Archive for May, 2011

Cataloging the aches and pains

May 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Thanks to a series of uncoordinated choices, I ended up taking 3 trapeze classes in 4 days this week.  It probably would have worked out if I’d done it earlier in my progression, or if I’d stalled on the pullover shoot.  Instead, I’ve spent 2 of the 3 days doing the most physically and mentally intensive work yet, and my body is feeling the effects.

Starting at toes and going up:

  • My shin hurts if it touches something or if I walk quickly.
  • The abrasion on my shin hasn’t started to scab, which is starting to worry me.
  • My quads flinch when I walk.
  • The abrasion on my hip is healing, but hurts if I bend or twist.
  • My back is a single knot of tension and pain.
  • My shoulders and upper arms are sore in a “I might not be able to move them in the morning” kind of way.
  • My hands are so covered in fast-developing blisters that I can only grip with my fingertips.
And yet I still can’t wait to go back on Monday.

Pullover shoot update

May 26, 2011 Leave a comment

I showed my kids the video of my pullover shoot this afternoon.  They were suitably impressed.  After watching it twice in a row, one asked, “can you show us the second video now?”  I was confused for a moment, then realized that I’ve always had at least two videos from each class (and would have from this one, but the videographer pushed the wrong button).  When I explained I just had the one new one, another kid said, “we could watch the old ones.  Tran [our new student] hasn’t seen them.”  So we went back through my files and played the highlights.

Pullover shoot!

May 24, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve been spending an enormous amount of time and money on trapeze over the last month and I’m absolutely loving it.  Great physical and intellectual exercise, alongside great people.  I’m riding high tonight because after weeks of learning all the basic tricks, tonight I learned the pullover shoot, which is a rite of passage at the school.  It’s the trick you learn after the basics and that you have to master before you move on to learning the swing (which is the foundation of all the really cool tricks).  To do it, you swing off the board, pull yourself over the bar so you’re upright, arms locked, looking forward, then you push off the bar and try to “rocket” forward to the catcher.

Most people talk about how the pullover shoot is awful and they stalled out on it for 2-5 classes, bruising their hips against the bar and getting hugely frustrated.  Even the instructor told us “so it’s pullover shoot today.  I’m not going to lie.  It’s going to suck.”  And it did suck for a lot of class.  While I could do the pullover part from the very beginning (getting up and over the bar then balancing there), I could not do the “shoot” part (wherein you fly off the bar) to save my life.  In my first attempt I threw the bar against my shin (leading to blood and a huge black and blue bump), in my second I fell headfirst off the bar, in my third I hesitated, then went too fast, leading to a comical fall from the bar, but in the fourth I seemed to get it, because the instructor said I should try to catch it (much to my surprise).

I over-thought every movement in my first catch attempt and did another headlong fall from the bar, but in my second attempt everything clicked, I pulled over, I shot…and I was caught!  I’ve been watching the video over and over tonight and every time I see the catch I shriek excitedly and clap my hands.  I am so totally proud of me – and I can’t wait to show the video to my kids!

Plugging the holes

May 19, 2011 Leave a comment

With my kids about to move on to 2nd grade I’m busy figuring out what holes need to be filled before they go.  My primary goal in this is admittedly self-centered: I don’t want to get a bad reputation among the 2nd grade team.  My fear is that I’ll have done such a bad job in something that all my kids will be markedly deficient, and when the 2nd grade team meets next year they’ll say something like “Nicole can’t write to save her life, do you think she needs to be referred for Special Education evaluation?  Oh, wait, she had Miss R. last year.  None of her kids can write. [Teachers nod and/or sigh in agreement.]”

To forestall this possible outcome I’m basically throwing out the curriculum for the last 5 weeks of school and focusing exclusively on the things I think my class is worst at.  This includes handwriting, writing, editing, and (for many of them) explaining their math problem-solving beyond “I thinked it in my head.”  Today we spent the morning hitting editing hard, then spent the afternoon writing math story problems and explaining how we figured out the answers.

I was pleasantly shocked by the quality of their story problems once I reminded them how to write them.  I was less impressed with their editing skills, but we’ll keep working on it.  And while they don’t know it yet, next week I’m starting spelling tests (I still need a good bribe for strong performance – suggestions welcome), with a focus on the high-frequency words I know they can read easily but they they misspell ALL THE TIME.

I’m heartened that they are all at or very, very close to the 1st grade reading benchmark, and if they don’t screw up the end-of-year math assessment with careless errors I might just finish the year looking like a decidedly non-sucky first-year teacher.  So if I can just deal with the few remaining glaring holes in my teaching, my first year might not have been a disaster for my students.

They don’t tell you about this in grad school

May 17, 2011 2 comments

After 8 straight days of having to call the office to request a custodian with a plunger, plus several discussions about our class’s over-use of toilet paper, today I had to set aside my science lesson on plants and talk about…poop.  Our class had a somber conversation about new rules for flushing to make sure that our toilet doesn’t break, then I used the instructional strategy of having students list details across their fingers to have them repeat and remember the new rules.  They may not have taught us how to handle broken toilets in grad school, but it’s good to know the pedagogical strategies I learned work across topics!


May 13, 2011 Leave a comment

Just realized I left my cupcake at school…the cupcake the birthday boy from another class had to bang on my shoulder to give me because I had my fingers in my ears to remind my class that calling my name incessantly is not a good way to get my attention.

Passing them along

May 10, 2011 Leave a comment

My quietest, most enigmatic child suddenly transferred to another school on Monday after her family moved.  I don’t know if I’ll be able to contact her new teacher, or if it would even be appropriate for me to do so, but here’s what I’d say if I could.

Dear Emily’s new teacher,

I know you’ll only have her for six weeks and you probably weren’t expecting a new kid at this point in the year, but Emily’s pretty special if you figure out how to let her show it.  It took me awhile, but here’s what I’ve learned about her.

1. She seems really shy and you’ll probably never hear her in the whole group, but if you get her into a small group she can be irrepressible – and loud!
2.  She doesn’t say much if you ask her a question, but she has a lot to say on her own schedule.  Be prepared for long stories about her family that must be told while you’re cleaning up for lunch. Take the time to listen, even though the time is never right. It’s when she tries out all her English words.
3.  Slip her some extra snacks.  Her family doesn’t have a lot.
4. Let her pretend to be a princess and order you around.Or have her reread a book like a rock star.  You’ll see a whole new side of her.
5.  Don’t underestimate her. She’s quiet and seems so unsure, but she’s become a great reader, writer, and mathematician.

Most of all, take care of her. She starts with so little but she works so hard. She could be a star but she needs help to get there. I know you’ll enjoy her even if it’s just six weeks.


Miss R

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