On the one hand, I love being part of a community and feeling that I really know the area in which I live and the people I live with.  On the other hand, I keep moving every few years, barely giving myself time to put down roots before I’m transplanting myself again.  I mourn the lack of stability – and I’m sure my lack of a long-term relationship is related to my constant movement – but my craving for roots can’t compete against my restlessness, against the sense that the next place, the next apartment, the next job will be so interesting that I just have to give it a try.  I feel like there’s so much to do in this world, so much to learn, that being comfortable, being content, makes me feel like I’m missing out.

It’s why I applied to graduate school when I could have stayed in a great job, why I moved to Charlottesville when I could have stayed near my friends and boyfriend, why I put everything in storage and went to England, why I’m about to leave a wonderful group of friends to start over, again, in DC.  I miss the lives I’ve left behind with each move, but when I talk with people about my life, I feel the richness and variety of my experiences.  That texture – the coexisting expertise in toddler development, business school admissions, life in an old mill town or big city living – it’s all a part of me and how I view the world.  My hope is that someday I’ll find a place, job, or person that makes me feel I can combine interestingness and contentment, but until then I have to keep seeking interesting.

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